Thursday, 10 September 2015

Up-to-the-minute Interview with Jake Shimabukuro

I told you I had something special, dear readers... an interview for Life's A Ukafrolic blog with the fabulously talented Jake Shimabukuro, sometimes dubbed the "Hendrix of the Ukulele"... well, here it is. just ahead of his very first tour here in England!

I feel quite honoured to do this! What a pleasure...

"Aloha Jake! Thanks for doing this interview for my blog readers! I'm so looking forward to seeing you live in concert in Liverpool next Tuesday! So here we go! Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin!

I know you began playing at the age of four - how old were you when you realised that the ukulele wasreally important in your life?"

Jake - I realized how important music was to me after my parents' divorce. Playing the ukulele helped me through that part of my life.

"Music is certainly a great friend and comfort when life gets tough. Who were your most influential teachers?"

Jake - The most influential were people very close to me - like my parents, brother, grandmother and grandfather. However, I was also very inspired by famous stars like Bruce Lee, Michael Jordan and The Beatles.

"It's great that your first concert will be in Liverpool, home of the Famous Four! Who or what do you think has been the greatest influence on your own current playing style?"

Jake - Bruce Lee was probably my biggest influence. I he taught me that art is just a form of human expression. The better you can understand yourself and accept who you are, the better you can honestly express who you are. He was a gifted martial artist, but his philosophy could be applied to anything.

"Roy Smeck said that he always practised his instruments for five hours a day – how much time would you say that you put in to uke playing on a day-to-day basis?"

Jake - It varied from day to day. It was sort of like watching television for me. Sometimes I'd get into it and play for 5-6 hours straight. Other times, I'd play for an hour or two, put it down for a bit, then later pick it up again for another hour or two. It was never practice, I just loved to play.

"Do you think your style is still evolving? If so, in what direction?"

Jake - I hope that my style will continue to evolve. As I experience new things throughout my life, I hope to grow and mature emotionally which will directly affect the way I approach creating music.

"Which piece in your musical repertoire are you most proud of?"

Jake - I am most proud of my traditional Hawaiian repertoire because it represents my place of birth and my love for Hawaii. Hawaiian culture is absolutely beautiful and I hope to raise my children to have a great appreciation for Hawaiian music.

"I hope we'll hear some of your Hawaiian repertoire on the tour! What do you play when you just want to play for your own pleasure?"

Jake - I love to make up silly songs about nothing. I once wrote a song about being a kung fu movie star who would have to fight to keep all the crazy female fans away. I was 6 when I wrote that.

"That's funny! Interesting that you started writing so young! As a player and composer, how important do you think it is to know some music theory?"

Jake - I don't think it is necessary at all. It's like cooking. You don't have to go to culinary school to cook. But if you want to work at a five star French restaurant, you need proper extensive training. Music is the same way. Just depends on how far you personally want to understand every aspect of your art.

"Some players here in England (myself included!) play the banjo-uke as well as wooden uke – George Formby was a very popular entertainer on wooden uke and especially banjo-uke from the 1930’s onwards and there is a thriving society that keeps his name and music alive – have you heard any of his music, and if so, what do you think of it?"

Jake - I think he was a great ambassador of the instrument. I'm a big fan of his artistry and personality. He was a gifted entertainer that touched millions of people around the world.

"If you hadn’t become a full-time musician, what career would you have taken up?"

Jake - Maybe I would've been a fisherman.

"Well, that would have been very different, for sure!

Thanks a lot, Jake for doing this interview for me, for Life’s A Ukafrolic Blog! As for me – what a pleasure! I just know you'll have a really successful tour, and I hope you enjoy your stay in our country! My husband and I visited Hawaii in May, and were made extremely welcome - I'm sure you'll find the same here!"


I hope you enjoyed that! Whooo, what a Ukafrolic! Don't go too far away, now - lots to report...

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