May/June 2023

Fresh Talent: Wilda

Fresh Talent: Wilda

Mema Wilda ’s Spotify footprint is small, but the track titles Blue and How I Long paint a clear picture of the mood space her own music inhabits. Now that she’s adjusting from being a solo artist to fronting a band things are clearly going to get, umm, wilda – as illustrated with their introductory pop/rock single Going Wild.

With Vaimoana Tumema Sesega (aka Mema Wilda) out front on rhythm guitar and vocals, Wilda (the five-piece band) includes Shellita Goldsmith on drums, Kent Mori lead guitar, Mitch French on bass and Hariata Makiha as backing vocalist.

Three are MAINZ graduates, though they were variously drawn together. There have been others along the way, but Mema says she couldn’t be more satisfied with the lineup now supportively creating music with her. She herself arrived in Tāmaki Makaurau from Samoa in 2017, with a history of performing at functions, and the richness and flexibility of voice to cover from folk to funk and rock.

“I have started to collaborate more with my bandmates and other artists. This was something I’d not been accustomed to doing, especially as it was so personal to me. I’m now open to more collaborations and ideas outside of my own which I think is such a beautiful evolution. It doesn’t make it less personal (I still feel I have my heart on my sleeve in expressing music), I now know I am in a safe space with the right people who help make the sound pleasures of whatever I’m creating enhanced beyond my capabilities. I like to believe it’s a magical evolution.”

Originally billed as Mema Wilda, and predominantly playing her own originals, Mema says once the band started seriously jamming and writing music together they discovered “a magical fit” in collaborating their inventiveness into songs.

“So from then on, we transitioned to becoming a band of equal creatives with the same passion and drive to make great music.”

Guitarist Kent Mori is credited with writing Going Wild, which was arranged and produced by Greg Haver at Parachute Studios. Running low in band funds, but still needing to pay for the booked session with Haver and team, they set up a Boosted NZ crowdfunding campaign for the track.

“It was a total blind faith operation, relying on the support of friends and families, but it all worked out smoothly in the end!”

Fans of Larkin Poe were among the first to get a real taste of the big spirit and strong attitude within Going Wild when the band opened for the sister-based US rock act’s Powerstation gig in April.

Mema says Mori wrote Going Wild based on conversations they had when gigging regularly as duo. Having heard her for hours every few days of the week, over several months, he could imagine her voice singing it on a big stage with lights.

“He said he kept hearing me singing the ‘big chorus’, and had to make me listen to it so I could perhaps give it a go it if I wanted to. I’m so grateful for his trust in my voice to convey it, as it’s now Wilda’s official first single!”