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Tiki Taane


The multi-talented Tiki Taane returns to Perth for his third appearance at the Natural NZ Music Festival on Saturday, December 7, at Red Hill Auditorium. He speaks with JOSHUA HAYES about his upcoming show, his many on-to-go projects, and helping tattoo Rihanna.

Tiki Taane returns to the Natural NZ Music Festival as part of an outstanding line-up that boasts legendary rockers Shihad, reggae astronauts Kora and red-hot hip hop outfit, Home Brew. 

“This is my favourite festival to play in Oz, I just love it!” Taane exclaims. “The music, the vibes, the punters and the location is really special. I know from as soon as I land ‘til when I fly out that I will be looked after like family, and that means a lot.”

The former Salmonella Dub frontman’s show will highlight two distinct sides of his musical personality. “I play half the set on acoustic, get everyone singing and skanking up a storm… Then Optimus Grime and I flip everything on its head and fire up the bass speakers! So expect to be tickled in all areas,” Taane says.

Since leaving Salmonella Dub in 2007, Taane has established a successful solo career with three acclaimed albums – 2007’s Past, Present, Future, 2009’s Flux and 2011’s In The World Of Light – in addition to countless side projects in his roles as a songwriter, producer and sound engineer. He remains busy in the studio, having spent the last month working on collaborations with Melbourne street performer Dub FX, and doing production work for psychedelic soul outfit AHoriBuzz and singer songwriter, Jayson Norris.

He’s also lending his vocals to the upcoming EDM album by flamboyant creator/FBI target Kim Dotcom – a project Taane describes as “super poppy and mainstream as, but heaps of fun and a wicked experience.”

Kim Dotcom isn’t the only high-profile figure Taane has been hanging out with lately – last month, he famously helped give Rihanna a traditional tattoo during her New Zealand tour. Rihanna’s long-time manager is a cousin of tattooist Inia Taylor, who runs Moko Ink, the world’s first Maori tattoo studio.

Taane and Inia caught up with Rihanna after her last Auckland show and talked tattoos.

“She really loved the design on Inia’s hand and wanted to get something similar on hers, so we made a plan for her to come out to our studio the next day where Inia and Riri drew up the design. The designs are some of the very first tatau designs ever done in Polynesia. They mean dreams, aspirations and hope,” Taane says. “It’s something we only really do for Whanau (a Maori word for extended family) and friends, and seeing as Riri’s manger is Whanau, we welcomed her with open hearts.”

The tattoo was done in the traditional method, using a chisel and mallet – YouTube videos capture Rihanna grimacing and attempting to laugh as her hand was tattooed – however, a few weeks later, she flew in tattooists to alter it.

There’s been a lot said about it, especially after Riri covered over parts of what was designed. It was actually quite astounding at how much hype and negativity it drew, especially when there is so much more important things going on in the world to be concerned about,” Taane says.

“At the end of the day it is her body and her decision, so we’ve gotta find a way to support that. It’s not my place to say who can and can’t breathe air. Just like it’s not my place to say who can and can’t be tattooed.”

It’s something that the heavily-tattooed Taane has experienced many times himself. “So far I’ve had 12 sessions of traditional tatau done on me, mostly in Rarotonga,” he says. “It’s the most awesome way to be tattooed and I love the feeling, the ceremony and the energy that resonates while in that process.”

While Rihanna’s tattoo drew a lot of attention to Taane, he has also been focusing on drawing attention to worthy causes. Recently, he released a new song, Enough Is Enough, in collaboration with animal charity Paw Justice to raise awareness about the upsurge in illegal dog fighting in New Zealand.

He’s also reading the release of his long-awaited live album, recorded at a one-time performance with an 18-piece string section at Wellington’s Old St Paul’s Church last November (which Taane describes as “definitely one of the highlights of my career,”). Taane is aiming for a mid-2014 release, pending local broadcaster TVNZ airing a documentary of the performance.

In between all this, he has been working on a follow up to his last solo album, 2011’s In The World Of Light. “I’m slowly chipping away at pulling an album together. At this point I have a lot of material of all styles and flavours but no real home for any of it yet. I’ve worked out that there is no rush, especially with all the other things I’ve got bubbling away. So my approach is like, ‘Shit will happen when it happens’.”

Tiki Taane plays the Natural NZ Music Festival on Saturday, December 7, at Red Hill Auditorium.

Get your tickets here.

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