Spotlight: Viktor Rufus of Kirklandd

(Image credit: Rohan Thompson)


HAILS FROM: Ngambri/Canberra, ACT
PLAYS WITH: Kirklandd
SOUNDS LIKE: A glitchy fusion of rap-rock and pop-punk
LATEST DROP: ‘OTHERSIDE’ (single out now via STAINED. Inc)

What’s your current go-to guitar?
It’s a tie between my 1971 Gibson ES-335 and 1991 Modulus Graphite Fender Stratocaster. The 335 was bought on my first trip to New York City. I was talking to the great jazz guitarist Adam Rogers about where to go shopping, and he said he had one for sale and was happy for it to go to someone that wasn’t a “schmuck”. It played like a dream, and still does to this day. 

My Stratocaster was a 30th birthday present to myself, and is played at just about every other gig that the 335 isn’t. It’s got this wicked carbon fibre neck and the most aggressive-looking Floyd Rose Kahler bridge, but plays with the clarity of an undisturbed mountain lake and has that characteristic fourth position chank.

How did you initially fall in love with the instrument?
I didn’t sleep well as a child. My dad would sit me in front of the TV late at night and we’d watch video clip after video clip on ABC’s Rage until I drifted off. At that age, all I wanted to do was have a terrible mullet and play wailing solos on big festival stages. I started learning classical guitar at the age of eight, not knowing that playing Piazzolla and Villa-Lobos didn’t usually coincide with the aforementioned shredding and hairstyles. Soon I became enamoured by Bach and Tarrega, followed by Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and Rage Against The Machine.

What inspires you as a player?
Jazz guitarists Emily Remler, Jim Hall and Gilad Hekselman were my biggest influences in university. Their improvisational and accompaniment style was so considered and composed, glueing everything together with the bigger picture in mind. I take that philosophy to every bandstand, no matter the genre or instrumentation, and try to hear every song as a producer, approaching my parts with the notion of how this serves the art and compliments the arrangement. 

Multi-instrumentalist Nate Mercereau and vocalist Moses Sumney are my current obsessions, with their unique textural approaches and beautiful ability to express a melody and construct a harmony.

Are you much of a gear nerd?
Personally I don’t think I’m that much of a gear head, but I’m sure everyone I play with would say otherwise. I have recently delved into the world of digital modelling with the Neural DSP Quad Cortex. The size, processing power, flexibility and accuracy of profiling (not to mention the ability to create a quadraphonic sound field) are astonishing. It has revolutionised how I think about approaching every song with a unique sonic perspective. 

Do you have any ‘white whales’?
Sean Costello’s Goldtop Gibson Les Paul always sounded so good. I’d love to play it some day. If someone were to offer me a Dave Grohl signature Gibson DG-335 with the Trini Lopez diamond holes, too, I wouldn’t say no…

What would your signature model look like?
It’d be a slim, seven-string hollowbody with a selectable 335/Strat hybrid sound and a synth/MIDI pickup for all the texture combinations imaginable. I’d have 

two – one with an EVH Wolfgang colour design in the texture of Jackson Pollock’s Blue Poles, and one just bare and blonde, ready to be roadworn.

If you could jam with any guitarist, dead or alive...
Julian Lage makes his blackguard Telecaster sing, and his approach is so musically wholesome. Getting to jam with him on that Tele or his Manzer Archtop while I play my 1954 Gibson ES-175, calling a tune like ‘All The Things You Are’ or ‘Falling Grace’, would be a dream come true.

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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…