Mission Statement

Original mission statement from 11/8/16

A year ago I found myself at a new level of an ongoing quarter-life crisis. Approaching my first winter in Seattle, I started to get weary of my ambitions and fell into an existential spiral of nihilism. The honeymoon phase of 'Ukulele Paintings was coming to a close and while I was more than happy of its reception and the enormous amount of support I got from family, friends, and even strangers, life came to a halt and restlessness got the better of me. I wanted to dig deeper and find why I felt this way when things were seemingly going well.

It was in those moments that I realized my perspective shifted to filling my life with the external. Observing my peers, I felt I was falling below the curve and lead myself to believe that I was wasting my time on foolish dreams. With the days growing shorter and the hum of grey in the sky, I let the things around me weigh me down. It's one thing to be bummed out on a bad day but to physically feel it sit on your chest is another story.

In a brief respite from myself in November 2016, I came across a handwritten document with "My Definite Chief Aim," written across the top of the page. Signed by a 28 year old Bruce Lee in 1969, the words were clear, direct, and honest. It shook me from my paralysis as I took out my own brush and ink to begin deciphering what I was really trying to do with my life. I let go of my usual mental filters and was just honest with myself as I begun to write my own Definite Chief Aim.  

 Bruce Lee's My Definite Chief Aim. Source: Letters to Note

Bruce Lee's My Definite Chief Aim. Source: Letters to Note

That honest moment has served me greater than the countless hours of comparative evaluation. I now keep a copy right next to my desk where I spend the greater part of my life practicing and teaching music. When I feel doubt, confusion, or even my spirit waver I turn to read it. Though today it wasn't enough to just passively absorb it. So on this anniversary month of its inception I decided to reevaluate it and compose a new copy. It's refreshing that I only removed one redundant sentence and got to see that my brushstroke had even gotten better over the year. It was the icing on the cake to keep trekking on and to not give up just yet. I'm proud to say that not only have I continued with a follow up release, The Spotless Mind, but have also started working on a new record to be released in the summer of 2018.

Today was a fresh reminder that answers often lie within ourselves if given the right amount of room to grow.*


*Unless it's spelling. Some of us have no hope in that realm.

Everything into this Step.

"It is unwise to be fixated on a single point of completion. A man who has devoted himself to his studies and believes he has reached a consummate level will assume his training has finished, but this is erroneous. Devotion to the study of one's path - first acquiring the fundamentals, and then continuing to refine your knowledge and skills - is a life long pursuit with no end. Without becoming content with your level of accomplishment, think critically of everything, and spend your entire life traveling the path, asking, "How can I find the truth of the Way?" Never give up this quest. Continue to practice like this and you will uncover the Way."

-Yamamoto Tsunetomo
Excerpt from Book 1 of the Hagakure

One more time with feeling.

Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award Nomination - 'Ukulele Album of the Year

It truly is an honor and pleasure to announce that 'Ukulele Paintings is up for 'Ukulele Album of the Year in this year's Na Hoku Hanohano Awards. The Na Hoku Hanohano Awards is often referred to as the Hawaiian Grammys and is an institution set up by the Hawai'i Academy of Recording Arts (HARA). My earliest memory of the Hoku awards was watching Jon Yamasato and Lopaka Colón holding up Jake Shimabukuro as he is crying in joy for just winning album of the year with his partners in crime from Pure Heart. It was a perplexing moment for myself as I couldn't even come close to understanding how they felt. It left a mark on my soul to one day understand that feeling. 

Amidst my search, I have come across some success, many failures, moments of testing my resolve, and the occasional bout of hard work. In my times of reflection I often wonder how all this chaos has lead me to my current self. Along my short career the main connective thread has been luck. I am lucky to have the breath in my lungs to say what I need to say. Lucky to have a supportive family who would clap if I went on stage and sneezed for set. Lucky to have friends who have caught me the countless times I fell and told me to go out and do it again with a smile. 

My realization is that I've had reason for that feeling all along.

I am inspired and honored to be one of the nominees alongside many of my heroes. A big mahalo to HARA for even considering 'Ukulele Paintings. To my fellow nominees: it is more than enough to say I share this title with you. I don't take this responsibility lightly. I feel compelled to continue sharing, writing, and teaching music more than ever. 

My good friend Matthew Riley once told me a quote from Frank Zappa that still rings true:

Music is the best.