April, 2014 ~ Kris Fuchigami is one of Hawai’i Island’s best known ‘ukulele players and is quickly expanding his fan base around the world with his solid melodies and lightning fast strumming. I caught up with Kris via email earlier in the month to talk about Big Island life, his influences, and practice. Spoiler: The guy practices a lot.
Brad Bordessa: What has it been like being a performing ‘ukulele player on Hawai’i Island? The music scene here is pretty small compared to Maui or O’ahu. Do you think it’s been a factor in the growth of your career?
Kris Fuchigami: It’s been awesome. I love living on the Big Island because I get to perform at the events here and when there is something happening on the other islands or in the mainland or Japan, I get to go out there and perform also. I don’t feel like its ever held me back in anyway. Also, social media is so awesome now that you can just post a simple video from your room and have it seen by thousands of people around the world.
BB: What is your chosen social media platform? How can people see your video posts?
KF: I like to use Youtube. It is so easy to just log on and post a video. I have released a couple music videos through various Youtube channels and they have gotten tens of thousands of views and some of them close to a 100,000 views. All you have to do is type Kris Fuchigami into the search and they will all pop up!
BB: Do you have a favorite Hawai’i Island venue?
KF: I haven’t ever thought of that haha. I just love music and love to play music for other people. No matter what venue it is, I perform 150% because if i can just touch one person in that room, its all worth it.
BB: Jake Shimabukuro has obviously been a big influence to you. Who else do you listen to and get inspiration from?
KF: For me, I try to listen to all types of music now so that I can learn all different types of music. But if I were to pick one, believe it or not, I would have to go with a rapper by the name of Tupac. The man was a genius.
BB: Do you write any sort of lyric-centered songs yourself?
KF: You know, I have written a couple of songs with lyrics. Never released any. But as for Tupac, his rapping wasn’t the only thing that got me. It was his drive to be successful. He came up from nothing and with all the odds against him, he still made it to the top and he never lost himself in the process. That all came out in his music and that is what I try to do with my music. I try to put the real me into every song that I write.
BB: Your technical proficiency seems like it came on pretty fast compared to most players. How many hours a day were you practicing and what did you work on to get to that point?
KF: I would practice all day. I would practice so much that I would never have time to do my homework haha. I would practice tons of songs and different techniques. Anything that would make me a better solid player.
BB: Do you have a process for writing songs? How do you expand upon ideas to create a complete tune?
KF: Sometimes, a melody pops into my head that really stands out to me so before I lose it, I quickly grab my phone and record myself humming the melody. Sometimes it comes to me in the middle of the night, so if you’re ever at my house and you hear an eerie sounding hum in the middle of the night, it will most likely be coming from me haha.
BB: What are your future plans? Anything exciting happening that we should know about?
KF: I am currently working on a new album so keep an eye out for that. I’ll be performing at the great ukulele picnic on Oahu next month. After that, in June, I will be going to Korea to do a couple of concerts over there.
BB: Have you ever been there before? Any idea what to expect?
KF: I have only stopped in Korea on my way to Japan haha. But I am very excited to meet the people there and to share my music with them.
BB: Mahalo, Kris. All the best.