This weeks interview is with British expats Effi & Sammy, who now live in Copenhagen. They own MUGSTOP Cafe, where Sammy Turton teaches his students to play the ukulele and Effi Summers runs things behind the scenes.
So far on The Artisan Detour there’s been a focus on creative folk working with mediums such as photography, writing, fashion and graphic design. So how excited are we all to bring some music into the mix?!
There's no doubt that being an artist, photographer and writer is a great way to escape from our daily lives. It’s relaxing and allows time for self-care. But Effi and Sammy have recognised learning to play an instrument can be just as affective for self-care, and this is one of the things they are hoping to bring to light with MUGSTOP Cafe. There have been times when I’ve listened to Sammy playing the ukulele and instantly felt myself relaxing. There have been other times when I’ve come across a video of both Sammy and Effi playing the ukulele together to the tune of that epic song by The White Stripes, Seven Nation Army, complete with Effi’s fab vocals. There’s something for everyone over at MUGSTOP.
In todays interview we’re going to get to know who Effi and Sammy are, who MUGSTOP and their courses are for and what they hope to achieve with their business venture in the future. We’ll also find out what they’ve made of the creative scene in Copenhagen since moving over from the UK.
Hi Effi and Sammy! Go ahead and introduce yourselves to The Artisan Detour readers and give us a bit of a background of your work…
Hello, we are Effi and Sammy, two music/creative peoples who have recently uprooted their West Sussex lives to start afresh in Copenhagen. Sammy is a private music teacher, teaching locally in Copenhagen as well as his students in the UK (technology is great!). Effi has an entrepreneurial spirit and a background in design and branding, previously working in the fashion and music industries. With our joint love of music and creative learning, we decided that just being married to one another wasn’t enough of a test, and so we put our skills together resulting in MUGSTOP.
What is MUGSTOP, and who is it for?
MUGSTOP is primarily a music tuition business but one that focuses on self-love, personal development and taking time to enjoy life’s little pleasures.
We have built our home and business around minimalist ways of living; having less material items gives us time to spend doing the things we love and being creative. We want to inspire other people who think they’re too old, too busy or too whatever to learn music that actually they can! It just takes a little time management, prioritising and focus.
What inspired you to start a business teaching the ukulele?
Although we do teach other instruments we love how accessible the ukulele is. Along our journey we found that many people had ‘learn an instrument’ on their bucket list, could see the importance of learning a new skill or knew the benefits of musical education but felt they couldn’t do it for whatever the reason.
The ukulele is a much smaller financial commitment than other instruments and is relatively easy to get an excellent sound out of. People are always overjoyed when they realise they’re playing it well even after a short amount of time.
Talk us through the range of courses and music lessons that you offer?
Privately, Sammy teaches ukulele, piano, guitar and bass in either half hour or hour sessions, as well as ad hoc group workshops in Copenhagen.
Our online courses focus solely on the ukulele and we have options for everyone! For complete musical beginners we offer the Stage 1 course which starts from the very very basics and covers absolutely everything you need to know as a brand new musician. From this, students can move on to Stage 2 and eventually Stage 3 and 4 (once those have been added to our website – they are currently in the making).
For people who have dabbled in the ukulele but got stuck in a rut, we offer monthly access packages. These allow you full access to ALL our content for a limited time (either 1 month, 6 months or 12 months). The purpose of these is to allow students to pick and choose which lessons they do, depending on their prior knowledge. It allows any skill gaps to be filled!
Although there are many online ukulele lessons, we pride ourselves on the fact that Sammy is a qualified and experienced music teacher and he’s put all his passion, knowledge and experience into these courses to make the ultimate learning tool that suits all different kinds of learners.
What can be expected from a session when someone joins a ukulele lesson/course?
When people join our online courses they can expect to have fun, learn in a very relaxed environment and learn real musicianship. We don’t just offer basic chord based tutorials but delve right into the nitty gritty of reading music and understanding musical components.
Sammy explains things well, making them super easy to understand and his passion for helping people learn shines through. We also have a Facebook group which we’ve just set up so if anyone has any questions they can ask them within the group and Sammy will answer. It also means that all our students can interact and get to know each other too!
Why and how do you think the ukulele can benefit people in terms of becoming engaged with music and their self-care?
We feel that it’s a real confidence builder! It takes practice and some learning but anyone has the capability to learn it and play well. We like to encourage setting some time aside to fully concentrate which allows complete focus and detachment from anything else during that time. It’s time out from the ‘busy’ and real focused self development time that has a super fun outcome - I don’t believe anyone can play a song on the ukulele and not feel happy afterwards!
What are your future aspirations for MUGSTOP?
Our long term goal with MUGSTOP is to be able to open a cafe in order to reach more people – we would host music lessons and other creative classes as well as serving plant based cakes and coffee using sustainable resources. As well as creative education we would focus on reducing waste and promoting more ethical choices.
Our short term plan is to keep adding courses to the website to allow students to continue their ukulele journey, as well as uploading more covers & free lessons to our Youtube channel.
Lets talk a little bit about your move from the UK to Denmark! Why did you want to make the big move?
We strongly feel that experiencing a different culture and living in another country is an opportunity that everyone should have. It was something we’ve always wanted to do and Brexit gave us that ‘it’s now or never’ feeling so we had a major de-clutter, started living as cheap as possible, saved as much money as we could and took the plunge!
Free movement allowed us to move over reasonably simply and start a business so it was important to us to make the most of that.
Within the couple of years prior to moving, we’d done a few city breaks and researched different places but Copenhagen instantly felt like home! Denmark is supportive of self employed folk and we felt their culture was a good match for us so it was quite an easy decision.
The first few months were a challenge; taking on a new language, new currency and new systems was an adjustment but one we’re thankful for. We feel that constantly learning is a great way to live!
And finally, how does the creative scene in Denmark compare to the UK’s?
Ooh that’s a tricky one! Denmark is such a tiny country (6 million population compared to London’s 8 million!) but there are a lot of music festivals here, a massive design scene and a lot of creative people. I would say Denmark’s creative scene is a lot more concentrated and niche than the UK but also more accessible.
It may be because we were dropped into a brand new country but we’ve fully immersed ourselves in the creative scene here, whereas in the UK we stuck our heads down and worked a lot. Also, where Copenhagen is so small, it’s easy to get around and make the most of the variety of events that the city has to offer.