by Silke Hartung

Diggy Dupé: High Energy Transfer

by Silke Hartung

Diggy Dupé: High Energy Transfer

Cook Island drums, stomping beats, chiming tones and a fast-paced mix of Niuean and English combine in the striking latest single by proud inner-city Aucklander Stephen Atutolu, aka Diggy Dupé. The first track from a debut album planned to come out mid-2020, Keke Boy is also his first release since his 2018 EP ‘Island Time’ saw a finalist for Best Hip Hop Artist at the 2019 NZ Music Awards. 

Who are you in isolation with and what are you getting up to in your ‘bubble’?

I’m in isolation right now with my girl, my dawg Kazu and my two flatmates Jordan (director) and Aaron. We’re all creatives so it’ll be interesting to see what we can produce after these next four weeks, but for the most part I’ll be taking Kazu out and running through Netflix shows!

What’s your own home set up to keep doing music? 

I do the majority of my recording at Rizvan’s place, so for now, all I can do is write and prepare songs for the moment this quarantine is lifted.

How did you come up with the stage name Diggy Dupé?

Haha, honestly, it’s a long-ass road to Dupé and there are so many other names in-between, but it’s just my take on the Niuean word tupe which means money/dollar. Most words that start with T are pronounced as a D hence the slight change, just so the rest of the world doesn’t say “Tupé”.

How did you get into music to begin with?

Family playing music. Standard.

In the past, it has mostly been other Pacific languages who have been in the centre of attention but in recent times NZM has been hearing more and more from Niueans proudly taking their mother tongue into music. Why is that might happening at this point in time?

It may have something to do with the world we live in today. The internet diminishes old limitations like distance and reach, so I guess more minorities have a bigger platform and the rest of the world is just starting to take notice. Also, we’re such a small population we gotta be twice as loud just to be heard!

Keke Boy is your new single. What does that term mean and what does the song deal with?

Keke Boy derived from the term ‘kai kai poe’. It’s an old Niuean chant I used to hear my older cousins scream when they would practise for Polyfest. It’s something to hype you up before battle or going to war, so I took it and ran with it like, ‘Fuck it, Imma keke boy. Imma go hard with everything I do and transfer that same kinda energy into music.’

You write songs about basically being a ‘Polynesian kid’ in central Auckland. Ponsonby and Grey Lynn were once very much Polynesian suburbs, which would be hard to tell walking through them now…

Times have changed since the ‘dawn raids’ etc. Just a generation ago Ponsonby was such a war zone and I think it’s time there’s some official recognition of what these people went through, like a monument at Western Park or Grey Lynn. Something to let the general public understand the history of Ponsonby/Grey Lynn/Freemans Bay.

I grew up in Grey Lynn, Arch Hill specifically. Over the years/decades I’ve seen family houses get bought up and flipped by investors for a quick profit. So many people are moving in and out it’s hard to keep up – and eventually, our neighbours became strangers. But my family are always welcoming and to the ones that do get to know us are always greeted with warmth (and maybe a cold Lion Red if it’s the weekend).

SmokeyGotBeatz produced the single. What did he bring to the table that you maybe hadn’t thought of before to make the finished track what it is?

Smoke is the GOAT. It’s those Cook Island drums that set the tone for the track. I’ve always tried to add some Polynesian texture in my lyrics, but this is the first time the beat is on the same wave culturally.

What was the idea behind the video? Who did you work with on it?

Full credit goes to Jordan Cherrington. We planned so much for this then, as with everything there were a few changes, but overall the idea stayed the same. We wanted to acknowledge our culture but also our upbringing. I feel like we’re the new wave of Pacific Islanders. Those who have connections to our motherland yet we are born and raised right here in New Zealand. That clash of identity is what we wanted to showcase by using vast and rural landscapes juxtaposed with kid from the inner suburbs. Like a fish outta water.

When can we expect a full album, and how will it be different from your past releases?

This year. Everything’s different. The sounds, the stories. Even myself. It’ll show you the growth I’ve gone through since ‘Island Time’ [released November 2018].

Have you got a plan B to promote your new music in this super weird world we’re all facing right now?

I’ve always promoted music the only way I know how. Through people, ’cause that’s what matters.


Made with the support of NZ On Air.