For our next Artist Spotlight we are featuring talented multi-instrumentalist Scott Stahlecker who hails from my own home state of Alaska. He was kind enough to answer a few questions about the ukulele and where he gets inspiration.
UI: How did you first start playing ukulele?
Scott: I grew up on Oahu and at that time the schools didn’t have much of a band program. Instead, they had ukulele programs. I remember getting my first ukulele. My dad had driven me to a music store in Honolulu and bought me a Kamaka. On the drive home he wouldn’t let me play it in the car because I might make too much noise, so I remember holding it backwards and strumming the back of the neck instead. Hawaii 5-0 was the first song I learned.
UI: How long have you been playing?
Scott: I started playing the ukulele around age five, and played it through my elementary school years into Jr. high school. When I moved away from the islands I stopped playing ukulele, and switched to the drums. I really didn’t play the ukulele again until I took a trip back to the islands in 2005 and bought a 6 string tenor ukulele. So, I’ve been playing about 16 years. In my home studio I have 4 tenor ukuleles, and a Kala U-Bass. I put out my first CD Rainforest Dance in 2012, and I’m currently recording a second CD, along with my newly formed band.
UI: What is the best part about playing the ukulele (or being a ukulele player)?
Scott: Although I grew up in the islands and have a genuine love for the traditional Hawaiian ukulele style, I think it’s great that the ukulele has gone mainstream. People from all over the world who play in many different kinds of genres are incorporating the ukulele into their own brand of music. What I like about the ukulele is its tonal qualities. It also has a distinct sound that blends well with other instruments. It’s great for playing rock, pop, jazz, the blues, and what I play, ukulele fusion. Most of the songs I’m recording now are a blend of ukulele with acoustic and electric guitars, piano, flute, keyboards, bass, and strings such as the cello and violin. The ukulele blends great with these instruments. It’s extremely versatile.
UI: Where do you find inspiration?
Scott: I enjoy listening to many of the up and coming ukulele instrumentalists, because they push the boundaries of just how well this instrument can be played. But my interest in playing the ukulele extends beyond mastering it like an instrumentalist might want to master it. I’ve played drums for a number of bands through the years, and dabbled in other instruments as well. Great guitar players like Al Di Meola, Satriani, and Jeff Beck, or drummers like Neil Pert of Rush, still inspire me. I also get inspiration from listening to music from many different genres. My musical roots are from playing in a band. So, my focus these days is in taking the ukulele even more mainstream, by composing songs based in the ukulele that also work with a band.
Big thanks to Scott for taking the time to answer a few questions, be sure to check out his music and videos and stay tuned for more from Ukulele Inspired.