Kukuly Uriarte, international guitarist

What was your childhood like, growing up in Peru?

I lived in Lima, but I traveled around a lot with my mother, backpacking through many provinces in Peru. There was a lot walking, and we had to sleep by the road sometimes. My mom thought it would be good for me to experience something like that. There is a lot to explore out there in a geographical sense and a cultural sense. It's very rich in that aspect.

There's a lot of talk about immigration in this country right now. What's your perspective on the controversial issue?

Sometimes people are just doing what's necessary and sometimes people are just expanding their horizons. They just want to see more. That's what I'm doing. There are many reasons for immigration, and there are a lot of good intentions among immigrants, even if they're here illegally.

Your main passion these days is in music. How do you pursue that interest?

I work with the Knoxville Institute of Fine Arts. We play Gypsy jazz, and we play free improvisations, and there's the Persian Music Ensemble. We also play Chinese music, South American folk music, and other styles. The institute is mainly represented by Brandon Beavers and Eugene Johnson. I've learned a lot from them. They give me all the tools necessary to further my musical career. I teach guitar at the institute and we also teach all sorts of unique instruments, like the sitar.

Which style of music do you personally focus most of your attention on?

Right now it's the swing jazz. I've been playing with the Johnson Swingtet for about a year and a half now and it has been wonderful. I love learning to improve. I love the tunes. Django Reinhardt is definitely one of my heroes. He's pretty much the founder of Gypsy jazz.

Why do you find music so appealing?

Music is a beautiful language. You can express yourself just as much, or more, through music as you can through any other language. It will turn you into perfect balance mentally, spiritually and physically, and it will help you in other aspects of life. It just brings the perfect balance to your life.