INTERVIEWS

Interviews

A collection of ukulele greats I have spoken to over the years.





And also, below is a collection of the "Me And My Ukulele" Series, showcasing the experiences of ukulele players around the world who read this blog!


PETER SMITH - SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

Hello everyone! I am a 61 year old Pommy living in Sydney, Australia. I started out playing Guitar (fairly badly)and did so for for 45 years. I had to take it up, as every other Liverpool teenager did.    (KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN! - ED)

I was first drawn to the Ukulele when I saw George Harrison playing Ain’t She Sweet in a video – no surprise there I suppose - he is a common reason for people choosing the uke!

Before moving to the ukulele though, I first got hold of a Mandolin for my 60th birthday. Following that though this earlier this year, in February, I visited Hawaii and I thought it would  the perfect timing and place to buy a Ukulele!  I bit the bullet!

My choice was a a Kala uke for $100 and have had SO much fun in the last 3 months playing it. I try to read your site most days and also check out Ukulele Mike, Richard G and The Ukulele Doctor. (GREAT SITES - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - ED)

I actually found it very easy to pick up the chords and I tend to think in shapes (coming from the guitar as I do) for example – a G7 is the shape of D7 on the Guitar, E7 is the shape of B7, C is the shape of G and so on. After that, I found very, very quickly that the sequence C, E7,A7, D7, G7 is a great combo for lots of old songs which I love.








JOEY PAUL - SWINDON, UK


Hi, I'm Joey, I'm 29 and a disabled student and writer living in Swindon, UK. I've been playing Ukulele for about 10 months now - and coming up to my year mark on August 31st!

So, why did I start?

I had a friend online who was posting photos of her ukulele "collection". She was buying Soprano Ukuleles in all different colours, the reasoning behind it is not something I remember. Anyway, after seeing her Ukuleles, I thought that I would like to have one, but that's as far as the thought went. I went to have a haircut last August and on the way back to the car saw some musical instruments in the window of the local Sue Ryder Charity Shop - one was a Ukulele, so I went in and saw they had a purple one! (Favourite colour ever!) I asked about prices and seeing that I had some cash left over from the haircut I decided to take the plunge and buy her. I wasn't like my friend though, I wanted to learn to PLAY her! Not just have her as a pretty, kooky decoration!

I went online when I got home and tuned her (I named her Astrid, that's a whole nother story!) and then started looking for websites to help me learn. I found your blog actually and then from there Ukulele Underground, and after about a month (if that) I bought my second Uke, an Ohana SK10S (called "Lilo") and learnt all about upgrading strings and everything.

How the times have changed since then! I now have 5 Ukuleles in total (my third came about a week after Lilo!) and although I still have Astrid, she's not my "go-to" Uke. I play her still, but not as often. I love the music, I love the atmosphere, I love the way other Ukulele players just like you because you're a Uker!

I also started my own blog - http://4ukulele.blogspot.com/  if you want to see recent videos of my playing. I'll never be a prodigy at it, but I'm having fun and that's what counts right?









RAE CARTER - PORTSMOUTH, UK





rae carter ukulele
Photo - Credit - Copyright Marcus Maschwitz Photography


In the tail end of November 2009 I was asked by my friend Jackie if I could tune a ukulele which she had bought for her son Joe for Christmas. I had never knowingly heard a ukulele before this and had no idea how to tune one but thought it can't be much different from a guitar. I had previously played guitar so I agreed. Initially, I had no idea how to tune the thing. so I hit the internet looking for an online tuner, which was actually quite easy to find. I picked up my laptop and went to her house to tune what could only be described as a toy instrument (Joe was only 4 at the time.) It wasn't until I had it in tune and tried the few chords provided on the same site that I that this could be quite a fun instrument to learn. I went home to my partner to discuss and we agreed I would get one.

Trawling the net I found Ukulele Underground and joined the site immediately. I quickly realised that people who played ukes were extremely friendly and helpful and gave me lots of advice on a first purchase. I decided on a Kala ASMC ukulele. I was a bit wary - over one hundred pounds for something I have never played was a lot of money, but coming from 15 years playing guitar I am well aware cheap instruments are cheap for a reason. I decided to buy from a man called Musicguymike (MGM) in the USA as everyone had raved at how helpful he was and that he set up all his ukes before despatch. I went for it and then sat waiting for two weeks for it to arrive from America. With hindsight I wish I had discovered the Southern Ukulele Store before I did this, as I was stung by customs charges!

I learnt the hard way, definitely. That said, the advantage of having one that would take two weeks to deliver was I was effectively able to play the instrument in my head before I'd even touched it due to me being able to play guitar which was a huge bonus.

I found the tutor Ukulele Mike online and learned hey to play Hey There Delilah. When the uke eventually arrived I fell in love with the beauty of it instantly. I tuned it up and played the tune I had learned. It found it was easy for me to play which was a huge bonus!

I then decided to record me playing it after only an hour or so of holding one and posted it on Youtube, as that seemed to be what a lot of players were doing on Ukulele Underground. After I posted I found I was getting a lot of really kind comments from people who were shocked I could play it so quickly. This spurred me on to carry on posting on Youtube under the name raecarter82.

18 months later I now have 75 videos posted and so many more views than I ever thought possible. I'm even playing in pubs now and have started professionally recording a song I wrote in studio of Quay West Records in Gosport, Hampshire. It seems only yesterday that I first picked up that toy uke, as I still feel that same excitement when I player the infectious little thing! It has definitely brought the love of music back to me. I hope this inspires some to discover or rediscover they love of music through the ukulele also. Thanks for reading. Rae Carter


To keep an eye on Rae and his gigs - look at his FACEBOOK PAGE






KRAPO - FRANCE




Hi Bazmaz!

I read your article and I would like to share my story with your readers. My artist name is "Krapo" and I am in France.

I discovered the ukulele when I heard a singer / musician / songwriter whose band is called Milk & Fruit Juice - http://www.milkandfruitjuice.com/ecoute/. He made the opening song for a french TV show called NerdZ. I was amazed that what I had mistaken for a toy guitar could produce such beautiful sounds. So I ordered a cheap ukulele online and thought I would figure out how to play it.

I first used it for a contest where the TV show's host asked the audience to write him a love letter in order to win a limited edition Zelda Nintendo DS Lite. As he is a huge Zelda fan, I decided I would send a video of me singing a stupid song about him on the music of Zelda instead. And I won!

This made me realize how fun it is to rearrange songs and share them on the Internet. So I opened a YouTube Channel and created many original music arrangements, most of which feature an ukulele. I love playing unexpected songs with unexpected arrangements, so on the ukulele I played metal songs like Chop Suey by System Of A Down, or Love You to Death by Type O Negative. I also used it for videogames music like The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Sunshine.

Now I am preparing live solo concerts in which I would alternately play the guitar, the ukulele, and my Nintendo DS's music software, covering all kinds of styles (pop, rock, metal, TV shows and cartoon themes, videogames musics, etc).

If this sounds interesting to you, please visit my website: http://krapo.wordpress.com