We are very excited to have the talented songwriter and ukulele virtuoso Taimane join our Musicnotes Signature Artist family!
Taimane was born in Hawaii and started playing the ukulele when she was just 5 years old. Today, she continues to shine as an incredible musician who has performed all over the world and created a unique niche in music. Her arrangements vary across many genres: from classical to rock, Broadway, tribal hymns, and so much more!
We had the chance to interview Taimane and learn all about her journey, creative process, and inspirations. Keep reading to hear from Taimane herself and to see a few of her wonderful performances!
1. Growing up in Hawaii, you learned to play ukulele at 5 years old. Who were your early influences then, and what artists inspire you now?
As a 5-year-old, most of my influences were Traditional Hawaiian musicians. There weren’t many contemporary ukulele players that I knew of at the time, compared to today where the Ukulele has exploded globally. Artists that inspire me today are Santana, Rodrigo and Gabriela, Doja Cat, and Impressionism music in the Classical genre. Jake Shimabukuro, the ukulele player, has always been a big inspiration too.
2. Outside of music, how has growing up in Hawaii impacted your life?
Besides artists inspiring me, I also am inspired by the elements here in the islands. The natural beauty Hawaii offers is a perfect palette to work with, especially since the ukulele comes from wood and is already a natural instrument. Ukulele was born here in Hawaii, so the culture and history of this instrument is alive and accessible.
[Click here to see her perform “Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major” on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.]
4. You mentioned in your interview with American Songwriter that your favorite part of being an artist is performing. What has been your most memorable performance?
My most memorable performance was in a tiny art gallery at an open mic in Chinatown, on Oahu. They allowed only original music, and it was the first time I could explore as an artist rather than perform cover songs. That performance was special as it rekindled my fire as an artist, and created a space for me to explore a new part of myself.
5. What’s your creative process for creating a new arrangement?
I like to create concept albums. For example, my last album was about the Natural Elements; Earth, Wind, Fire, Water, etc.
The album before that has a song for each planet in the solar system.
Once I have a concept, then I personify the object, and give it an emotion, personality and mood.
If songs have lyrics, I start with the melody first and then fit lyrics in after.
6. You’ve had the chance to work with some very talented musicians. If you had the opportunity to collaborate with any other artist or songwriter, who would it be?
7. You sometimes combine more modern music with classical pieces, such as “Carmen” & “Phantom of the Opera” and your medley of Beethoven, System of a Down, Led Zeppelin & AC/DC. How do you figure out which ones will sound good together?
It comes down to the pace of the arrangement, and the key of the song. My process is I learn songs in one key, then try to see how they fit, like a puzzle. Sometimes it can happen in a week, or take years to figure out the missing piece. I love different genres, so I try to connect as many as possible because it’s fun, and then most people can relate to something special to them.
8. You’ve already made an impact on the music world with your incredible arrangements and performances. As you look to the future, what goals or aspirations do you have for yourself and your music?
I hope to inspire others to pick up this amazing and friendly instrument that has so much to offer!
I also like making videos here in Hawaii and seeing comments from fans around the world. I’d like to continue doing that along with some touring so I can see the world while also meeting fans who live there.
7. What advice do you have for those who are interested in writing their own music or arrangements?
Find a system that works for you. Everyone has a different way of creating, so find your routine and start small.
Judgments can come up, but if you can take a small step a day, your song can be written!
Also, nothing is perfect, so allow yourself to put out a song that you may not think is 100%.
Just get the ball rolling so you can create momentum!
Here’s an extra performance you definitely don’t want to miss! Enjoy Taimane’s set for the NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert: