Irene Ketikidi: Shreddelicious ten of the best interview

Shreddelicious: Irene Ketikidi gets ten of the best.

Irene Ketikidi was born in Ioannina, Greece and started playing electric guitar at the age of 15. Initially captivated by the playing of Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani and Eric Johnson, Irene took some lessons from a local teacher, developing the basic skills and spending the first couple of years working out her favourite tracks by ear and jamming with bands.

In 2001, Irene relocated to Athens, where she studied music at the Philippos Nakas Conservatory, part of the Berklee international network partners, allowing her to expand her knowledge of music and graduating with a diploma in harmony and theory in 2003. During this time she complimented her academic studies with private lessons with Theodore Ziras, one of Greece’s top rock/metal instructors where she started to develop the knowledge and techniques of the modern rock style.

In 2007, Irene relocated to the UK to attend London’s prestigious Guitar Institute (I.C.M.P), studying with some of the UK’s finest teachers including Iain Scott, Lee Hodgson and Dario Cortese, and graduating in 2009 with a Bmus degree and a level 6 Licentiate in teaching music.

From 2008 onwards, Irene supplemented her studies with additional private lessons from I.C.M.P instructor and leading UK rock/metal specialist Martin Goulding, where she completed a 2 year advanced modern rock improvisation/technique course.

Since graduating, Irene has been working professionally within a range of diverse contemporary music styles including gigging and touring with pop singer Cherry Lee Mewis, punk/rock tribute act “The Femones,” as a session guitarist for London musical “Bob’s Women” and many guest solo spots with bands and artists, most recently for Greek metal act “In Utero Cannibalism,” and alongside top Greek rock/metal virtuosos Anthimos Manti, Kosta Vreto, George Marios, Gus Drax and Theodore Ziras. Irene has also contributed tuition columns to the Guitar Website and was guest instructor and course writer at the 2010 and 2011 International Guitar Foundation courses in London.

Irene Ketikidi - "Rambler" live at Steve Vai Masterclass

In November 2010, Irene won the I.C.M.P competition to play in front of Steve Vai as part of the Guitar Nation event at London’s Olympia, where she showcased her instrumental tune “Rambler,” prompting a comment from Steve Vai: 
“Very melodic playing, and some great chops too” Steve Vai.

[Shreddelicious] 1 When did you start playing guitar?

[Irene Ketikidi] My first contact with rock music was around 11 years old – it was my dad’s old cassette of Pink Floyd’s The Wall. I always loved music and found the sound of the electric guitar very captivating, so I started playing around the age of 15. I was listening to more commercial stuff at the time, like Oasis, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and even some pop stuff which would be embarrassing to mention… lol. Soon I discovered bands like Deep Purple, Scorpions, Iron Maiden and Megadeth and really got inspired to play like these guys. I also watched Jimi Hendrix’s Monterey Pop Festival performance on TV and was mesmerised! So my dad got me my first Epiphone Les Paul and a little Marshall practice amp and I started lessons with a local teacher back home in Greece. It felt great – I remember I picked up string bending really quickly and had a good ear for melodies too. It wasn’t long before I discovered Joe Satriani and since then he’s been one of my biggest influences.

[Shreddelicious] 2 What made you decide to take guitar seriously?

[Irene Ketikidi] There were a few things really. Obviously, I was inspired by Jennifer Batten and Carina Alfie, these two were the only female players I really looked up to. I was also inspired by my guitar teacher in Athens, Theodore Ziras, who was very successful and was one of the first Greek guitarists to release an instrumental album. And to be honest, Greece isn’t really the place where you can play a lot of rock/metal gigs, so I always wanted to get out and play more. In 2007, I got accepted at the Guitar Institute in London and this to me proved to be the best way to learn and at the same time play with great musicians.

[Shreddelicious] 3 What are your favourite albums?

[Irene Ketikidi] Top instrumental albums for me are:

  • Joe Satriani: Flying in a Blue Dream,
  • Steve Morse: Split Decision,
  • Eric Johnson: Ah Via Musicom,
  • Greg Howe: Introspection
  • Richie Kotzen: Electric Joy. 

As far as bands are concerned, there are so many albums that I love…

  • Van Halen: 1984 and OU812
  • Whitesnake: 1987
  • Skid Row: Skid Row
  • Mr Big: Mr. Big
  • Guns N Roses: Appetite for Destruction
  • Extreme: Pornograffitti
  • Cream: Goodbye
  • Ozzy Osborne: Blizzard of Oz
  • Megadeth: Youthanasia
  • Iron Maiden: Brave New World by Iron Maiden,
  • Dream Theater: Images and Words
  • Evergrey: Recreation Day
  • Tool: Lateralus
  • Porcupine Tree: Fear of a Blank Planet
… the list goes on. At the moment, I'm listening to a lot of As I Lay Dying and loving the aggression.


[Shreddelicious] 4 What do you think of the use of social media for promoting your work?

[Irene Ketikidi] I think the use of social media is a great way for artists to share their music with people all over the world. As long as you have the rights to your music, no one can take that away from you. Obviously, any material you upload can be easily downloaded and re-distributed by anyone, but this is still promotion in my mind. It’s unrealistic to think that people will buy your music straight away without getting a taste first. Plus a lot of the times you get heard by people who will offer you work or a gig that you wouldn’t normally have access to. Unfortunately, you’ll get a lot of bad players too which is inevitable, simply because anyone is available to use these tools for promotion. This can make spotting the good players more difficult, however I still like to see the positive side.


