Interview: BIG NASH x Iconic sound release two singles ‘Know Thyself (Freestyle)’ & ‘Self Destruct’

Feature, Interview, Music

BIG NASH is the President & CEO of Auckland based record label and newly formed management agency Iconic Sound. This year, he’s spent most of his time building it into a foundation he can stand on for the rest of his future – not an easy task to do all at once, he just added an apparel side to the venture. Anticipating his debut EP ‘International Road Boy’ or ‘IRB’ for short, I remember interviewing a 16-year-old NASH, when he released the project ‘1st Impression’. Now just turning 23, his presence on beat is stronger. His heart is harder but so is his production. We caught up over email to talk about the first two singles ‘Know Thyself (Freestyle)’ & ‘Self Destruct’ produced alongside Next Wavez who is signed to DJ Mustard’s record label, 10 Summers. We also discuss his Instagram account and get his side on some of the controversial content he shares. On beat, NASH manages to channel his emotions, showcasing his undeniable musical abilities and flare for making a sound we actually want to hear. ‘Self Destruct’ starts and lulls you into a West Coast flex, melting over listeners’ ears with Talkbox and an R&B sound like maybe Tory Lanez was involved; when NASH’s verse comes in he bears a dark truth he says he enjoys as a lyricist: “I’ve always been a fan of dark lyricism. DMX and The Notorious B.I.G do it really well where they’re not just telling you about their pain but they’re taking you into the pit with them,” talking about ‘Self Destruct’. We might as well get into the interview:  

How did you meet Next Wavez?

N:  DontFollowSImba and Lando, Iconic Sound Senior Management members connected us one night when we were all OTP and the rest is history. The first night we met is literally the day we cooked up the instrumental for ‘Self Destruct’. It’s a familiar energy because we both have a solid work ethic which means as soon as we get in the same room laptops are being pulled out and music is being made!

What was it like connecting with Next Wavez as a person and then making music with him?

N:  It was incredible. Such an authentic person and shockingly talented at what he does. Wavez’ story about getting signed to DJ Mustard’s label 10 Summers is powerful. It really helped me see the blessings in the curse when I started giving in to self-doubt and that Tall Poppy kicked in. We live in a small country that’s so far away from the rest of the world sometimes opportunity seems mythical and knowing his dreams manifested makes me feel like the rest of ours can too.

What can people look out for from Iconic Sound in the next six months? 

N: There’s a lot in the works as far as the next six months is concerned but at the moment I can definitely promise the label’s debut group EP and expansion of the artist roster.

Describe ‘Know Thyself (Freestyle)’ & ‘Self Destruct’. What inspired these two tracks? 

N: I worked hard to be a genuine individual even to my own detriment at times, built a home I called my own and felt like I lost it all over a situation that could’ve been avoided if I wasn’t such a nice person. It’s sad to say that in 2019, you’ll probably get further in life if you have a bit of shark in you. The 2 songs were originally one track that was basically a 64 bar verse of venting and salty punchlines. Luckily Rokske Tha G talked some sense into me when I played him the first demo and I partitioned the song into a two-part story.

You mention AmmoNation in ‘Know Thyself’, why was it important for you to voice that situation? 

N: I felt like it was important because I’m a strong advocate for the spirit of truth. Everything comes to light regardless if I’m the one to shed that light or not. We’re still all men at the end of the day and no one is beyond reproach or a conversation..

What does Iconic Sound represent for NZ’s local Hip-Hop scene? 

N: A new level of quality in the sonics and production value of what’s coming out of our country. The name says it all, there’s this ‘Iconic Sound’ I’ve been chasing in my music since the first time I played the keys. A certain level of conviction in my delivery, authentic lyrics that hold weight and lastly timeless production that stands the test of time. 

Why should people get onboard with Iconic Sound?

N: They shouldn’t… They should get onboard with good music! There’s only 2 genres, good and bad music. If the people feel like we’re delivering good music then of course, they should get onboard but the day we stop keeping up our end of the bargain, I expect to be held accountable for letting them down.

Can we talk about your identity as a Kiwi, from your IG Stories? You have a very important and pivotal (albeit controversial) perspective in terms of third culture identity and progressing that for the next generation. Do you care about being labelled as radical?

N: I’m not knocking off corrupt government officials or trynna start the revolution in front of The Beehive. I’m just a guy with an Insta account like everyone else but I’m passing on game and applicable knowledge I recieved from my Mentors instead of taking photos of my food. If I’m a radical, what are we gonna call the real radicals?

Who do you look up to and why?

N: Nipsey Hussle, rest in peace to the legend, JAY Z, Rick Ross, Snoop Dogg, E-40, Master P & Russell Simmons.

How do they influence your hustle?

N: They influence my hustle and everyday character simply because they’re certified OG’s in the culture and their longevity speaks for itself. More than music but their business minds and entrepreneurship inspires a lot of young guys like myself.

The hardest truth to hear as a musician is there’s no money in selling music. The key is to build a platform with your talent then you graduate onto other lucrative ventures. I feel like the brave men mentioned above had a lot to do with this blueprint and the Self Made mentality we hold near and dear at Iconic Sound.

What situation inspired this line: “Hatin’ on these niggas and I’m hatin’ on myself, before this Kanye West shit I ain’t know about mental health, but right about now I could really use a blunt, I could really use a spliff, it might help me off this cliff…”

N: I’ll let people decipher that one for themselves but Biggie had a similar line in his song Suicidal Thoughts. 

“When I die, fuck it, I wanna go to hell.

‘Cause I’m a piece of shit, it ain’t hard to fuckin’ tell.

It don’t make sense, goin’ to heaven with the goodie-goodies.

Dressed in white, I like black Timbs and black hoodies.” – The Notorious B.I.G

THREADS: AUCKLAND DIVERSE with SIAN KOLOSE

Culture, Threads

In this T H R E A D S shoot I linked up with Sian Kolose who, at the time, had her online shopping mecca Hunting Ground Store still in incubation with her sister Tina Kolose. For this shoot, we put together a list of the dopest models we could source, then set about shooting them. I realised while putting this portfolio together just how busy we got – 16 models, two days, one make up artist, two cameras, one stylist (Sian), one photographer (me) and K’RD. 

Models included Luke Collins, Maia Te Hira, Anny Ma, Suha Wahab and Sarah Hindley, Max Robinson and Tina Kolose. Blaze the Emperor, Bryson Naik, Tony Douglas, Blu, Shajal Singh, Tashi Levitt, Arlena Teiho, Leah Pao, Bheilee Okesene, Felicity Aroa.

EXPERIMENT

Working with Sian was a really fun experience, I particularly enjoyed the collaborative freedom I had when working with her.  Two examples are getting Tina to hop into the trolley as well as contrasting Tashi’s white satin skirt with the dirt from the car park; also the darker tone of the material soaking up the fresh water (it had just rained) from the puddle. (BELOW). Being my first shoot of this scale, working with Sian gave me the confidence to try new ideas out. 

STREET

REFLECTION

PRE-LOVED

Recyclable fashion is a good way to combat the humongous waste issue that human kind face remedying today. Having the skills to re-work an old garment and make it new, or the eye for how to pick a garment and make it seem new is an ever-growing/required skill and, as we continue to throw material into the earth – like we don’t understand some materials like Nylon take around 20 years to breakdown- we must incorporate reusable fashion into our basic shopping vocabulary. ** Disclaimer** to the Salvation Army in Glenn Eden – this does NOT excuse you charging 70$ for a shirt someone dropped off while throwing away rubbish and other household goods, then telling customers on a low budget ‘well that’s what it costs in Ponsonby’. Just saying… Not really I mean it… Please stop dousing the thrill of op-shopping with your inflation excuses!

ELEMENT

This year, Rihanna did a shoot for Garage Mag, shot by photographer Deana Lawson who specialises in taking photos of subjects in their home, in what she describes as ‘their domestic space’. Shajal (BELOW) used to flat above the shoot location – Hero Sandwich House – in Auckland so was certainly in her natural space. I would like to explore these themes more in future work – especially in domestic settings. 

MOTION

Movement is another aspect I noticed when reflecting on this shoot, these models had their stance on-point and I also liked to encourage the energy and sense of action with my angles. (Shout outs Blaze The Emperor). 

BRYSON X TONY

COLLABORATION

Tony Douglas is someone whose style I noticed after moving home from Perth in 2011, he was DJing at an underground bar in Wellington as one half of Calm The Fuck  Down aka CTFD. During this shoot, a film and photography guru himself, he taught me to set the meters properly on my external flash. (Blush face emoji).

DIASPORA

Joan Smalls took part in this interview with the Business of Fashion addressing diversity and inclusivity last year. She said “It’s interesting because of my background I come from an interracial family and my household has every different shade and in my world I’ve always seen it as inclusive so coming to New York and making a career modelling they reminded me ‘what we see you as’ not who I identified with”. I think as women of colour, Sian and I brought that sense of diversity within the world we see to the shoot; it’s something that I feel proud of upon completing the project.

HERO SANDWICH HOUSE

CULTURE

Cultural diversity in mainstream media and the importance of seeing one’s self reflected on TV and billboards is an agenda in my work that I hold dear. Growing up as an ‘other’ in New Zealand, it was very earlier on in my exploration of myself, then my work as an extension of myself, that I have consistently focused on culture and identity. Juxtaposing the confronting and contradicting elements that happen when east meets west in my compositions is something I will continue to do. There have been movements and collectives in Auckland like Milkshake Models, Dynasty, FAF SWAG and photographers like Imogen Wilson who have also pushed identity boundaries – I’m only excited to see what the future brings for Kiwi creatives and brown children who can see themselves positively and accurately reflected in the media. 

MERCURY PLAZA

Mercury Plaza is definitely a popular Auckland location for food and photos. The food court there is due to close, but I hope it reopens/moves somewhere else cause for me – South East Asian food is what helps me hold on to small pieces of Malaysia and remedies the sense of feeling homesick all in one $10 meal! 

There are more shots from this shoot on Instagram

Author: Tayi Tibble on Poūkahangatus & decolonising the mind

Culture, Interview

22-year-old Tayi Tibble has recently graduated her masters and published her first poetry book titled Poūkahangatus. It featured at number one twice on the Unity Books bestselling list and was the first book of poetry to claim the number-one spot since Hera Lindsay Bird in 2016. It was reviewed by Jenna Todd for the Spinoff Papercuts Podcast: as havinga freshness, a naughtiness, and an incredible cover”.

Fresh and naughty with incredible ‘covers’ are themes brown girls are universally loved and recognised for. Being a scholar and unapologetic poet published straight out of uni sets this brown girl apart. I knew Tibble and I would get on because she goes by ‘Paniaofthekeef’ on Instagram. I knew because she went to Aotea College near where I grew up in Wellington and because she came to our interview in brand new Fila sneakers with a platform that made her outfit just drip [LIKE].
“I’m like a gangsta bitch but I remember being a teenager and being real shame about that like dressing real twee,” she says. We talk about being unapologetically who you are in 2018 and what decolonising the mind means to her as well as what being an urban Māori means today. We talk about how much harder women of colour have worked to get into positions of significant power and how important it is to keep pushing that kaupapa so our daughters and sons can dream a bit bigger, aim a bit higher and feel a sense that achieving those dreams are possible for them too.
For Tibble leading by such a high example is a pressure and a privilege – and a platform she’s intent on growing. “People will often ask me ‘Oh how do you feel about being a Māori writer?’ in reference to the fact that Pākehā people don’t get called ‘Pākehā writers.’ I’ve also encountered other Māori writers rejecting that label, saying that they aren’t or can’t be ‘a Māori writer.’ They’re just a writer like everyone else and I get that but…. I don’t really fuck with that. I’m a Māori writer. In my mind that’s undeniable and inescapable, and it’s important that I embrace that.

