We met up with ‘I Built the Sky’s’ Rohan Stevenson and got chatting about how he got started in the Music Industry, his inspirations to songwriting and to find out about his favorite gear.
What sparked your interest in learning guitar?
My dad plays guitar and used to always play music around the house. I had some ‘cool’ neighbours when I was around 10 years old who got me into punk music, so I began listening to Greenday and other punk bands. The first ever album I bought was Greenday’s Nimrod in which I put my thumb over the language warning label so my dad didn’t know it had some questionable lyrics, and got him to buy it for me. When I started in high school, lots of my friends were learning guitar and it was a fairly normal thing to be doing. I had learned a few chords from my dad, but having a really awesome guitar teacher made me get right into it. I got obsessed with guitar at that point and learned fairly quickly, so I started playing in bands and writing music and it’s just never stopped.
‘The Sky Is Not the Limit’ is your latest release, how has that been received?
I’m beyond blown away by how well ‘TSINTL’ has been received; I did some stats on it recently and was shocked to see the results. I’ve been feeling the buzz from it for the last year and a half, and I’m also really excited for the new music I’m coming up with. It’s been really cool to keep growing as an artist and to be getting some pretty crazy opportunities. It looks like things are only going to get more intense from here, so I’m very excited!
What’s your approach to songwriting? Do you have any tips or tricks to help maintain your inspiration and workflow?
For me, I personally only write music or play guitar when I feel like doing it. I never force myself to do it. This has been the most successful and productive method that I’ve been able to sustain. Sometimes I go weeks without playing guitar, but also have moments where I do nothing but play & write. It keeps me fresh in the long run and it keeps it fun!
I have this luxury as an Independent artist so it’s been great. When I’m not motivated I just stop, I do other things that isn’t music related and then eventually the moment strikes and I’m back in. Sometimes all it takes is to watch an inspiring music documentary.
Do you have a piece of gear you just can’t live without?
Yes, several…. Obviously my guitars that inspire me constantly, I have lots of really unique, custom and rare guitars at my disposal. Including my KIESEL CT624m built for me specifically, a KIESEL CT6 made with a Koa body and the most insane deep quilted maple top with an incredibly flamed maple neck, which was a display piece for KIESEL at NAMM in 2017.
A Maton Mastersound MS500 reissue that belonged to Joshua Homme of ‘Queens of the Stone Age’, which is a pre-production custom built in 1998 by Adam Cole. An original MATON MS500 from 1959 which the reissues were based on. An extremely rare guitar and in fact George Harrison from ‘The Beatles’ had one at one point. They are collectible beyond belief and it’s an honour to have possession of it. And I also have a Custom Shop Maton Acoustic guitar which I just got last week, it’s basically the top of the line guitar for Maton, they specialise in acoustics and are used by the likes of Tommy Emmanuel. Mine was built by Andy Allen, he builds Tommy’s and it’s honestly the best acoustic guitar I’ve ever played, so I just had to have it.
My Fractal Audio Systems AX8 has been awesome as well; it sounds great and is easy to use live, as well as being very portable. I also use the Precision Drive by Horizon Devices which adds a lot of character and tone to my sound, I feel like it is a very important part of my chain at this point. Seems I can’t live without a lot of things at this point. Haha!
What’s next for you/I Built The Sky ?
Next for ‘I Built the Sky’ are shows in Melbourne (June 16th) and Sydney (June 23rd). Tickets are available from www.evolutiontouring.com. These two shows are to launch a brand new song called ‘Celestial’ and I’ll most likely be playing some acoustic music in the night as well!