[Shreddelicious] 5 If you had a chance to play with anyone who would you pick?

[Irene Ketikidi] Without a doubt Sammy Hagar on vocals, he’s an amazing singer! I honestly think this guy is the real deal, I saw him with Chickenfoot recently and he’s unbeatable – the power he has over the audience and his stage presence are just unreal. Now for the rest there are quite a few options… I’d pick Mike Mangini or Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, Billy Sheehan or Flea on bass and Kevin Moore or Liam Howlett on keys. Might sound a bit contrasting, but all these musicians reflect the different influences I’ve had over the years. Now for guitarists, I could fill an entire page with names, so I’ll just stick to the ones that first come to mind – Satch, Eddie and Paul Gilbert.


[Shreddelicious] 6 Have you ever had any live show disasters?

[Irene Ketikidi] Not major disasters so far, I’d say a few unfortunate moments rather. I’ve had my speaker cable burn in the middle of a gig, played another gig within an hour of having caught my right hand index on a van door (this really killed), also occasional tripping over cables or headbanging against another person on stage! Playing live and putting on a good show is a real challenge, because there’s no time to think about technical issues on stage. Things can go wrong and they will go wrong, so I only see it as a way to gain more experience and be better prepared for the next gig.

[Shreddelicious] 7 How do record your guitar videos?

[Irene Ketikidi] Most of my videos are recorded at my home studio. I have a professional backdrop, professional lights and an HD video camera – you don’t need a lot more than that. I use recording software for capturing the sound and then re-synchronise it with the picture in video editing software for better audio quality. When filming lessons, you have to make sure you’re at the correct angle and that people can actually see what your fingers are doing. Including close-ups definitely helps. I don’t do too much for editing, just edit the contrast a bit to make the video look sharper and add some fade in and fade out black transitions to make it smoother to watch.

Irene Ketikidi’s In depth lessons on Live4Guitar
Beat-it solo:
Sweep Tap:
Comfortably Numb:
Megadeth Victory:

[Shreddelicious] 8 What do you think of illegal music downloading?

[Irene Ketikidi] That’s a really tough question… I do think illegal downloading has contributed to the decline in the music industry. But you can’t blame technology, because like everything it has advantages and disadvantages. For example, digital recording technology has allowed musicians to record at home, thus spending a lot less money than they would if they had to hire a professional studio. The internet has helped artists’ music reach millions of people with a simple click, without having to tour the whole world or ship physical CD copies. On the other hand, digital technology has made it just as easy for anyone to convert a CD into mp3 files and share them on the internet without permission. It is unfortunate, but every musician has to deal with the fact that a lot of people will download their music simply because they can. It’s almost guaranteed that these people would never buy the actual album anyway, so in a way it’s not money lost and, in the end of the day, at least the artist’s name is still circulated. It’s a sad truth, but it’s impossible for musicians to make a living exclusively from their music nowadays.

GraVil solos by Irene Ketikidi, live at the Camden Underworld

[Shreddelicious] 9 Can you tell us a bit about your Guitars and Amps?

[Irene Ketikidi] I own an Ibanez JS900, a USA Fender Strat, an 80’s Jackson/Charvel with a custom EVH finish and an Ibanez S in D standard tuning that I used for my last metal band. My combo amp is a Traynor by Yorkville, really nice and bright sounding, fantastic clean tone and a vintage overdrive channel. I’ve also used a Peavey Valveking head and 4x12 cab for gigs, it’s obviously louder and more modern. I’ve played with many Peavey amps and they always have a great tone without too much fiddling around settings. Really loving EVH amps at the moment though… I’ve got quite a few pedals, but not all of them are part of my current pedal board. I’m using a classic ts808 tubescreamer, an MXR clean boost, an AnalogMan chorus (which is by far the best chorus pedal I’ve ever played), a Boss DD-2 delay and an MXR hand wired phaser. I prefer to use the distortion from the amp and just tighten it up with the tube screamer, sounds bigger and definitely a lot beefier than a distortion pedal stuck in the front of a clean channel. For recording, I also used Digitech’s Whammy pedal and Little Alligator volume for a couple of my songs. I’m not a gear nerd (although I am a guitar nerd!), but I do like to try new stuff out when I get the chance – I know for sure that the next pedal I’m getting is the Electro Harmonix POG!


[Shreddelicious] 10 Can you tell us about your latest recording?

[Irene Ketikidi] I’m currently working on the final production and mixing of my first instrumental album. I am honoured to be working with people like Dave Marks and Darby Todd on it, also have some amazing musicians doing guest solos on it. It’s a rock record, in the style of my main influences – Joe Satriani, Eddie Van Halen, Paul Gilbert and a bit of Stevie Ray Vaughan for the groovy parts. I’m putting in an enormous amount of work for this album and I believe in my songs 100%, but good things take a long time and I’m happy to say that everything’s been coming along great so far. I don’t have any material for sale yet but you can check my website news section and soundcloud for a few demos, as well as my youtube channel for some free music! My video for “Rambler” is there, and you can find a session video from the studio recordings for the track “Wanna play some catch” on Dave Marks’ channel. Stay tuned, more shred is on its way… rock!!!


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