SERUM: So you embrace the responsibility?
TAYI: I have to. Cause I can see the detriments of not doing it, the detriment of not having role models, or people to walk the path before you and guide so….so yeah you have to there’s too much on the line. Too much too lose – but so much to gain too.

SERUM: Do you feel there is progress happening in New Zealand in 2018?
TAYI: Yeah I do. You have to believe right, in order for it to be realised. I think more and more people are becoming aware of inequalities and have the right intentions at heart. I think most people want a better and fairer more creative New Zealand. But I also think we could be further along. ..Okay I’ll tell you my Don Brash story. So I was at Hamilton Press Club. I was there because Vincent O’Malley, he’s a Pākehā historian and a really cool guy – he’s doing a campaign to teach Waikato wars in schools – so he gave an address about that and I was like sweet, sweet, thinking we’re just going to have a fancy lunch and free wine, but then the floor was opened up to Don Brash to reply, and he starts popping off as per usual saying things like Waikato wars? What about Māori on Māori crimes? [Laughs] Just being Don Brash. The thing with Don Brash though – is that I feel sorry for him, because he can’t imagine a different New Zealand. He can’t imagine anything outside of anything he knows or what he thinks he knows. I honestly just think that everyone needs to take some time and just imagine what New Zealand could be like. One of my fav quotes is from Lana Del Rey – I don’t think it’s from her but she said it and it’s: ‘Life imitates art’ which is why we need to put more positive brown art out, and then society’s attitudes will follow – we have to be able to imagine a better New Zealand. Which is why it’s so important to have brown people leading the discussions, curating the art, directing the festivals and writing the media. See I’ve done interviews before where I just feel myself clam up because I get the feeling that the interviewer is not really listening to me, they’re listening for something and it’s that extraction, exploitation even, that’s actually real dangerous and uncool. If you want to talk to me about my work you have to meet me at my level. Like this conversation we are having now is really cool, like you get it and so I can talk openly about this sort of stuff without feeling like I’m educating or protesting.

IMG_4949

Tayi Tibble. Photo by Ebony Lamb.

SERUM: For me I just don’t want this to be a phase where people of colour stories were trending between 2015 to 2020 like I think it’s important to keep pushing for that.
TAYI: Yeah…I worry about that too. Like in my own situation, with winning The Adam Foundation Prize and with the release of my book, lots of literary people and literary communities have been hyping me up. Of course because the work is good, but also I think people get behind me because I’m young and brown and cool, which I definitely appreciate, and everyone should definitely be supporting young brown artists and writers, but at times I do feel weary of the attention I get from predominantly white institutions. I don’t want to get played out, I listen to ‘Crop That Back’ by Coco Solid everyday, because this writing and arts administration gig is actually what I want to do, and I take it seriously. Which is why brown women need to get into positions of power so we are helping people get up, leaving the doors open behind us, protecting ourselves, our stories, history, trauma and writing our own narratives. Ensuring that those narratives are either healing, validating, or aspirational.

Poūkahangatus was written over the course of her last year of studying, as an academic and self professed nerd she says she has always loved history and stories of World War II.
TAYI: I like World War II stories – my Granddad was a Dutchman who came to New Zealand escaping the war and my Nana was a beautiful East Coast wahine who had to send her brother, cousins, lovers off to war after they joined the 28th Māori Battalion. After the war, she moved here after to Wellington. I grew up listening to, and loving all of these stories about the war, the sacrifice the adventures. Lot’s of soldiers who enlisted went because it would be an adventure, for most of them, the only way they would be able to see the world. And there’s heaps of Māori in Italy, like Florence – heaps of the Italians fuck with Māori hard cause of the war, that interconnected history. Māori soldiers fell in love with Italian women. It’s crazy to think about how the war dispersed us and where all the lasting presences of Māori really are…

SERUM: I wish we got taught these things more man.
TAYI: Yeah you don’t get taught that, you don’t get taught shit. I feel like brown woman in particular are carriers of knowledge like that, but we have to make an extra effort to educate ourselves amongst all these Pākehā-biased narratives.

SERUM: Yeah I just caught the end of a National Radio interview with Jacinda Ardern talking about repatriation of soldiers from Malaysia only happening now.
TAYI: That’s like a big thing in Māori tikanga – bringing your body home to your family, to your tūrangawaewae – that’s one of the saddest thing about the war is that bodies can’t go back to their family.

SERUM: What do you think it is about Poūkahangatus that people love and want to have more of?
TAYI: Just the politics in it – the cultural elements and identity elements. It’s fresh, and it’s prioritising and giving value to an urban, brown existence and experience. For example it references, Kim Kardashian, The Pussycat Dolls, Aaliyah, Rihanna, where one might, I dunno Pākehā writers like Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen right? The thing that I have noticed is that the brown girls who read it get it, so they don’t have to pry or ask too much about it – they’re happy to have it exist and they can relate to it, how it is on the page. Pākehā people on the other hand are really really curious. I’m glad they’re interested and want to know about it and can see it’s value, but I also get the feeling that it’s possibly their first time coming into contact with Māori literature, or these kinds of Māori stories.

SERUM: Which is…
TAYI: Fucked….but it is what it is I guess. I don’t think I’m doing anything super unique.

SERUM: But then you are… It’s cool that this has been created for younger brown girls to look to and connect with you know?
TAYI: Yeah I think that’s something that Pākehā really underestimate is how underrepresented people of colour actually are. Underrepresented or misrepresented and it’s erasure, and that’s a tool and violence of colonialism, cultural erasure, being black marked, or smudged out. I think that’s a large part of what my book is about, representation. You have to be able to see yourself in media and literature, and if you don’t you’ll relate to whatever role models or things you’ll see on the television who look like you, and they might not always be healthy ones. Like growing up I was like ‘I’m Jade The Bratz Doll!’ and ‘I’m Nicole Scherzinger!’ cos they looked like me the most, and that’s why I’m a crazy big lipped bitch now. I just think it’s really violent to not be represented and I don’t think Pākehā can’t even comprehend this because they just see themselves all the time. I’ve discovered in literature, this little weird attitude that some people have that, almost looks down on people who write from their own lives, cos writers should use their “imagination” or something like that, but again, I think that attitude is situated in a position of privilege. The privilege of having always had every multifaceted aspect of their existence validated in books, films, on screen, whereas people of colour are still having to legitimize their existence across a range of platforms, just to be able to live.
But yeah the best part about this whole experience and having my book published is all the messages and support I get from brown woman. When I get them I’m like yes, this is what this is all for! They give me the most validation and encouragement than I get from anywhere. I read those messages and I think, this is all I need, I don’t need awards or fellowships, or widespread media, just community and connection…. But then I have this secondary thought which is if all these girls were in the positions of power and influence, the curators, the directors, the editors, the publishers, then I’d be totally set lol!

Poukahanganatus

Poūkahangatus featured at number one twice on the Unity Books bestselling list.

SERUM: So what does the term urban Māori mean for you?
TAYI: I think it’s about encompassing both the modern world and the Māori world, and accepting and being comfortable with the tensions that living in both these worlds produce. I was born and raised in Wellington, but I have always known that I was really from Te Araroa, Gisborne, Ngāti Porou, and Te Whānau-ā-Apanui.

Being Urban Māori is tied up with a lot of ideas about being disconnected, separated or disenfranchised. A lot of people read the book and imply that to me, but I just don’t really feel like that. I feel very millennial, logged in and high-maintenance whilst also feeling very Māori, compassionate and communal. They don’t have to clash at the the expense of one another. They can coincide and coexist, and Māori have been living proof of that for generations.

SERUM: I guess navigating that space…when you put all the labels aside we’re all still women, you know we got boobs we get our period, for you as a woman, how do you navigate that balance to allow the two to coexist?
TAYI: Well I certainly haven’t always felt comfortable about my identity as a person of colour or as a woman. I definitely had to go through all that dumb shit like wanting to be white and acting white because I grew up in a lot of white spaces, or feeling like I had very little agency over my body, but a whole lot of shame about it. I guess for me my cultural identity and my identity as a woman are completely entwined because my role models have been my Mum and my maternal line. I feel like I only recently was able to embrace myself as a woman when I embraced my mana wahine, and that’s what makes me feel really sexy, feminine and empowered. But identity of course is fluid and a constant journey. But I’m still on a personal journey of decolonising my mind. I didn’t grow up with strong ties to my marae, I’m half caste, I’ve had to teach myself about myself.

SERUM: Some people don’t like that word aye..I guess it is old school
TAYI: It is! It’s awful and dehumanising to split a person into fractions! When I think of that word, I get an image in my head of being split and split again to the point where you just shimmer like glitter. But I feel like I’m still negotiating that word with myself, which I think as a mixed-race Māori, I have a right to. And it’s significant to me because I’m the half caste daughter, of a half caste daughter, who in turn was the half caste daughter of a Māori woman and a Pākehā man who moved to Wellington. So we’ve been here for generations. I’m four generations away from the time where my line lived on the Papakāinga. I didn’t grow up immersed in tikanga or te ao Māori but I was really lucky to have a biracial mum, who had already gone through life looking like she did and living in a white setting. So my mum really knew how to be a mum to me and help me navigate all of that. Her own Mum was really assimilated, Christian and submissive, as woman were during her time, and so she didn’t guide her or bring her up Māori. My mum made a very conscious effort to teach us what she could about our history and where we come from. The internet really helped with this! Another example of Māori and modernity coexisting beneficially. But my Mum, she’s really woke – my mum’s been woke before woke was a term.

SERUM: You see, that’s what I’m saying! Woke is a term but conscious women who have been through hardship and then ascended to a level of deeper understanding, have been here, for time.
TAYI: We’re woke because we have to be. It’s the only way we can exist in this world with dignity. It’s what really helped me come to terms with my identity; learning about our history, colonisation and piecing the puzzle together as to how we got here, and why certain things have happened..all effects of colonisation that are still very present and real. Once you notice them, it’s undeniable. And the longer we pretend that colonisation is in the past and not a real growing, shifting entity, the more affect it’s going to have. The only way we can decolonise or actually move on is confront it and talk about it, and have people of colour leading those conversations.
You can buy Poūkahangatus here.

Cover photo by Ebony Lamb.

Interview: Introducing KVKA — “All Black Range, Malcolm X Knew Better”

Culture, Music

Speaking about his song ‘La Musica’ produced by Tony Douglas, Hamilton resident Mukuka Simwinga aka KVKA says, “I feel very strongly about the new age slavery, it’s like where Africans and minorities have got to a place where white people and other people don’t have to put us down because it’s like self hate. So when I say [in the song], ‘where gold chains make slaves look better, all black Range Malcolm X knew better, gold chains swing just to lynch me better’, I’m saying we’re doing this to ourselves; it’s to a point where all we care about is, ‘oh yeah I got ice on my neck and I got the new whip’, and you’re not thinking about the fact that back in the day your ancestors would never wear that chain around their neck, they’d never do that because they know exactly what it means. It’s like they work so hard to get free and then we put chains back on ourselves. It’s something I have to work on as well. I say ‘nigga’ sometimes. I say all the ignorant stuff. But I think it’s something, where we need to get to the point, where we can battle it and not just sit down and say, ‘Oh yeah our ancestors helped us to get free — because we’re not free. Corporations are still above us and everyone’s not at a place where everyone’s equal yet.’

