Pure Chance: Q&A with Salva Rey
Salva Rey is a debonair presence who instantly leaves the impression that he is fit for a creative and inspiring life. Based in Barcelona, he has developed children's instructional Spanish/English language and ukulele material through various projects, and collaborates with renowned comedian and actor Alex Borstein and bassist Eric Mills in the theatrically and politically charged performance trio The Amstergang. He is involved in a slew of other endeavors, all compelling in their own way. Salva can make a place for himself on almost any platform, almost anywhere. He is a fluent musician with an undeniable connection to the ukulele.
Kala is proud to announce Salva as one of our Ambassadors, and to share more about him through this interview:
Tell us about your musical beginnings. How old were you when you started playing - and which instrument did you start on?
I actually started to sing in the school choir at the age of six, but I picked up my first instrument at 10, a quite crappy classic guitar that I still keep.
How did you get into playing and teaching ukulele?
Pure chance. In the late 2000s I was on my way to an open air market in London, when I literally bumped into a shop called The Duke of Uke. I stared at the window shop for a while. I'd never seen so many types and shapes of ukuleles. I went in and bought my first instrument, a low budget concert uke. I immediately fell in love with it and started using it for different projects.
I published the series of 4 cd-books "Flor & Rolf" (music available on all streaming platforms) and the uke became my predominant instrument, even in live shows. One of the songs from the first book was called "Ukelele" and fans from the books started to insist that I should start teaching, which I eventually did.
Spanish version of "Ukelele":
English version of "Ukelele":
I ended up writing two manuals, one for adults "Ukelelala, aprende a tocar el ukelele en familia" (Contra Editorial, 2018) and "Uke: mi primer libro de ukelele" (Editorial Litera, 2022).
How did you meet Alex Borstein, and what are some impressions and highlights about playing with The Amstergang?
I met her when she arrived in Barcelona in 2017, through our common friend Eric Mills and we immediately bonded. The three of us became a little gang, and had incredibly funny hangouts, usually around a great meal... I published my first uke book in 2018, so for Hanukkah I gave them both, Eric and Alex, ukes as a present. And Alex's immediate reaction was "Guys, let's form a band!" And eventually we did. It's been a wild experience, to find these two beautiful people at a certain age, have that vital and musical connection, and then even being able to tour around Europe and finally getting to shoot a special of the show for Amazon. A few years back this was beyond our wildest dreams, and it has actually happened!
Tell us more about your other musical projects.
At the moment I'm about to premier my ukulele solo show "The King of Ukelele" in which I explain Contemporary History through the ukulele. It is somewhere between Broadway and a TED talk... Obviously not as funny as if Alex did it, but I hear it's quite funny.
What is your favorite Kala ukulele and why?
I am very happy with my All Solid Spruce Top Ziricote Tenor XL, especially playing against other instruments, such as drums and bass. It allows you to still sound like a uke, but with enough depth to stand against loud instruments. I [also] love the Resonator Brass Tenor uke which I'm using a lot for finger picking. I'm also playing ancient music on it, and that's kind of a unique combination.
Any advice for those just learning to play ukulele?
Play every single day, even if it's only 5 or 10 minutes. It will make that day a better day, and you'll improve quickly!
What is upcoming with your musical pursuits?
I'd love to play many shows as "The King of Ukelele" in both Spanish and English, and hopefully work on a new project with Alex Borstein and Eric Mills.
Salva will perform as The King of Ukelele at @aclamclub de Consell de Cent in Barcelona on NOV 8. You can follow more of his news on his website: https://salvarey.com/