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Spotlight: Kai Cult

Kai Cult
(Image credit: Sam Van Munnen)

KAI CULT

HAILS FROM: Melbourne, VIC
PLAYS: Solo
SOUNDS LIKE: Freaky, fuzzy, pseudo-psychy punk rock
LATEST DROP: OK Boomer (EP out now independently)

What’s your current go-to guitar?
My current go-to guitar is a red Fender Squier Jaguar, modded lovingly by Jon Shub of Shub Guitars. I am a huge Nirvana and Sonic Youth fan, and I love making weird noises from behind the bridge. I was on a huge Sonic Youth YouTube binge one night and I was like, “Damn, I need to get myself an offset just like Thurston Moore so I can pretend that I went to art school.” I love it simply because it looks so damn cool, and at times has a mind of its own. It needs heaps of TLC to be kept in check in live situations, though. 

How did you initially fall in love with the instrument?
Honestly, it was a bit of an accident! No one in my family is musically inclined, and I was never encouraged to play music. I was the weird goth in the back of class and I hung out with a bunch of metalheads who loved bands like Slipknot, Megadeth and Tool. They introduced me to the instrument, and soon enough I was covering “The Heretic Anthem” in my very first high school band. My first guitar was an Epiphone Les Paul Junior; I got it because it was simple – just one pickup, light, and most importantly, cheap! Before that I was just learning metal songs on a crappy classical guitar that I found on the side of the road.

What inspires you as a player?
My top influences would be Chino Moreno and Stephen Carpenter from Deftones, Kurt Cobain, and Kevin Shields from My Bloody Valentine. To me, music is all about the hook and having fun, which you can achieve with as little as two chords. Chino would drone ethereal, dreamy shoegaze chords on his six-string whilst Stephen would pound away driving riffs over on his eight‑string. Kevin would create howling, piercing soundscapes at unnatural volumes, shaking buildings and shattering eardrums. I learnt all the main guitar scales just for fun, but the best part about learning the rules is breaking them!

Are you much of a gear nerd?
Absolutely. I am always on the hunt to streamline and minimalise my process –
“less is more”, as they say. My favourite weapons are anything from Death By Audio – especially the Fuzz War – and for amps, anything Marshall just rips! I recently got a Boss Katana, which I highly recommend for its versatility, cost and weight. You could play some bright and dreamy neo-soul chords, then contrast it with the phattest stoner and doom riffs, and the amp will still handle crushing bite of your fuzz of choice. 

Do you have any ‘white whales’?
I’d love to get my hands on a baritone guitar – preferably an offset – and a huge stack of Orange amps like Matt Pike from Sleep and High On Fire.

What would your signature model look like?
It would look like my candy apple red Jazzmaster/Jaguar, but baritone and equipped with a crisp single-coil, a biting humbucker for contrast, and also a pickup behind the bridge so I can do weird droning and ambient noises.

If you could jam with any guitarist, dead or alive...
Probably Theresa Wayman from Warpaint, or Omar Rodríguez-López from the Mars Volta. Both of them just seem like absolute chillers, and I’d love to get lost in a six-hour psychedelic/experimental jam with them.