At the other end of the world from France, Rose Turtle Ertler, an Australian ukulele player has decided to bring together two of her passions : ukulele and cooking. The result of this combination is a book titled What Do Ukulele Players Eat ? in which Rose has compiled recipes from ukulele players around the world.
Rose has been very kind to answer a few questions which tell us more about the ukulele in Australia and about her book.
U&L: You are a musician from Australia. Can you tell us a bit about yourself, your musical style and your ukulele story ?
Rose Turtle Ertler : I tripped upon the ukulele about twelve years ago, when I tried plugging one into a guitar effects pedal. I was amazed at the result – I could make this tiny cute instrument sound big and distorted like an electric guitar, or pitch shift it down like a wonky double bass or tinkle like bells or sing like an angelic harp. I was very excited that I could ride my bicycyle to gigs and not have to carry big instruments – just my uke and a little 80s drum machine I programmed.
I didn’t know any other ukulele players then, but gradually they started popping up out of the woodwork. I organized three Ukulele Land concerts in Sydney, gathering together as many uke players as possible.
As I met some fine players, I would learn a few tricks here and there and eventually, I threw aside the effects pedal and now play acoustically. I realized that I used to play it like it was a little guitar, not a special instrument all of it’s own.
I joined the Melb Ukulele Kollective when it started in 2004 – there was just three of us at the first meeting, but that soon changed once the word got out. All of a sudden, one day, everyone was playing uke! Since then, over 30 clubs have started up across Australia. I’ve visited lots of them to run workshops. I love the community aspect of the ukulele. All those clubs have similar stories – often people who may never have played music before are so inspired with their new creative outlet. It’s a very joyous thing, although I must admit, I do get sick of those classic ukulele songs that they bash out – You are My Sunshine, Five foot Two, etc!
When I perform, I play my own songs. I call them ‘wonky folk’ songs. I like to throw in odd time signatures here and there, just to make it a bit extra wobbly!
Follow Me Down The Way by Rose Turtle Ertler, with illustrations by comic artist Mandy Ord
U&L: You have just published the second edition of What Do Ukulele Players Eat ?. How did you come up with the idea of compiling a recipe book from ukulele players around the world ? What is new from your first book ?
Rose Turtle Ertler : A few years ago I was planning to write a book about the ukulele scene in Australia – past and present. I started researching and collected some good stories, but it the scene was changing so fast I couldn’t keep up with it!
So I decided to do a much smaller project that would still give a feeling of the ukulele community – but this time – the international one.
One day, I was in my favourite zine shop in Melbourne called Sticky (a great place to be inspired), when I thought of the idea of combining my two favourite interests – ukulele and cooking. I wondered if other ukulele players were as interested in cooking as I was. So I emailed lots of players all over the world to see if anyone thought it was a good idea. I was pleasantly suprised with the response.
This latest edition of What Do Ukulele Players Eat ? also has a CD that comes with it. All the recipe contributors also sent a song. It’s a beautiful beautiful album and excellent to listen to when you’re cooking!
U&L: What countries are featured in your second edition of What Do Ukulele Players Eat ? Will there be songs in several languages on the CD ?
I tried to get a broad range of countries represented in the book. I would have like some more Pacific Islanders this time, so was very happy to have Seaman Dan from Thursday Island (right off Australia’s north east point).
I wrote to some uke players in Africa, but never got a response.
It’s still a good range of countries: lots in Europe (Spain, Latvia, Belgium, France, Germany, Nederlands and UK), some from US and South America (Brazil), Asia (Japan and Singapore), New Zealand and of course, Australia.
There’s a few instrumental songs on the CD. Of the ones with singing, most sing in English – that’s common these days I guess. But we’re very lucky to have the amazing Yan Yalego singing Eh Là Bas in French and Alexander Wandrowsky (aka Der Mit Der Ukulele) singing his beautiful Wiegenlied in German. He actually sent me an English and German version and we decided to use the German one.
Also, Rodrigo Lemos sings his gorgeous song “Alice” in Portugese.
Ooh, I’m excited – it’s a very beautiful collection of songs!
U&L: Where can we purchase your book ?
Rose Turtle Ertler : You can buy the book/CD at my website: www.roseturtleertler.com
It’s AU$20 plus postage. I’m just off to the post office to see how much postage will cost!
U&L: Do you have any other ukulele project / gig planned in the near future ?
Rose Turtle Ertler : I’m really looking forward to the Melbourne Ukulele Festival coming up this weekend. I’m doing a workshop there – teaching a few strumming patterns for one of my songs, then people can join me on stage when I do my concert later in the evening. It’s a great festival and we get to host lots of members of the international ukulele family. We’ve got U.K.E from Paris staying with us as well as The Nukes from New Zealand.
I’m also taking The Nukes to the countryside for a couple of shows and workshops with ukulele clubs.
I don’t have any other uke projects planned for now, but I was thinking maybe for the next Melb Uke Festival I could take a type writer and set up a little space for people to write their thoughts about the ukulele. I’d like to read those!