On Friday, September 6, 2019, ukulele hip-hop artist Eems played a show for students in University Center at 8 p.m. The Campus Activities Board organized the event.
Equipped with his ukulele and loop pedal, Eems played an hour-long set of both covers and original songs.
Throughout his performance, he made sure to involve the crowd. He encouraged the audience to clap along and even took a group picture with students while onstage.
When asked about why he chose the ukulele for his main instrument, his answer was simple.
“It was on sale. I’m always buying stupid stuff, and ukulele was one of those stupid things,” he said.
The ukulele isn’t the only instrument he has experience playing. Eems is a multi-talented musician who began his musical journey playing drums in a church.
When he was nine years old, he learned to play the piano. He then went on to join his high school band when he was in 9th grade.
Although his ukulele was instrumental in crafting his signature sound, it is only one part of the equation.
Eems also incorporates looping in his performances, which means to record a snippet of music and have it repeat throughout the rest of the song.
“The reason I loop is because every show is a little different,” he said.
Originally, he started by looping on his iPad, but once he had enough money, he bought himself a loop pedal.
Now, he considers it an important aspect of his performance, and he uses it to interact with the audience and determine what he’ll play next.
“I literally don’t have a setlist,” he said. “I usually know the first song and the last song. Everything in between is based on the crowd [and] who’s in the crowd, so having a loop pedal just allows me to go with the flow and do what I want.”
With this unique combination of ukulele and looping, it is difficult to define Eems’ style of music— even for Eems himself.
“Back home in Kansas City, Missouri, they call me ‘Folk-Soul’. On the road, they call me ‘The Ukulele Hip-Hop Artist’. I don’t really think I have a genre,” he said.
When it comes to the practice of songwriting, he lets the songs unfold naturally.
“It sounds so cliche. I let the song write itself,” he said.
Eems chooses to write about his own life experiences, but he’s also influenced by the stories of people around him. It’s no surprise that he uses “chase your dreams” as his motto, but he insists on spelling it “dreems”, not “dreams”.
“For marketing purposes,” he said with a laugh.
For him, part of chasing his dreams was trying new things and exploring different kinds of music.
He was a rapper for 10 years, but he acknowledged that he fell into it. He ultimately decided to start singing in 2014. From there, his music evolved.
“Once I got out of that and realized I have to go chase what’s for me I started succeeding and seeing new horizons,” he said.
Eems continues to chase his dream with this first tour spot at East Stroudsburg University.
He’s toured all over the Midwest and the East Coast, and now he has plans to tour the West Coast within the next couple of years.
What’s his ultimate goal?
“I’m just having fun,” he said. “I’m having fun inspiring people and putting on good shows.”
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