Interview: Marcel Wittfeld

Dan McAvinchey: Marcel, how did you originally get interested in music, and rock guitar in particular?

Marcel Wittfeld: I originally started out playing classical guitar because my parents didn't want to buy me the piano that I'd always wanted. I then took classical guitar lessons for almost five years before hearing the guitar solo in Michael Jackson's "Beat it". That was when I got hooked on rock guitar.

Dan McAvinchey: What guitars and other gear you are using?

Marcel Wittfeld: I am currently using a Gibson Les Paul Standard and a Tom Anderson Custom Strat. My Marshall top was modified by Reinhold Bogner, a friend of mine from Germany.

Dan McAvinchey: What are you hoping to achieve musically?

Marcel Wittfeld: My ultimate musical goal is to create music that will be more intense, radical, uncompromising and original, yet evolved, than anything that has ever been recorded.

Dan McAvinchey: What projects have you been working on most recently?

Marcel Wittfeld: I have just finished working on recordings that I produced and co-wrote with a local artist called Joel Robles. His music sounds a little bit like Sting with Spanish lyrics.

Dan McAvinchey: How do you compose your music?

Marcel Wittfeld: I can spend hours polishing the rough edges of a spontaneous little idea. Sometimes I come up with a chord progression first; other times I have a melody in my head that I build chords around. Either way, I always try to go for something special when it comes to arranging the song, especially when it is an instrumental.

My solos are mainly composed by compiling melodies, licks and noises that I come up with while jamming.

Dan McAvinchey: Do you record at home or rent time at a commercial facility?

Marcel Wittfeld: I record most of my music at home in my own ADAT/Mac studio.

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Dan McAvinchey: What went into the decision to form your own record label and release an independent record?

Marcel Wittfeld: When I was 18 I was offered a deal by Guitar Recordings. The German hillbilly that I was, I got really excited, and by the time I found out that the deal wasn't happening I had already spent almost as much money on attorney's fees as it would have cost me to self-release my own solo CD. Then I got thrilled by the idea of being in charge of everything--from producing to marketing to distributing the CD.

Dan McAvinchey: What are some of the things you need to be successful as an independent?

Marcel Wittfeld: That depends on how you define success. I consider myself successful because I recorded a CD that I am proud of--a CD that makes me pat myself on the back when I listen to it, even though I would change it all if I could do it over again. The best thing about the whole project was probably that I learned a lot about music, producing, people and myself. If you decide to go independent, you have to have the strong will and a clear idea of what you want to achieve with you project, musically and
commercially. You have to know about production techniques or at least have to be willing to learn a lot of things that don't have anything to do with playing guitar. And you shouldn't exhaust your financial resources for the production, because you might need some money for the promotion--if you don't want to end up with your mom being the only one buying your CD. (My mom made my album a commercial success by buying about a thousand copies of my CDs!)

Dan McAvinchey: Care to share any marketing or promotion tips for musicians about to release their first independent record?

Marcel Wittfeld: Since up to now I have done anything but a great job when it comes to marketing my CD I am probably not the guy you want to ask for advice. I started working on my CD in my teens and finished it when I was 22. After that I felt creatively burned out and I also realized that marketing your own stuff is much harder than recording it. That's basically why I have decided to concentrate on moving on than desperately trying to promote an instrumental album at a time when Oasis and Offspring are on the cover of guitar magazines and ripping-off licks from one-dimensional dead blues players is considered to be original.

Even though these days it takes a lot of idealism to produce an instrumental record, I strongly encourage everybody who's playing around with the idea to do so. Just don't expect to get any money
out of it, regardless of the quality of your product. It might happen, but it's very likely that it won't. But you will have the best musical business card there is and a unique document of your own creativity.

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Los Angles guitarist Marcel Wittfeld is only 24 years old, yet possesses a mature attitude, an uncompromised artistic vision, and of course, killer guitar chops. Originally from Aachen, West Germany, Wittfeld has studied the guitar since age 11, beginning with classical lessons, then transferring that technique to electric guitar. At age 18, Wittfeld knew that he wanted to share his talent and original instrumental compositions with the world. The result is Marcel Wittfeld, a 72-minute romp through metal, classical, fusion, and rock genres--often within the same song!

Dan McAvinchey asked Wittfeld to share with Guitar Nine his guitar roots, his early experiences with labels and lawyers, .and his thoughts on releasing instrumental music in the mid-Nineties.