Aural Expectations

Every time I am asked, I struggle with the choice of how to describe my role in Hazel Blackburn. I usually go with “I sing” and leave out “and play the ukulele.”
Partly I leave the uke out because it is a new instrument to me. While “singer” sails out of my mouth easily because I have been singing my entire life, I’m half embarrassed to claim a skill that, though growing every day, is far from where I want it to be… But mostly I leave it out because the instrument’s name conjures up images of lazy beach days, picturesque sunsets and palms swaying around campfires. I think it immediately directs the listener away from the blood and guts core of what Hazel Blackburn really is. It will probably surprise no one to hear that the first thing people want to do with a band is classify it. They look at our clothes, our name and our band art and their fingers itch to slap on a label: “heavy,” “rock,” “prog,” whatever it is, they want to box us up tidily. This is especially true of journalists, labels and other industry folk; you know, the gatekeepers that we want to talk about our music the most. Drop down menus. Box checks. Genres. Where do you fit? What other bands are you like?
And here sits my ukulele.
We aren’t like anyone really… I play ukulele, but not like you might be used to. We play rock music, but probably not how you’d imagine it. We are a three piece, but most of the lead melodies scream and growl simultaneously out of a bass amp and a guitar amp.
So I challenge you to find that neat little title to wrap up Hazel Blackburn: find the words to encompass the versatile bass, the spare and shrieking ukulele, the far-flung lyrics, the rolling and shifting percussion…
Because then I am going to steal it from you.