Rising Guitar Sensation Jason Kui on Inspirations, Influences, and Finding International Stardom

Today I have an interview with a guitar player that is simply phenomenal.  His name is Jason Kui, a Hong Kong based musician, and his album, Absence of Words, is a fantastically written, shred guitar experience. I urge everyone to check it out. So, without much further ado, here is my interview with Jason Kui!!!!!

Chimera Magazine (Tom) – Hi, Jason. I’d like to begin by saying how much I enjoy Absence of Words, it is truly a fantastic record. I know that you were recently added to the Prosthetic Records roster of artists. How did that come about, and what was your initial reaction to being signed to the label?

Jason Kui – Hi Tom, thanks so much for the invitation.  Back to the days of production stage. After all the songs have been mixed, I started browsing labels and distributors. I’ve met some companies, they liked the songs but unfortunately, they thought that instrumental albums wouldn’t sell in Hong Kong. Sadly, I got rejected. I called Anup Sastry that evening, told him the story and asked him for advice about doing without labels.  He was so kind, he told me everything he knew. The next day, I got an email from him with Steve Joh in the email, said that Steve might be interested in my music.  I googled “Steve Joh” right away, and I realized that Steve was a big person and he was voted #18 of 25 the most important people in the metal scene on the internet.    I was so amazed, plus knowing that he is with Prosthetic Records, it was like “am I dreaming?”

After exchanging some emails with Steve, he seemed to like my music. That was during NAMM, I got a chance to him and the guys at Prosthetic Records, EJ and Dan at a brewery. It was a fun evening.

After I got back to Hong Kong (where I am from), I got an email from Steve that they were interested in signing me.  So that was the story behind.

Honestly, I couldn’t believe it at first. Being signed by an awesome label like Prosthetic Records, it has been my ambition for years.

Tom – I can hear some influences by so many artists that fall within your chosen genre. Can you tell us what influenced you to start playing, and what continues to influence you?

Jason – Sure! I have listened to all the guitar heroes like Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Paul Gilbert, Andy Timmons and John Petrucci since I started playing guitar.  So, they are my main influences.  As I grew older, I started to listen to more blues and funk, like Oz Noy, Josh Smith, BB King, Stevie Ray Vaughn, John Mayer, Derek Trucks and last but not least, Guthrie Govan… These guys are amazing. And that’s why I like to play and listen to different genres of music.

Tom – I assume you have some gear that is a huge part of your sound. What do use, in terms of amps, guitars, etc, in order to get such an amazingly clear tone?

Jason – Whoa, thanks. Since I am a session guitarist, I’m tended to use certain guitars or amps for certain sound. For rock, metal stuff, I like to use Aristides guitars and Tom Anderson guitars. These are my favorite brands. Aristides guitars are handmade in The Netherlands, and it’s made of a material called Arium, none of any parts is wood. But it sounds fantastic, in some way it’s even nicer.

Tom Anderson has the best craftsmanship. They sound so good and versatile, and look very good too.  For blues and clean stuff, other than Tom Anderson, I also like to use a pretty new brand called, Novo Guitars by an amazing guitar builder, Dennis Fano. He made me an incredible tele with his style.  One of the best teles I’ve even played and owned.

For amps and cabs, I use various Mesa Boogie heads, like JP2C, my idol, John Petrucci’s signature model, Mark V 35 and Lone Star.  And I use Divided by 13’s FTR 37 for most of the clean tone in the album.  Cabs as Mesa Boogie Rectifier 212 with Celestial Vintage 30s in it. Tom – Being from the US, I have no idea what music is like in your part of the world. Can you give us a quick glimpse into the scene in Hong Kong?

Hardcore and Post Rock are popular in Hong Kong. And karaoke is a big deal in Hong Kong, such an Asian thing, hahaha, so pop music is very popular too. (maybe that’s why it’s called pop, I guess) But guitar instrumental, it’s very rare, almost none, unfortunately. 

Tom – I know you had a prominent modern metal drummer, Anup Sastry, come in to beat the skins for your album. Who else was involved, and did you cover any of the other instruments on the record?

I am so grateful to have such talented and skilful musicians in my album. Anup Sastry became my best friend. He is so nice and “the best to work with”, I would say.  We think alike. And he is a very honest person, if some arrangement doesn’t fit in the song, he will directly tell me that it won’t work. That is why I love him so much that he is a very trust-worthy person.  And of course, I think he is one of the best metal drummers in the scene. Without his ideas and arrangement, the album would not be like this for sure.

I also got my long time friend, Chan Siu Kei on bass, he is one of the most demanding bassists in Hong Kong and China. He is a very experienced musician, he knows about the tone, he knows about when to build up and when to chill down. Plus we have been working together for so long, we know each other very well.  Another great guy to work with.

2 more musicians I have to mention – Josh Smith and my friend, Rafa De la Garza appeared on my album.  I am so thrilled that I got my guitar idol, Josh Smith to play a guest solo on a funk song, “Now! You! Know!”. He is such a cool guy, he has the best taste on blues and funk guitar playing. I have been his fan for a long time.  It’s really my honor to have a guitar virtuoso/ maestro appear on my CD.

Rafa is a young generation guitarist, he knows all the trendy and cool stuff. I found him on Instagram, I was blown away when I first watched his videos. He played a ripping guitar solo on “Morning Breeze”.

I played all the rhythm and lead guitars, other than that, I did some programming and sound effect stuff.

Tom – What are your plans for touring now that the album is out?

I’ve been doing some festival shows in Hong Kong and China.

My manager is already getting tours for me in The States, I will have Anup on drums for sure. I am very excited about it, can’t wait to get it started!

Tom – I know you just did a massive tour for Eason Chan, 135 shows and all across the globe. What were your favorite moments on that tour, and did it make you want to bring your own music to these countries?

Jason – Playing for Eason was definitely a mile stone for me. He is such a legendary singer, and it was like a dream gig for all the musicians in the scene. I am so thankful that I got the gig.

I traveled around the world during the tour, like North America, Australia, New Zealand and Far East Asia.  It was a big concert tour with huge production, I had my own stage with my own sport light, so I think it’s pretty cool, hahaha.

The arenas were huge, usually filled to capacity with 30,000 or more fans. Playing in front of that scene was amazing, and people don’t get to do that very often, right? Haha

I wrote most of my songs during the tour in my free time.  I get so much inspiration by traveling and getting to know other cultures and environments.

It makes me dream of doing a big tour like this with my own music.

Tom – I would like to thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, and congratulate you on an excellent album. I hope to see you tour the US as soon as possible! Take care, Jason!

Thank you again, Tom, for the having me. It was a great interview! I hope to see you too! Take care.