Tiki Taane: Past present future

Tiki Taane has been at the forefront of the New Zealand music scene for well over a decade. His time as frontman for Salmonella Dub established him as a great songwriter and producer. Now, touring his debut solo album Past, Present, Future in Australia, Tiki has used those skills to great effect, cementing his place as one of New Zealand’s most gifted musical exports. Combining his love for metal with and threading hip hop, reggae, dub, rock and drum n’ bass all together to unite with his distinctive Maori sound, Tiki Taane’s indigenous roots expose him as a unique and ambitious New Zealand artist. ITM caught up with him for a quick chat ahead of his Aussie performances.

Kia ora Tiki! You seem to have been kept busy since releasing your debut Past, Present, Future in late 2007, is that why it has taken you until now to tour Australia?

Kia ora, thanks dude! NZ has been popping off for me, it’s awesome! The record is nearly triple platinum over there so that is kept me doing loads of gigs. The Australian release took a bit longer to organise and get ready.

*Was your time with Salmonella Dub a big influence when you were writing the songs, or did you consciously want to distance yourself from the SD sound and stamp your own identity on the album? *

Well I guess Sal Dub inspired me in a different way. I know their sound better than anyone because I was apart of it for so long. So I definitely wanted to write and produce a record that was deeper and challenging than what I had done with them. I had nothing to lose and a lot to say, and you can hear that on this record.

Much of your early career was heavily involved in the metal scene, which you mention on the album. How tempted were you to revisit it for Past, Present, Future?

Yip for sure, and I do revisit it on the track Wotcha Got. We also do that chunky metal guitar thing live as well. Nothing beats big guitars, big drums, and massive bass!

Tikidub Productions has been going from strength to strength, producing the likes of Scribe and Kora. What first inspired you to set up your own production company and what motivated you to establish it as a whanau (family) business?

Firstly – it was to become legit. I was doing so much work with bands and managers and so forth that I wanted legit invoices, and they couldn’t keep paying me cash anymore, so I decided to start my biz and become legit. Then my sisters naturally came on board as management, so now we are a well oiled machine!

Are there any up and coming artists you’ve set your sights on producing next, or is there anyone in particular you would really want to work with?

I really wanna remix The Living End.

The dub scene in New Zealand has arguably never been stronger, with Kiwi artists increasingly making their mark internationally and festivals and events more popular than ever. How healthy do you find New Zealand music to be, and how does it compare with Australia?

Oz has always had a much stronger rock scene, but NZ definitely has a much stronger bass culture. I guess we’ve had a longer run at it.

Is there a distinctive vibe you get from Australian audiences? Obviously a lot of enthusiastic ex-pats come to the shows, but how have you found touring across the Tasman?

I always love touring OZ, and I’m very happy to be here. The crowds are loud, responsive and crazy just like home!

You’ve said the reason you left the band was because you felt you weren’t really progressing. Now with your new album you’ve incorporated everything from hip hop to reggae to dub to rock to dnb, all with a distinctive Maori sound threading its way throughout. So what direction can you see yourself taking from here?

It’s exciting times. To have that artistic freedom is so inspiring and liberating! There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a certain style, playing paint by numbers music. It’s soul destroying. Ka warea te ware. Ka area te rangatira. Ignorance the oppressor. Vigilance the liberator!

Check out the ‘Tiki Live’ experience as he tours Past, Present, Future at the following shows…

Thu May 7th – The HiFi, Brisbane

Fri May 8th – Gaelic Theatre, Sydney

Sat May 9th – Corner Hotel, Melbourne

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