FOLLOW

30 April – Tonight I had a conversation, with a man I’ve never met.  Him a stone, and I a bird.  Pierre.  Tui.  We stood upside down from each other, on either side of the planet.  Wood was the language in common.  The resonance of it.  The way it carries music.  The calm it harbours.  The way it is both permeable and protective…

Apparently we spoke for his (beautiful!) blog piece @ La Maison Jaune concerning the release of my new record with Beating Drum.  But in truth, we spoke for the life altering properties of listening.  For the way strangers can meet in intimacy, through art.  For the alchemic wonder of surrendering our lives to the riddle of colour, shape and frequency, where ideas echo our impermanence, and in doing so, confirm our belonging, to the great wheel.

20 May – Oh, what happens when you let the music lead!  I confess I started playing the guitar when my heart broke.  It was a physical consolation.  And a revelation.  I started writing from a new silence.  The one that came after.  After my Bulgarian Folklore studies in Plovdiv – where I soaked in odd-meters, crumbled beneath the beauty of the timbre (vocal that is) and was securely wrapped in ornaments.  I wrote armfuls of songs into that silence, and a handful made it through.  To a recording…

In following the incandescent (or is it indecent!) “why not” protocol, I hunted out the sound engineer, who, in the world, had captured my favourite female vocal recording – Rokia Traore’s Tchamantché.  Yep, internet.  I found him, and his microphones.  Patrick Jauneaud.  We agreed.  And so, tucked away in resonant mountains in the south of France, some delicate, ardourful songs were stitched to light.

I wanted to do it all alone, you know, and with just one voice and one small guitar.  To . render . complete . justice . to . the . silence.  Patrick suggested that this was ambitious – that artists usually do such a thing in their masterful age!  He coaxed me into playing around with a few layers.  Relaxing the rules a little, I allowed myself to some sing harmonies on the record.  And.  Patrick passed the tunes onto someone I’d never met – but had admired the music of – Piers Faccini.

Piers heard something of  himself in this music.  And his delve into my online presence confirmed our common love for quiet spaces.  He offered to collaborate on a record.  We took an EP worth of my songs and let his expert ears/hands influence their body.

I was scared.  Scared of not being strong enough in my vision.  Scared of failing in my new found independence, by letting another artist alter my babies.  Temperaments shuffled.  We braved it for the love of music, for loyalty to the unknown, and to let the colours in.  Because none of it belongs to us anyway.  And they were beautiful.

The way I see it, Piers bought the village, dancing, to my hermits cave.

These arrangements feature layers of tender instrumentation, including slide guitar, harmonica, voice, piano, gembri and an evocative selection of percussion.  Much of it was played by Piers himself, with spirited interventions by Malik Ziad and Tunji Beier.

Stills taken from FOLLOW.  Underwater capture by Monty Bevins, thank you!

The tune I’ve made a film for first, travels for 6 minutes of 11/16 time, looping around our hearts, the globe and back.  With footage from Bulgaria, France and Aotearoa/NZ – this is a song for the first smile, for the last sigh, and for all the gratitude in between.

WATCH [FOLLOW by TUi MAMAKi] HERE

The RECORD from which this song is takeN, TUi MAMAKi “Hear My Voice” (Beating DRum RECORDS 2018), is available in limited edition vinyl – with artwork by Piers Faccini – and/or download HERE

 

 

 

MOVING IMAGE

I started out as a visual artist.  Or was that simply being a child?

I grew up in a remote, wonderfully isolated valley, without streetlights or tar-seal, or television.  The endless wonders of a blank page were akin to the endless aural spaces one could interact with: to sing-talk with the birds or the ocean, to build huts and stories in the bush, or to draw boundless imaginings in colour, on the kitchen floor or table.  Long intimate conversations unfolded between me and perhaps, pure potential.  It was thanks to kind and creative teachers that dance, song and art were valued in the curriculum.  The focus sharpened when I met Mr Harris at Tikipunga High School and embarked on a painting, sculpture and photography odyssey, and never looked back… not until I reached Elam Art School that is, where I found myself longing for happenings. I wanted to see things in motion!  If there had been a Performance Art Department there at the time, I might have stayed, but the roads called me out of school – into the world of fire-dancing, street-performance, theatre and ultimately, song.

Still taken from RiUWAKA by TUi MAMAKi

These days I hardly put a pencil to the page, save for designing concert posters or occasional album artwork… but the SOUNDS I get to make are colours, and the words that come conjure images… and then there are the opportunities to collaborate:

When I met Shannon Aroha on Takaka Hill, at Luminate Festival 2017, we found ourselves brainstorming a collaboration just a few sentences into the conversation.  Let’s do something!  A few months later, equipped with a zero budget and a common love for improvisation, we found ourselves filming in the limpid lights of the Raglan area, where she is based.

The theme of clear water kind of hurts these days, given that intensive dairy farming in New Zealand has polluted so many of our rivers… (time to turn that around!!)  And so, potently, a song about clear water – as a reality and a metaphor – is the one to start with.  RiUWAKA (Riwaka) is a sacred place at the foot of Takaka Hill, that many visit for it’s healing waters – waters distilled by the crystal mountain labyrinth through which they pass, before springing back up at the resurgence.  Raglan, where we actually filmed, is on the other island.  A journey from Te Wai Pounamu to Te Ika a Maui is but a small hop, given the international fabric of this project:

The instrumentation is inspired by my love affair with Bulgarian Folklore rhythms, intricately irregular, but played on my Little Martin guitar, like a harp.  The story is one of reaching beyond the feeling of fracture in intimacy, through into the inevitable wholeness of surrender.  The vocal lines, though steeped in the ornaments of Bulgarian songs, are delivered like a delicate prayer.  My parts, on voice and guitar, were recorded in an old silk-worm incubator: a beautiful stone-floored, high-ceiling, luminous music studio, in the Cevennes mountains, in the south of France.  (How I found that place and the magical engineer, Patrick Jauneaud, within it, is another story for another time).  Add to that a serendipitous meeting with Australian percussionist Tunji Beier, on a festival stage.  Tunji here plays the Kanjira, a South Indian frame drum, with both subtlety and spirit.

With Shannon’s eye, and Andy’s flying captures, the visual flair this time is not mine.  Shannon’s musical sensitivity translated seamlessly and it was a joy to let her lead.  Somehow, playing a character in the moving image was an experience between dance and meditation:  attuning to the light, the bush, the water, to the dreams that turn our eyes into windows, where imaginings can impart tranquility, and somehow bridge our mortal separations.

I hope you will enjoy the viewing as much as we have the process!

Please share/embed the video freely, and do leave your impressions in the youtube comments + touch that thumbs up thing – it all helps to gather kin energy and to celebrate this piece of quiet, in a loud world.

WATCH RiUWAKA HERE