Last month Corey visited Hong Kong for his 3rd overseas concert (the first 2 were held in Taiwan and he had held ukulele workshops in Japan and Korea). As a novice ukulele blogger I had the pleasure to interview Corey, thanks to the concert organizers Ukulele for Heart and Music Bear Arts Centre. Let’s get to know more about Corey!
Corey Fujimoto, aged 27 of Japanese, Portuguese, Chinese, and Filipino decent, is known for his fingerpicking skills in Hawaii Music Supply demos, and is an inspiration for many ukers worldwide.
1. How it all began
Corey never imagined to become a musician when he was small, though he was exposed to diversified music culture of Hawaii. Curious with ukulele, Corey began to be trained strictly during the 4th Grade by his father, the only music practitioner in his family. He said his father was one of the best musicians he have had known. The practice songs his father picked was rather hard for beginners. Around the same time, he and his peers would pass around cool ukulele songs they newly heard and learn from each other. Corey also learnt to play piano, guitar and bass.
2. From computer technician to musician
Influenced by his uncle, a computer technician, Corey was a big fan of IT stuff during small. During leisure he liked to dissemble and reassemble the computer parts, and read a huge amount of computer magazines and books. After high school, he was enrolled in a computer degree in a college of University of Hawaii, and worked in Pearl Habor as a contract computer technician. But at around 2010 he found himself losing interest in computer.
While his friends had moved away from ukulele, he still kept playing. Back then he had no idea what this petite instrument had in store for him.
HMS Group photo; Source: HMS Official Website
Andrew Kitatis of Hawaii Music Supply told Brad Bordessa in an interview for Liveuklele.com how he first meet Corey before he worked for HMS.
Aaron [Crowell]’s neighbor was Corey Fuijimoto. I remember Aaron telling me how this kid in his building could copy Jake songs by ear and picked up the guitar and within a year was figuring out Yngwie Malmsteen and Al Dimeola. Corey also happened to understand computers so I called him up one day when Aaron saw me pulling out my hair with technology frustration. He said, trust me, you don’t want to be bald. Just call my neighbor. Corey helped me out and started coming by. At the time, we carried Collings guitars, McPherson and custom shop Taylors etc. He was in heaven.”
3. Launching a music career
Andrew spotted Corey’s potential and advised him to quit the college for a music career. He sponsored the production of Corey’s first album in 2013, Fables, and took the roles of executive producer and photographer. Corey put in his savings for the album, where he and his musician friends in Hawaii had worked for 4 months.
Corey had actually only played in few wedding and graduation gigs in Hawaii, before his first headline ukulele concert in 2014. It was held in Taiwan when he was invited by Annier Li, a professional ukulele performer in Taiwan.
Corey loves selfies. This was taken after his ukulele concert in Hong Kong. (Source: Corey’s facebook fanpage)。
Corey practices ukulele daily for 2 hours at least. Having little prior knowledge in sheet music, he can devote in denoting difficult pieces such as Bach for weeks, and work all night long to figure out the fretboard positions and fingerings.
Corey preparing notes for the ukulele workshop participants. (Source: Ukulele for heart)。
4. Corey’s music
Corey listens a wide range of music genres, from rock, metal to pop and melodic pieces. His greatest music inspiration is Tommy Emmanuel, a famous classical guitar player from Australia, “[his music is like to] paint a picture in your mind very vividly”, and he aspires to be the Tommy Emmanuel of ukulele. In his album Corey covered his song Mystery and produced “Tommy’s song” as dedication.
Tommy Emmanuel’s song written for his second daughter Angelina
One may wonder whether Corey sings. He chuckled gently and humbly said he was not a good singer, and only sang when he was alone in shower. Unable to turn down the request from the anticipated audiences in Hong Kong he did perform I am yours by Jason Mraz, and Japanese song called Always with me/ Itsumo nando demo from the animation Spirited Away.
5. Corey’s gears
Corey introduced his 2 ukes for the Hong Kong concert during the interview. The High G uke was a Ko’olau Deluxe tenor with Spruce top and Rosewood B&S, while the Low G was a Ko’olau CS tenor with flamed Cuban Mahogany*.
He decided to get himself the mahogany tenor after recorded a demo for HMS with the same model, “I’ ve never heard anything like that before”. If he were to order a custom Corey said he would like a spruce or cedar top with ebony back and sides, which is denser than the rosewood model he had. When asked if he was interested in a Koa model, he answered he might acquire one in future for its look.
6. Future plans
Corey looks forward to collaborate with Tommy Emmanuel and uke virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro, and welcome performance invitations from worldwide. Given a chance he also would like to record another album. The concert organizer in Hong Kong , Ukulele for Heart., have given Corey the complete scores of JS Bach’s violin sonata and suites, BWV1001-1006, and we certainly can hear more of the fabulous classical renditions from him in future.
Corey playing a Japanese song on a Chinese strings Instrument, Pipa:
Corey’s farewell to Hong Kong fans:
PS. English is not my native language. Please correct me if there is any language mistakes. Big thanks.
Chinese version of this article: http://wp.me/p6m1vN-2J