Netherlands-based Maaike Jager, commonly referred to as MJ, is a self-taught ukulele player with a classical piano background who found her love of music through piano lessons when she was young. Her musical tastes evolved as she grew older, and in June 2018, she fell in love with the ukulele for its distinct tone and adaptability. Maaike created her technique through self-teaching and perseverance, fusing her classical piano talents with the rhythmic and percussive components of flamenco music. Her enthusiasm and uniqueness have won many fans, and her debut song, “Limbo,” demonstrates her ability to astound and fascinate listeners with her ukulele performance. “Limbo” was released in November of last year, and in my interview with Maaike, we’ll get further into her musical journey, influences, and the creative process that went into the incredible single “Limbo.” Enjoy the entire thing below.
Songweb: Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind your latest project?
MJ: I’ve always been in love with flamenco music, Spanish-sounding music. The rhythm, the sound. It always makes me feel empowered to play and listen to those types of music. I enjoy learning the techniques from watching guitar players and interpreting them to the uke.
Songweb: How do you approach the creative process when creating new works of art?
MJ: I wanted to write a flamenco-inspired song that would blow people away. So a little bit faster, with multiple techniques in it. When I write a song, I usually just sit on the couch with the cats and my boyfriend. I play random stuff until I play something that I feel like I must use. From there I keep improvising until the song is finished.
Songweb: Can you share with us a particularly memorable moment during the making of this project?
MJ: Limbo was originally a way shorter song (about 1 minute) because I first wrote it as a short opening song, for when I was going to perform it. But when my dad heard it, he encouraged me to make it longer, so I added another verse to it.
Songweb: What message or emotion do you hope to convey through your art?
MJ: Honestly, I just hope to inspire people to play the ukulele! It’s such a fun and approachable instrument. Also, I’m always interested in hearing how my music makes people feel because every song brings out different emotions and feelings for each person.
Songweb: Can you describe how you incorporate your personal experiences into your work?
MJ: It’s not necessarily an experience but depends on how I’m feeling at the moment of writing. For my latest single ‘Harmony’ I needed something to relax to, and make me feel motivated. For Limbo, I felt very excited and energetic, and that’s how the songs came together.
Songweb: How does your latest project differ from previous works you’ve created?
MJ: My latest single ‘Harmony’ is way different from ‘Limbo’. Limbo is very chaotic, fast, and danceable even. And Harmony is completely the opposite. It’s dreamy, relaxed. I love making different kinds of music, and showing people what I can do on the ukulele.
Songweb: Lastly, what are your plans for your artistic journey and where do you hope to take your work in the future?
MJ: I have so many plans! My next single is in the works and I will hopefully release it at the end of June/beginning of July. I’m currently recording the FIRST EVER written song I wrote during the last COVID lockdown, right before the war in Ukraine started. So that is going to be a special one that I’ll hopefully release this year.
I also bought a cajon, so I can hopefully learn to make my beats and record them for my original songs and backing tracks. I’m learning more guitar, and I’m writing a song on guitar (together with the uke of course) so that’s exciting! I’m also in the process of opening an Etsy shop with music-related t-shirts and accessories. So yeah, working on a LOT, but it’s all equally fun! So overall, I’m working on many things for the (near) future and I will continue to do so, as music is my biggest passion.
Overall, “Limbo” is a stunning demonstration of MJ’s incredible skill as a ukulele player. Inspired by flamenco music, “Limbo” defies expectations by providing a strong and engaging performance on the ukulele. MJ’s deft execution, paired with her use of rhythmic and compelling aspects, results in a really awe-inspiring experience. The song will definitely leave an indelible impact on listeners, displaying MJ’s outstanding musicianship and laying the groundwork for the future of her musical career.
Listen to “Limbo” by Ukulele MJ on Spotify and let us know your thoughts.
You can follow Ukulele MJ here for more information.