ruban nielson

Unknown Mortal Orchestra guitarist Ruban Nielson likes to keep the kids guessing, so he includes a few mysterious handmade pedals on his board.
Photo by Annie Atlasman

This tinkering guitarist’s philosophy is to sound unique by building his own gear.

In 2010, ex-Mint Chicks guitarist Ruban Nielson posted new music online under the moniker “Unknown Mortal Orchestra.” He didn’t know what to expect. After years fronting the somewhat-punk Mint Chicks, Nielson, a New Zealand native, relocated to Portland, Oregon, and worked nine-to-five. Music making was something he did at night after work as a hobby.

That changed fast.

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