​”On Track” With Tavana

Hi, thanks for talking to us today Tavana. Matthew Nigro over at Iseman Guitars said I should get in contact about a feature and when I heard the track “Tumble Down” I thought it was the perfect moment to hook up with you.

I am presuming from your social media that you are a full time musician. Tell me how you ended up walking that particular road?

Ever since I got my first guitar at 13 years old I had it in my head and heart that I just wanted to play music for the rest of my life and make a living at it. I just fell in love with the feeling I get when I’m playing. When I was 20 I got my first real gig and never looked back.

How would you describe your style and who would you site as your main musical influences?

My music has changed a lot over the years and I think it will keep changing. I would say the thing that rings throughout is the blues. I got really in to Eric Clapton Stevie Ray Jimi Hendrix anything guitar when I was 12 and 13.  At the same time I was really into Bob Marley Steel Pulse and the whole reggae scene growing up in Honolulu. Over the years all the great bands out there have played a part in whatever’s floating around in my head. 

Talk us through that seriously cool foot trigger pedal rig in the video, it looks simply awesome, so simple but so clever. Did you design it or is it available commercially as a complete unit?

So those are 6 KT-10 kick triggers by Roland. They are hooked up to a TD-20 module. I have never seen them used that way before. As far as I know I’m the only one.

Where did you get the idea from?

It was a pretty organic process. It started with a real kick drum. Then a tambourine for the other foot. Then a trigger was added to that. Now I have all 6  KT-10’s in 2 pedal boards with vocal and guitar effects included. I don’t think it’ll will ever stop morphing though. I’m hooked. 

Your custom style 4 weissenborn is really really stunning. the uniquely personalised inlays are quite exquisite. How much input did you have in the instrument?

The guys at Iseman were super great about letting me send pictures and ideas to them. I had a concept and they nailed it. 

Talk us through what the inlays represent on the headstock and fingerboard?

For me they represent Polynesia and Polynesian people. At the Head stock is New Zealand. On the neck Tahitian style tikis. The tale piece  and the rosette are Samoan patterns. The Koa wood is Hawaiian. 

How did you hook up with the guys at Iseman in the first instance?

I met mark at one of my shows and he was like “I need to make a Weissenborn for you to play” and I was like “that would be amazing” and the rest is history. 

The song itself “Tumble Down” what is song about in terms of message or sentiment?

The song is about lot of things for me . Carrying a lot of weight on your shoulders. Addiction. The release you feel when you reveal your true self to the world.

What’s the tuning on the track?


Where was it recorded?

I recorded the album version with Robbin Henley at Bat Cave studios here in Honolulu. 

Is this song available to purchase for digital download?

Yes you can get that song along with the rest of that album “Kicking and Screaming” on ITunes or CD Baby. You can get a physical copy from my Website www.tavana808.com

Have you written and recorded any other weissenborn tracks?

There is one on my last album called ” Love in Honolulu” you could check out. 

When did you first play a weissenborn?

The first time was when I went to Iseman guitars for the first time a year ago or less even. 

What other weissenborns do you own?

Just the one so far

Any more instruments on your wish list to to acquire?

I definitely want to get a resonater at some point. Never had one of my own to really sit with. 

What effects are you running through your weissenborn signal chain on the video and in general when you play live?

In the video it’s just going through an LR Baggs venue DI and some reverb. When I play live it’s the same and sometimes I use a little dirt from a Ethos Overdrive. 

What pick up do you use in your weissenborn it looks like a Seymour Duncan Mag Mic and I’m intrigued why do you mount it upside down in the sound hole when you have no obstructions mounting it the traditional way nearest to the nut?

It is a Seymour Duncan. Well we flipped it around because it allowed me to get the next octave with my slide. The regular way I couldn’t get that high. Once I pass the pick up it stops picking up. Flipping it gave me just enough. 

How does it perform live on stage, any feedback issues?

No it’s good. But I am looking into get a second pick up installed soon. I want to get the rest of the slide space audible. And I can do a lot with another guitar signal. 

Being an islander can you give us your take on how the weissenborn is perceived these days. Do you see more people playing it in recent years?

I’ve definitely noticed more and more people knowing what it is. But it’s still a rare thing to see somebody playing at a gig. People are always blown away when I play one live. It just transports you to another time kind of. I’m glad you are doing what you’re doing. Before you there really wasn’t much at all for people getting into it to check out. 

Your recent ‘Amazing Grace’ cover was excellent is it also part of your live set?

I do play that live lately. I play originals and covers live. I love playing versions of songs on the Weissenborn. They always take on a whole new life.

What goals are you setting yourself for 2016 musically speaking?

Looking forward to traveling soon. I had a son a year and a half ago and I wanted to stay home for his first couple of years. The time home has been good. I developed the whole one man band thing in that time. I’m ready to get out again now with the new rig. I’m also working on another album right now.   

It just remains for me to say thank you for your time and I wish you all the best for the future, and please stay in touch.​