I got interviewed for a piece on the Guardian Music Blog recently. Only two sentences made it into the final piece. So, rather than let it go to waste, I’ve stuck it up here.
What is it you love about the ukulele?
I love how the ukulele forces you to be creative. It’s very restricted when it comes to range, so you have to be more inventive with rhythm and harmony.
And it’s a very handy instrument. You can carry it and play it anywhere.
Have you seen its popularity growing recently? If so, why do you think that is?
It’s grown massively in the last twelve months or so. It seems to be everywhere at the moment. There are ukulele clubs springing up all over the country. It’s been used by acts from Portishead to Van Morrison to Florence and the Machine. Frank Skinner and Lee Evans both close their acts with a ukulele song. From my own experience, my website is getting four times the traffic it was getting this time last year.
I think there are two main reasons behind it. The first is the internet. Niche interests spread much faster on the internet – so many more people are hearing the ukulele being played. Before the net it was hard to find learning materials for the ukulele, now there’s a wealth of information online.
The other reason is the availability. China has been pumping out playable, entry-level ukuleles by the boatload. They’re cheap enough for people to buy on a whim and it makes them a viable option for teaching in schools.
Do you think it can evoke all the emotion of a guitar, or do you find it a bit limiting ultimately?
Every instrument has its limitations. If you try to play the ukulele like a guitar, you will be limited.
It has a sound and feel of its own. When you play the ukulele on its own terms you’ll have ideas that you’d never have on any other instrument.
Do you have any particular favourite ukulele-based songs?
Loads. Here are a few that come to mind:
Rod Thomas’s Same Old Lines which was voted last year’s ukulele video of the year.
James Hill – Down Rideau Canal
Sophie Madeleine – The Stars
The Bobby McGee’s – A Dog at All Things