Phil Sjoquist is an Arizona native who was born and raised in Tucson. He left Tucson in 2007 to pursue his degree in Business Administration at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. He still currently resides in Phoenix. Phil is now 24 years old and just starting his professional music career. When he took up the guitar at the age of fourteen no one thought it would become such a passion. Before 2009, music was simply a hobby that Phil enjoyed in his down time. As he spent more time involved with music it became clear to him that he was called to pursue music as a career. His hard work and genuine love for the art of music led him to create his first EP “Straight Ahead” which was released January, 20th 2012. Phil is an exceptional guitarist, has a fantastic musical imagination, and is a growing songwriter. He is the epitome of a musician at heart. His love for music and the endless opportunities that it provides fuel his driving passion to share his skills with the world.
Apart from music, he enjoys spending time on the golf course. If playing golf in college is any indication, music is not Phil's only polished talent. He is also an avid reader and draws many of his lyrical compositions from thinking and reflecting on what he has read. When you meet him you cannot help but get a sense of positive energy and a glowing passion for what he does, and you can't help but be attracted to it.
When I was young my Mom and Dad would take my brothers, my sister, and I on cross country trips to Minnesota, Utah, Colorado and just about everywhere in Arizona. On every one of these trips, starting when I was very young, my father would play all of his favorite music. He exposed me to bands like The Who, Cream ,Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Buffalo Springfield, Jimi Hendrix, Steppenwolf, and many other classic rock bands. Still today when I hear certain songs it takes me right back to riding across the country in Dad’s old van. At the time I hadn’t touched a single musical instrument except Mom’s pots and pans, much to her dismay. The music itself, however, became a permanent part of who I was to become as a musician.
So how did I start playing the guitar you might ask? I was about to start my freshman year of high school and every student had to choose an elective. Those choices were something like Ceramics, Cooking and Extra Biology. My first thought was, “I want to avoid those classes if at all possible.” As I continued down the list I came across a class called “Guitar 1” and asked my parents if I could get a guitar. I thank you Mom and Dad for saying yes and putting up with that loud (and usually not very pleasant) noise coming from my room all the time.
One of the best musical discoveries of my life was my Dad’s record collection. I was about sixteen and was really starting to get into classic rock in a much different way than when I was eight. He bought them all in the 70’s and 80’s and they had been sitting in my closet the whole time. One day I took them all out and I remember looking at each one and playing many of them. I alphabetized them and put them back on the shelf. I went through and listened to almost every record he had. I just loved them and I still do. The sound that vinyl records produce has a special quality that I have always enjoyed.
Rock n’ Roll and the blues are my heaviest influences. My biggest influence comes from Jimi Hendrix whose style, creativity, live performance and expression have both astounded me and inspired me. To this day any time I hear “Little Wing” or the solo in “Hey Joe” I get chills. In recent years I have broadened my horizons considerably. Artists such as James Taylor, Tommy Emmanuel, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits and others have expanded my musical palette and driven me to create music with other elements besides Rock and Blues. Music to me is a language and is more powerful than anything ever said in words.
Up until about three years ago the main focus in my life was not music. I played both High School golf and four years of college golf. Playing the guitar and listening to music was something I did to get away from the golf course, and it gave me an avenue to vent and release any frustration that I had. I was committed to golf and wanted to play professionally. It was for this very reason that I chose Grand Canyon University as the place to complete my Bachelors degree in Business Administration. It was at GCU that I met one of my best friends, Jesse Snyder. He influenced me heavily, and the more I played with him the better I got, and the more I began to fall in love with music even more. By the end of college, music had become my primary focus. He also introduced me to many of the artists that I love and listen to today including Tommy Emmanuel and Paul Simon. Also at GCU I met Howard Kyambadde who exposed me to Jazz and African music. He played a major role in creating my desire to play Jazz and to play with more of an emphasis on melody.