STEVE VAI On The Biggest Obstacle That Stops Guitarists From Being Uniquely Creative - "There's This Little Voice..."

July 26, 2017, a year ago

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STEVE VAI On The Biggest Obstacle That Stops Guitarists From Being Uniquely Creative - "There's This Little Voice..."

Speaking with Ultimate Guitar in a new interview, Steve Vai singled out the top obstacle guitarists have in expressing their unique creativity:

"There's this little voice that gets in their way and it says, 'This isn't gonna be successful! How are you gonna make money with this? You're not gonna be accepted at this! You're gonna fail! This isn't what everybody else is doing.' And that's what cuts at the root of your ability to be uniquely creative because you already are uniquely creative.

A lot of people compromise that because of the little voice, the ego in the head, and I have that voice too. But a truly creative idea inside of me eclipses that voice just enough to compel me to go and do it. That's how I made Flex-Able (1984); that's how I made Passion & Warfare (1990). Anything you hear of mine that you think has something in it, that's where it came from.

After Passion & Warfare, I had similar type ideas for Sex & Religion (1993), but there was maybe a little more of a superficial overview because I thought, 'Well, maybe now I have to go back to being in a rock band and do things a little more accessible.' The funny thing is Sex & Religion is not very accessible but it does have its moments. That I just felt, 'You know what? Just go back to your comfort zone completely.'"

Vai recently issued the following announcement:

"Allow me to excitedly introduce the fourth year of Vai Academy. In 2018, we’re going to take over the Hard Rock Hotel in Palm Springs, CA, January 3rd to 7th. Our focus is also evolving. Of course, there are going to be some amazing instructors, classes, and a lot of jamming, but I wanted to do something a little different. For starters, I’m planning on giving more classes in 2018 than I’ve done in the past."

"In next year’s camp, we’re aiming to demystify music theory. We’re going to present the basics in a way that can be easily understood. Moreover, these methods will be accessible on the instrument in order to expand every player’s uniquely creative potential. I’m expecting to see a lot of 'Aha' moments in many of the campers."

"The idea for the focus on music theory in this camp was inspired by questions that I often get asked while doing EVO experiences, Alien Guitar Secrets Masterclasses, reading your reviews of previous camps, and music magazine-related interviews. Music Theory can be a major source of concern and even anxiety in the minds of many musicians. We’re going to debunk the myths and show you how to apply theory creatively. Music theory is basically teachable on an intellectual level, but can be very helpful when going deeper than the theory in your songwriting and improvising. You don’t have to get hung up on it."

"Technique is also going to be a big part of 2018. Previously, I’ve somewhat spoken about technique in regards to tone, vibrato, intonation, bending notes, picking, hammering, etc. However, this camp will focus on technique as applied to music theory. Beyond these central themes, I plan on creating classes about everything from chord theory and interval relationships to time signature theory."

"We’re going deep! In the end, Vai Academy is all about sharing. We’re all in this together as musicians. I love that we all experience living life to its fullest by enjoying every moment alongside one another. Get ready for an incredible Vai Academy in 2018."

For further details, including how to register, visit

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