The Pioneer

Young SoCal musician making sound waves

Vivek Chowdhary

Vivek Chowdhary

Zack Gomez,
Contributor

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A young talented musician with Bay Area connections is making her mark on the rock ‘n’ roll community.

Sydney Ellen has played shows all over the West Coast, including Leo’s in Oakland and Blue Lamp Concert Hall in Sacramento, gaining a strong following for her guitar skills and dedication to her craft.

“My inspirations are all over the place,” she said. “Of course I draw inspiration from Led Zeppelin, but also from Prince, AC/DC, Joan Jett, Lamb of God, Hans Zimmer and John Williams, or from any cool song, really.”

Ellen, 23, has a background in rock and heavy metal. She graduated from Berklee College of Music in Boston, where other famous musicians such as Quincy Jones and John Mayer also graduated.

“I was in the car, driving with my mom and ‘Black Dog’ by Led Zeppelin came on the radio,” she recalled. “I remember hearing that opening riff and thought, ‘What is this?’ I want to do this.” And from that moment the then 12-year-old said her love for rock and guitar took off.

“I think the toughest part about learning guitar is having patience,” she said. “Many people say the strength [is] in [the] fingers, but what can be more frustrating is having patience for everything to come together. A lot about learning guitar is developing muscle memory and practicing the most basic movements with chords until you don’t have to think about it. But developing patience is never a bad thing.”

After gaining multiple sponsorships, nearly 20,000 followers on Instagram and two EPs on iTunes with “Moxy and the Influence,” including a single track, “Say Goodbye,” Ellen is now working as a guitar instructor for Fender, the international iconic instrument manufacturer.

The company is best known for manufacturing guitars, basses and amplifiers for the past 60 years. Fender opened sleek new offices in the heart of Los Angeles five months ago, which was a good fit for Ellen who is from Huntington Beach.

As an instructor of the basics and some intermediate level guitar, Ellen is now influencing other young musicians and she hopes to be an inspiration in the songwriting world.

Some of her students are 11 to 12-years-old and many others are about the age she was as a high schooler when she started a band with her best friend, Cassandra “Moxy” Mohr. They called themselves The Raveyns at first, then Moxy and the Influence, with Ellen taking the role of lead guitarist and backup vocals.

“She knows how to get things done when it really counts,” Mohr said. “She challenged me and everyone we worked with to get on her level and helped us grow when it was time, doing the hard work of meeting with people, cycling out bandmates, coming up with new and better original licks and solos, ideas for stage performances, outfits, and more.”

Ellen has garnered positive reviews along the way. She has been featured on popular Los Angeles radio shows like the KLOS morning segment “The Heidi and Frank Show” and on-air with songwriter and radio host Nikki Sixx, best known for his band, Motley Crue. Both voiced their support for her music.

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