AM Ukulele Podcast: Q&A with Andrew Molina
Based in Maui, Andrew Molina is among the most elite ukulele performing artists today. The Na Hoku Hanohano Awards finalist began his career at the age of 13, forging his own path on the instrument with his fusion of genres, unique pairing of ukulele with effects, and widely celebrated musicianship. With the recent launch of his new AM Ukulele Podcast, we caught up with Andrew to gain some insights into his playing and passion for all things ukulele:
You've had a very unique ukulele journey and it started pretty young! Could you tell us a bit about your background as a performer?
Ever since I played for my entire 8th grade class in the auditorium, I knew that I wanted to become a touring ukulele artist when I got older. I've been touring and performing since 2015 and have been fortunate to share my music across the U.S, Europe, China and Tahiti etc. Performing is my first passion and I love connecting and sharing my music with the audience. I can’t wait to get back on the road this September.
Who are some of your greatest influences in the way you approach the ukulele?
Jake Shimabukuro definitely layed the foundation of the new way to play ukulele. I now find inspirations from great musicians like Sting, Rodrigo Y Gabriela and of course my personal favorite, John Mayer!
They have all impacted my way of playing and helped give my style more versatility.
When did you begin utilizing effects pedals with the ukulele and how do you decide what to pair with your instrument?
I really started experimenting with pedals in 2016 when I really started traveling. I love the usage of the looper, delay, distortion and of course the shim reverb pedal.
You launched your AM Ukulele Podcast in May and we've really enjoyed every episode so far! What made you decide that you wanted to do a podcast?
I always felt a podcast is something I would be natural at. It was my way to connect and catch up with all my ukulele friends over the span of the pandemic.
So far on AM Ukulele Podcast, you've had Kimo Hussey, Victoria Vox, Ukulenny, and Brittni Paiva on as guests, just to name a few. What are some of your favorite moments that have come from these conversations?
It has been really awesome talking to these great artists and I love when they talk about the process and approach of their musical journey.
I love getting in depth with my guests and hearing the behind the scenes stuff.
What's something that you feel requires more attention in discourse today surrounding the ukulele?
We have to stop relying on tabs as a source and instead use it as a “supplement" to learn songs and then remember them. Trying to recite tabs makes us play more mechanical. Think of it like someone giving a well thought out speech vs someone reading off a piece of paper. The delivery is completely different. Music comes from within and needs emotion..….. that’s very hard to do when reading and reciting tabs.
In addition to reimagining classic songs, you've created some beautiful original compositions for the ukulele. What work of yours are you the most proud of today?
Im very proud of arrangements like" Dream On", "Hora Zero" and "Your Body is a Wonderland” They are so difficult to express all parts on ukulele, but I love the challenge.
As for originals Im proud of my ballad “Chance Encounter” and the technical beast "Showdown with the Scorpion”which uses a completely different tuning.
What are some suggestions you'd make for newer players getting their start on the ukulele?
I encourage all new players to start training their ear and musical intuition. They will become your most powerful weapons.
Anything new in the works from you that we should look out for?
My new online school the “Andrew Molina Ukulele Academy" is coming this fall! It will be a constantly evolving open library of videos that will range from beginner to advanced players. Check it out if you want to evolve your ukulele playing!