CLLCT is a great place to hunt around for interesting new uke acts. I’ve already spread the good word about Madeline Ava. And today it’s the turn of Tinyfolk. I caught up with Russ, Mr Tinyfolk, for the essential details.
What appeals to you about the baritone ukulele and how did you get started with it?
I really like the smallness of the instrument, it’s really easy to take with me to shows or wherever. The sound is also really great because it’s somewhere between a ukulele and a guitar, and I kind of feel like I get the best of both worlds there. It makes Tinyfolk sound different from other acoustic acts, for sure.
I started out with a cheapo soprano uke in 2005 and taught myself to play. I didn’t really know how to play any other instruments, I just thought ukulele seemed really pretty easy to pick up, so I did. And it was pretty easy.
You’ve got a big back catalogue. Where do you recommend people new to your music start?
I would recommend starting with Owling, which is what I call the “greatest” “hits” record, then decide which you like and listen to the full albums or EPs those songs are from. Tinyfolk is really all over the place, and not all of it’s ukulele, though the vast majority of it is. The songs without uke are probably all either electronic or classical guitar, though there might be an a capella number or two in there.
Is that a standard ukulele on Lost and Found? Do you play much re-entrant uke?
Yep. That’s my original soprano uke that I started out on. It’s broken apart and has been glued back together, but it works just great still, or as great as a thirty dollar ukulele can be expected to work after four years.
I generally play one song on the soprano per show, sometimes more if I’m in the mood. I don’t write songs on it as often, but I’d like to. I played it ad nauseum when I first got it, so by the time I got the baritone uke, I was tired of writing songs on the soprano. Now I like it again.
You give most of your music away for free on the net. How has the internet changed the way you make and release music?
I started making music in 2005, so the first thing I did when I first made the first song was to put it online. I quickly learned that when I made it free online it was a good way to get feedback from people, and I also quickly learned that I wasn’t going to make any money selling CDs, except for occasionally at shows. Thus, I put out an online-only EP with the now-defunct mp3 label/blog Bunch of Beatniks Riding a Rocket in 2005, then started putting out of print releases up there, then whenever 001collective (now CLLCT) was created, I just put everything up there. I haven’t been on tour in over a year now, so really promoting with free music online is the best way I have to let people hear what I’m doing.
Who are your favourite ukulele acts?
Ukulele Ike, Herman Dune (I was inspired to pick up the uke after seeing David-Ivar Herman Dune play a lovely little set on a soprano in Bloomington), Dennis Driscoll, Jens Lekman, Jacob Borshard, Ki(10)z and my friends bands like Watercolor Paintings, Madeline Ava, Your Yellow Dress and Blanketarms.
What can we expect from you in the future?
Well, I’m working on a barry uke album that will be out on the wonderful Swim Slowly records before the end of the year, and I’m working on a three-song split of electronic music that will be a benefit for We Heart Arts and will be out by the end of the summer. Maybe a tour after that. I’ll be on Shrimper Records 20th Anniversary 2 CD compilation alongside amazing lo-fi acts like The Mountain Goats, Herman Dune and Jad Fair, so that’s pretty exciting. I’m moving from central Indiana to Chicago by July, so who knows what wonders will await Tinyfolk in the big city.