With KVKA hailing from a family of musicians and poets, he draws inspiration from his brother listening to Otis Redding, the church, and “my mum, when she’s was younger, used to write poetry as well. So it’s kind of like everyone in my family is creative. I sit down and try to absorb all the creativity around me. My sister was a big influence. She went for this poetry slam and won. She was on Drew and Shannon Live and she had an episode on Both Worlds — I realized through all that stuff that I could actually do something with it instead of it just being a closet-type hobby”.

Never having had a build up into the scene that was public, he instead worked behind the scenes until he sprang into the spotlight with his video for ‘The Zone’ which was filmed by YouTube based channel Visual Base TV. This produced a snowball effect which landed him on the doorstep of Tony Douglas’ house in Hamilton. Literally. Drenched from walking in the rain after church one Sunday, they’d arranged their first session. For now, all we can say is that he plans to continue rising up the music leader board. KVKA, who is of Zambian descent but New Zealand citizenship, has immersed himself in the influence of his family, friends, Hip Hop and most notably his own self awareness — it makes him an independent thinker and somewhat explains his impeccable lyricism, wordplay and sound. He says, ‘I don’t want to just be a rapper, I want to change the whole culture of New Zealand rap. And it’s really awesome because I’ve been sitting here and listening to all these underground rappers from New Zealand I never knew of, there’s Mikey, Third3ye, Diaz Grimm, everyone’s starting to change the [music] culture from New Zealand — and no offence to anyone, like I love Scribe, but from Scribe to be[ing] more universal with the world — but still keep our authenticity — I’m proud to be in New Zealand and be apart of what’s going to happen. Personally, I want to be right at the front, leading this new generation of underground to the world.’

WDYFILWHH had the chance to Skype KVKA and get a closer sense of who he is and what he’s about. It’s no doubt that this is 27 minutes worth listening to. While you’re at it, you can get a bit more acquainted with KVKA’s music on his SoundCloud as we patiently wait for the release of his début EP L.O.E.S, out on the 1st of November.

Interview: Thirty Minutes With Ta-ku

Music

Perth based producer/beat maker Ta-ku doesn’t drink, smoke, take drugs or even make beats for a living, he does it after dinner, before bed as a side project. He has an out look on life that seems as progressive as his music considering recent heavy weights to hip hop, like Kendrick Lamar or Oddisee renouncing drugs and the party life because, religion, health, keeping a straight head while focusing on work and music.

It seems Ta-ku was onto something the rest of us have ignored all along. But more and more people are retracting from peer pressure to conform in favour of personal progress and simply enjoying the creative work itself.  Despite leading what he calls a ‘regimented’ life he still manages to work on tracks like ‘Cake’ for @Peace, remixes for Flume or feature artists like JMSN; lets not forget his own 50 days for Dilla two-part release or the project he did with Home Brew’s Haz where they went back to back in June 2011 posting a beat a day. I got to sit down with Ta-ku at The Bird in Perth and talk beats, music, life and hip hop. Perth has such a nurtured beat scene with regular events like the Beat Lounge or Boiler Room TV  – Ta-ku is an exciting example of the good music that grows there. In 2013 he began his own label, Sunday Records,  with the intention to support fellow beat makers by providing them access to a bigger audience. He says there’s so much talent out there but people are still hiding in their bedrooms, which he wants to change.

Baby Mamas Club raises a fist for colored women in NZ

Culture

“Don’t you know, we’re talking about a revolution sound, like a whisper” — Tracy Chapman

Producer Mia Marama and Director Hanelle Harris are the duo behind a recent TV series called The Baby Mama’s Club. Unique in the way that it captures the lives of four young brown women from New Zealand, humorously linking them together on a quest to hunt down they’re children’s father Johnny who is missing, the series proved critics wrong when they said it was unoriginal, boring and no one would watch it. This criticism came among other concerns it wouldn’t sell and was therefore unworthy of a funding investment from NZONAIR.

Determined to execute their vision the pair self funded the pilot episode before receiving a $100,000 grant in the 2017 NZONAIR funding pool. “Our audience came in droves” offers Harris. Attention toward its potential came after the pilot episode racked up over half a million views.

“Let’s be real, we were probably one of the strongest applicants for that funding round – we had views on one pilot that amounted one projects total views in a season,” says Harris.

The pair are proud of their progress but plan to keep pushing representation of minority communities in mainstream NZ media. For Baby Mama’s Club the pair said TV executives didn’t interfere too much with their creative vision.”We were really privileged that the broadcaster was hands off but we’ve got really great executive producers at South Pacific Pictures. They’ll give their advice which comes from a raft of experience from making so many TV shows and they’re considering the budget and the feasibility of what we wanna pull off.. in the end I don’t think we cut anything really that I wanted to keep.”

“We’re so grateful for the support and people really need to understand we can’t do it without them, we don’t have the power. When people are asking us for season two or more episodes they need to really hear us when we’re saying the power’s not in our hands, its really in their hands. They need to be active and fight for it and hear us when we’re saying we have had to fight harder but it is a battle, we cant do it on our own,” says Harris.

Mia says “In order for us to be enabled to make anything as brown people it has to become a media sensation, so like Hanelle said, comment share post about it talk about it and support the kaupapa”.

“We have been able to prove to the primary broadcaster in the country that there is an audience for Maori and Pacific Island voices and they’ve come in droves, our audience has come in droves and TVNZ have been wonderful not only have they platformed us they’ve put us front and center.

Villette and Baby Mama’s Club cast at series premier, TVNZ December 2017

“Representation matters because it validates us as a people that should have an equal voice in society and when you don’t see yourself in media you are therefore an other and being an other means your voice doesn’t get heard and when it is heard….it doesn’t have as much weight…

It really is on that psychological level, you really are grooming the perceptions of people when you’re saying these are the faces that represent New Zealand that is what you are saying, when you are constantly seeing white faces on New Zealand screen you are telling the next generation, this generation, the one before it, that this is what New Zealand looks like and we know it’s not true,” says Harris.

Producer Mia Marama points out “As Polynesian peoples, story telling is a very natural and integral part of our culture, something that’s been happening for generations and generations so whether we’re channeling that in the media, music, film, television it probably hasn’t been done more because of opportunity, but I don’t think that limits us — as people we’ve already shown we’re resilient now we just need to continue to fight for those opportunities so that we can share those stories to a global audience because it’s clear now that people want to see it.

“Once Were Warriors, Whale Rider, Boy, Hunt For The Wilderpeople, these are films that have made millions and millions of dollars so the fact that we’re still trying to prove our ‘diverse’ stories can make money is tiresome.”

Hanelle says “I don’t want to be comparative to mainstream media, my goal is to be better than mainstream media in New Zealand and to be getting the money, not based on the fact that we have this cool, hip, niche audience but based on the fact that we’re fucken good and everyone likes it, and that’s the point which is that white people do love our show, they fuckin love it and I think there are actually white New Zealanders out there that agree that the New Zealand we see on TV is not the NZ they know and if you live in Auckland that’s definitely not the NZ that you’re seeing every day”.

In this interview for Ryz FM and The Plug they discuss NZ MUCIC, RACISM IN NEW ZEALAND, FEMINISM, TALL POPPY SYNDROME, HATERS, YOUNG FATHERS, and THE NEED FOR MORE genuine BROWN MEDIA & more.

LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW:

https://audioboom.com/posts/6559807-the-baby-mama-s-club-interview-by-aleyna-martinez

Watch Pilot episode HERE.

NEW: Villette releases Drip Crimson mixtape

Music

2017 has taught singer, songwriter, producer Villette that those working with you have to put as much effort into your product as you do, otherwise, they have to go.  To-the-point. Timely. Strong. This year the 22-year-old Samoan Chinese talent from South Auckland has been working super hard at her music — which can be an unforgiving environment — so she has to sometimes make tough calls to protect her brand.  She’s learned the hard way she can’t tolerate those that can’t give 100 percent and more.

Key moments include a feature on the smash web-series Baby Mama’s Club, releasing her mixtape and touring Drip Crimson alongside a new lingerie series — of which the first set is called ‘If You Go’ — “That song is about feeling powerful, you’ve just broken up with someone or you think someone’s going to leave or you don’t know what’s happening in the relationship.”

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“I feel empowered in that song when I’m saying fuck whose in your phone, fuck that other girl, I feel empowered when I say that so I called it If You Go because that’s one of the most powerful songs on the mixtape. She says the plan is to release lingerie with every project she does.

“This mixtape is pretty heavy and the new EP that’s coming out in January is going to be more about how I feel right now. It’s going to be more upbeat, more definitive more melody lead RnB”

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Villette says, “This mixtape’s been going on for about 11-months but I’ve been working on new music during that time.” Drip Crimson is available on SPOTIFY and  most platforms.

How have you found working at the industry level cause I remember when you played at the Greenroom and were booked via Facebook messenger..

[Laughs] The good old days when things were simple man, I miss that, nah I still get booked for some shit via Facebook, low key I still do it, I’m not ashamed of it.

And there’s a lot of love in those shows.. 

That’s where my people are like that’s just where I can really see how people feel and it’s different when you get asked to play a show through a booking agent cause you don’t know if it’s completely genuine or not or if it’s for marketing purposes and stuff like that so there’s a question of,  if you want to do it or not, if it’s genuine, and then you have to think about your integrity as an artist; whether you should be playing that kind of gig or if its solely for the money and that’s where I’m at at the moment but I’m lucky to have booking agents who are my friends as well, so they know my values as an artists and they know where I stand.

… I think there’s a misconception because I still don’t consider myself in the ‘industry level’ yet, I still see myself as, in the beginning phases, for me I feel very early in my career and I feel like I’ve gone through a lot of shit with industry stuff but I’m learning on a personal level as an artists how to handle that because that’s going to define my success, how I handle these little challenges now, is how I’m going to come out the other end.

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..Lots of people tell you what you should do and how you should handle stuff, but nothing prepares for you when someone offers you something amazing and it’s too good to be true and you take it and it was too good to be true and your like [lols] ‘Ahh fuck I should have listened’.

Whenever an artist gets involved with this it’s because you are that kind of person, you wanna take risks obviously for pursuing being an artist in such an over saturated market right now so..It’s just one of those things that comes with the territory.. but I enjoy it now and I’ve learned to handle it, and I’m still working on how I react to it on a personal level, emotionally react to it.

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So you have to have a thick skin?

Have to. Like I’ve got followers, I’m not afraid to admit that I have fans and stuff like that but I also have my fair amount of haters and …there’s just ..always going to be shit that just comes with the territory, for one person that loves you there might be two who don’t like you, and I get hate messages on Instagram, I have people comment shit that I have to delete it’s really intense and that also comes with being a woman in the industry like people just always critique you on everything and then at the industry level  you’ve got 50-year-old white men telling you what’s relevant and it’s like you don’t know what the fucks relevant, you really don’t.

..When you’re working in the studio you really have to have a thick skin because you have to trust your gut instinct, and that you know what sounds hot and that you know what sounds like you, when you’re trying to put your flavour into something, you have to be really strong and stand your ground and that can make you lose friends, I’ve learned that even recently I’ve lost friends over it.

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Women, I think you’re right I think we do have to yank our personalities out in order to stand there and really deliver a solid performance..

