I created the OUS platform two and a half years ago to see who was out there creating original music based around ukuleles. Personally, I have never been a fan of the stereotypical comedy image of ukulele and my idea of hell is artists playing endless cover versions of Bowie, The Cure, and The Smiths. I, however, appreciate that I may be in a minority considering the enthusiasm that such material receives online where all too often such attempts are described as “awesome” and “brilliant” Personally I reserve such superlatives for people I consider to be truly excellent artists including Bob Dylan (on a good day), Neil Young and Glen Hansard.
The Original OUS statement
The front page of the site has always contained the following public statement
“Let me also be 100% clear, I love cover versions, especially when they are done with a twist, bringing new perspectives to the song with different interpretations, and of course traditional and folk songs which are no longer associated with an individual but live in their own right. However, I love it far more when songwriters create original material. This site is a platform for original ukulele-based songs and is unique in that it brings together ukulele artists from all over the globe. This site is not run for any commercial interests and there’s no paid advertising here. This removes any favoritism and commercial bias, so this platform is only to promote the love of original music.”
Despite this clear statement, almost three years on I still receive the “You hate covers” nonsense comments. In a social media era it seems that this “us or them” mindset is increasingly common and of course supremely daft. The reality is that there have been many superb cover versions from artists, but there have also been many very average attempts. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, but without original songwriting, there would be no cover versions. I realize I have unintentionally stirred up a lot of the old ukulele guard and this has resulted in a few tantrums online, but IMO that’s often no bad thing as it provokes discussion and debate.
In the last two years, the OUS FB page and this main site have been truly inspirational and I have been blown away by the quality of many of the original songs. I appreciate that the ukulele world is a niche musical genre and most of what I see and hear is not original music. Fortunately, artists like Victoria Vox, James Hill, Manitoba Hall, Biscuithead and the Biscuit Badgers, Danielle Ate the Sandwich and my own band The Small Change Diaries are all looking to push the boundaries of ukulele-based music. It’s not to everybody’s taste of course, but personally, such artists give me some hope that we can show the wider public that the ukulele is an extraordinary instrument that can be used as an excellent creative musical tool. Artists like Eddie Vedder, George Harrison and Elvis Costello have also embraced the mighty uke to create some superb songs.
I passionately believe that the world is a better place for artists creating new music and I applaud anyone doing this. OUS remains an oasis for such material and in 2019 I will be unveiling a much bigger platform also dedicated to the love of music.