Spotlight: Keyan Houshmand

Keyan Houshmand. Credit: Press/Supplied
(Image credit: Press/Supplied)


HAILS FROM: Kaurna/Adelaide, SA
SOUNDS LIKE: A djentle stream of unfiltered chaos
LATEST DROP: Gradient (EP out now independently) 

What’s your current go-to guitar?
My current go-to guitar is my Jackson Juggernaut ET7 Misha Mansoor signature. I actually own the USA-made six- and seven-string variants of the same guitar, but I don’t see myself picking them up as much these days after receiving the import versions. This guitar was kindly gifted to me from the guys at Fender/Jackson Australia, who came across my love for the USA Misha Mansoor signature guitars through my social media accounts. I couldn’t be more grateful, as it is an absolute beast of a guitar. 

How did you initially fall in love with the instrument?
My first ever guitar was a nylon-string Ashton acoustic, which was gifted to me by my uncle on my fifth birthday. I was always really interested in music, with Michael Jackson being my favourite artist at the time. It wasn’t until I got that first guitar that I started listening to more guitar-oriented music. After finding out that I got a guitar for my birthday, I remember both of my uncles – on the other side of the family – twisting my young, malleable brain into getting familiar with bands like Led Zeppelin, AC/DC and KISS. Even though my parents put me into lessons straight away, I was never forced to learn guitar or anything like that. I kind of just picked it up and never put it down, which is crazy to think about, 17 years later. You’d think by now I might be sick of it, but the truth is that I couldn’t be any more in love with the instrument than I am right now. 

What inspires you as a player?
My influences are from a lot of different places at the moment. Some influences aren’t even related to the guitar at all, like Dua Lipa. My major influences tend to come naturally from whatever I’m listening to at that point in time, as I’ll subliminally try to learn and imitate what I’m hearing. Bands I’m really enjoying these days are ERRA, Spiritbox, Northlane, Loathe, Sleep Token and Meshuggah (still). 

I’ve always been a huge advocate for learning songs you enjoy, rather than practicing traditionally through scales or something like that. I can’t read music and don’t know much theory, but breaking down the tab of a song I love always teaches me so much. I think most people get stuck by viewing tabs as “a bunch of single notes and numbers on a page that get you from point A to point B”, but I’ve always enjoyed learning tabs with a more holistic approach. 

For example, deciphering the song structure, why certain notes are here, why this works, why that chord progression sounds nice here, etcetera. From there, I take whatever I learn and try to implement them into my own riffs and songwriting sessions, whether that’s something as precise as a specific chromatic lick or something as broad as a chord progression. 

Are you much of a gear nerd?
I’m a hopeless gear nerd. It doesn’t matter what kind of gear it is, I’m always fascinated by tone, and how certain pieces of gear affect the way I sound. I don’t really see myself as a “tone snob”, though – I’m not really fussy about tubes versus digital, etcetera. At the end of the day, if it sounds good, it sounds good. That’s the only factor I really take into consideration when discussing and using gear.
I think my thirst for knowledge around gear has come from necessity, as getting the “right tone” on a detuned, extended range guitar can be a bit annoying on “traditional” gear. My favourite type of gear will always be guitars. It’s a double edged sword, because on one hand I know exactly what I want in a guitar, but on the other hand it might be hard to even find a guitar to satisfy all those needs in the first place. That’s why I love the Misha Mansoor signature models, as they pretty much tick every single box – whether that be the shape of the guitar, or something as trivial as the truss rod wheel placement.

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Ellie Robinson
Editor-at-Large, Australian Guitar Magazine

Ellie Robinson is an Australian writer, editor and dog enthusiast with a keen ear for pop-rock and a keen tongue for actual Pop Rocks. Her bylines include music rag staples like NME, BLUNT, Mixdown and, of course, Australian Guitar (where she also serves as Editor-at-Large), but also less expected fare like TV Soap and Snowboarding Australia. Her go-to guitar is a Fender Player Tele, which, controversially, she only picked up after she'd joined the team at Australian Guitar. Before then, Ellie was a keyboardist – thankfully, the AG crew helped her see the light…