Twenty-three year old Diana Interiano is a TikTok musician unlike any other. While other musicians use the app to promote their original releases, Diana is teaching her 85.1K followers how to play those songs on the ukulele. She doesn't just play along with the chords on screen, but she also breaks down each chord in the song as well as the various strumming patterns used to play it in order to make the learning process easier. If there's one thing Diana wants for her followers, it's for them to know that learning an instrument doesn't have to be intimidating. Today, The Global Spotlight talks with Diana about all things ukulele and the importance of music.
What inspired you to learn to play ukulele?
At first, I really wanted to play guitar. Whenever I would listen to music, I always felt the need to strum along. I got a guitar for my sixteenth birthday, but six strings honestly felt like too much for my brain to handle. So I just gave up.
A year later, I came across a video on YouTube by one of my favorite YouTubers, KickThePJ, where he was playing the ukulele. I thought four strings should be easier than six. I immediately had to buy a ukulele!
Your TikTok is filled with various covers and tutorials. Have you ever thought about creating your own original songs with the ukulele?
Without lyrics, maybe. With lyrics, absolutely not, haha!
I’m not very creative when it comes to songwriting. But I love seeing the process of how artists write music and wish I could even help an artist write a song one day.
Whenever I’m bored I like to mess around on the ukulele and, if I hear a chord progression I like, I take mental note of it and consider it my own little song. Hopefully one day it’ll be a real song.
What about the ukulele draws you to it?
Something that really draws me to the ukulele is when I’m hearing a random song and think, “I wonder how this would sound on the ukulele”. I will not stop thinking about it until I play it, haha!
I also have a tendency of stuttering, especially when I’m anxious or nervous. So, I play the ukulele to kind of ease my mind, almost like a “reset” button in my brain, because there’s no stuttering with music.
You’re the first person I’ve seen on TikTok who has posted music tutorial videos. Typically, tutorials on how to play music with a specific instrument can be found on more longform video platforms like YouTube. Given the current rise of TikTok in today’s culture, do you think more musicians will turn to posting tutorials on there?
I hope so! When I first joined TikTok, it was more of just guitarists playing with the chords on screen. At that point I didn’t even know the basics of guitar so I had to google every single chord.
I took that into consideration when I started posting tutorials. I would say exactly where one’s fingers should be on the ukulele. I started posting ukulele tutorials the same way I wanted guitar tutorials to be explained to me.
I’ve had people ask me to post on YouTube and in all honesty, I find the editing process kind of intimidating. YouTube has been around for so long and people really know how to edit and use so
many different kinds of software. I’ve gotten very familiar with how editing on TikTok works and it's super easy for someone like me who isn’t very tech savvy with editing. It also helps that TikTok now allows you to post up to three minute videos. I think it can be very easy for anyone to post any kind of informative video regardless of their knowledge of technology.
I think that’s why there's such a rise of new creators. TikTok is a place to film, edit, find new and trending music, see how it’s being used, all in a very casual and convenient way. Meanwhile on
YouTube it’s a little more thought out where most people use expensive equipment, take hours editing on high quality editing software, very easy to get a copyright strike for music, and not as easy to go viral.
Would you say that playing the ukulele makes you feel more connected to the culture and history behind the instrument and, if it does, how so?
I didn’t during my first four years of playing. Since the end of 2020, I’ve really grown as an artist and really connected more to the culture and the instrument itself.
I started listening to more ukulele music, started pronouncing it the correct way (oo-koo-lay-lay not uku-lay-lee), and even took a solo trip to Hawaii. The solo trip was a real turning point for me as someone who appreciates the Pacific-Islander culture.
It’s been almost six years since I started playing and I feel more connected than I’ve ever been.
What are some common misconceptions about the ukulele (in terms of its history, culture, or even just the instrument itself) that you want people to know are just not at all correct?
At first glance, a lot of people think it’s a mini guitar. Which is it’s own instrument, and I can understand why some people would think that. But, the misconception that bothers me the most is when some people think it’s a toy and don’t consider it an actual instrument.
It has its own history and is a part of many people’s culture. To call it an “easy” instrument is one thing, but to disregard its importance and it’s role in Hawaiian culture is another.
Why is music so important to you?
It helps me feel like a human that's put together.
Ever since I started playing piano at thirteen years old, it’s always been a crucial part of my routine to play some kind of music during the day. Kind of like when people have a bedtime routine of “skin care, shower, brush teeth” for me it's: “skin care, shower, brush teeth, and ukulele”.
Whether it's to practice or actually perform, it's a way to connect to myself and other humans.
What do you hope your followers get from your content?
I hope my followers see that learning a new instrument doesn’t have to be super intimidating. I try my best to make sure the information is broken down to the simplest form for everyone to learn, no matter your age or skill level.
Have the courage to pick up a new hobby, no matter how “bad” you might be. Each time you practice, you will get better and will eventually play how you envision yourself to play.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT. WE LOOK FORWARD TO BRINGING YOU THE VOICE OF MORE INSPIRING ARTISTS AND CHANGEMAKERS IN 2022.