Sharon Aguilar and the other members of her all-girl tribute band are bringing forth a new era of female shredders in the music industry. The incredibly talented guitarist is most known for her time touring with Cee-Lo Green during which she opened for Prince. Sharon has also toured with 2NE1, opened for the Foo Fighters, and made several appearances on talk shows and late night shows. Last week, I caught up with her for a quick interview.
When did you start playing music?
I started playing violin when I was twelve, because I went to a magnet school. There was only room left for me in the music program, so I was kind of forced to choose music. I fell in love. I saw a lot of old classic rock videos. I loved Jimmy Page and David Gilmour, so in high school I decided guitar was way cooler and decided to try that instead. I really love David Gilmour. I just think his tone is on point.
What kind of music did you listen to growing up?
I listened to classic rock, because that’s what my dad listened to. Pink Floyd is definitely my favorite band.
What do you listen to now?
Everything!! I’m learning to play more jazz style on the violin.. Jingo. Stevie Ray Vaughn
How many instruments do you play?
I play guitar, violin, and the mandolin. I have four guitars that I use. My main is my Fender American Deluxe Strat. My other main is my Wolfgang Special.
What piece of gear do you never leave home without?
These days everything is with me all the time.
When did you decide you actually wanted to go to school for music?
I was always great student. I originally wanted to be a doctor. I was a pre-med student for a while. I decided I would rather work in something that is my passion. I moved to LA to pursue guitar, not medicine. My family didn’t get it until they saw me on TV.
How would you describe your style?
When I improvise a solo, it tends to be more bluesy, but I write pop. I definitely am influenced by David Gilmour.
Can you describe a typical tour for you?
All tours are very different. There’s a lot of down time. You meet a lot of interesting people, and get closer to your band mates. Sometimes, I get so focused on the artists that I’m playing with that I don’t focus on playing other stuff.
You travel all over the world. Do you get down time to explore while you are traveling?
Yes, and that’s one of most fun things about touring. Its like a vacation, but all the annoying details are taken care of for you.
Where is your favorite place to visit?
Singapore. It’s such a unique city. I really loved all the architecture and lushness of the plants. I would love to go back.
You’ve played with a lot of talented musicians. Who was your favorite to perform with?
Other than Prince, I toured with the pop group 2NE1 in Asia for six months. It was so much fun, because they have these die-hard fans and the music is fun to play. There’s just so much good energy. The whole tour was awesome.
Do you have a favorite tour story or gig story?
I was playing at Wembly. It was my second time playing there, and I opened for the Foo Fighters. After I went on, I was watching from the side of the stage. I look to my left, and John Paul Jones was standing there! I didn’t wanna bother him then, but after the show, I went up to say hello and told him how he was one of my inspirations. I’m not terrible at acting like a fan when I meet big name artists, but sometimes it sucks because I don’t get pictures with the people I’ve met. Since it was John Paul Jones, I had to get a picture and a hug. He was fun to talk to, and he said he saw me perform and told me I did a great job! It was amazing.
Can you tell us about your tour with Cee-loo Green?
There were so many moments where I would pinch myself and ask myself if this is real life. It was like a dream come true. One of the best moments for me on that tour was opening for Prince at Madison Square Garden. Yes, we knew we were gonna play this show, but it was still so surreal. In sound check, all the girls were playing, and all of a sudden, we heard an extra player. We look over, and there’s Prince playing the piano with us. I remember he was wearing tall, white shoes with see-through heels that lit up every step he took.
Can you tell me a little bit about Scarlet Fever?
Scarlet Fever is the name Cee-Lo Green gave to the all-girl band that backed him on tour. He didn’t know what to call us, so he just gave us that name. After the tour, we just kept playing together.
What is it like to be a successful female guitarist in a male dominated industry?
People don’t expect much from me at first. When people see me holding a guitar, they’ll say something like, “Oh, so you dabble a little bit in guitar?” They don’t mean to be rude, but obviously it is. It’s like they don’t think I could be playing for real. On the upside, the turnaround from that exchange is great, because they’re so surprised. Even then, I’ve had people accuse me of miming when I start to play.
How would you describe the experience of going on talk shows and late-night shows?
It felt unreal. You see it on TV, but actually being there, it’s like, “did that really just happen?” It all happens so fast.
What are you working on now?
I’m going to Vegas to perform in an all-girl 80s tribute show called “Addicted to Love”. All the girls are stellar players; they have played with pretty big artists like Beyoncé and Imagine Dragons. It’s the most fun show to do. I’m really excited about it. There’s just nothing like it right now. I met the girls while I was living in LA, and they are all extremely talented. I’ve always thought the all-girl band thing was so cool, because I watched Jem and the Holograms.
What do you do when you are not playing music?
When I’m not performing, I’m actually a rock star realtor. I work with investors in real estate, and I love business. I’ve met a lot of high profile people everywhere I went. I liked it because it’s a business where I can work as little or as much as I wanted. It works out with touring because both careers are flexible.
Where do you see your career taking you?
I never wanna stop playing music. I wanna do it ‘til I can do it no more! Haha. It brings me and the people around me joy, and I love that. In the future, I would like to start writing more.
What advice do you have for someone trying to pursue a career in music?
Don’t let anyone try to take away your dreams, because they certainly tried to take mine!