I think that also comes from knowing your self-worth, on a personal level, at the end of the day I’m human, I’ll always doubt myself and always not know if I’m going to be insecure and that sort of stuff but when it comes to business I really separate it and just think ‘no this is my full-time job’ and treat it like that… I really expect great things from the people around me and lately in the last month I’ve just narrowed down my team and thought about like, one strike and you’re out, that’s it that’s all I can deal with. ..And that comes down to knowing your self-worth and knowing that how you handle your business is how other people should handle it [laughs] it’s simple,  but it’s taken me so long to realise that.

How do you take a loss? 

Oh man it’s hard, maybe at the beginning of this year I would have cried and been real fucking upset; lashed out at everyone around me, lashed out at my mum, even though she has nothing to do with it.. but it’s because it’s just like.. I struggle to talk about my emotions unless it’s in song so I just am that way …I’m going to fuck around and piss people off ..I still am that way… am still going to fuck around and piss people off but now I handle it better and I see it as: I fucking love losing now, failing is great to me. I’m kind of like, ‘Come the fuck on!’ because I’m in my twenties now I’m 22 and this is the time to try shit and fail at shit and know what you’re good at.

 

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And Hamilton, you grew up there, was any of your creativity made there? 

[There were] a lot of experiences. I did most of my growing up in Hamilton the pivotal moments in me teens were all there, my first boyfriend was there, my first everything was there lets just say that…a lot of my lasts were there as well cause when I moved here I was like I can’t do this shit anymore, I met a rapper over there as well and that was the first time I went in the studio, properly recorded, and that’s the first time I realised it wasn’t as easy as it looked, but I thank him for that experience because it made me realise that I wanted to work hard.

Catch more of this interview on Ryz FM. 

 

 

A GAME OF SKATE with Too’OnPoint

Culture, Interview

One brief decider using paper, scissors, rock, then twin brother Shingi Murare kicks off a ‘Game of Skate’ match versus his brother Muche, the pair known as Too’OnPoint  meet me at their local park in Flatbush, Barry Curtis Park. 

ALEYNA: So you guys grew up around here? I’m filming you.

SHINGI: Oh shit, yeah we did, we grew up like…. we’d skate 20 minutes down the road before they built this, everyday after school. Weekends I’d be here  first thing in the morning. It’s still probably one of the best skate parks in Auckland, but we didn’t have that much back then…Til we begged the council.

ALEYNA: Who’s we?

SHINGI: Like a lot of us, like the local skate shop as well

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ALEYNA: Which is?

SHINGI: Boardertown, my brother works there. So even though I got into music and shit, skating’s still …before I wanted to be a musician I wanted to be a proskateboarder. I was really passionate about it, now it’s just fun like what you do for exercise and to have fun, before, I took it too seriously.

MUCHE: And then it’s not fun.

ALEYNA: When did you come across the show Epicl’y Latered and what did you like about it?

SHINGI: It would’ve been almost 10 years ago now we would’ve still been in intermediate school just learning how to skate then the show Epicl’y Latered was something new and refreshing. You got a peek into their personal lives as well as an in depth interview on skate culture. It put a personal attachment to my favourite skateboarders which intern motivates you to scare you even harder it’s almost like a musician watching their favourite musicians biography you know.

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ALEYNA: So where are you guys from?

MUCHE: Harare, Zimbabwe

ALEYNA: And how old were you when you came here?

MUCHE: Bout 2002, I was seven.

ALEYNA: So you went to school out here?

MUCHE: Yeah, Elm Park Primary.

 

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ALEYNA: Wait where are we?

SHINGI: We’re in Flatbush but we grew up round the east like Pakuranga

ALEYNA: So first memories of skating, how did it start?

MUCHE: Just seeing my mates back in intermediate and my friends would skate and I’d just watch clips of them doing like kick flips and shit skating and be like bro how do you do that.

SHINGI: I got me a little $10 skateboard from the Warehouse and shit, it could barely ride.

ALEYNA: So you loved it that much that  just put up with that? What was the first board you bought?

SHINGI: Yeah for a little bit and then I got like a proper skate board, I think my first one was a Flip, Geoff Rowley.

MUCHE: I think the first board I bought was a Zero cause I loved Chris Cole.

SHINGI: I was real poor and shit so I couldn’t afford to buy a board and shit for over $100, so I’d always cop second hand skateboards…once in a blue moon I’d buy a board.

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ALEYNA: So is this your stomping ground?

MUCHE: Yeah

 

SHINGI: Oi legit, we were probably the reason why they built this park…

ALEYNA: What’s that story?

MUCHE: Um so if you go back maybe a kilometre that way we used to be fucking little shits always just going there  skating up, the shop owners would complain and shit , we’d skate all the local schools, they’d always complain there was like 20 of us and we’d always just go and skate together so they got pretty pissed off about that after a while.

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SHINGI: We even did a petition and they put like 700k into it or something.

MUCHE:  There was like, One News or something came out here when it was still getting built and they got us all to come through and ask, ‘Oh what do you guys think about this park?’ But bro we needed this to be honest like where else were we gonna skate? You’re [the council] not providing facilities for the youth to go kick it at type thing.

SHINGI: And the public transport system is so trash.

MUCHE: It’s hard to get to other parks.

SHINGI: To get to skatepark would take you half a day.

MUCHE: But now it’s like legit, this place is probably a home for a lot of people who have grown up around here, it’s needed.

ALEYNA: So skating, as brothers that’s something that you’ve always done together?

MUCHE: Yeah and my other brother, he’s better than us, he’s fuckin good (laughs).

SHINGI: Yeah he’s fucking good aye, so good.

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ALEYNA: What is it you love about skating, is it like something you can do as a family, as brothers like isn’t some of this shit scary?

SHINGI: It is but it’s fun like ..the risk.

MUCHE: The way I see it it’s like confidence building , if I was gonna go do that 10 right, like that I’ve never done in my life but if I was going to go do it I would probably run up like five times and then come to a point where you’re like I’m actually going to do it this time and that’s when the adrenaline kicks in before you do it and then once you do it, it’s like ‘Oh my god it wasn’t that hard’ and then you go try it again you know but like getting over that mental barrier of  it’s ‘just a 10 stair’ or  ‘it’s just an olly’ type thing gets me, I dunno. Sometime you could be out there trying a trick for a whole fucking day and you’re not going to get it, but you’re still, every time you fall down and fuck yourself up you’re going to get back up and try again you know.

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SHINGI: Cause you want it that bad…

MUCHE: And then you get it one time and then that one time made up for the whole day’s worth of work  you know so yeah it’s a good feeling,

ALEYNA: So do you guys reckon  that define loving something or just your drive and character?

SHINGI: Definitely defines loving something.

MUCHE: Loving something because fuck, you got to put up with the bad times you know what I mean just for those small moments of hope but it’s worth it in the end.

SHINGI: It’s the feeling of achievement that’s so satisfying even if you do something one day you’ll be like fuck ok, if I can do that then the possibilities are just endless

MUCHE: It just makes you like, I’m going to take it to the next level.

ALEYNA: Do you help each other train or learn?

MUCHE: Game of Skate, we should play a gam of skate now…

SHINGI: It’s like what’s that game on the basketball court…Donkey.

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T H R E A D S: Yeezy Season 1 — “Awesome is possible”

Threads

“Were not always in the position that we want to be at, we’re constantly growing, constantly making mistakes, constantly trying to express ourselves and trying to realize our dreams” ∼ Kanye West

11 years after releasing College Dropout, Kanye West is still a revolutionary. He’s still an activist. Rich, but still restless at heart. If he died tomorrow his face would be slapped onto t-shirts and pumped out to the masses stupidly and blindly campaigning against capitalism, just like they did with Che and Dilla. Yeezy Season 1 comes to us via Adidas, but the brand works well, as Pat Ngoho, the 2014 International Skateboarder’s Union bowl champion said:

“There’s really no doubt that Adidas is probably the coolest shoe out there. They’ve just been accepted culturally around the world, in so many different circles and every single time they just do it in a very cool manor, so I’m stoked to be rocking em.”

The pieces in Yeezy’s new line feels like the modern day ‘gangsta’ taken out of the sagging pants cliché. The irony of it all is that Kanye the hated is giving it to the nay-sayers. From the streets to the cat walk, for Kanye, clothing seems to simply be another  facet of his deep and in-tune sense of self-expression. 

Season 1 isn’t made for those who loved College Dropout then got sick of him; his wife, her family or his big mouth. This line is made for those who saw the genius in the production, dating back to the Blueprint, and knew that no matter what he got up to, Kanye the visionary has a plan for hip hop and the youth. The question is, can you see it?

He says “It’s bigger than who I am even in this, you know, in my presence living, it’s about, what did I do to help? I want people to think more, I want people to feel like it’s okay to create and follow what their dreams are and not feel boxed in. I want people to feel like awesome is possible”.

It’s hard to get intentional rips in garments to look like they formed naturally. As aesthetically pleasing as all the ruggedness is, fashion-wise, it is a risk you take if your production doesn’t execute well. From the photos it seems Yeezy wanted it, took the risk, and achieved a good result with Adidas behind him. Season 1 is militant, mixed race, deep, classic, moody, future. It sort of reminds me of that movie Gattaca. But better because it’s a post apocalyptic world designed by Kanye, like a ghetto in the sky. I could see Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke in these threads though….and that’s why think it works for everyone.

Jahra ‘Rager’ Wasasala — “Sometimes, your tongue is cut out of your mouth at birth”

Culture, Interview

“My name in some countries translates as vessel so that’s literally my job is to be able to transport messages” ~ Jahra Wasasala

Jahra ‘Rager’ Wasasala is an Aotearoa-born mixed-race 23-year-old contemporary dancer, choreographer and spoken word artist who created the 2015 award winning contemporary dance theatre work titled “MOTHER/JAW” in collaboration with choreographic artist and dancer, Grace Woollett.
Winning ‘Best Dance Performance’ amongst others at the 2015 Fringe Festival, the contemporary dance/spoken word theatre work explored themes behind the rituals of passage into young womanhood, the stripped indigenous mother-country in a historical and modern context, and how we must connect young mixed blood to old stolen blood.

Jahra says she used to be disheartened that she couldn’t properly trace her roots back to their origins, and some of that struggle with culture and identity was certainly included in MOTHER/JAW. 
She says,
”I don’t think I’ll ever be able to completely trace my lineage. I think I’m in a position like a lot of people my age who can’t trace/can’t go back/can’t name their people, I used to be sad about it. But I don’t think it’s a sad thing anymore – I think it’s okay. I’m obviously a hybrid and an accumulation of everyone and everything that I come into contact with… Regardless of who I can name and can’t name, and regardless of who I can or can’t trace, they are with me all the time — they influence my work and how I am every day. So I obviously have a very diverse ethnic background, and it does shape me but it doesn’t define me as well”.

Interview: Stussy on Godwave

Music

A revisit is my take on a remix says Stussybeats. It’s an opportunity for him to recreate a track the way he feels it should’ve sounded in the first place.

“I don’t release revisits without making sure the artists are comfortable with it.”

For the past 20 minutes, I have been listening to the original release of Psalms 82:6 by KVKA; comparing the track to its revisit, back and forth, then I missed my cue to repeat; Stussy’s next track played on SoundCloud and got me all types of pleasantly distracted.

‘The First Gate’ instrumental opens with an an eerie death-angel, church-choir sample situation, the kind of emotion that makes the hair stand on end when you know something scary is about to happen in a movie.

