Makana debuts new music
Photo by Jason Genegabus / email@example.com
Yes, Makana was on stage with a guitar in Chinatown on Wednesday night — but the original songs he performed were like nothing he's ever played in public before.
TEXT AND VIDEO BY JASON GENEGABUS / firstname.lastname@example.org
People like routines. They get set in their ways and settle into repeating the same behaviors again and again. It's comfortable, and usually nobody else is ever really paying attention.
Some musicians like routines, too. But Makana Cameron isn't one of them.
In order to maintain a full reservoir of creative inspiration, the slack key guitar virtuoso often veers off on different creative paths with his original compositions.
"It's very simple — my music works on opposites," Makana said Wednesday, a few hours before he was set to perform at NextDoor in Chinatown. "One thing I've observed, and my whole philosphy of music is based on this, is that opposites create each other.
"In order to build the passion and the tension, to create music that will move people, at some point I need to refill. The best way to refill is to move completely away from it to something else … and as I'm doing that, I'll get stuck at one point and take a break. This is how I maintain my passion. I don't burn out doing one thing all the time."
Instead of focusing on the image he portrays to fans, Makana said he rather concentrate on keeping his life interesting enough so he's inspired to keep creating new music. Being a self-managed artist also allows him to maintain total control over his career.
"If you look at a lot of artists, they're not artists, they're just reinforcing their brand," he said. "That's not my philosophy. My approach is to constantly expand.
"At some point with the whole Makana thing, there's a whole responsibility with perpetuating the cultural tradition. In a sense, my art gives back to the community, so there's a lot of heaviness and a lot of structure. This is a natural repsonse of me wanting total freedom.
'It's like a banyan tree. The more I innovate, the more I build my roots."
SOME OF that innovation was on display at NextDoor this week during "Broadcast," a weekly local music showcase at the Chinatown nightspot. Big Island artist Kimie Miner opened the night, even getting called back for a hana hou before Makana got up and explained to the relatively sparse crowd that he was going to be trying something different that evening.
"It's probably some of the best music I've written in my life," he said during our earlier interview. "My buddy David Katz calls it 'what everbody's thinking, but nobody says.' … It's stuff people wouldn't expect from me."
With titles like "Silicone Drone," "The Guy Whisperer" and "Manic," it's pretty obvious Makana wasn't going to play traditional Hawaiian music at NextDoor. He described it as a sort of "80's synth pop" that was "basically mocking" at times, yet a lot of fun for him to write and perform. And while he's not giving up his "day job" playing the music people have come to expect from him, fans will eventually see a full album of this "Not Makana" stuff.
"I'm not quitting Hawaiian music — I just don't talk about this new stuff," he said. "(But) I've built enough songs up where I have a full set (and) the songs are ridiculous.
"Something is going to come of it. … This is like my dream. I've always wanted to do this."