“We write songs in our style. And our style encompasses heaps of different stuff,” Drew Smith of Te Henga Collective explains.
“You get six different people’s personal taste of music and what they’d like to make, and then you just mash it all up, and that’s almost what it’s got!” adds Logan Callesen.
So although many words are thrown over the table in an attempt to describe their music, only one seems to really capture the essence of the band. Te Henga Collective are a fusion. Based in west-Auckland at Bethells Beach, where the majority of the bands’ members reside, home has become the heart of their culture. Welcoming and willing to embrace everyone around them, a collection of friends formed the collective, with several bodies weaving in and out throughout the years.
“There was a shed out there where everyone started making a bit of music. Then I came along one day and they put a bass in my hand,” Logan reminisces on Finn Bellingham’s parents’ property in Bethells, over how the band casually started playing, several years ago now.
“A rumour got out that they had no drummer for a while, and I just mentioned that I still play the drums. I came along to a jam night and I haven’t missed a practice since,” Brooke Lee adds laughing.
Several years on and the stable band is now made up of Lee on drums, Drew Smith and Logan Callesen on guitar, Eroni Mavoa and Finn Bellingham both adding guitar and vocals, and Kaya Hollands on keys and guitar.
Building Te Henga Collective the band have mostly been playing at parties, on the beach and at the Bethells Cafe. Live performance has been a central part of their activity, and also where they’ve gained so much local support.
“For us, if you’re keen to jam we’re keen to get you involved,” Bellingham explains. “There’s no, ‘the band’, and ‘the fans’. Everyone is a part of it. Having people sing your lyrics back to you, especially because a lot of these songs aren’t even recorded. They just come to our gigs and its like, ‘Woah, you know our songs better than we do!’ It’s pretty humbling!”
Now, a community by their side, a large assortment of talented musicians and an even larger range of music, they’re set to release their first album in early December, recorded with Jake Rawson at Music Box.
Once again, when it comes to describing the music, fusion is necessarily the keyword. But despite the undeniable reggae, funk, and psychedelic elements to the album, the band have remained true to the warm and unifying feeling their music carries, metal included.
“There’s a lot of different sounds in the album,” says Bellingham. “We finally got to have a metal section, which I guess for me and Eroni is really gratifying!”
The album also features Lizzie McCollum on vocals.
“She’s in a folk band with Finn, (Bonnie Strides) so some of the melodies she comes up within the album have a very folkish feeling to them. It blends in quite well with the sound,” claims Movoa. “If there’s one thing people are going to take away from this album, it’s that life is full of hard choices, and you don’t need to make those difficult choices on your own. There’s strength in the people next to you, helping you,” he explains sincerely.