“The First Gates sampling idea originally came about when I was thinking about soundtracks and the cinematic effect they have, I like to think of my music as a cinematic approach to the true feeling of a beat…A sort of drug or euphoria that gives you a certain feeling, so the idea of a gothic, god-like sound seemed unique to me, I’ve never heard it done like I planned it before, so I tested my idea out and created The First Gate, as well as the original Psalms outro.”

Nicki Minaj — You thought the Google thing was bad?

Culture, Feature, Music

‘I Get Crazy’ by Nicki Minaj featuring Wayne was my introduction to Onika Maraj. I subscribed immediately. Although she was a new name to me in 2009, she had been going hard in the US for years. And then her Sucka Free mixtape came out and the reference to Lil Kim was there, from the start. “We did that pose to make a statement,” Nicki explained to Jabari Johnson in 2008. 

I subscribed to her flow and her balls, which allowed her to say whatever she felt like in her verses. Her flow was fierce and her bars held your attention; not just with words but flava too — there was no air of ‘token female rapper’ on her. As plain as that sounds in 2014 with the likes of Azealia Banks, Dej Loaf, Chelsea Reject and others today – back then – it was the beginning of a new trajectory in the realms of rap and women. There had been hardcore female rappers before her, but there was something about Nicki that pushed the envelope further and offered a fresh sound; eagerly, I anticipated the release of Pink Friday… The 2008 interview with Jabari Johnson did it for me:

JJ: Do you think it’s harder as a female rapper to achieve?

NM: Yessssss, why you think there’s only been a handful of females in the game the last 15 years. It’s hard because you get judged by the industry and you get judged by consumers, hard, bodied. Like females, we have this crab in the bucket thing, like we never wanna see another female get somewhere, so it’s very hard, because you get critiqued by the girls, boxed in by the dudes…

…Its’ very hard I write my own shit, that’s another thing, people, a lot of the times I work with people and they’re like, ‘Oh you need a ghost writer’? Like, boo, I do this, please don’t get it twisted, don’t get it confused. When I’m in the studio with Wayne, when I’m in the studio with whoever, I fuck with the best of them, come on, Jadakiss, come on, I write my own shit…People say, why you feel the need to say that all the time, I say it because there’s not a day that go by, where people don’t ask me, ‘You write your own raps?‘ and I got to say. ‘Yes fuckface, I do.’

 

Interview: Marek Peszynski — Collecting Moments

Feature, Interview, Music

“You can’t look at Riff Raff or Lil B and say that they’re involved in the Hip Hop movement you know because they’re not.”

What they do is just straight organic, ignorant, albeit fun, party-rap music which has no relevance to Hip Hop culture at all. Apart from the fact that they’re rapping, which I don’t think is enough to constitute them being involved in the Hip Hop movement.”

Marek Peszynski otherwise know as Mazdef Productions is a DJ, promoter and lover of Hip Hop and rap music. His story stakes a claim in Wellington’s clubbing/party-scene history, then extends to Los Angeles and London. Unknown to many, his timeline is a music lovers’ dream; as he humbly goes about his business as a father, partner, DJ.

He is also a collector — of many things and says big purchases must be run past his partner Rose first. But, it is also discovered Marek is a collector of moments in Hip Hop, like the time he spoke to J.Dilla’s mum on the phone after he had just passed away; or the time Chuck D turned down a free Wax Poetics from him; instead the Public Enemy legend hung out for a few hours then eventually paid for the magazine. There was the time he went to LA and gave out copies of the Feelstyle album on vinyl to new friends, as a piece of his culture to them.

This story is a collection of Marek’s epic moments; some are great and some shocking, some are hard and others are really funny. Marek, who lives in Wellington but hails from Auckland remembers being the only guy in attendance at some Hip Hop shows in the beginning of the culture’s existence in mainstream New Zealand music to now, where he says: 

“I love it [new school rap]. At the moment being open minded’s cool. You don’t have to like Lil B or LP but as long as you know the definition between rap music and Hip Hop music then it’s all good. Take Waka or Gucci Mane — that’s rap music, or technically that’s trap music, but you wouldn’t put that on calling it a Hip Hop show, because it’s not. It’s a rap show. Whereas people with craft — your Joey Badass, your Talib Kweli, your Kev Brown — people that encapsulate the culture a little bit more, that’s Hip Hop.” For him, it just so happens that his passion has become his work. He says, there are of course risks in promoting shows, “But there’s a satisfaction that goes with putting on events like this.”

Reflecting on his promoting career thus far he names Action Bronson as one of the highlights. “That was a huge risk, that was like the eighth of January, it was such a terrible time for any sort of show, everyone’s broke after new years or away and I just bit the bullet and put on the show and it sold out. He ended up loving New Zealand and coming to my house, hanging out with my children — he’s like one of the biggest rap stars in the world at the moment, it’s crazy.”

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The Beginning

HH: Where are you from?

M: I was born and raised in West Auckland.

HH: So when did you come to Wellington?

M: In 2000, I’d just turned 21.

HH: What are your earliest memories of music and hip hop?

M: I guess my father’s always been quite musical, although he wasn’t a musician, he’s got a massive vinyl collection of rock n’roll through to classical, old soul music — Barry White, Marvin Gaye and all stuff like that. I guess it was probably, firstly the record player itself I was fascinated by and just learning how to use that then listening to the music. It just went from there really — that was the start of my love for music. I guess the first time I saw Radio With Pictures, [which is a] music show during the late 80’s, you know I always used to sneak out of bed and watch TV, do that kind of thing.. seeing videos from like Run DMC I guess that was always the initial cross over for me.

HH: When you got to Wellington, what was your impression of it, from an outsiders POV?

M: Well I’d visited Wellington quite a bit before, I’d been to early King Kapisi shows and stuff like that at that club that used to be above Area 51, La Luna. I knew from then it’d always been a strong kind of community and then I guess when I was living in Auckland and starting to DJ around 1997/98 people like DJ Raw would come play at the DMC champs and stuff in Auckland, he was kind of my favourite turntabilist at the time. The whole turntabilism thing was so new to me and he was one of the first people I’d really seen do it really well — he was from Wellington obviously, so that association was pretty strong from the start.

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DJing — The First Love

“DJing for me, I think, it doesn’t matter what I do, it will always be my first love. Playing music I love to a massive awesome, receptive-partying crowd. The buzz from that is still — nothing can beat that.”

HH: When you began, were you a competitive DJ?

M: Nah. I’ve never been but you know I’ve always played a mixed bag of different music. It was Hip Hop that I really wanted to play in clubs and that kind of a thing; obviously learning the basic scratching and stuff but it was never at the stage where I was extremely technical with what I do DJ wise.. still to this day I guess because I can’t scratch that amazingly, I’ve always been about making the song the focus.

HH: How’d your route go, starting out in Auckland?

M: Normally just playing parties. Playing for my friends. I ended up being a DJ for a group called Bahama 62 it was my first ever…Me and a bunch of my friends, there was Tourettes from Breakin Wreckwordz and now YGB — Dominic Hoey; we were living together at the time so we decided to start a rap group. That was kind of like more of a fun kind of party project — we didn’t have any serious gigs, we were quite involved in the punk and hard-core scene at the time so quite often [I’d play] at the punk parties cause everyone was into rap music.

HH: At what point were you like, I wanna do clubs?

M: I guess it was when the bands that were playing all the parties started playing at clubs and I was asked to play music. I think my first club show was at The Kings Arms, with my friend’s indie band; it was pretty terrifying for me. It was kind of cool in a way because it was all my friends there, but at the same time there was also a lot of the public there and I was still a beginner you know like I couldn’t really sort of blend properly, I couldn’t really scratch..I remember just getting so drunk — to the point where I passed out and I wedged myself between my record box and the wall.. the song ran out and there were people looking at the booth [laughs].. all they could see were these flapping legs.

HH: Mid-set?

M: Yeah. (Smiles).

HH: Passed out?

M: Well I didn’t pass out. I fell over and got wedged between the wall, fully conscious and aware of what was going on. [Cracks up]

HH: Okay so once you got to Wellington, what was your mission, were you still in a space where you were finding your own way as a DJ?

M: I guess so. Yeah. Like I said I started off with Hip Hop, but I’ve always been really eclectic with the sort of music I play. So I think by the time I got to Wellington, although I was still buying a lot of Hip Hop vinyl and stuff like that, I knew for me, there was probably more work in dance music; I would play Garage and US House even though the house music I was playing was like Kenny Dope & DJ Spinna who are still sort of — they’ve got their roots in Hip Hop as well.

Record Store Life — Before The Internet

HH: Did you have a day job?

M: About three months into moving here, I ended up living with Tourettes for a while; his partner at the time was working at the CD store on Cuba Street. I managed to get a job at the CD Store, the one that was on the corner of Cuba and Dixon Street.

HH: Did you plan to perpetually work in music, it seems that’s just sort of what’s happened for you…

M: Ummm, yeah, it was one of those things where I’d always wanted to work in a record store. Not a CD store, but a record, record store. I ended up working for the CD Store for a long time. They ended up buying the Tandy’s Music space in Manners Mall, which had Chelsea Records attached to it. Over the years between 2001 and 2004 I was moved around all the different CD Stores; when I became assistant manager down Lambton Quay there was an opening to come work at Planet Jacks in Manners Mall where the crêpe shop is now. I ended up managing Chelsea Records which was my first step into proper record store life.

HH: Which you’d always wanted to do..

M: Yeah and I ultimately got there. It took a little while hustling top 40 CD’s but I eventually made it to Chelsea Records.

HH: So working in the record store would have advanced your dig-game?

M: Absolutely. I had to step up my game just to keep on top of current music. People would come in asking for specific vinyl, they were smarter than yourself, so you have to keep on top of that. I was in charge of all the ordering, it was all imports — there weren’t many people who were bringing in records locally. It was just dealing with shops in New York, San Francisco, London — going through release sheets; faxing stuff backwards and forwards — this is before the internet. We were such an integral part..I sort of built a bit of a brand around Chelsea Records because I had the freedom to do that, I guess, the owners of the company didn’t really know about that kind of thing. I had a bunch of people — Jaz 72, Zen Yates, Duncan Croft who’d worked in record stores previously.

“Chelsea Records has been around since the 70’s — the brand, but we moulded it in to what it ultimately became in Wellington.”

HH: What did Chelsea Records ultimately become?

M: Basically one of the best record stores in the city. It opened up a global view for me; especially dealing with people from overseas on a weekly basis inn terms of seeing what releases were coming through.

HH: Were You DJ’ing at this time?

M: A little bit. But it really wasn’t until Bryce from Sandwiches hit up myself and Duncan. We used to do the Flava show every Friday night on Active and I had played stints at Studio 9, Goodluck, Matterhorn, & Watkins Bar too.. So Bryce used to listen to our show; we’d never met him, he just came into the store one day and said, ‘I’m opening up a club called Sandwiches, I want you guys to be the residents in the lounge’.

Sandwiches — A part of Wellington’s Clubbing History

“Clubs would be an extension of people’s lounge. Where as now, it’s just different.”

HH: How old were you then, were you ready?

M: 22, 23. Nah. I definitely wasn’t ready. Radio DJing is very different to club DJing. But it was because of our selections and the sort of stuff that we did, that’s why he wanted us.

HH: What were you feeling at the time. Do you remember?

