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Tone Talk with Malena Cadiz | “Surround yourself with other women who inspire you!”

In this edition of Tone Talk, we are thrilled to welcome Los Angeles-based indie-folk artist Malena Cadiz, whose journey of profound personal and artistic evolution shines through in her latest album, "Hellbent & Moonbound." Cadiz fills us in on her definition of guitar tone, guitar gear, recording and practice techniques, live performances, and advice for aspiring musicians.

In this edition of Tone Talk, we are thrilled to welcome Los Angeles-based indie-folk artist Malena Cadiz, whose journey of profound personal and artistic evolution shines through in her latest album, Hellbent & Moonbound.

Drawing inspiration from Ada Limón’s evocative poem, “Drift,” Cadiz’s fourth studio effort marks a significant chapter in her life, encapsulating the essence of her experiences over the past seven years. From relocating across the country and embracing motherhood to navigating the complexities of life’s transitions, Cadiz has found solace in the creative process, meticulously crafting a body of work that reflects her introspective journey toward self-discovery and renewal.

Defining Tone:

What is your definition of tone, and how has it changed over the years?

It’s the quality, the mood, and character of sound that help create the world and tell the story of the song.

Gear Talk: Instruments and Equipment

Which guitars, amps, and pedals are you currently using and why?

I’m definitely not a gearhead. I find the things I love based purely on instinct and usually stick with the same thing for a long time.

My favorite guitar is my Harmony Stratotone, which I got from the Old Style Guitar Shop in Echo Park about five years ago. It’s from the 70s, I believe. I love how lightweight it is and the quality of the sound, plus it’s physically beautiful, with this really nice sunburst and old pickguard and pickups.

I use a 1978 Fender Champ that I also got from Old Style. I love the warm tone.

For pedals, I use a Srymon El Capistan tape delay pedal, an EarthQuaker Levitation reverb pedal, and sometimes a BOSS tremolo pedal.

What about strings?

I love the Curt Mangan Monel Electric/Acoustic Strings.

Recording and Practice Techniques and Live Performances

Are there certain recording techniques you prefer in the studio?

I love recording live. I love getting to be playful and trying new things. Our drummer brought in pots and pans and kitchen things for one song (“The Real Thing”) off my new record (Hellbent & Moonbound); I love how that turned out.

Overall, though, I work with a producer I love and leave a lot of that to him. One thing I’ve realized is that I don’t have to be an expert at every aspect of this career, so I try to surround myself with the people I feel most aligned with, whose work I admire, and let them do what they’re best at.

What does your practice consist of?

Right now, I’m really into reviewing the things I’ve been working on and then pulling up a lesson on something like Pickup music and doing 15-30 minutes of that. Often, that will lead me on a tangent where I’ll want to write something. Learning covers is an important practice tool for me, too.

How do you keep your sound consistent onstage?

I try to really take my time with soundcheck, so I feel confident that everything lines up. I used to take pictures of all my amp and pedal settings so I could make sure it was all consistent. Also, super basic, I try to only play venues where I know the sound will be good.

The Riffs That Resonate

Favorite guitar riff or lick that inspired you to play guitar?

I love that beginning riff of “Rhiannon,” I just revisited that recently. I get reinspired all the time, too. Every time I see an amazing songwriter who can also play guitar really well — like Margaret Glaspy or Madison Cunningham; I love how Feist plays. It’ll get me inspired to take lessons again or learn a new type of thing. 


Advice for Aspiring Musicians: Surround Yourself with Other Women

What is your advice for young women who hope to work in the music industry?

Surround yourself with other women who inspire you! Our culture so often situates women as competitors — like there’s a scarcity of opportunity in the music industry. And I don’t think that’s true. I think when we surround ourselves with powerful, talented women, we all rise together.

And get yourself a female teacher! When I was coming up, there weren’t a lot of other girls who played guitar, and I only had male guitar teachers. Representation is really powerful for our subconscious to believe what’s possible. Recently, I took some lessons with Molly Miller, who I admire so much. She’s such an incredible player and an excellent teacher.

3 Key Takeaways from our Tone Talk Interview with Malena Cadiz

  1. Artistic Evolution Through Personal Growth: Malena Cadiz’s latest album, Hellbent & Moonbound, represents a significant chapter in her life, reflecting profound personal and artistic evolution. Drawing inspiration from Ada Limón’s poem “Drift,” the album encapsulates Cadiz’s experiences of relocating, embracing motherhood, and navigating life’s transitions. This journey of introspection and self-discovery has deeply influenced her creative process, leading to a meticulously crafted body of work that resonates with listeners on a deeply emotional level.
  2. The Essence of Sound and Collaboration: Cadiz’s approach to music emphasizes the importance of tone, mood, and character in storytelling through sound. Her preference for recording live, collaborating with trusted producers, and selecting instruments and equipment based on instinct highlights her commitment to authenticity and experimentation. The collaborative spirit extends to the recording studio, where Cadiz and her team explore innovative techniques, such as using unconventional instruments to enhance the narrative quality of her music.
  3. Empowerment and Community in the Music Industry: A key takeaway from Cadiz’s journey is the importance of fostering community and empowerment among women in the music industry. By encouraging aspiring musicians to surround themselves with inspiring female figures and seek out female mentors, Cadiz underscores the value of representation and mutual support. Her advice challenges the competitive narrative often imposed on women, advocating for a culture of collaboration and shared success that benefits everyone in the creative community.

Follow Malena Cadiz Instagram | TikTok | YouTube | Spotify

GGM Staff


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