Want to win Guitarist of the Year 2020? Last year’s winner Dylan Reavey tells you how he did it

Guitarist of the Year 2019 winner Dylan Reavey
(Image credit: Olly Curtis/Future)

2020’s Guitarist of the Year competition, sponsored by PRS, is really heating up, and we’re now heading into the final week of entries.

One guitarist who can testify to the competition’s considerable merits is Dylan Reavey, the winner of last year’s event.

Dylan wowed the judges with his mash-up of Frank Zappa humor and Super Mario-esque compositional nous with his self-described ‘hyper-videogame-jazz-fusion’ playing style, demonstrated on his competition entry, King Aura.

The Australian virtuoso then packed up his Strandberg and ventured to the Guitarist of the Year 2019 live final in London, UK, where he won the competition – and a PRS Silver Sky to boot.

We caught up with Dylan to hear how last year’s competition has helped his musical career – and his tips for this year’s entrants.

Enter Guitarist of the Year 2020

  • Entries must be received by October 31, 11:59 p.m EST

What opportunities has winning Guitarist of the Year afforded you?

“I've had a big jump in my online and local influence as a guitar player. I've become more recognizable after being on TV and radio after returning from London.

“A number of brands have reached out to me for collaborations which have been so cool. Just having my music reach a larger audience has been really exciting and I've met many people online and in person that I've had very influential engagements with.”

What do you think the judges saw in your entry that propelled you to the final?

“I can't say for sure, but I feel I've created my own style of music and guitar playing mixed from many influences. I wasn't trying to sound or play like anyone else besides myself – the judges would have found that individuality in me to be interesting which set me apart from the other entries.”

Guitarist of the Year 2019 winner Dylan Reavey

(Image credit: Olly Curtis/Future)

How did you first come up with your ‘hyper-videogame-jazz-fusion’ playing style?

“My style is derived from many of my past and current influences including prog-rock, jazz, metal, videogame music, EDM and more.

“I was into a lot of guitar based music and bands in high school like Dream Theater & Animals as Leaders which improved my technical skills and eventually led me down a path of playing Jazz.

“I did a four-year degree in jazz guitar at a conservatorium which gave me a thorough understanding of music theory and led me to discovering jazz fusion. In my third year, I started exploring my style by writing jazz tunes but with a more fusion/rock focus – I then started to implement nuances from video game music like instrumentation and structure.

“I tend to write most of my music in my DAW so i'm not restricted to the paths and patterns that I already know on guitar. This approach gives me a fresh outlook on the fretboard and allows me to explore the range of my compositional ability.”

Guitarist of the Year 2019 winner Dylan Reavey

(Image credit: Olly Curtis/Future)

You got your hands on a PRS Silver Sky for winning – have you been putting it to good use?

“Yes! the Silver Sky has been amazing. I haven't had much of a chance to play it live this year, but I have been putting it to good use in the studio. It's an absolute beast to record with – the variety of tones that it can produce is insane.

“I can't wait to start gigging with it when the time is right.”

What's next for you musically?

“Currently, I'm still working on my skills and technique as a guitar player, which never ends, of course. I’ve been trying to step up my video and production game lately as well. I've got many new songs in the pipeline that I'm eager to share with the world. Hopefully, I'll be releasing an album in the next year or two – I’m still writing and planning everything so I won't reveal too much just yet.”

What tips can you offer entrants this year?

“I would say just be honest with yourself and your ability. I would display your strengths as a guitar player and let that be the focus – whether it's technical ability, composition or feel, make sure you spotlight it and just have fun with it.

“Enter the competition because you want to share your music, not in hopes to win. Do it without any expectation of winning or losing – do it because you love it. Maybe use this as a chance to try out something new that you may be working on that's never been done before. Have fun, be creative and have confidence.”

For more information on Guitarist of the Year 2020, head to GOTYawards.com. You can keep up with Dylan (aka Seda) on Bandcamp, YouTube and Instagram.

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Michael Astley-Brown

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of GuitarWorld.com, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism from Cardiff University, and over a decade's experience writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as 20 years of recording and live experience in original and function bands. During his career, he has interviewed the likes of John Frusciante, Chris Cornell, Tom Morello, Matt Bellamy, Kirk Hammett, Jerry Cantrell, Joe Satriani, Tom DeLonge, Ed O'Brien, Polyphia, Tosin Abasi, Yvette Young and many more. In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.