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February 18, 2008 | by  | in Features Music | [ssba]


An interview with Tiki Taane.

So what’s the deal with your live show?

Basically, I’ve written an album, and I needed a band to play the album live, the members of Shapeshifter came to me and said look we would love to be your band, and I said sweet. So basically its the members from Shapeshifter but it’s not Shapeshifter, it’s Tiki Live.

And also, you have been doing live sound for Shapeshifter for a while?

Since their first gig, that’s how it all came about. I’ve worked for Shapeshifter since day one, so they’re saying to me, thanks for being our sound guy, we wanna help you out and be your band. I’m very lucky to have these guys, who are amazing musicians and fantastic guys to be in the Tiki band. It’s really cool how it’s all worked out.

So how did the idea to record a solo album come about?

The last year was when it really came together. I started it four years ago but because I was so busy with Salmonella Dub, Shapeshifter and Concord Dawn and all the others things, my solo album was like 4th or 5th down on the list, I really wanted to be able to finish this and get this out there and the only way I could do that was to stop something and I looked at all the things I was doing and I went, you know what, I think out of all of those things that are occupying my time I think that Salmonella Dub is the one that I should let go cause I’ve given it 11 years and I feel that I’ve gone as far as I can with Salmonella Dub. So I made a conscious decision and said Ok this is it, I wanna do my last gig with Salmonella Dub on New Years Eve 2006/2007. As soon as I did that basically I could focus all my energy in my own thing. So this album is everything that has been building up in me from the last few years that I couldn’t express in Salmonella Dub. So that’s why I broke away and did what I did. I don’t want to have any regrets when I’m an old man and if I stayed with Salmonella Dub we would have just kept doing the same thing and for me, I felt like I wanted to do something different. I didn’t want to keep painting the same picture every time. I wanted to paint something else; I wanted to use different colours. I’m throwing every colour that there is at a canvas. I go shit man; I like drum and bass BAM. fuck, I like reggae BAM, I like rock guitars BAM. I like symphony orchestras BAM. So basically I’m just throwing everything I like at a canvas and going Ok, what does it look like.

I really wanted to take my time with it and paint a pretty good picture. If you listen to the album, it’s pretty much me, that’s what I’m like generally as my personality. You know, I can be real gangster at one point or reggae and loving at the other. It’s pretty much me down to a T. One of the things was, I didn’t want to be pigeon holed as Tiki the DUB guy. I wanted to go fuck, there’s more to me than just dub, I can do all these other thing, why should I just stick to just one genre.

The message for this album is not just lyrical, it’s also about how to live your life as well, don’t be afraid to try different shit, you don’t have to fuckin wear this one hat all the time, you wear different hats you know, and you wear them all at different times. The other message is be yourself, be an individual, don’t give a fuck about who says what about what.

Don’t conform to any system and basically just go out and do your own thing, its a pretty punk attitude, but this day and age everything seems to be categorised and pigeon holed and I’m trying to break away.

So do you prefer recording music or playing live or both?

I love both of them, you know I’m lucky enough to know how to do both, know how to mix live, know how to perform, and know how to do studio work. So my life is rich at the moment, filled with so many great experiences. I love them all to be honest, and no matter what headspace I’m in if im gonna be on stage I’ll put my head in that space and deliver it and try to do the best that I can, or if I’m in the studio, I’ll put my head in that space and do the best that I can. I was thinking about this you know and if I was an athlete, I’d do the triathlon, ‘cause I love everything, I don’t want to just do the 400m sprint, I wana be able to do the high jump and the shot put and the discus. So I just want to do as much shit as possible ‘cause I love them all.

I saw you at the big day out and really liked how you played a seashell at the start of your show.

Yea it’s called a putatara, yea it’s a conch, I use it for a calling and to start the show. It’s something my people would play when a canoe is coming in from overseas. Basically that’s the first form of texting, that’s how we used to text, someone would go BROOOOO, and someone would go BROOOO back at you. So we were texting bros 600 to 800 years ago.

I felt that it was quite enchanting.

Yea for sure, it’s a very ancient sound and it resonates with people, and you don’t have to be Maori to feel it. So anybody who has a soul will resonate with it. I really wanted to go deep with it.

Your first song is called Whakapuaki, I read somewhere that the song acknowledges the higher forces, the higher entities and the listeners.

Yea its called a Karakia and it starts my album off, it was written by my brother and my father and it was written for me so I could put it on the album to acknowledge the listener, and clear the space. I try to set a scene, I don’t try to rush into anything, I take my time kinda clearing the space and taking deep breaths. I feel that to be able to listen to something, you want to be in that space, and that’s what I try to create with Whakapuaki, just to tell the listener look next hour of my CD is pretty intense, lots of different genres, lots of different messages, so just be ready for it.

I get the feeling that with your music and your lyrics, you seem to be bridging ideas from the Maori culture to Western culture through music.

That’s exactly what I’m trying to do. Even though I’m Maori, I’m also Scottish English and I’m not pro either culture, I’m actually in the middle, going fuck, I’m trying to figure out my life and where I fit into this. So maybe that’s why non-Maori can really relate to me, ‘cause I also acknowledge that side of me as well. So I actually fit in between those two worlds, and maybe I’m the link between the two different cultures understanding each other a little bit more.

So where do you look for inspiration?

For inspiration I look to people like Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis. For example, Miles Davis is constantly evolving, constantly progressing, he will always look to the past for inspiration but will always push of into new directions. Sometimes those directions don’t work but at least he’s really trying to forge a way through and progress.

I been in this game for a long time, when I joined Salmonella Dub it was 1996. No one was making dub music, and now what’s happened is it’s become so big and popular it’s in every cafe you go into. It used to be about the underground and about the struggle and now it’s become very generic, there are so many bands out there who are putting dub at the end of their name and they’re kinda not really pushing anything new or not pushing anything that’s resonating with me. So I’m wanting to go deeper and I wanna take it even further, and if it means stepping away from being roots and reggae then sweet I’ll step away from it, as long as I’m still progressing and as long I keep pushing for the truth and light then that’s me man!

On the inside of Tiki’s album is written…

Let oneself be guided by the essence of sound-light force. The infinite essence. The enduring essence. The innate essence of the tides of creativity. That which is the essential force in the vast space of fluidity. The vital source of knowledge. Be seated in the tides of tranquility. Of balance and neutrality. Initiated is the flow of interconnectedness. From the boundless bounty of thought, emotion and compassion. Come the stars that scar upon the playground of the universe. Purely by experience will change be interpreted.


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