A familiar face in Midtown Phoenix, Konnor has been part of cannabis for a few years now, and it’s been a pleasure to watch him constantly work to improve himself as an employee, a friend, and a fellow musician. The gift of live music isn’t something you get to experience without tremendous talent, and the utmost courage. Nothing except that would describe the acoustic soundscapes that Konnor can create on a whim, or like he does live at mmj events here in the valley. A student of finger-style guitar, Konnor is able to craft a unique time and space in which it is easy to release yourself from your woes with his guitar. I take some time to speak with him about what drives him to create music.
When did you start playing guitar?
I started playing at the age of 9, I am now 25.
What inspired you to start playing?
I had always been around music because of my dad who plays in bands as a bass player, and I knew my grandpa played steel string guitar, so one day I told him I wanted to play. I started with bass, and then made my way to the electric guitar after a few years.
What are some of your main influences?
The Police are one of the first bands that come to memory that I enjoyed when I was a child, specifically the song “Spirits in the Material World“. I went through phases of liking genres, when I was in my early teens I listened to and learned a lot of different bands. In my late teens I stumbled across an artist on the acoustic guitar by the name of Andy Mckee. It was the first time I had seen percussive acoustic fingerstyle guitar, and I fell in love. After watching a few of his videos, I asked my dad for an acoustic and learned his song “Rylynn” as my first song on acoustic. Ever since then I have been in love with fingerstyle acoustic music, and could name off so many artists that have influenced me and shown me what’s possible with a guitar. A few that come to mind are Don Ross, Antoine Dufour, Michael Hedges, and Paco De Lucia.
Konnor Shelton | @veganguitar
What is the significance of music in your life?
Music has always been a hobby that I love that I can always fall back on. No matter what I do, I can always go to music to just zone in on myself, and zone out of everything else. It has always been there for me, and it’s pretty cool to think about how it will be in my life forever. Music is what I know I’ve been gifted at from a young age, and I’ve always known that it is to play some sort of role in my life. I feel it is an authentic way to express myself that can cross language barriers and incite emotion out of others. It’s my way of connecting to the world.
Your handle is @veganguitar, what are your reasons for going vegan, and playing under that moniker?
My Instagram handle is @veganguitar because I was having a conversation with one of my best friends and we decided that my handle should be 2 things that I’m passionate about, and those were the first 2 things to come to mind. I have been Vegan for a while, but have stumbled off the path many times, and probably will continue to. My reasons for going vegan are mainly because I don’t like animal suffering. It’s hard to look something in the eye and disregard the fact that they can feel the pain we do. Animal agriculture is terrible for the planet, cruel and just outright dirty, while animal products aren’t good for our overall health. I don’t think going vegan is necessary, but focusing on overall reduction of our consumption of animal products is something that we should all be taking into mind.
You have experience in the medical cannabis industry, what advice do you have for others?
Know your worth. I owe a lot to cannabis; it helped me overcome serious physical and mental problems in my late teenage years. I think it’s a wonderful plant that has many benefits, but can be misused like anything else can be. I think if you’re going to get into the cannabis industry, figure out why. Is it to help people? Do you just really like cannabis? Are you in it for the money? Really dwell on it and dive into what you truly want out of it, and decide if that is the best route of you getting to where you want to be. I love cannabis, but it’s no reason to stop you from progressing in other facets of life if opportunities are present.
Are you an MMJ patient?
I am, have been for about 3 years now.
Indica or sativa?
I enjoy both; they both have their own unique qualities that are better suited for different situations. Generally I like a nice sativa-dominant hybrid during the day or when I’m trying to write, and smoke indica more for when I’m looking to relax. I’m no snob when it comes to marijuana.
Konnor Shelton | @veganguitar
Any favorite meds, dispensary, or strains that you would recommend?
As an artist, I have found that anything “Strawberry” is really good at getting my creative juices flowing. Specifically, I remember a strain grown by Aeriz called Strawberry OG that would put me into such a unique zone, I loved it. I wrote quite a few pieces while under the effects, and I love how cannabis affects the way I play and connect to the guitar.
As for a favorite dispensary, I must say that the Mint in Tempe has been treating me really well as of lately. They have a beautiful location where you can watch chefs making edibles, and you can see marijuana plants growing as well. Overall The Mint crew just an awesome location with really friendly staff!!!
You are still close to the industry with your music; you’re playing at Cannakula events, any new gigs coming up?
Currently I don’t have anything planned, I kind of had to put music to the side and focus on my finances and a job that I acquired a few months back. Just recently am I trying to get back into the swing of things; my playing for Cannakula events which I really enjoy, or teaching lessons for guitar. I really enjoy teaching, if I can influence others to put time into the guitar and get something out of it, that’s amazing. I’m self-taught and have a unique perspective on music, I’m trying to ignite the love for music in others.
Where can people hear your music and what new projects do you have going on your life?
I’d really recommend Instagram @veganguitar. You can find me on YouTube and Soundcloud @konnorshelton, but I haven’t recorded too many full songs and uploaded on any of those lately. I upload pretty frequently to Instagram, what I really enjoy about it is that it’s a good way for me to share and remember music. A lot of the music is written just minutes before posting on Instagram. One of my favorite things about music is creating it out of nothing, letting your subconscious take over.
Besides working at my new job and trying to build up clientele for lessons, I’m just trying to play more events and get my music out there more. I have an opportunity to work for a cruise line come New Year and I’m really considering it. They’d allow me to play guitar on the ships, and that seems like a once in a lifetime opportunity to share my music with people all over the world.
Konnor will continue to be part of the cannabis community by playing future events like he did with @cannakula at the Midtown Wellness Center recently. He is open to collaboration on future events of any kind, or working with other musicians. For any business inquiries, Konnor can be reached via his Instagram @veganguitar. I’m happy to say his opinions and input about anything cannabis are not only interesting but beneficial. If you have the opportunity to speak with him, or see him live, I’d encourage you to do so as you would be making a friend while finding a truly unique acoustic guitarist.