M: A lot of Hip Hop, a lot of UK broken beat house, sort of new jazz — that kind of vibe, that was big at the time — right through to UK garage, US house..I think it was our eclectic nature which made us appealing. We weren’t specifically any genre.

HH: Looking back now, because you would have watched the music trends change over the past 10 years, in terms of party people, have you kind of drawn some conclusions over how trends change?

M: Mmhmm. Wellington specific, or maybe even nationally, club culture’s in a bit of a lull right now. Compared to back then, there just seemed to be more happening. More parties happening. I don’t know if it’s because we were younger. But there just seemed to be more happening. Sad to say, but there were more drugs [laughs]. And booze was cheaper in clubs and life was cheaper. You could smoke in clubs.. clubs would be an extension of people’s lounge. Where as now, it’s just different.

HH: As someone who was immersed in it, is it a good thing or a bad thing from your POV?
M: Um, evolution is evolution. But at the same time I’m not going to deny that things were definitely better back in the day. [Cracks up]. Music especially.. not about the specific kind of music, or the quality of the music, but the fact that it was so hard to source any of the specific stuff; when you did get a record or an import CD, you’d listen to it over and over; because it was so hard to get and it took six months to arrive — you really treasured it. Now, it’s so disposable and I can’t even remember the last time I sat down and listened through a whole song. Unless I’m sitting on the bus with headphones or whatever..If I’m sorting out music for a set, I’ll listen to 15 seconds of a track.

HH: As well, I’ve heard you’re a collector of things and as we’ve said everything’s so disposable these days, do you think collecting and cherishing music might be revived again?

M: I think if we’re looking at vinyl, it’s definitely on a massive incline. Which is really good to see. You have people like myself who are just really into collecting vinyl. Record labels recognise that — look at Stones Throw, every single release they do is either a picture disc, or it comes with a bit of art work or a beautiful folder. They’ve recognized the collector and people just don’t need a black slab of vinyl anymore. For a lot of people that’s like a massive inconvenience, but if you make it a collector piece that’s what’s brought back the resurgence….Even with vinyl releases of stuff — I bought A$AP Rocky’s album which is like a triple orange gate-fold record. Even though I [already] had it for months, I just liked the album and I thought it’s a beautiful piece of vinyl. I’ve got a turntable set up at home and I can chuck it on if I feel like it, but you know, I very rarely do that because it’s all loaded into my Serato.. But as a collector I like having the piece, it’s just a nice piece to have.

Marek The Collector

“Not only are you getting this beautiful item, you’re hearing the music and discovering new tracks and that’s how it was back when we were at the record store.. I’d order off a list of names and there’s no way of even hearing what you were even getting.”

Marekkaws

HH: So from a collectors point of view does the overly saturated digital market affect the thrill?

M: Definitely. I mean if I’d never heard that album or hadn’t been listening to that album for six months and it turned up on my doorstep, and I was looking forward to it; then obviously the buzz of getting that record, putting it on for the first time, listening to it, that just takes the collecting experience to a whole other thing. Not only are you getting this beautiful item, you’re hearing the music and discovering new tracks and that’s how it was back when we were at the record store.. I’d order off a list of names and there’s no way of even hearing what you were even getting. So it would turn up and we’d sit down and have a massive box.. it’d be like, so and so remixed by so and so or so and so’s new record. Sometimes you’d know a song by Giles Peterson or someone like that and rate it but most of the ordering was done blind or deaf; you’re just ordering off a name and it’s just luck of the draw what turns up.

HH: How many pairs of sneakers do you own?

M: I don’t know. Maybe… 90 pairs.

HH: And why do you like Be@rbricks?

M: It’s just a collecting thing. Be@rbricks are like a mixture of PLAYMOBIL and Lego, but each one is individual and specific to a certain artist — I’m a big fan of art and pop art, artists like Kaws and Stash I guess it was a love of graph art and then I explored other avenues of pop art and now I’m a fan of a lot of modern art.

Marek says: “I guess like you said, I’m a collector and part of collecting is the hunt. So earlier on, like I was saying, it was the hunt; the hunt to find these small pockets or these little bits of rap music; whether that be at the end of Arsenio Hall or listening to a three-hour reggae radio show in the hope that there’d be a rap song that I could record — that to me, I was collecting at the time. “

After successfully throwing ‘Space Jam’ last Friday, a 90’s Hip Hop party with special guest P-Money, and clocking one of the biggest nights ever for the venue — Betty’s Function House, Marek dusts off 2013 with a bang. The Mazdef x WDYFILWHH story is to be continued in the new year. Stay tuned…

Raiza Biza-Sitting On The Cusp Of Something Big

Interview, Music

Raiza Biza know’s he’s on the cusp of something big with his music. It can be felt off the back of his last album Dream Something, which collected new followers and new cities to tour- including the South Island of New Zealand which Raiza sees as new ground to break.

“You know, there’s a lot of people who might have heard the name or might have seen the name floating around here or there but they haven’t yet seen it first hand, those are the people that I want to try and reach. But it’s a step by step process and right now it feels like we did the hard yards and it’s almost downhill from now.”

THREADS: Misha and Sizwe in the city of a hundred lovers

Culture, Threads

Linking up with one of Auckland’s cutest couples Misha and Sizwe before they appeared together at New Zealand Fashion Week 2019, it was a surprise to learn this would be Misha’s first ever interview. The couple talk to S E R U M about what it’s like being Kiwi but also originating from another country, dating in the spotlight and also being boujee on a budget: 

How did Not For You Clothing come across you two when they were casting for their  NZFW/2019 show? 

Misha: Just Instagram and DM

Sizwe: Most of our works through Instagram 

And for you two it would be often hey? 

Sizwe: This one (points at Misha). 

Misha: Just promoting stuff  

How did that start for you? 

Misha: I just enjoy taking photos and dressing up  and stuff, then occasionally like brands will just hit me up to promote their clothing, from there it just got bigger and bigger. Random brands would start inviting me to events and stuff, I honestly don’t know what the heck, I wasn’t expecting it but I guess promoting on Instagram is the new way of advertising. 

Who’s the biggest one that you were like wow, cool. 

Misha: Fashion Nova.

Where were you when you got that DM?

Misha: I was just on my bed and I saw the DM from this lady, it was actually just Fashion Nova who DM’d me, I’ve never worn their clothes before or DM’d them so when I saw that notification I was just like what the heck and my heart started racing, I screenshot it and put it on my story, then Seez screenshot it and put it on his story too pretending he got sponsored [they both laugh out loud] but yeah that was so cool. 

So how does it work when you model an item for them? 

Misha: They just asked for my address, I choose a few items from their website and I have to post a picture within four weeks of receiving the item.

So not an issue

Misha: Yeah nah it’s pretty easy, its my hobby, so yeah.

Do they pay you for that girl?

Misha: Fashion Nova doesn’t, like big brands like that they just have heaps of stock, but small brands like New Zealand brands do. 

Ohhh who are the Kiwis let’s always support our local! 

Misha:  There’s Premium Clothing, me and Seez are both sponsored by that, it’s a New Zealand brand and Australia, then there’s Bambi Boutique we’ve been to a few events of theirs and Benefit Cosmetics NZ they’ve sent me some stuff too and then we’re walking for Not For You Clothing today too.

What took you to the States recently was that for modelling?

Misha: Oh I got sent to the States to be in a Snoop Dogg music video. 

So that’s still done through Instagram?

Misha: So for Instagram I was getting heaps of brands and heaps of emails from brands trying to organise something and this man from Instagram DM’d me, he’s now my manager and was the one who got me the opportunity to go in the Snoop Dogg video. He answers all my emails for clothing brands and stuff and organises a price because I suck at that, I just do everything for free and he’s like, ‘No you have to make money off it.’  

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Miss u LA 🌴💄

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So you’re slowly learning the business side of it as well? 

Misha: Yeah I’m like ‘OMG you can make money off it like Instagram is a real job’!

Sizwe: I wouldn’t say I am an influencer but if those opportunities come by, especially with this one, there are people that want us to work as couples and all that, modelling. I guess through me shooting my fits on Instagram and then opportunities will just come like, ‘Oh this guy knows how to rock his clothing.”  

For you, Insta’s not just rocking clothing though hey, you’re also a rapper. 

Sizwe: Nah, it ‘s me trying to build an image but it all goes around music. If I was to get fly or anything or put on any piece of clothing I’d hope that they’d be like ‘Oh this guy’s cool let’s go  check out his page’ and then find out that my main focus is music. 

So for you, when you wake up in the morning and you’re thinking about what to wear, what does your appearance do for your mood or vibe in the morning when you’re planning for that day?

Sizwe: I always try, I don’t want to look like anyone else. I want to put on something like when I walk down the street it will stay in your mind forever even if they just see me once and I’ve had people tell me that, then that’s a successful fit to me like, ‘Oh you’re that guy that was wearing this and that’. Someone once told me, ‘You’ve got that kind of look that will stay in my mind for like 10 years’ and that’s when I was like, ‘I like this shit, I like what I’m doing’. 

Since then working with Jet was a big one for you, too? 

Sizwe: Jet was a big influence, the biggest thing he told me was, in fashion and dressing there should be a theme. You’ve got to try and have a theme with it so that was the biggest thing, he told me but obviously he’s designing and stuff, he always put me in his clothes which is cool and I love helping out young people who are designing. 

Because it is a passion aye it’s not just.. like about clout and shit… if I was to sum up your style like real quick I would say like…. hood gothic…

Sizwe Yeah! Hood goth definitely. 

What about you girl..

Misha  Hmmmm, how do clothes define Misha…

Sizwe: Baddie 

Misha : Yeah just going for that bad bitch Insta baddie or Bratz Doll…just like what you see on Instagram that’s what I wanna be in real life.

Do y’all mostly get support for what you’re doing? 

Misha: Mostly support yeah but it does attract unwanted attention just for standing out and stuff.

Sizwe: Yeah 

Can we talk about those things a bit more?

Misha: Yeah sure, me personally because I am Indian there’s not  a lot of girls who wear, I guess we will say revealing clothing so there’s a lot of Indian people that will look down on me but then the majority are Indians who look up to me because there’s the sense that they can wear whatever they want and not hold back…Young girls mostly that’s my main audience, young Indian girls and that’s cool that I can inspire them, so yah.

It’s cause you’re challenging barriers or old school restrictions hey

Misha: Yeah even with my own parents and stuff they would not approve of my outfits until they saw that I could create a platform and stuff out of it and now they just approve of it it’s all they can do but they don’t really say anything too.

Sizwe: Yeah just let you walk outside and pretend they didn’t see it.

Misha: Yeah they let me walk out the door. 

Lol were there times where there times where they wouldn’t approve?

Misha: Yeah they’d just be like, ‘What are you wearing’!?

Are you from New Zealand? 

Misha: I was born in India and so I moved here when I was one so I was brought up here as a Kiwi.

Sizwe: I’m from Auckland, born and raised here but I’m from South Africa, I’m part Indian too – my dads Indian, I don’t know my dad  I wasn’t raised with him, I was raised in a South African household – always been in Auckland Great North Road, Avondale ways, Waterview. 

Would you guys called yourself third culture kids? 

Sizwe: Nah 

Kiwis

Sizwe: Definitely Kiwis but with my culture – I don’t know my mum didn’t never force culture on me .

Misha:  Same as me like my parents moved here so I could grow up with this sort of culture like be more free, I guess. 

