December 17, 2009
Brittni Paiva Interview
From blues to rock, piano to drums, Brittni Paiva can do it all. However, what has gained her recognition in is her talent as a ukulele player. Brittni has taken a traditional Hawaiian instrument and brought it to life with soulful instrumental renditions of timeless classics and inspired songs all her own.
1. It seems like you are the type that would have excelled at whatever instrument you picked up. When did your family and friends start to realize this?
I guess I realized it at a very young age. One of the stories that my family always recounts was that when I was about a year old, whenever I heard music, I’d start dancing! I’d also gravitate to the keyboard and press the keys repeatedly. So, a few years later they enrolled me in piano lessons.
2. How were you introduced to the ukulele and why do you think it became your primary instrument?
Growing up in Hawaii, everyone knew what an ukulele was, but not everyone knew how to play it. When I was 11 years old, my grandfather put his mother’s old ukulele in my hands and told me to mess around with it to see if I liked it. It was love at first touch!
3. Why do you think some people don’t really take the ukulele seriously? Do you try to consciously address that issue with your music?
Yes, I do. Hawaii has always viewed the ukulele as a very serious instrument. The first experience many from the mainland have is that it is a comical toy. From that moment, most had assumed it was nothing but that – a toy. I really want to show people that the ukulele is not just a toy for tinkering with — it’s a serious instrument with a soul.
4. Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
Some of my musical influences are artists like Carlos Santana, John Mayer, Ne-Yo, Jeff Beck, Fourplay…among other great musicians!
5. You’ve been well known in Hawaii since you were a kid. What has it been like to take a musical style that is essentially Hawaiian to the mainland and beyond?
It’s been a fun journey. I play an instrument that has been embraced by Hawaii, but I perform non-Hawaiian songs. In my previous albums I did a few Hawaiian songs, but now, in fact, my music styles are pretty much everything but Hawaiian. Performing in the mainland is so much fun because most people don’t know what the ukulele can do. They’re usually blown away by what comes out of that four-stringed instrument. They don’t know that it can play the same songs that a guitar can play!
6. What do you look for when picking a well known song to do a ukulele arrangement for?
I guess the first thing that comes to mind is “I wonder if I can do that on my ukulele.” Because the ukulele is limited, in a sense, since it only has four strings, I like the challenge of arranging songs on it. I want to show that there are really no limits to the ukulele.
7. What inspires you to pick up your ukulele and write a new piece of music?
There are many situations in a day that inspire me to write new tunes. It could be something like being in town and running into a friend that I haven’t seen for a while, or even attempting to sit down on a chair but missing the chair and falling on the floor! I saw my dog run around in circles and out came “Ukulele Boogie”. I guess music is such a part of my life and in my soul that it’s basically my language of expression.
8. Since you play mostly instrumentals and some classical arrangements, do you find that most of your fans are from an older generation?
I have young fans as well, but most are middle-aged and above because of the songs and genres I select.
9. What would you say to someone to get them to give the ukulele a try?
Well, the ukulele is a lot smaller than a guitar and only has four strings! It’s easy to take with you just about anywhere and it’s easy to learn. It’s able to play simple tunes as well as complicated and intricate pieces.
10. Where can people go for information about where to see you live?
Definitely my website, www.brittnipaiva.com as well as www.myspace.com/brittnipaiva, www.facebook.com/brittnipaiva, and www.twitter.com/brittnipaiva.
There you have it, folks. One uniquely talented young woman, on a mission to introduce the world to the wonderful sound of the ukulele.
Posted by A. Sogal at 6:02 am