Local ukulele duo Miss Amber and Stukulele have a busy month – headliners for the Blue Mountains Ukulele Festival along with the launch of a brand-new EP Swirl in the Sun. Seven caught up with Stu as he was doing up his Hawaiian shirt for the next Aloha-themed uke night.
Tell me about your and Miss Amber’s inclusion for the Ukulele Festival in the Blue Mountains.
We played at the festival last year. They really like Miss Amber’s sexy mouth trumpet, so they asked us back as special guests and put us up in the Carrington Hotel. We played at the opening last night and it was amazing. The dance floor was jumping.
Where did you record Sweet Lies & Lullabies?
Three of the base tracks were recorded in Sydney at Alberts, once the home of ACDC, in Neutral Bay just before they sold the building and moved out. The studio is gone now. I wanted Hamish Stuart on drums and my old band buddies from Karma County helped me out as well while I was there. It was my a birthday present to myself. Then the tracks were finished at home and at the homes of John Hoffman and Sharny Russell. The remainder with my pal Paul Agar in his amazing new studio in Yamba, aptly named Heaven.
The story of how you wrote Swirl in the Sun is gorgeous – your daughter Rosie seems to be quite an artistic muse – as a songwriter how do you stay open to ideas when they come?
Yes… as long as I am remembering there’s magic all around. Nowadays I use my phone to record the little snippets of ideas as they come.
What is your songwriting process?
The good ones start from a nice lyric, something that inspires, and then I might find a melody from a few chords and I’ll mumble some sounds. Then I sit with pen and paper or the wordprocessor and fill in the blanks. The lyrics are what takes the most time. Finding the words that ring true. Ukulele has made songwriting easier for me with the chords.
How would you describe your creative partnership with Miss Amber?
She’s the showroom. I’m the office out the back taking care of the paperwork.
How would you describe your relationship with the uke?
I really do get emotional with this question. The uke has given so much back to me. Together we have had the best times. Like right now in the Blue Mountains with happy friendly encouraging people. In a word: joyous.
How have the uke nights been going? Are we building an army?
Each uke night someone will remark, ‘that was the best one yet’. They are a lot of work, though always rewarding. There’re more and more folk who come just for the show and a singalong. I’d like to see some more young-uns joining in. The ranks among the elders are still strong.
What should we expect for the Hawaiian night?
There will be some real traditional Hawaiian tunes with hula dancing from Byron Bay Mana Aloha Hula Troupe. They are very loving and very disciplined. Even Miss Amber has had some lessons for the show. There’ll also be lots of funny Hapa Haole tunes; l’m hoping for some great Hawaiian costumes – grass skirts, tropical prints. There’re prizes for the best dressed, including a custom-made uke. I expect people to be filled with a feeling of love and wonder that we live in such a great place with great people. That’s what we are aiming for.
Join Miss Amber & Stukulele for a gay luau as they present a Uke Night devoted to Hawaii, the traditional home of the ukulele. To make the evening even more spectacular they will be joined by Byron Bay Mana Aloha Hula Dancers plus lashings of dreamy steel guitar from one of the greats – Yamba’s Paul Agar – and guest vocals from the beautiful Parissa Bouas and Misty Henderson. There will be prizes for best Hawaiian costume, including a custom-made ukulele. Join the mailing list at www.ukemullum.com for the link to the songbook. Plenty of great singalong tunes and room on the dance floor for non-ukers.
Still only $10 adults and $2.50 kids under 16, from 6.30pm at Club Mullum in the Mullum Ex-Services Auditorium, Thursday 25 February.