Meet ambient shredder Jakub Zytecki – the trailblazing virtuoso who picks plugins over pedals and plays a Kurt Cobain-inspired 8-string

Jakub Zytecki
(Image credit: Provided)

Polish guitar virtuoso, multi-instrumentalist and producer Jakub Żytecki has solidified his position as a trailblazer in progressive guitar music with a brilliant new album, Remind Me

The shred-meets-ambient specialist also teases an eight-string signature guitar and reveals why it’s time to rip it up like his teen hero once more.

Tell us about the one guitar you couldn’t live without...

“It’s probably the one that I recorded most of the album with – my Mayones that they built for me. It’s an offset model, a bit different from their catalogue. It’s inspired by the Fender Jaguar, so it’s got this Kurt Cobain-ish shape. 

“I actually received that guitar as an eight-string version recently. I haven’t shown anybody, but it’s a guitar that we’re working on and there’s going to be the signature coming this year.”

Do your tones come solely from plugins or do you use pedals, too? 

“I got some pedals thinking it was going to change my process, but still I’m ending up recording super-dry and changing it in the post-process. It was on my first record that I started using Neural DSP stuff because they’re awesome, probably the best in the market. I’ve been using a Valhalla Reverb for years – it’s everywhere – and I use EchoBoy when it comes to delays.”

How would you describe your approach to the guitar? 

“It’s probably a bit cliché to say, but it’s just a tool to tell some kind of story. You’re a part of a bigger picture. Obviously there are places to have the guitar in the spotlight but there are also moments where it’s just supporting other things. 

“Usually, it’s about recreating a certain feeling. I see music through the general emotional idea that it carries. Let’s say I have a chord; I try to think of why I like this chord and what kind of emotion it gives me. The more I understand it, the better I portray the emotion.”

You’ve been quoted in the past as saying that you don’t listen to much guitar music. Where does your inspiration come from?

“I think that was maybe two years back – maybe from the previous record – and I was feeling like that for many years. The last time I was listening to guitar music was as a teenager obsessed with Dream Theater. Right now, it feels like it came back to me a little bit. With the thing that Polyphia and Plini are doing, I feel like it’s an interesting moment for the guitar and I feel inspired by it again.”

Can you single out a performance on the record that you’re especially proud of?

“This is the first time I actually came back to the classic conception of guitar solos. There are at least two solos that I wouldn’t have done three years ago – typical high-gain, two minute-long solos. There’s one in MOONGHOST alt which is kind of like a John Petrucci-style solo with a wah pedal at the end. You can’t get more classic than that, and I like it because I haven’t done that in years!”

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Ellie Rogers

Since graduating from university with a degree in English, Ellie has spent the last decade working in a variety of media, marketing and live events roles. As well as being a regular contributor to Total Guitar, MusicRadar and, she currently heads up the marketing team of a mid-scale venue in the south-west of England. She started dabbling with guitars around the age of seven and has been borderline obsessed ever since. She has a particular fascination with alternate tunings, is forever hunting for the perfect slide for the smaller-handed guitarist, and derives a sadistic pleasure from bothering her drummer mates with a preference for “f**king wonky” time signatures.