Every once in a while, this blog brings me in touch with some amazing artists I might never have had the chance to discover. The internet is a noisy place, and too many times we realize late in the game that our “new” favorites have been around for a quite a while.
Such was the case when I “discovered” Alfa – the beautiful, soulful and exceedingly charming singer-songwriter whose song and video for Blue left me slack-jawed and wanting more!
I was lucky enough to contact her personally and she kindly agreed to grant me this interview.
Blogging has its perks! 🙂
Make sure to give this interview some social love to read the entire piece and access the videos and additional images.
BeatNik: When did you start playing ukulele?
Alfa: I taught myself ukulele in 2010, I believe. I was just curious about it, and thought it was a really cute instrument…not to mention, a little easier to carry around than my guitar or keyboard.
That is a beautiful instrument! Tell us a little about your Mya-Moe?
Thank you! I love my Mya-Moe…it goes by its other name: “the uke of destiny.” J It’s a tenor uke, with master grade koa on the entire body, mahogany neck, ebony fretboard with an abalone rosette. It has a direct pickup, which was a must for me…and a cutaway, so I can do some crazy high-register solos when I finally learn how.
Apart from the uke, I see you play guitar and a mean kazoo! What other instruments do you play?
I also play piano and violin.
You’ve recently moved to Los Angeles from New York, but you are originally from the Philippines, correct? Tell us a little about how you got where you are today.
Yes, I was born in southern Philippines, on the island of Mindanao. I started learning piano shortly after emigrating to New York and hated it at first. A lot of people in my family play music, so I didn’t think music was anything special and wanted to do something entirely different. Like dentistry (seriously, I wanted to be a dentist when I was 5). I got into the violin in 4th grade and absolutely fell in love. I played in some orchestras and got to tour a little as a kid, which was really fun for me. I started songwriting when I was 13, because I was going through a bit of an angst-ridden teenage phase and connected with a lot of music that I wanted to play. Eventually, though, I realized I couldn’t sing a lot of those songs I liked so I figured I’d make up my own songs instead! So, I started songwriting and eventually got up the courage to record, and eventually got up even more courage to play in front of people, and pretty soon it was pretty obvious what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. At least, it was obvious to everyone else…it took me a little longer to really figure it out. After graduating college, I decided to record my first full-length album, so I did that while I was working a full-time job as a journalist. I left that job 3 years later, moved to LA, and haven’t looked back since.
Where can my readers go to see you perform live?
It really depends on my schedule… you can always see where I’m playing on my website, alfa-music.com.
Would you consider performing at some ukulele music festivals?
Of course! I’d love to play a uke festival. Although I’m sure I’d be in awe of everyone there… I still consider myself a ukulele noob.
(BeatNik: You heard it here first, folks! Who will start the festival invitations?)
How many songs on the new album feature the uke, and can we expect to hear more like “Blue” in the future?
It’s just “Blue” with the uke, and if you can believe it, it’s the first song I ever wrote on uke. Prior to that, I’d just been playing covers and adding them to my live shows to mix things up a bit. I was really happy that “Blue” came out of my uke. It took about 15 minutes to finish it.
I heard you do a fantastic cover of Train’s “Hey, Soul Sister” in your concerts. What artists inspire your music?
Plenty… Sara B, Ingrid Michaelson, Regina Spektor, Fiona Apple, early Jewel stuff, Fiona Apple, Shawn Colvin, Joni Mitchell, Carol King, Camille… I feel like a big sponge that just kind of soaks in whatever I’m listening to.
A lot of my readers are also aspiring musicians. What insights or advice would you like to pass along to them?
I remember sitting on an airplane and reading this quote from the in-flight magazine, “Do what you love; love what you do, and share your gifts with others.” Apparently Gustavo Dudamel said that… he’s a smart guy.
Thank you Alfa, you have been simply charming!
For those of you who are now entranced by Alfa, I offer some more images and her sensational video, Blue.