Delving into specifics on production and input.
Son of The Beatles star George Harrison, Dhani has established himself as an artist in his own right. The multi-instrumentalist, singer and composer is a fantastic ukulele player, and it’s only fitting that he releases a tenor version of the instrument with Fender.
With this Ukulele out now, Dhani Harrison has a chat with us at Mixdown, regarding his new Signature Series Ukulele collaboration and a quick trip down memory lane.
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How’ve you been keeping yourself busy over the last 18 months?
“Watching Vietnam films. I watched every single Vietnam film. So I basically went to Vietnam.”
You’re just about to release a new signature ukulele with Fender. Tell us how this partnership came about – what led to you linking up with Fender?
“Fender and I have been working together for decades, and I have a very dear brother at Fender called Michael Schulz, who brought me in on the first George Harrison Duo Jet, and we are family. So we’ve worked on every single George Harrison model. Eventually, they asked me to do a signature ukulele.”
The ukulele has experienced quite a significant boom in consumer appeal over the past 10 or so years – it seems now that everyone is writing and performing with them. When did you first play the ukulele, and how does it inform your own approach towards songwriting or performance?
“I was five or six years old. I was definitely performing at a George Formby convention by the time I was eight. So you can work backwards from there.”
Can you provide us a bit of an insight into the design process of the ukulele? How much input did you have into the specifications of it all?
“Total input, all input. We went and reverse engineered all of my favorite ukuleles and then tried to find an amalgam.”
The colours and engravings of the ukulele are both quite striking embellishments to the instrument. Can you tell us more about them, and why they’re so important to the design of the ukulele?
“As far [as] the colors go, I wanted to do a “daytime” and a “nighttime” finish with a space type sky and a twilight blue, like just before the sky goes dark. Also, they’re stains, not paints – I don’t like painting over things too much as I want to see the grain of the wood. I just tried to think of something that I could see every day for the rest of my life and always want to look at.”
Tell us about the tonal qualities of the ukulele – have you managed to record or perform with it yet? Is there anything about it which has really surprised you?
“Every uke has something that’s good about it and something that’s just really detrimental. I feel like the power of this uke is the fact that we’ve mitigated all the detrimental factors. So you’ve got a uke that’s a really good all-rounder. It’s tough and it’s light and it looks beautiful. It feels beautiful. It’s great. It’s going to be great to play on stage. It’s going to be great to play unplugged and it’s got a built in tuner. So it’s just like we’re just trying to mitigate all the bad things about ukuleles. I feel like by doing that, we did it first and then created one of the best.
What musical projects are you currently working on? Are you still heavily involved with composing for film, or focusing on recording your own solo material?
“We just finished scoring a film called ‘Futra Days’ and I’m also halfway through my new album. So, watch this space.”
Finally, now that things are beginning to return to some form of normality, do you have any plans to hit the road anytime soon?
“Well, the world was never normal. I think I might be a farmer now.”
Check out the new Dhani Harrison Signature Series Ukulele over at the Fender Website.