Carmen Vandenberg has been busy in the guitar world and although she’s only in her mid 20s, she’s already built herself an impressive resume. She trained at London’s Academy of Contemporary Music and upon graduation, immediately set out to make an impact on the UK session scene, landing gigs with the likes of Cher Lloyd and Kate Nash. Now, Carmen spends her time between her own band, BONES, and playing guitar for the one and only Jeff Beck. Jeff Beck met Carmen at a birthday party for Roger Taylor (drummer for Queen), and after speaking with her and watching her perform at a BONES show, he became immediately interested at the prospect of maybe a blues album.” Beck says,
I wanted to have somebody who was adaptable and had ideas or just some youthful spirit. And Carmen had that.
We had the opportunity to speak with Carmen about her guitar and music inspirations and her rise in the industry.
Q & A WITH CARMEN VANDENBERG
EB: How did you get your start in the music industry?
CV: I started playing all over Italy from a young age whilst still at school. From late night music venues to musical theatre companies. But my first step into the music industry in the UK was with singer-songwriter Kate Nash at 18. From then on I jumped from one session job to the next and from one band to another, or all at once.
EB: Who has been your biggest inspiration in music?
CV: Working alongside Jeff Beck definitely inspired me beyond imaginable. It widened my perception of a guitars’ role within music, my way of playing it and even my feelings towards the guitar itself.
EB: Which 3-5 artist’s guitar tones inspire you?
CV: Albert Collins, Jeff Beck, David Gilmour, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Josh Homme.
EB: This career isn’t an easy one. What inspires you to wake up every morning to write, record, and perform?
CV: I’ve never had to really think about it. It’s just something I couldn’t live without. The scary day will be when I don’t feel inspired and I’ve run out of things for people to hear.
EB: What is your best memory on stage?
CV: That’s a very hard question, there are too many. And all unique in their own incredible way. But my most recent overwhelming moment was on Monday at our acoustic filming session for BONES. Seeing and feeling all the support from our friends and fans that participated was very beautiful and I definitely had a moment where I thought I’d burst into tears.
EB: What’s the most abnormal thing you can’t do without on tour?
CV: Mayonnaise and coffee table jazz playlists.
EB: What was that pivotal moment in your career when you realized you knew this is what you wanted to do?
CV: (Before any career had started) I was 6 and watched Live at Woodstock VHS cassette with my dad. Whilst holding my violin horizontally pointed at Hendrix and then turned towards my dad and said “I want to do that’.
EB: How does playing music make you feel? How do you want people to feel when listening to your music?
CV: Playing music, when everything is connected and you enter the right space is almost like floating in the air. Outer body pure bliss, energy pumping, extreme feelings all of it. The more the better. I want people to have fun, laugh, cry, jump…basically FEEL.
EB: What is one piece of advice that you would give someone trying to jumpstart their career in music?
CV: When things get hard don’t quit, keep practicing, keep writing, have fun, work very hard, don’t assume shit will get done for you, but most importantly do it because you love it.
EB: What’s next for Carmen?
CV: Our BONES UK album will be out this June… and then much more…
Carmen plays with Ernie Ball Regular Slinky electric guitar strings.
**Header image c/o David A. Solorzano.