Embracing the unique tone of the ukulele | Vicky Meets

Vicky meets... musician Matthew Quilliam.

• Where did your love of music begin?

Growing up I never showed much interest in music until we had instrument lessons in school. We covered many things, from clarinet to drums to trumpet, and eventually we did ukulele. I was intrigued by it and played it casually. However, the more I played the more I found myself really enjoying all aspects of music; playing, performing, composing and teaching.

• Tell me a bit about the ukulele

Matthew Quilliam

The ukulele can be misunderstood as a toy or something that is only good for accompanying singing. I’ll admit that getting started on the ukulele is relatively easier than other instruments, but for me there is so much more to the ukulele. It has a wide range of possibilities ranging from classical music to jazz and pop to orchestral. I personally gravitate towards its unique tone, which is caused in part by the unique non-linear tuning which creates a very bright and uplifting sound which yet has a darker undercurrent to it. It makes the sound very layered.

• You’re a student at Chichester University. What are you studying?

I am studying for a Bachelor of Music degree. This particular course is a well-rounded delivery of teaching, history, composing and performing which prepares me for industry work in all areas of music. I have a cohort of private pupils, as well as teaching at ukulele festivals around the country, which is something I intend to grow. I compose for films (including my own) which I make in my spare time. I also perform in various disciplines – from my own cabaret style act to supporting a production in the pit.

• What performance opportunities are you enjoying at the moment?

Winter is quieter than normal as concerns about safety are paramount during the colder months, however I have recently had the good fortune of playing at Eastbourne and Isle of Wight Ukulele Festivals this last month. Additionally, during the lockdown I released my first album which you can find on Bandcamp under my name. Upcoming things include a screening of a film that I’ve made which will be performed with a live orchestra to accompany it, with all the music written by me and featuring the ukulele! Next year in 2022 I’m hoping to be getting out and about more with more festivals and tours across the UK and abroad. I am constantly updating my website on which you can find all my latest news at www.matthewquilliam.co.uk

• Who are your musical heroes?

I have too many to mention, because most of them are people I play with and learn things from whenever I meet up to jam or perform with them. Others are people who have composed music that I find fascinating to study or that I really enjoy listening to. Again, it’s a very wide field. If I had to pick then I might list Igor Stravinsky and Choan Galvez because of their unique approach to composition and development of instruments.