Stephanie Bradley is a name that has been making its way through the guitar circles. Stephanie caught my eye on Instagram with her short clips of her shredding the crap out of her ESP. Stephanie is a frequent guest at Steve Vai’s Academy and Rock And Roll Fantasy Camp. I had the pleasure of speaking with Stephanie to get her insights on her fast-growing career.
Give me some background on yourself
SB: My name is Stephanie Bradley (formally Stephanie Pickard). I am a shred guitar player, amongst other things, but funny that everything in my life indeed stems from the guitar. I have been fortunate enough to get to play and teach alongside many of my heroes, and among the guitar community, I am probably most known for my instructional videos and my shred videos ranging from licks to lessons to holiday covers that are always made to be fun, but also serious… like a shred version of “Little Bunny Foo Foo” haha!
How did you first start playing guitar?
SB: I started when I was 14/15. I was writing poetry and had always been into singing. My dad overheard me singing something I wrote and suggested I learn a few chords. I was nervous when my dad suggested I learn to play… but when they heard me sneak the family guitar we had into my room and try and could tell I was interested; my parents signed me up for lessons. From my first lesson, I fell totally in love with the guitar and pretty much quit everything else I was doing, focusing only on guitar.
What was your first guitar?
SB: My very first guitar was a hand-me-down Fender Squire that got passed along from my uncle to my dad, to me. It wasn’t in the best shape, but I loved playing it so much and didn’t know any better, so I didn’t mind. I didn’t notice until I got my first “nice” guitar which was a Fender Stratocaster.
What drew you to “shred” style guitar?
SB: When I fell in love with the guitar, I REALLY fell in love with the guitar. I started by just learning what was on the radio… whatever popular pop-punk/rock songs there were. I was learning the pop-punk songs quickly and was playing so much and so eager to learn that my dad introduced me, Hendrix. From that moment, I became obsessed with classic rock, especially the guitarists, of course. This happened all in just a few weeks of starting. Then in my high school guitar class, I met all the metal kids that were also interested in guitar and they, of course, introduced me to metal. Metal/shred went hand in hand for me, and then, of course, I learned about all of those guitar heroes! I went from 0 to 100 with my interest in guitar. In about six months, I went from my first lesson to being sponsored in high school and demoing at the NAMM Show and other conventions. I was completely all-in. I would play every night until 4 am (my poor parents!) go to school and get right back to it. I was completely obsessed.
What does your rig consist of?
SB: I play ESP guitars, and that’s amazing because I love them, but also because my rep introduced me to my husband! So we are an ESP family! I mainly use my M-1000 and typically direct into my Axe-FX II. I love my Axe FX. I recently really fell in love with the Yamaha THR5 too though! When my husband and I moved to Nashville, we ended up having a lot more space than when we lived in LA. So we each got our own music/film rooms. It’s funny because no matter how many amps I put everywhere, I still play in our bedroom like I would when I was a kid haha. So I have been loving using the little Yamaha as my practice amp that I jam on or write with kind of late at night for fun when I am away from my studio setup/computer.
Are you planning to record original music?
SB: YES! I write a lot, but I think what people don’t know about me is that I have also always worked and taught a lot. When I lived in LA I was working at Remote Control Productions (Hans Zimmer’s Studio) and teaching at a music school where I had a waiting list and was teaching over 30 students guitar, beginning piano, and vocals. I was also making videos, writing, and creating videos for other companies and working in social media marketing for guitar, etc. When we moved to Nashville, I started doing a lot of guitar lesson video work and started a social media/marketing company with my husband. When our company began to really take off, I had to change my teaching career to be less consistent but narrowed down to opportunities I really couldn’t say no to… like Vai Academy, JamPlay, Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp, and more. I have always played consistently and written while working, but with how busy I am and have been, I am looking forward to setting aside some time to focus on finishing up and polishing the songs I want to get out. I feel like I really found my sound last year when I was working on a video for ESP, and now I want to go back and change around some of my previous ideas to fit that a little more.
How about any videos for original music?
SB: YES! I want to get back to video work since I genuinely love writing and filming them and of course playing! I plan on releasing a lot more videos in general; lessons, originals, and covers!
Tell me about your 9/9 Digital Media
SB: 9/9 is a company my husband and I started when we moved to Nashville, and it has been a great thing for us! 9/9 is our wedding date. These last few years we have been completely swamped, and when I think about it, I can’t believe we did it all. We recently teamed up with a friend who is also a manager, so we are expanding into management as well! Even though that sounds like we will be even busier, it has been great to have 3 of us. My husband and I have both always had a creative and business side. He was in the band iwrestledabearonce and did all the marketing and wore many hats, producing, managing, creating, performing, etc. Though my path was slightly different creatively, it has made us a great team – obviously romantically but also with our company. Our current clients range from major country artists like Billy Ray Cyrus and Kenny Rogers, to more shred and guitar clients like Steve Vai.
Do you have endorsements?
SB: Yes! I am an ESP Artist and currently working on a few demo videos for them that will be out soon.
Who are your influences?
SB: My influences are a little all over the place… my first huge influences were Hendrix, Band of Gypsys, Zeppelin, and Cream and then changed to more metal bands like Children of Bodom, Born of Osiris, Animals as Leaders and then really to all the shredders like Steve Vai, Paul Gilbert, and Cacophony… and of course Zakk Wylde’s pinch harmonics! I love guitar work with great vibrato and with little details that make the music or the guitar solo unique, engaging, and innovative… at least to my ear. And of course my husband! Like I said, my husband played guitar for iwrestedabearonce and was in the band from the very beginning. It’s cool because he has so much experience writing/producing and seeing everything as a band and a complete song… where I usually only think about the guitar since I started by demoing and teaching and played mostly by myself for so long, so jamming together is always really cool and exciting for me. I think it is so vital to jam with people that are different than you and even better than you in certain areas… it’s the best way to push yourself and get outside of your box. Even though we both play metal and heavier music, we sound super different and I feel like that is so cool because it really has and continues to push me to write and play licks and riffs that are outside of my regular comfort zone, and I feel like that has really pushed me and made my playing more interesting than it would be if I only played alone
What are your plans for the rest of 2019 and early 2020?
SB: I am looking forward to the holidays. I always do holiday videos either alone or with my husband that are shred/metal versions of classic songs, so those are still a lot of fun to do and put out. I also have some surprises I want to work on for the holidays musically, and then get some more solo material out next year along with lots of videos – both instructional and creative. I also really enjoyed teaching at Vai Academy and have some fresh teaching opportunities coming up that I am excited to announce… but can’t say just yet!
For more information on Stephanie please visit her Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/shredanie/