In recent months I have had lots of discussions with a variety of different artists in “the music business” Some are essentially playing and creating music as a hobby while others are working in a professional capacity. I generally lament the standard of a lot of the music I hear these days. I don’t want to sound like some ranting old guy, but I grew up listening to many of the classic singer songwriters including Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits among many others. Most of these stem from 1970s of course. In recent years Nick Cave, Ani Difranco and Jason Isbell have become firm favorites.
What all these artists have in common is that they are creating original music with great consideration to well considered lyrics and great melody. I created the OUS platform to bring a greater awareness to artists creating original material based around the ukulele as an instrument. I find the ukulele to be a terrific writing instrument and have written over three dozen tracks for my own band “The Small Change Diaries” and we are now in the middle of recording our second album with a number of international guests.
In 2016 the world lost a number of great artists including David Bowie and Leonard Cohen, both of which were brilliant songwriters and performers. Imagine a world without “Hallelujah” and “Heroes” Both these and other classic songwriters took risks in creating new material. Often such artists were ahead of their time and it took time for the public to catch up with their latest offerings. When Bowie released “Low” an album that contained a substantial instrumental music, many people thought “What is this?”
Without creating new original material, we simply recycle what has gone before. There’s nothing wrong with cover versions of course, BUT these wouldn’t even exist without somebody writing them in days gone by. Writing original songs requires an immense amount of skill and a willingness to take what is for many a tough route. Often audiences want what is familiar, and many artists will happily fulfill that need. Writing and performing original music is in many ways a brave initiative and I applaud all artists who go down this route. My hope is that the OUS platform will continue to be a focus for people wanting to create original material and remain an oasis of inspiration for others, wanting to create something that will stand the test of time.