Sizwe: Yeah same to be honest

Yeah cause it’s your generation now that get to kinda make those rules and forge that identity for the future 

Sizwe: Yeah I don’t know how to explain that too but I get what you mean – I know exactly what you mean my mum –  it’s just not forced on me – but as an immigrant I don’t know, you’d expect us to hold that like that South African Indian thing,  but I don’t know if it’s just never been pushed on to me.

I feel like a lot of us in those positions take on dress and pop culture, as our culture, like it goes a lot deeper than just material on your body it’s another way to make your own identity right? 

Sizwe: As soon as I noticed that and started going on the gram and noticing and getting into fashion I started feeling like I can do this, I can make my own culture, I can make my own wave I just felt like it could be my own thing and all my people, my family overseas they see that and they’re fine with it and all that.

What are you hoping the youth will pick up from you as a popular person? 

Sizwe: I guess with my music I feel like …the kids need to say it at a young age. When I started – I met you when I was 14  – I was just talking through my music and with the dress code I think, dress however you want and not let age be a limit.

Cause in New Zealand you can right?

Sizwe: Yeah cause like it’s real hard shopping in New Zealand, like finding pieces. 

Misha: That’s so true.

Sizwe: Getting to know your local designers and all that is like being in touch with what’s next and what your local designer’s gonna put up, I think the kids should be involved in that because I don’t know where to shop in New Zealand, like I really don’t.

Where do you shop? 

Sizwe: Online or through friends like I went to Australia and went through heaps of my mate’s designs, so I just got heaps of his shit.

Is it because you’re just not into what NZ has got?

Sizwe: I was to go to the store and get something right now it would be like an Adidas tracksuit at the most. They just don’t have what you want here. In Oz it goes harder but not really here I can’t find anything here – what is there like Loaded?

How do you guys feel like paying $300 for a pair of jeans, I think that’s on average what you pay here for ‘style’…

Misha: Nah bougie on a budget that’s what I like to go by. 

Sizwe you’ve just signed to Gallatino I mean aesthetically they’d be one of the most on point in NZ so far, I’d say…

Sizwe: True Tapz and Mzwetwo, I think they put me on because they needed someone young and in touch with the internet I don’t even know how to put a name on their swag but Otis has had my back forever, he was the one who put me in the studio first and as soon as I linked with Tapz and worked on my new shit ‘Why’, I’ve just dropped ‘Why’, I’ve seen more opportunities come through to do with music. Otis is a good manager he’s cool and Tapz is just like the best big brother, I just wanna be like Tapz to be honest I’ve always looked up to Tapz he’s just always travelling I wanna do what he does. 

That’s the plan? 

Sizwe: That’s the plan for sure. 

Now that ‘Why’ has come out what can your people’s look for next?

Sizwe: Album, more tracks this year. 

This year?

Sizwe: This year…Nah I promise this year we looking at like December.

And also… couple question, being a couple dating  both definitely have got Instagram heat, whats that like? 

Misha: I’ve always wanted it like I can’t picture myself with someone who isn’t into dressing up and flexing and stuff so Seeze is just like,  we enjoy it, it’s our hobby. 

Sizwe: I mean we’re just like the same people, she’s like the girl version of me I’m the boy version of her. It always takes us hours and ages to get dressed because we’re so fucken picky with our outfits.

And you do it together? 

Sizwe: Yeah we do it together  we rate outfits she’s like, ‘nahh you can’t wear that today, nah nah nah’…I love having someone who I personally think looks good and can see me get dressed too you know what I mean it’s probably the best part of it too.

Did  you think you’d find that with someone when you met her? 

Sizwe: Nah I didnt but to be honest when I saw it I was like ‘Nah I need that’.

And so it was like a long game thing or was it like ‘You, come with me’.. .

Sizwe: Nah that was exactly it, ‘you come with me’ literally. 

Misha: Yeah it was just like, you’re my girlfriend now, he never asked me out  he just said ‘okay now you’re my girlfriend’ (lols) And I’m just like, what, like ask me out but it’s cool.

Sizwe: The exact words was like ‘I’m ready to be loyal’ that’s it.

Misha: Yeah I was just like what, ‘what does that mean’…like what?

What’s it like dating a rapper

Misha: Omg it’s cool, yeah …But I’d like to go to a few shows and stuff, we’ll see, it’s cool when fans come up to him on the street. 

Sizwe: Being in Auckland it’s real small so getting your name out, I couldn’t imagine this much hype, like when we’re walking on the street people stop us like someone just stopped us on the way here.

Misha: It’s like why me you know I just take selfies and people come up to me to get photos like, huh. 

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She wanna dinner d8 w gallantino

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Is it a bit awkward to have that much attention? 

Misha: No it’s cool but you always just feel like..

Seez: I love it, it’s cool  

Misha: Yeah I love it too …

Sizwe: I wouldn’t say ‘Why me’ I feel like I worked a bit and got a reason.  

Misha: Yeah he’s a musician so I get why he receives that much attention, but I’m just an influencer so I didn’t expect it . But I obviously love all the positive attention and support, it means a lot.

Is there a difference between an influencer and a model? 

Misha: Yeah there’s a huge difference. Models aren’t their own boss, as they never have a say in how they want to look. However, I always get to choose the clothing I promote and I can always do my makeup how I want which basically means I’m always guaranteed to feel comfortable and confident knowing I’m being myself.

So you get to make your own rules in a way? 

Misha: Basically that’s what I wanted to do, I don’t want to be with an agency but I’ve modelled for a few boutiques and stuff.

What is it about an agency you don’t vibe with?

Misha: They won’t let me do my own makeup and stuff, I like the way I do my eyelashes, little things.

Who are the top five people that influence you guys style wise?

Sizwe: Kanye, Kid Cudi, Playboi Carti, Jet and my mum, just with emotions and dealing with life.

Is clout chasing important: 

Misha: No?! What. 

Sizwe: I noticed the difference between clout  chasing and being hungry, I think being hungry is important I could say clout chasing and the best example of it is like fake fuckign with people, or fake showing love or just riding waves and all that – that’s not cool like that’s not important but being hungry is definitely important and letting people know that you’re hungry is definitely important, I like showing people that I’m hungry.  

And what 3 tracks would you put on your own runway playlist: 

Misha: Aw yeah that Lady Gaga one, ‘walk walk fashion baby’….

Sizwe: Yeah what’s that one called again – is it Bad Romance?

Misha: Paparazzi! I’d have like Nicki Minaj,  any of her songs hey, she just puts me in some sort of mood. 

Sizwe: Okay, Paparazzi Lady gaga, Kanye West  Black Skinhead and Kid Cudi Dance for Eternity.

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Best friend 🧸

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Yo, have you guys practiced your walks? 

Misha: We were just doing that walking across the road like ‘try not smile’, when we on our way here actually. 

Anything I haven’t asked you that you want people to know about modelling, rapping, being a couple or being cute in general..

Sizwe: Respect women, dress how you feel.

Misha: Be confident. 

Sizwe: Definitely always do your best, give it your all and make an effort to make people smile during the day, love your parents especially if you’re an immigrant you gotta like know, you gotta know how much your parents did to get you here and not let them down. That’s got to be my biggest part and that’s my inspiration I always think about what my mum did to get me here from South Africa and that just gets me out of bed everyday. 

THREADS: Siphosethu Duncan – Sundays Apparel thrifts with decadence

Feature, Interview, Threads

For 24-year-old Siphosethu Duncan fashion and a passion for dressing didn’t truly begin until this year. Moves like investing deliberate time on her Instagram or buying tickets to Fashion Week happened when this fresh-faced and gracefully talented up-cycler locked into her fashion-sense. Her Instagram feed shows an instinct for minimalism and what to leave out or off. For S E R U M The Sundays Apparel feed bares a curated grace and elegance that’s hard not to refer back toward. Living out in the wops of Pukekohe where she and her husband Warren own their own home, this young boss woman uniquely sets silk textures against freshly ploughed soil. Sisi to her friends, as named by her late nanny, she says embracing her personal style was like “An opportunity to take myself seriously — an opportunity to pursue my love for fashion”. Once we saw the styling work she did for Mukuka’s Time + Space video shot by Shakie Photography and directed by Makanaka Tuwe, we had to catch up with her and talk about Sundays Apparel and what she’s going to do next.

Where are you from? 

S: Beautiful Durban, South Africa but living in Auckland, New Zealand. 

Describe your personal style: 

S: My personal style has definitely changed and is constantly evolving and growing — I’ve noticed a change in style due to genuine inspiration. I went from urban streetwear to minimalistic inspired looks. I noticed with interest how many clothes I have accumulated throughout the year all in the name of fashion but when I switched to dressing minimalistic, it helped me declutter unworn/worn clothing items. Quite a challenge but so far, I am enjoying the journey.

“The idea of only being given one choice of style or similar choices bothers me hence why I thrift.”

Siphosethu Duncan by husband Warren.

What are some of your first memories of clothes and materials?
S: I never really took much notice on my apparel, what I would wear or how I would wear my outfits. I started noticing recently that people are loving what I wear.  However, I can recall a time when I was a lot younger, I sat in my soft-tech class in intermediate school brainstorming my brand label. This was quite far-fetched as I wanted to become a nurse.

How do clothes define your personality in your opinion?

S: Stand-out clothing defines my extroverted-personality. I love bold/ iconic pieces, especially unique items. I don’t enjoy shopping at local malls as I feel, creatively speaking, restricted when looking for an outfit. We only buy what’s currently ‘trending’ or in season. The idea of only being given one choice of style or similar choices bothers me hence why I thrift. Thrifting is all seasons—you have summer wear and winter wear all year round. I can define myself through clothing with thrift shopping. If I’m looking for something bold, or stand-out pieces, I thrift. 

As a woman how do clothes represent your identity?
S: I don’t think clothing represents my identity as a woman. I say this because I sometimes like wearing men’s wear if we’re being gender specific. The current trend or what’s become popular are oversized jackets as an example — the closest to recreating this look is wearing men’s wear. 

What are you most looking forward to with fashion week 2019?
S: I was looking forward to being in the same room as creatives and like-minded people. I was also looking forward to being inspired and enthused by the following seasons clothing collections.

What shows did you attend?

S: I attended with a friend the following shows: Tuesday Label and Fashion Quarterly & Miss FQ. 

Where can people check for your coverage? 

S: On Instagram. .. ssundaysapparel (two s’s)


What’s Sundays Apparel and what can people look out for in the future from you?
S: Sundays Apparel at the moment is a massive scrap book of ideas. Ideas are forming and an identity is slowly being developed and formed. Sundays Apparel is a service that focusses on helping you up-cycle thrifted clothing at the moment. We’re still growing.

Who are your style/ influencers and why?
S: At the moment, I love Layplan designs. Their designs are honestly amazing and unique. I enjoy watching how they style their pieces! They’re signature puffy sleeved dresses/ tops with quirky socks and sandals is a fave.

What was your role working on the video for ‘Time + Space’ by Mukuka:

S: My role on the day, along with the creative director Makanaka was to ensure Mukukā’s wardrobe as well as her cast members were on hand and ready for shooting. Prior to this, Mukukā and I had a private wardrobe styling session to plan.

What did you love about the job?

S: I loved how Mukukā trusted me to style her shoot. I am super grateful for the opportunity as it has opened my eyes to endless possibilities for Sundays Apparel. It surely gave me perspective on how much Time + Space (pun intended) is required when planning.

