These days, you’ll hear more and more guitarists shredding up and down the fretboard like the ’80s all over again. Guitarist/singer/songwriter Lexii Lynn Frazier can rip it up with the best of them, transposing the skills of 1980s rock guitar flash into the modern era.
Lexii hurtled into our consciousness in 2022 as she got the call to play on the guitar-driven score for Top Gun: Maverick. In short order, the 23-year-old’s six-string skills became apparent, and boy was the world listening as Top Gun: Maverick skyrocketed to almost 1.5 billion dollars in worldwide box office sales.
As for Lexii’s efforts, yeah, you could say the moviegoing public took notice, since the soundtrack was a hit, too. The young gun parlayed her early Eddie Van Halen worship into becoming a YouTube favorite, and signing a record deal at 16 and being asked to play on Top Gun: Maverick.
Now Lynn is looking at making her first record under her own name and leaving time for skateboarding and other extracurricular activities – all while having to deal with being diagnosed with aplastic anemia five years ago.
Andrew Daly: What first inspired you to pick up the guitar? Can you recall your first guitar?
Lexii Lynn Frazier: Eddie Van Halen and Guitar Hero. (Laughs) My first guitar was a $100 blue sunburst Epiphone from Best Buy that came with an amp, strap and so on. I had been saving my money doing different chores for my family members. I gave it to a fan a few years ago.
AD: What were the first riffs and solos you learned?
LLF: I think riff-wise, it was the main “Enter Sandman” riff by Metallica. It was [from] a Marty Music beginner tutorial or something that had popped up on my YouTube search page. The first solo I ever learned was pieces of the solo in “Panama” by Van Halen. I couldn’t play it in its entirety at first, and I kept learning it section by section as I started getting better.
AD: What five albums have shaped your career so far, and why? How is their influence reflected in your playing?
LLF: Four by Stone Temple Pilots. This is not only one of my favorite albums but also one that developed my love of versatile playing and melodic riffs.
Fair Warning by Van Halen. I’m a fan of everything Eddie Van Halen ever did, but Fair Warning was an album that inspired me to pick up a guitar every time I heard it.
Parachutes by Coldplay. This album inspired me to appreciate songwriting at its finest. This album sonically is ridiculous and got me really interested in production.
Off the Wall by Michael Jackson. If you ever have the privilege of hearing some of the isolated [guitar] tracks, you can hear how each guitar is perfectly layered. It is simple yet effective, beyond funky on its own, but it creates absolute magic when played together. This album made me appreciate the layers within songs and not focus so much on playing the most or flashiest notes but instead play effectively to fit what’s suitable for the song.
Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) by David Bowie. Like many before me, Bowie has always been one of my biggest influences. He’s also one of my biggest tattoos currently. (laughs) But this album is so bizarre and camp, spacey and unique. This album inspired my love of ethereal tones and out-of-the-box thinking regarding writing.
AD: Your love for Eddie Van Halen is well-known. How has his work influenced your own?
LLF: For a while, all I wanted in life was to be Ed. When I first picked up a guitar, I spent two years only learning Van Halen songs to the point where all I knew how to play was pieces of Van Halen songs. When I was younger, I’d try to copy everything he did when it came to tapping or dive bombs and all that. As I got older, I really started to appreciate his incredible rhythm playing and his ability to float between lead and rhythm flawlessly. His phrasing is genius. It inspired me to work hard on my right-hand abilities.
AD: Tell me about any original music you’re working on.
LLF: Being an artist [rather than a hired hand or session player] is a dream of mine that I’ve always had but have yet to fulfill. Right now, all I want in life is to release music I’m proud of. Writing songs in the past was very difficult – still is but was even worse back then – because I always expected myself to create the next big thing every time I wasn’t writing for the love of art, but with the expectation that it had to be something everyone would love.
Now, I enjoy layering different sounds together and letting the rest come to mind as I get inspired. I looooove stacking vocals too. My main goal is to create art that inspires me and makes me feel moved. Sometimes, I still get caught up in worrying too much about what others think, but that’s human.
AD: I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Top Gun: Maverick score. How did you land the gig? With the original being so iconic, what was your approach to creating something that paid homage to the 1986 version while still being fresh and new? You were asked to contribute with little notice and they asked you to do it in less than a day!
LLF: I was the right person at the right place at the right time. I really would love to do more film work. It’s one of my favorite experiences I’ve had the privilege of being a part of. All credit goes to [film composers] Lorne Balfe and Hans Zimmer [who I first met when doing The Game Awards show one year]. I was so honored to be able to work with them to bring their vision to life.
AD: What guitars and gear did you use during the recording process?
LLF: I recorded on my 2015 MacBook Air through Logic Pro during the height of the pandemic in my bedroom; I had just turned 21, I think. I had a little Apogee Duet interface, some headphones, and my PRS SE Custom 24 [guitar with a] Floyd [Rose vibrato system].
AD: What are your next goals and how do you plan to make them a reality?
LLF: First and most important is getting my health in order. I’ve been battling aplastic anemia for over five years now, and it’s made touring extremely difficult for me physically. I’m on a slight break from everything at the moment to try and avoid having to have a bone marrow transplant. During this time, I hope I’ll be able to write some songs and release my own music sooner than later. I also skateboard, so a big goal for me is to get great at skating, too. (laughs)
AD: Being self-taught and unable to read music, what challenges has that presented, and how did you overcome them?
LLF: The only challenges I’ve faced with not being able to read music is being put in situations, for example, shows with orchestras or recording work – where I needed to read music. (laughs) I needed to know how to read music for a certain show and overcame my [inability by sitting] awake until the sun rose in the morning, searching what every single note looked like on [the] staff versus where it was on the fretboard, and recording piece by piece. Eventually, I just learned enough to figure it out over time, but the first couple of times were brutal. If I have a reference track, though, I can hear the notes and find them almost instantly and just use the sheet music to double check my work.
AD: What are your biggest takeaways from that experience, and how did this help you grow as you move forward?
LLF: It not only added another skill to the list of things I could do but also emphasized the importance of learning and being prepared to do anything I need to as a session and touring musician. Knowledge is always useful. Learning to read music helped me understand the fretboard in detail, making it easier to play.
AD: You’ve come a long way since the days in your bedroom during the pandemic. What guitars, pedals, amps, and effects are you using now?
LLF: I’ve got a lot of all of the above, but my main touring setup recently has been an Ernie Ball Cutlass and PRS Silver Sky [electrics], my Taylor GS Mini acoustics, the Fishman Platinum Pro [acoustic guitar preamp], Ernie Ball strings and capos, and my Kemper Profiler amplifier equipped with every sound and effect you could think of. Recently I’ve been using a dense hall reverb and a really nice chorus on my clean tones. It sounds amazing. I usually have an octave effect switched on for the overdriven stuff.
AD: Are there more film scores in your future?
LLF: This break from touring has been long overdue. I’ve been on the road since I was 14. I’m looking forward to regrouping and coming back stronger than ever. In the meantime, you can catch me streaming on Twitch and modeling occasionally in between. Besides that, I’m hoping to be happy, become healthy, and to get back to performing again eventually. And yes! I would love nothing more than to be doing more [movie] scores. I have this dream to star in and help write the music for a Netflix series one day too. I think that would be sick.
All images courtesy of Lexii Lynn Frazier.