Gabriel Tanaka

About Me

I am a guitarist, musician, performer, and producer based in Los Angeles. I play guitar primarily and specialize in collaborative projects with other musicians. Composing music, continued learning, emotive expression through music and art, and breaking the boundaries between myself others are the things I live for as an artist.


I grew up in the blues and rock ‘n roll music capital, Memphis, Tennessee, where my love of music, thankfully instilled by my parents, led me to begin teaching myself to play guitar at age 14. I eventually found my way to the culturally-diverse and musically-rich New York City and spent four years living in and around Manhattan before moving to Los Angeles at the end of 2010. I spent the last two years in LA and NYC to work on music projects and perform with various bands including Lilac and Sphinx.


I play and compose mostly in styles of modern rock and metal. I also like to experiment with various genres including jazz, blues, trip-hop (Massive Attack and Portishead), electronica, industrial, trance, house, Middle-Eastern, and Asian-influenced sounds and scales, as well as more stripped-down acoustic guitar music as well.


While technique and music theory are essential to gaining an understanding of how music generally works, I am a firm believer in creating soundscapes from pure inspiration or discovering entirely new ways to get desired or unknown results. My ever-changing methods are at times traditional and at others, extremely unorthodox. Often, I use my always-expanding knowledge of music theory to create riffs, melodies, and harmonies, as on original demos from my music page like “GT 100,” “Passage of Time,” and “Rock ‘n Roll Domination,” but guitarists such as Jimi Hendrix, Tom Morello, and Ichirou Agata have reminded me to see the possibilities outside of conventional textures. Presently, I have begun fusing together more diverse sounds and styles of music, using an array of effects and techniques to add sonic embellishments and create textural atmospheres.


While I enjoy creating music on my own, I find it exhilarating to share my skills with others and work together on various music projects. When I played with the band Mauxfaux in Memphis, I would take the structures of songs such as “Ivy League” and “More Than a Whisper” and layer them with new, harmonically-rich guitar parts. I have developed and employed this skill in all the bands I have worked with since, even for bass guitar parts, as throughout the song “Future” by Lilac and on my live guitar-work performing with the NYC Hardcore/Metal band Severed and Electro/Industrial duo Sphinx. I often elaborate on concepts and themes, creating entirely new sections that can take a composition to previously uncharted directions as with Mauxfaux’s “Zombie Town.” Working with bands often inspires me to write entirely new original compositions such as Mauxfaux’s “Give the Gangs Swords” or Lilac’s “The Night.” I thrive on collaborating and am always seeking new opportunities to work with talented musicians, performers, and visual artists.


I regard performance as an art in itself and prefer to be part of performances that are both visually and aurally engaging. X Japan’s epic “The Last Live,” Jeff Buckley’s intimate performances at Sin-é in New York, or The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s legendary U.S. debut at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, were all captivating, once-in-a-lifetime experiences for those in attendance. Personal appearance, audience and musician interaction, and showmanship go together with the sound and music. I always work on developing my chemistry with musicians I perform with so that our natural interaction creates flare. I respect the audience and hold them in the highest regard because it is their energy that ebbs and flows with mine to create inspiration and heightened emotional euphoria. I present myself through wardrobe and movement in a way that would cultivate the adoration of appearance. My preparations for performances could be considered ritualistic, as I take great care to prepare myself and my musical instruments. But while professional preparation and rehearsal are essential, I indulge in the spontaneous, chaotic element of live creation shared in participation with an audience.


While I draw inspiration from all aspects of life and creation through literature, film, art, world culture, and philosophy, my musical influences range from such classic and modern rock bands as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Aerosmith, Guns n’ Roses, Nirvana, and Rage Against the Machine, to heavy metal bands like Metallica, Megadeth, Pantera, Black Sabbath, and Children of Bodom. And there are my favorite composers Ludwig van Beethoven, Johann Sebastian Bach, Nobuo Uematsu, and Yasunori Matsuda, to the diverse and sometimes unconventional music from Japanese artists Melt Banana, Cornelius, Cibo Matto, X Japan, hide, and Gackt. I am also inspired by renowned performers like Michael Jackson, James Brown, and Prince, and especially such legendary guitarists as Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Randy Rhoads, Steve Vai, Zakk Wylde, Eddie Van Halen, Marty Friedman, and many, many more.

Legendary Guitarists: Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Randy Rhoads, Steve Vai, Zakk Wylde, Eddie Van Halen, Marty Friedman
Classic & Modern Rock: The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Guns n’ Roses, Nirvana
Heavy Metal: Metallica, Megadeth, Pantera, Black Sabbath, Children of Bodom
Classical: Beethoven, Bach
Japanese: X Japan, Melt Banana, Cornelius, Cibo Matto, hide


Past: Mauxfaux (indie rock), Severed (metal/hardcore), Lilac (grunge), Sphinx (electro industrial)
Present: Actually (pop/dark wave)


Won a guitar at 2005 Emergenza Battle of the Bands Finals in Memphis, TN.


I am currently focused on collaborating on the Viking Angel project with Actually, an album-in-progress that began in early 2013.