Hailing from Guam, Rose Laguaña’s earliest musical influences revolved around the island’s lively music scene and its close-knit, multicultural community.
“On our small island, no one tells kids they have to learn how to play an instrument,” says Laguaña. “They just pick up the guitar or the drums because their family and friends play. And, as all the subcultures get along, all styles of music are respected. I’ve yet to come across a music scene that’s as diverse, passionate, and down-to-earth as it is back home. Growing up there as a musician influenced me in ways I won’t fully understand for years to come.”
Her love of music was kick-started by her father, Carlos—a classical guitarist and jazz bassist—and, as Laguaña aspires to touring and session work, she studies players with unique and thought-provoking skills.
“Steve Lukather is incredible—super tasteful, and his technique is like butter,” she says. “Justin Derrico’s playing is aggressive, but still fun, wild, and spunky. Annie Clark and Jonny Greenwood are masters of obscure tone, expression, and unexpected melodies. Tim Stewart and Blake Mills always floor me with their feel for whatever they’re playing, as well as the colors they lay on songs. I also love Zane Carney’s jazz vocabulary and inspiring execution.”
Laguaña’s go-to gear includes a PRS Dave Navarro Signature Custom 24, a Fender Telecaster, a Lanikai CK-C Concert Ukulele, a Morgan 30/800 amp and 2x12 cabinet, and a Fender Hot Rod DeVille 212. Her pedal collection includes a JHS Sweet Tea dual overdrive, a Walrus Audio Mayflower overdrive, an Xotic EP Booster, a Boss DD-20 Giga Delay, a Strymon blueSky Reverberator, an MXR EVH Phase 90, and a Vox Joe Satriani Ice 9 Overdrive.
Although totally committed to her career, Laguaña nonetheless has had to deal with some challenges in choosing the musician’s life—such as overcoming the fact she’d have to relocate to Los Angeles, Nashville, or New York to get serious gigs.
“Networking and staying on top of social media without being pretentious or feeling awkward about it takes getting used to, as well,” she says. “Image is obviously important for touring musicians, but you also have to be the kind of person others can enjoy riding in a van with for 12+ hours. When I auditioned players for my bands, for example, I’d ask myself, ‘Could I bring this person to a family barbeque?’ Finally, it’s critical to find the personal drive to constantly be on your ‘A’ game, to stay inspired, and to push yourself to be more and more versatile.”