Winning Grammy more helpful to young pop culture artists: Guitarist Steve Vai

Globally popular rock guitarist Steve Vai, who has won three Grammy Awards, feels he has “lived a charmed musical career”. He says winning the honour is good for updating one’s resume, but it isn’t an important stepping stone for rock bands in the music world.

He says the honour has the power to change the careers of young artists more inclined towards pop culture.

“It (Grammy as a platform for music artists) hasn’t changed much. If you win a Grammy, it’s usually nice to have that on your resume… And being on such a huge award show is obviously a great way to get your message and brand across,” Vai, who has also earned Grammy nominations 15 times, told IANS in an email interview.

So, how important is it to win the accolade’

“It depends. For rock bands like Led Zeppelin, Queen, Deep Purple, and any contemporaries, I don’t think it matters very much. But for young artists that are more associated with pop culture, winning a Grammy could be helpful… It’s neither here nor there in the long run. But it is always nice to be recognised for your contribution,” added Vai, who will be performing in India in October and December.

He will perform at Bacardi´ NH7 Weekender in Meghalaya on October 27 and 28. And then at Bacardi´ NH7 Weekender in Pune in December. The fest is organised by OML (Only Much Louder).

Vai’s tryst with music started when he started taking guitar lessons at the age of 12. His professional career began when he was 18 and he started transcribing and gradually playing with musician Frank Zappa.

He has written, produced, and engineered all of his solo albums.

With albums like his 1984 self-released debut album “Flex-Able”, apart from “The Story Of Light”, “Sex & Religion”, “Real Illusions: Reflections” and “Modern Primitive” to his credit, Vai is applauded for his ability to change and stay relevant till date. He is often also called “musical alchemist of the highest order”.

Talking about it, Vai said: “Your music can only stay relevant if you continually entertain new ideas that give you the feeling of enthusiasm. Many creative musicians re-invent themselves on various levels. Sometimes it’s subtle, although to the artist it may seem like a big departure from their past.

“If David Bowie’s reinventing himself is a 10 on a scale of 1-10, perhaps I’m at about a 6,” said the 57-year-old.

There are some changes that he wants to see in the music industry.

“Young artists have so much more opportunity to be creative and independent. One thing that would be nice is for artists to be able to be compensated fairly for the music they make, such as watermarking a song, so whenever it’s played or sold, there’s something for the artist that is fair and also easy, manageable and economic for the music buyer.

“This is totally possible when you take the contemporary record company out of the mix, and I believe that’s where it’s heading. I would like to see record labels turn into glorified marketing teams that artists can work with.”

At the moment, Vai is working on a new album.

“I’m working on perhaps my last fully instrumental album. After that I have projects that transcend what you could possibly expect but it’s too early to talk about that. I always get into trouble when I do that,” Vai said.

(Sugandha Rawal can be contacted at

By Sugandha Rawal


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