Melissa Moniz
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Friday - May 09, 2008

The 411


Change is something Makana knows a lot about. Since entering the music scene when he was just a teen, Makana has shifted from a big-business frame of mind into an independent label - managing everything from his work load to the style of music he records and performs.

“I have total freedom and just work myself so hard,“says Makana, who is currently on the road touring in California.“We’re so blessed because, in Hawaii, I did like 45 shows since March. The West Coast is good,and we just did another record for Japan. There’s just so much happening. It’s really good.”

The recent release of Different Game also adds to Makana’s jam-packed schedule. The all-original album,which marks No.4 for Makana’s releases,illustrates his natural transition with his music.

“What is happening is that my music is all blending together,“says the 29-year-old.“I’m creating a sound,but it’s just taking a couple of records to come out. I have my really traditional Hawaiian stuff, and this (album) is more adult contemporary. The direction I’m going is the merging of the traditional Hawaiian and more modern stuff.”

Inspired by real-life experiences, the songs on the album express clarity and letting go.The album is generously filled with 15 tracks including: Away, Interlude 1, Mars Declares, Different Game, Necksnap Blues, So We Say Goodbye, Interlude 2, New Love Song, Reflections, Interlude 3, Flood 2, Home, Goodnite Friend,Time of Being and Shooting Star.

Makana is due back in the Islands in late May, where he will be performing regularly at the Sheraton Waikiki’s RumFire. For a complete list of scheduled dates, visit




How did you get into slack key guitar?

I was very, very blessed. I started out with ukulele when I was younger with Roy Sakuma, and then when I was 11 my family and I discovered slack key. We went to one of the festivals, and my mom asked Bobby Moderow to teach me, and he was like 21 and I was 11 at the time. It was cool to learn from someone young. He was like my big brother. After that, when I was 13, I had a grant from the State Foundation on the Culture and the Arts with Uncle Sonny Chillingworth. I also learned from Uncle Raymond Kane and Ledward Kaapana.So,basically I have learned from the best in the world. After that, I pretty much picked up every recording I could find and copied it, until I became them. From then I have laid the foundation to start creating my own style.

What has been your biggest musical accomplishment?

I guess the way I would phrase that would be my attitude and the message by which I perpetuate slack key.And that is, that I’m doing two things simultaneously: I’m going deeper and deeper into the roots structure of the art form and mastering that, but at the same time I’m pioneering a whole new way of doing it, which is very contemporary. And it requires both, and that is what has been the foundation for all of my music.

What has been most challenging about the music business and doing music as a profession?

For me, my values are now different, so I chose a different path. When I was younger,I was on Sunset Boulevard with the big management companies. I’ve had a lot of opportunities to work with big companies,but I chose to be independent because, for me, the art always comes first. And there’s so much different music coming through me, so the biggest challenge has been communicating that to people. I think the industry is structured to get people to expect one style all the time. My sound is expanding and always changing, so my biggest challenge has been communicating that to the audience.

What are your strengths musically, and what sets you apart?

I’m super comfortable on stage.I’m kind of a ham,so when I get on stage I love it. I’m more comfortable on stage than I am off stage. I love being up there, and my strength is when I pick up the guitar, it’s like putting on my armor.

Where do you hope to be with your music in 10 years?

I really want slack key guitar to be a household name around the world, and I want to have toured all around the world. And I want to have done multiple films,creating stories with my music with film. And I have enough material for a book right now, as far as my philosophical material, because I’m a writer, too. So I have that done. And maybe by then I’ll find a nice woman. (laughs)


E-mail this story | Print this page | Comments (0) | Archive | RSS Comments (0) |

Most Recent Comment(s):

Posting a comment on requires a free registration.



Auto Login

Forgot Password

Sign Up for MidWeek newsletter Times Supermarket



Hawaii Luxury

Tiare Asia and Alex Bing
were spotted at the Sugar Ray's Bar Lounge