Ukulele style - The Popular Demo

Written by Magic of Nah-Kolor


From time to time I search Youtube trying to find some interesting scene videos. No, not captures of executable demos but videos with content related to the demoscene. For example party reports, live coverages of demo competitions and such stuff. Old party reports are nice as well. One day, for instance, I bumped into a The Party 1993 report on Youtube (see Hugi #34 news section for this). So, once upon a day in 2009 I browsed and found this Youtube video from this guy who played the Ukulele and sang the Popular Demo soundtrack. He had also placed other videos on Youtube where he used the Ukulele and sang songs from U2, Phil Collins and Sting for example. Perhaps you have already seen one or more videos from this fellow yourself? In any case Hugi got into a talk with this 'Ukulele fellow' and found out some interesting facts. Before you read any further I suggest you turn the music in this issue of Hugi off (press 0) and click here to see the Ukulele popular demo video so you know what this article is about. Of course once you go back to reading continue listening to the fabulous tracks we have in this issue of Hugi.

Who is the Ukulele man?

So Who is he? Where does he come from and what is his age? What does he do in real life? Hugi found it all out: "I'm Exoticorn of Farbrausch, also known as Dennis Ranke in the real world. I'm 31 years old (last time I checked, time flies) and I have been a video game programmer for the last 10 years. These days I am working at keen games in Frankfurt/Germany, which I co-founded. I have been more or less a member of the scene for the last 12 years or so, but since I am working as a programmer, I find it somewhat hard to motivate myself to do much coding in my free time. The best I recently managed was the one-week-production 'Spidr', which won the 96k game compo at Breakpoint 2009. "

So what drives Exoticorn to make/sing 'Ukulele videos' and put them on Youtube for the world to watch? "When I started playing the ukulele about two years ago, I thought posting videos of me playing to youtube would be a nice way for me to motivate myself to learn a new song each week. Then I noticed that these videos also helped with something else: After exposing myself to the internet in this way, I feel less and less nervous playing in front of a (small) audience", Exoticorn comments and continues: "Of course, it helped that most comments to my videos were extremely positive. The occasional case like a Nirvana fan who doesn't like me playing Smells Like Teen Spirit on ukulele really is to be expected on the internet. In fact, I always expected more like that. Maybe the internet isn't as cruel as they say... ;)"

Ukulele as an instrument

Seeing all those Ukulele videos made me wonder why exactly the ukulele? Why not a guitar for example? What does a ukulele mean to Exoticorn of Farbrausch? He explains: "Everyone who plays the ukulele will tell you that it is a very fun instrument to play. And that is certainly true. The deciding factor for me to buy my first ukulele was the size and weight, though. I have been playing the guitar since I was in my early teens and while I am not exactly the most virtuosic player out there I am literally playing around with the guitar all the time when I'm on my own at home. (Almost like a heavy smoker unthinkingly reaching for his cigarettes I find myself constantly reaching for an instrument whenever I am bored, excited, pondering, etc.) What I had been missing, though, was an instrument that was really, really portable. A guitar is certainly very portable compared to, say, a grand piano or an organ, but it still isn't something you would take with you to work on the off-chance that you might have a few free minutes while waiting for the train. So buying a ukulele was a very logical step for me. Nowadays, I actually play the ukulele more than the guitar, even at home, simply because I find it easier to casually pick up."

Next to his abilities to play the ukulele Exoticorn also sings. Has he always wanted to become a singer? "Not in any realistic way, no. I have always enjoyed singing, but I never really felt comfortable doing it in front of an audience. As said, this is getting better, but still I realise that I am a better programmer than singer, so I will stick to that for the time being. Of course, in the time of the internet, even a hobbyist musician with a lo-fi sound can find some audience somewhere. So who knows, maybe I will try to record more original songs and build something like that in the future", Exoticorn comments.

Before I knew the ukulele man was Exoticorn of Farbrausch I e-mailed him the question why he decided to make a Ukulele video version of the popular demo song. But knowing know he is a scener himself, a Farbrausch member even, this question doesn't have a powerful relevance anymore. Here is Exoticorn's motivation anyway: "As said already, for the first half year of my ukulele playing, I made myself record and post one video every week. So each week, I would be looking for a random new song to learn and at some point I had the idea of doing a cover of a demo soundtrack. The Popular Demo was then simply the first demo coming to my mind that actually had a song as soundtrack. So I tried to arrange it for ukulele and found that it worked remarkably well. Of course, that's always a sign for a good song. ;)"


Before we leave Exoticorn and wait to see a new ukulele video hit Youtube I was curious what reactions he got on his videos. Next to the comments on youtube of course. Exoticorn: "There were some very positive oneliners on pouet (although I think that I have missed some of them) and several people told me they liked it on breakpoint'08. That's basically it, but it was already a positive surprise as I didn't tell anybody about the video and just let it find its way on its own. (I didn't even tell Wayfinder, and he only found out about it after Breakpoint where I sat just a few places left from him. Oops.. ;)"

Magic: "Any last message you want to air to our readers?"

Exoticorn: "Hm, let me think about this. Oh, right: Continue to show the world that you can do more with a computer than watch YouTube videos! "

Links related to this article

fr-025 - The Popular Demo on ukulele

Spidr 96KB game by Farbrausch