Katrina Johansson wants you to sing along. Not to the chorus, but to the guitar line. She fills us in, “Melody is just as important as the energy of shredding. I want people to be able to sing some of the guitar melodies and remember them, as well as feel the energy and appreciate the technique of the fast parts.”
And she has energy to spare. With a buttery performance style, she effortlessly delivers a one-note scream or barrages listeners with a flawless arpeggiated run. A self-professed “shy kid,” Katrina found inspiration, and her voice, as soon as she picked up the guitar. “It’s important for children to have positive and creative outlets, and guitar was mine,” she shares.
These days Katrina isn’t afraid to strut her stuff, and she does it with a variety of excellent gear, including Dean ML, Luna Apollo and Zion Sunburst Strat guitars, a Rocktron Utopia G300, a Framus 4-BY-12 cabinet with Celestion Vintage 30s, and a Peavey Valve King 100-Watt head. Katrina chose her setup with care.
“The Dean ML has that really dark, heavy metal sound, great for recording, and of course it looks really cool. I couldn’t live without it,” she says.
“My Luna Apollo has the sound and feel of a Les Paul, but doesn't weigh a ton, which makes it great guitar to use for live shows," she says. "I bought my Zion Strat many years ago. I chose that guitar for its skinny neck, which makes it easy to shred, and it’s also great for clean sounds.
"My Rocktron Utopia has 128 presets, fully programmable, Hush noise reduction and Variac Tube simulation. It has everything you need for recording and live, any sound you can imagine. I am definitely partial to Celestion Vintage 30 speakers, can't live without them!”
Katrina has a guitar case full of great on stage moments. She recalls, “My favorite performance memories are always those moments when my band members and I are in sync, and we can instinctively follow each other, even when there is a mistake. I love those moments!”
Katrina has come to accept some of the pitfalls of being a woman in a shred metal world...approaching criticism with a Zen-like acceptance. “Since the music business is part of the entertainment industry, women are often judged on what we look like first, which has nothing to do with whether or not we have any musical ability. I am sure most women have experienced some form of sexism. Most of us have heard the comment that ‘you play as good as a man’ or ‘no one would pay attention to you if you were a man playing guitar.’ But I do not dwell on the negative, better to use negative comments to inspire you to work harder and appreciate those who are supportive.”
She adds, “There are so many girls into playing guitar and even shredding now, that I believe attitudes are really changing for the better, and I have witnessed this change as a teacher also, which is really inspiring.”
Katrina’s first EP, Guitarsongs Volume 1, was released by speed king Michael Angelo Batio on his MACE label in 2005, and he also played bass on several tracks. This was followed by Love, Surrender, Forgiveness, produced by Mike Hoffman.
Heading into the studio this summer to record her next CD, Katrina has this one last bit of advice for women guitarists everywhere: “Follow your heart, write your music, practice, and if you want that Dean Razorback and a Krank Amp, don't let anyone talk you out of it or tell you it’s not for girls!!!”
Learn more about Katrina at katrinaguitar.com, and watch her in action here:
Laura B. Whitmore is a singer/songwriter based in the San Francisco bay area. A veteran music industry marketer, she has spent over two decades doing marketing, PR and artist relations for several guitar-related brands including Marshall and VOX. Her company, Mad Sun Marketing, represents 65amps, Acoustic Bass Amps, Agile Partners, Guitar World Magazine, and many more. Laura was instrumental in the launch of the Guitar World Lick of the Day app. She is the lead singer for the rock band, Summer Music Project. More at mad-sun.com.