Hey Jontom! Thanks for this interview with us. First of all, you are known as Ukulele Master. How did this happen, when did you start playing Ukulele to become a master of it?
I started to play the uke about 6 or 7 years ago… Honestly, I can’t exactly remember! I guess I took a different approach to the instrument because unlike many others fascinated by the easiness and portability, I was charmed by the challenge behind four strings and two octaves. After having watched Jake Shimabukuro performing his rendition of “While my guitar gently weeps” I felt the magic behind this instrument and so, that’s how it started. What happens next is practice and curiosity after getting bored of basic chord shapes!
I watched some videos online and your playing style reminded me of my guitarist friend Petteri Sariola. He uses his acoustic guitar to create all kinds of sounds besides the melodies, rhythms and effects. Do you also do that a lot with Ukulele? Is it an integral part of your studio production work?
I do. Not all the times in studio because if I need a djembe… I simply grab my djembe! But when it comes to live performances, I really like to experiment and incorporate many types of sound from my instrument.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background. Where are you from and how did you end up creating music?
I’m from Rome, Italy. I’ve grown up here and still live here. I started to play a tiny keyboard when I was a child and so far, music has always been like my best friend. I used to write lots of songs when I was in the high school but in the long term, my insane passion for cinema slightly changed my path, pointing me to soundtracks and music for media.
What kind of environment you work in? Do you have a home studio? What software and gear you mainly use while producing?
It’s my soundproof home studio packed with two keyboards, percussions, an old acoustic guitars, a strumstick, and tons of ukuleles!
My weapon of choice is a Kanile’a K-3, a beautiful tenor ukulele made in Hawai’i. Regarding the gear, I’m a long time FL Studio fan but since I switched to OS X, I reshaped my workflow into Logic.
How do you start a new project? What’s your process in composing a song from scratch?
It really depends on the genre. If I have to score something, I put the video on and start improvising on the piano. Otherwise, for acoustic projects I always go back to my ukulele.
What instruments you play and what is your favorite music genre?
Beside the ukulele, I’ve studied the piano for more than a decade and I can barely play the guitar. I do play drums and blues harp. I’ve also studied Orchestration and Film Music.
Regarding my favourite genre… It’s a million dollar question! Right now, I’m deeply into american folk music. I love organic and acoustic sounds and everything a bit dirty and not polished. But when it comes to production, I struggle all the times for a clean master! I know, that’s a non-sense…
Who are your key influencers? Can you name any producers, bands or musicians who have inspired you the most?
Everytime that I sit at the piano, Ryuichi Sakamato and Claude Debussy are my main inspiration. For anything else, the Eels and Warren Zevon influenced my works on so many levels: from the production to the writing process. If we want to go a little further into the realms of electronic music, I would probably say The Air, Fatboy Slim and The Crystal Method.
Has Audiodraft been helpful to your music career? How has your success motivated you in your music career?
You know, being a composer/musician means you gotta have tons of self-esteem. Lots of the times you can only rely on yourself and not being able to provide good music or satisfy a client, sometimes can really put you down. To me, Audiodraft contests mean I can do this job. Being analyzed by co-producers and being able to get in touch with Agencies is priceless. It’s exactly what I needed to move forward on my career. Audiodraft makes you think positive and release the power of the internet to composers.
Would you like to say something to the Audiodraft community?
If you’d ever need some ukulele lines, feel free to contact me and I’ll be happy to collaborate with you!
What kind of Ukulele a beginner should get? I have a cheap one at home and I get so frustrated because it gets out of tune all the time!
That’s because you have a musical background! Your ear is already trained and probably you recognize things that a newbie would never notice. Cheap models are nothing but a musical toy. Raise the bar and get a better uke just like it was an acoustic guitar. In this case, you can play good models at 150 Euros.
Thanks Jontom for the interview 🙂
You’re welcome! Aloha!