Known Ukulele Artists

Teiho Tetoofa

Ia ora na Teiho! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

'Ia ora na! My name is Teiho Tetoofa, I am 24 years old and I come from the Tuamotus, precisely from the island of Faaite. I've been a musician since the age of 7 and very curious because I've tried a bit of everything! I started by learning to play the ukulele, then guitar and drums. I also sing.

Where does this taste for music come from in you?

I think I received this gift from my paternal grandfather, who was a music teacher in the Protestant church in Bora-Bora. In my family, I have brothers who play music but I'm the only one who always had the goal of becoming a singer (and I'm also the only one who realized this dream). Music is part of my life projects: I always wanted to become a great Polynesian singer! (Laughter)

Through your texts, do you want to promote Polynesian culture?

Yes, I compose my music and I write my own songs, inspired by the ancient texts that I read. For me it is important to write in Paumotu (the language spoken in the Tuamotu Archipelago) because it reflects my identity. I think it's a very beautiful language and I try to promote it through my music.

Besides, I would like to pass on a little message: the more the years go by, the more young people forget their culture a little. Today, it is rare to hear young people who are able to formulate a correct sentence in Tahitian. It may not be their fault but through my music, I would like to show all these young people that it is important to keep our language. It is the identity of each one of us.

You also have a group, Tuakana. How was it created?

With friends, we drew our motivation from already existing local groups. By dint of following these elders (like Maruao, Manavib's...) and observing them on stage, it's a bit like them who formed us internally and allowed us to evolve in our work. And then one day, we decided to create our own band to be able to share this passion as much as possible. This is the story of our group! Today we are 4 musicians (whom I salute by the way!) and we are followed on the local scene.

What are your favorite songs to play?

We vary our repertoire a little according to the audiences we have. But most of the time, we stick to local musical trends because we know that people really like such and such songs that have made the buzz, so we cover them. Good atmosphere guaranteed during the evening!

Do you also compose?

It's something we're working on little by little. But for the moment, I released songs in a personal way, apart from my group.

Besides, what is the story of your song "Marae Turaina"?

It's a Tuamotu legend, originally from Faaite, the island where I grew up and which I really appreciate. The author of this text is not known. This writing comes from our ancestors: originally it was an 'orero which was transformed into a song.

It's about a bird that was raised by a king. At that time, the role of this bird was to fly over the journey of warriors in canoes: it was he who warned them of the approaching storm and even of the enemy. Gradually, people started to appreciate this bird and that's how it became a fantastic story, told from generation to generation.

Are you more of a Tahitian ukulele or a kamaka (Hawaiian ukulele)?

I prefer kamakas! It is also an instrument that I would recommend to beginners because it is great for playing acoustic music. While the Tahitian ukulele is a beautiful instrument, it has a nice sound but is more for Polynesian partying.

Why did you choose to learn the ukulele as a child?

I think it was due to the fact that there are only 4 strings: it's easier to play. And for the little anecdote, when I was a child I remember that on my little island there were fashions: marbles, the kite... and one day it fell on the ukulele! Everyone got into it, the older ones taught the notes to the younger ones... And that's how I started.

Mauruuru Teiho! Last question, do you think you can easily play the ukulele without knowing music theory?

So compared to that, I think it depends on the will of each one. If you like to play the ukulele, it is sure that you will be able to progress. On the other hand, it will be something else if you don't like it... Mauruuru over to you!

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