Have Steve Vai, Clapton or Gary Moore forgotten how to play guitar? Many people asked themselves the same question after watching some videos in YouTube with awful performances by top rock guitarists, and the answer is: Santeri Ojala aka StSanders, the master of shredding the best solos of our guitar heroes.
I meet Santeri in a cafeteria in the centre of Tampere. He makes a short escape from his work as multimedia artist to attend the questions of FREE! Magazine. What started as a hobby became a question of discussion in music and guitarists forums all over the world. Was it right to spoof the original work of artists like Steve Vai, Slash, Van Halen, Metallica…? Well, the person himself behind the nick of StSanders, Santeri Ojala, can give his own opinions about the videos circulating in YouTube:
Santeri, tell us a bit about this phenomena, you started to shred the famous guitarists. How the idea did the idea come up?
It has something to do with the particular faces that the musicians do when they play. So I thought it would be interesting because they really seem to put a lot of effort into their playing, so make it appear badly would turn into very funny.
So this started like a hobby, totally different from your normal everyday work?
Yeah. Well, I do play guitar although my work is as visual artists. I work with pictures, music, visual effects and I also worked in the multimedia installation you can see in the main square here in Tampere. But I am happy with this, and it is fun, when I have free time to do it. I have to record every part of the video once and again, so in the end I spend many hours in the making of every video. And lately I was also very busy with interviews, etc, so I had a bunch of work accumulated.
Were you expecting the huge response to the videos featured in pages like YouTube?
Well, not at the beginning but I thought that it could become something big very soon.
YouTube has banned your personal account under the nick StSanders, thing that obviously does not make you happy. Did they give you any reason?
Well, they said that they had received emails from 3 different artists and record companies giving complaints about what I do. So when your account receives 3 different complaints, it is automatically shut down. I have sent them many messages, but well, it seems there is nothing to do, so I cannot publish more videos there with that account.
When you choose the artists that are going to suffer this “Shredding experience”, do you follow any kind of procedure; are there artists you especially like or dislike?
Well, I try to pick the famous artists, and also the ones who “make faces”. Those are the 2 main requisites.
YouTube has banned my account after receiving complaints about my videos from 3 different artists and record companies” – Santeri Ojala aka StSanders-
So you say you play guitar yourself for quite many years. Do you have to concentrate yourself for playing the songs “convincingly bad”?
Well, if you try to do something like this with singing, it is impossible. For making these videos, it takes in the end as much effort as good playing, because in a way it is good playing, it is intentionally bad. I try to make it sound convincingly bad.
Do you consider yourself a good guitar player when you play normally?
Yeah, I think I can manage.
Steve Vai took with good sense of humor your spoof. He said something like if he would be able to play like that, he would appear more often on MTV. Are there more artists that contacted you personally to give you feedback?
Not the ones I made the videos about, but other artists contacted me and gave me good feedback, people like Scott Thunes who was bass player with Frank Zappa (and he believed the videos were real) or Mike Patton and some others.
You were invited to Jimmy Kimmel´s TV show in USA. How was the experience there, sharing stage with Slash?
Actually turns that Jimmy himself is a great fan of my videos, so he wanted me to be in his show. They called me to fly there very fast because Slash was coming to the show too and I arrived so tired that I almost did not have time to feel excited. We chatted a bit after the show and yeah, he liked the video, he had no problem with it.
And you even had the chance to share stage with him!
Yeah, we played together a bit at the end. I was not even sure if I had to play good or bad or how…
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