When you get ready every day, what’s your favourite part  of the process?
S: My favourite part of the process is characterising— Do I want to wear ‘mom’ jeans with a cute sweater and a hat or do I feel like wearing my favourite RiRi pants. I call it characterising because for a moment when you’re in the process, you think of what you may of seen via Pinterest, social media and you almost re-create that particular look BECAUSE so and so wore it like this.

Who are your style/ influencers and why?
S: At the moment, I love Layplan designs. Their designs are honestly amazing and unique. I enjoy watching how they style their pieces! They’re signature puffy sleeved dresses/ tops  with quirky socks and sandals is a fave.

Follow Siphosethu on Instagram HERE.

Check out Siphosethu’s styling work on Mukukā’s Time+Space video below:

THEATRE: HOUSEKEEPING – COVEN’S ode to the hidden drag, trans, queer and gay aunties giving a 5 star service

Culture, Feature, Interview

“It’s finally my turn” says Princess AKA Gabriel Halatoa, gently brushing her chest with an elegance that presents itself to be a distinction of her as a writer/ director/performer. We’ve just finished our interview and she’s going back to rehearsal with COVEN, her collective. It’s the second to last Sunday before opening night and here, mid-winter at sunset tucked away at Kete Aronui in Onehunga, I am invited into their space and privileged to witness a snippet of Princess’ self-written, debut theatre production, Housekeeping; a seductively bougie, raw and touching reflection of being brown, divine feminine and a member of the  LGBTQIA community in Auckland City in the 90s. She says: “This has been meaning to happen for so long because I’m a child of the hotels – I was raised in the hotels, so this is the development of my first solo performance called ‘Purple Trees’ which is about my life as a hotel child and my mum raising me in the hotel and bringing me in.”

Housekeeping is Halatoa’s first attempt at a theatre show and a once in a lifetime audience experience set in the five star hotel scene in which Princess grew up. It’s beautiful in its rawness and dark in it’s truth – but one which couldn’t really be told by anyone else. From primary school years Princess remembers waking up at 4am on cold South Auckland mornings and travelling into Aucland’s CBD with her mother – who is still remembered and respected as someone who stood up for her staff and made sure her workplace was a fair one.  

What Princess has done, is what COVEN founding member and ‘house father’ Cypris Afakasi describes as, ‘kind of a weird flex’ because Princess finessed her script as if holding up a mirror to her reality; she let its reflection fall on her house sisters and now here they are, back at their Basement Theatre residency, sprinkling their truly magical powers onto the stage. It’s their energy you won’t want to miss out on. Housekeeping is for anyone who already knows about the magic of COVEN and for anyone still wondering what the fuck mercury in retrogade even means, this is for you too.

CHOREOGRAPHER: CYPRIS 

Cypris

Although you have done other works together this one in particular is a celebration of your bond? 

C: Definitely..it’s kind of like in a weird way, a little bit of a flex. 

There goes the title!

C: Princess did this thing where all the characters that are real people, she noted them to sisters in C O V E N who she felt were energetically similar and so just to watch it all unfold. They’re not always following their lines but their able to bring out parts of the character that are otherwise… the lines wouldn’t allow for. It’s really beautiful to see that happen and it reflects these real people as well as them which is something I haven’t been able to sit down and see before. I really appreciate that part.

Describe that flex, the feeling of writing your reality into a fictional work.
C: It’s a bit like when you’re going down the steps and it’s a bit creaky and you’re like I don’t want to step on any toes…. I don’t want to step on grounds that are shaky, I really want to respect these characters all of these feelings but in essence we have had to push it forward anyway and ask the questions after just to make sure we’re not making any of these characters too unreal.

What’s it been like working with your director Cas? 
C: Working with Cas has been amazing I haven’t worked with her in the director’s seat before  and it’s a total change like I’m loving all this big dick energy it’s lovely to have a manawahine at the forefront punching this narrative forward like a tautoko. Because she sees the world differently – from a point where the characters wouldn’t be able to see and when you put the cast in there she’s able to be like that’s unreal…She’s really good at snapping out those things. She knows and she really sees and I feel, in that sense of nowness, everyone’s got that. 

Housekeeping is Halatoa’s first attempt at a theatre show and a once in a lifetime audience experience set in the five star hotel scene in which Princess grew up.
Princess

DIRECTOR: CAS

Hi my name is Cas and I am co-directing Housekeeping. I’m a freelance artist and I have a full time 9-5 – I  also manage a retail store so, yeah

So this is your side, side love. 

C: This basically my love, this is my passion. I love this. It’s my first time directing so usually I’m on stage but I love to write and I also love to be behind the scenes on shows as well. 

Whats your fav part of the story? 

C: My favourite part of the story is just seeing them on stage as sisters and I think that’s like a big theme behind this is sisterhood so everyone can relate to just having people like that family outside of your family being there for you and I think that’s what’s beautiful to see when they’re all on stage together is that naturally they have a way of coming together and showing that sisterhood  – that’s probably my favorite part I don’t have a favourite section or anything but besides the dance scenes the dance scenes are really bomb. 

Next week is the opening hey, what do you hope audiences will take away from this work? 

C: The biggest thing I want audiences to take away is that I think just being there, being kind and being there for everyone, I think that’s a big message more now than ever, especially what’s going on in the world we are not just living our lives for ourselves but we all have a bigger purpose on this earth and that’s definitely to be a community and be together and be there for each other but yeah that’s a message I would love for everyone to walk away with. 

WRITER/DIRECTOR PRINCESS

From watching the rehearsal there’s a lot of raw, brown humor in the work obviously the contrast is that you’re in a bougie hotel which I love! Can we talk about being a brown person coming up in a bougie world like that?

P: Girl, all the secrets! Like if there’s any place for a brown person to move and not be seen and revel in all the secrets and all the brokenness of society and the white-hetero norms like the shiftiness of it – it’s definitely in Housekeeping like there’s no better place to have a proper eye into actual issues and shit

So you were around that from age five or six until adulthood?

P: Yeah, half my life and then I went off on my own, broke away from Housekeeping.

What did you do after when it was your time to leave your mum?

P: Mum kind of stopped working there because she had two younger kids and kind of like became a stay at home mum but before she did that she was hiring my friends which is Sandy in there, into Housekeeping, and so hearing more about sisters and their stories in housekeeping is still ongoing for me because mum’s still blessing my life and my sisters in housekeeping so yeah.

Queen.

P: Yeah

When your mahi offsets other people, that’s quite a victory story.

P: Yeah.

Has she seen this work, what does she say?

P: She’s very proud, because the stories actually gone through some changes one of my friends dropped out so she was playing mum – she was a very important character but she pulled out and so I had to change the whole story around so now it’s just a LGBTQI-strong story and I’ve pulled me and mum’s story out which is like a very heartbreaking for me because that was one of the narratives that the whole show was based on and so this is new territory for me, finding a way to be able to authentically showcase these stories  and not pull back on the authenticity.

I mean it’s such a unique upbringing, what’s your favourite part about having that perspective?

P: I guess maybe understanding where I stand. [The hotel world] …It’s so structured and so hierarchy and just understanding that these people [there’s a way in which] they think I should be, [mean time I’m thinking] ‘But you’re all shady and you’re all fake ass and so I feel like I’m above you’…So there’s nothing they can tell me to make me feel any less than I am and that’s from mum – I got that from mum, being able to see that.

Hold your head up?

P: Yeah like I’m better than that shit it’s all fake.

So you grew up going to the school from the hotel and you had breakfast and dinner …so what room service?

P: Yeah

Girl, tell me about room service!

P: Girll…. 

Haha that’s what I want to know …

P: Well ok, so mum because she’s the queen of the hotel I’d be able to get that, I’d have to come in at four in the morning, stay in a room have my cartoons turned on have like Weetbix sent to the room and toast and stuff because all her friends were the community which is like the LGBT community, they’re all porters and valets and pool cleaners and housekeepers and they’re all just coming up to the room like ‘Gabby do you need anything else’ and ‘here, I found some chocolates in the rooms’ and here, ‘this is for the bed in 302 but you can have it, here’.

And you said that was at the Pullman?

P: Yeah, pretty much just, all around…The different food and beverage staff, the housekeeping staff, they’d all just gel with each other. Especially the sisters and housekeeping would all be drawn to mum and that because she’s quite for the people kind of person.

This work will be a huge thing for community, seeing your lives retold on the Basement Theatre stage?

P: Yeah, it’s generational like I’m inviting all of mum’s housekeeping friends and they’re going to be seeing a younger generation and their take on them so I just wanna do it well, I wanna do it good.

How long have you been in  COVEN?

P: I am one of the founders, Mistress and Fang and myself founded it in 2015

Cause you guys as well, I just wanna get it right, was it FAF SWAG first and then COVEN?

P: FAF Swag were an established collective for awhile and then COVEN  formed later, same sisterhood but different collectives yip.

COVEN has that magic element too hey?

P: We are all practicing witches and a lot of our practice comes from cultural activation and fusing with our vogue and witchcraft so we do a lot of ritualistic things. Certain things I can’t talk about, but before we get into shows we have our ritualistic things we all gather with the full moon and we really charge and channel from our ancestral paths, we channel our islands and our bloodlines…Mistress is probably the best person to talk to because she leads us all in our spiritual journeys and stuff like that. 

The energy between you guys – there’s a realness I recognise. 

P: Because we’ve all trained and been a part of the Vogue scene me and Fang’s bodies are quite in-sync and so we’re the Legendary scene here, that’s the first generation Vogue scene.

You guys have carved something out for people that didn’t exist before? 

P: Yeah, absolutely. 

How does that feel? 

P: I feel like our people is where it’s born. We’re not the only ones doing it, I feel like there’s this rise in art and creativity and expression and voicing happening. I feel so grateful to be a part of that wave right now – it’s happening all at once, we’re just a small part but we’re doing our part. 

I mean there was a time not that long ago where brown content was actually hard to find, like not even that long ago…

P: Like less than 10 years . 

And it’s not just a brown story it’s uniquely like you’re not going to be able to find it anywhere else, kind of story.

P: This will be Coven’s first attempt at an authentic theatre show – our last one was quite experimental and borderline edgy whereas this is quite traditional theater, experimental, performance.

Who are your writing influences?

P: Victor Rodgers definitely if it was New Zealand writers – I really admire his storytelling,  (Wild Dogs Under My Skirt, Club Paradiso, Girl Around The Corner), Rebecca Sugar – Steven Universe, I love me some anime shit.

How has humor played a role in your life because Housekeeping is hilarious too! 

P: I feel …humour comes from trauma… and so I feel like humour is what has made my life long friendships with each of the cast members individually. Everyone that’s involved in there I’ve asked like ‘Hey sissy, would you live to be apart of this’? And they’ve all been like: ‘Bitch. Yes’, so humour is definitely one of the things that has been a staple in each of my friendships with these girls. 

COVEN are a collective from South Auckland specialising in Vogue culture and performance art. Their roots as performers are in the NZ underground Vogue Ball scene, expanding out into performance art through activating rituals and ceremonies in galleries, book launches and academic symposiums. Some of COVEN’s most recent achievements include performing on the stage of TED Talks, appearing in Vice’s Underground Vogue Scene documentary, and being part of the award-winning Fafswag Interactive Documentary. COVEN’s members are Moe “Mistress” Laga, Jacob “Duchess” Tamata, Cypris “Fang” Afakasi, Gabriel “Princess” Halatoa, Logan “Honey” Collis, Sandy “Empress” Vukalokalo. And introducing Spencer Papali’i and Tekeepa Aria friends of COVEN


Get your tickets and RSVP to the show HERE