Music blogger and ukelele player, Cynthia Kinnunen
Musician and music lover Cynthia Kinnunen doesn’t just like to make music or listen to music, she likes to blog about it too. Well, Canadian music that is, over at Littleredmixtape.com.
“I really like exposing people to music because I know how much joy it can bring,” says Cynthia, someone who has been playing instruments and singing since a young child. And she knows that Canada has a lot of really fabulous musicians that don’t necessarily get the same attention outside of our borders, or even within it. “I like to help (in my small way) to show people fellow Canadians that we’ve got some great music going on, outside of mainstream radio,” she says.
Cynthia has earned her blogging chops. For four years, she had a popular blog, Crumbs in the Minivan, which chronicled the amusing and quirky episodes of her life with three kids. For the last couple of years, littlereadmixtape.com has been her online creative outlet. She doesn’t review music, just likes to share interesting bands and performers, letting the music speak for itself.
These days, when she is not running after her three kids, she is a freelance writer, teaches ukulele to young, wannabe musicians, and sits on the boards of the Guelph Arts Council and the Guelph Youth Singers.*
Getting ready for teaching a big class of first-time ukelele players
So, we chatted about music, creativity and breakfast.
What is the best thing about music?
That’s a big question, but I think it’s probably its ability to affect us in so many ways. There’s a lot of science behind the effects of music on our brains and bodies, our ability to come together in communities, to connect with one another, or to express ourselves. It’s a universal language that touches our souls. I think all of those elements make music a pretty powerful thing.
Who tends to read your blog?
I have a number of friends and family around the globe who read it and they probably make up much of my readership. But I think anyone who likes music would enjoy it.
What creative project are you working on at the moment?
Life is really busy these days so I throw in small things here and there to keep me inspired. One example is my Lunchtime Ditties, where I take a break from working at my desk and challenge myself to learn and record a song (or part of a song) in 20 minutes or less. The rule is I can only record the song in one take (so it’s never perfect) and only use my voice and ukulele. OK, maybe an egg shaker, too. It’s been fun and helps refresh my mind. And trusted friends get a chuckle every once in a while when they get these wacky things in their inbox.
[Listen to one of Cynthia’s lunchtime ditties: Yer So Bad by Tom Petty.]
What inspires your creativity?
Everything. In my daily life, there are always things around me that inspire.
How do you decide on who to write about or interview?
It’s pretty organic and unplanned. Whatever or whoever grabs my attention at that moment.
What musician would you give your right arm to meet?
The mighty Queen Latifa
There are so many. Of course, I’d like to meet Neil Finn again and have a proper conversation with him, maybe jam a little. Also on the list would be Bjork, Queen Latifah, David Byrne, Peter Gabriel, Sufjan Stevens… it might have to be a large dinner party.
Who are you listening to today that makes you happy?
On my playlist this week are folks like AC Newman, The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra, Danny Michel, Beirut, Rilo Kiley, Miriam Makeba, Gotye… Hearing the Kenyan Boys Choir at We Day also made me quite happy.
Who should we be listening to right now?
Whoever makes you feel good! I have a difficult time telling people what they should listen to but I certainly like to suggest ideas depending on a person’s tastes. I think you should just make sure you’re listening to something. Music is fuel for the soul.
What other arts and culture things do you like to do?
I really love getting my kids out to things, whether it’s festivals, visual art events, concerts, theatre, film…I think it’s important to cultivate a love and appreciation for live arts from a young age. And these days, we try to make more music at home as a family, which I think is just as important as getting out to see and hear new things.
What is something that gives you great pleasure?
Dancing around the kitchen while I cook.
What do you typically have for breakfast?
Coffee and a bagel. Sigh.
A moment in your life you’d like to have back?
None. I’ve learned to appreciate past experiences, keep enjoying the present and look forward with optimism.
City of Edinburgh, as seen by Phil Wadler
What kind of music do you play when you are sad?
Big Band, because I can never stay sad when I’m listening to Big Band.
You wish you had more time to…
I can’t even begin to answer that one.
Tell me three things you can’t live without (but not people).
Sunshine, my laptop and the ability to make music (even if only singing).
Are you a coffee or tea person?
Coffee all the way. Or wine.
What can we do to keep up with what you do?
Hangout with me online at LittleRedMixtape.com, Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.
P.S. Favourite topic of conversation?
Well, I’ll talk about pretty much anything. But I do enjoy talking about music and literature. And wine.
*Cynthia lives in Guelph, not Waterloo Region. But my blog, my rules. And I can break ‘em.