ava mendoza

Mendoza describes her band Unnatural Ways as eccentric rock. “I listen to a lot of metal and a lot of music that has a more open approach to songwriting,” she says. “It’s not verse/chorus/verse—it’s more proggy.”
Photo by Peter Gannushkin

A pedal stomping avant-rocker talks about discovering new modes and sounds, the genre-jumping joys of improvisation, and her journey from classical and roots music to the outlands.

Ava Mendoza creates edgy, challenging music. She plays guitar and stompboxes and, no, she doesn’t use pedals to mask inferior technique or shoddy ideas. Her command of the instrument is prodigious, her tonal palette is expansive, she has an intuitive improvisatory awareness, and her lunchbox is chockfull of sonic goodies. Not staid or vanilla, her playing is a profound testament to the state of contemporary guitar.

Mendoza has deep roots, too, and that includes years of classical training, a rich knowledge of old-school blues and traditional fingerstyle, a profound awareness of no-wave punk and sonic weirdness, and significant exposure to the free jazz masters. She also has the ears and chops to assimilate her disparate influences and execute difficult music.

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