by Nur Lajunen-Tal

Jordyn With A Why: In Her RnB Realm

by Nur Lajunen-Tal

Jordyn With A Why: In Her RnB Realm

Jordyn Rapana, who performs under the snappy moniker Jordyn with a Why, last spoke to NZM in 2022 about her second single, Brown Melodies. One year and several singles on, the singer-songwriter’s latest single, Set…Go, featuring fellow Māori artist Mohi, is a smooth, laid back slice of romantic RnB. Nur Lajunen-Tal finds out more. Made with support from NZ On Air Music.

The genesis of Set…Go began in Roundhead Studios, where Jordyn and her two co-writers, Mohi Allen and Ruth Smith, were having a break between sessions at a reo Māori SongHubs.

“I had just finished writing He Rei Niho, which was quite an upbeat, full reo Māori track, that was kind of inspired by Lizzo, Bruno Mars, very pop funk,” Jordyn reminisces. “That song really stretched me. I love the song, but it was definitely a big stretch for what I’m used to, and my range, and even the vibe of it is very up and big. It’s a big song. In the break, I was chilling with a guitar, and I just started jamming. I wanted to write a more chill song that felt a little bit more comfortable. That’s funny that, actually. I wanted to decompress from writing songs by writing another song!” Jordyn laughs.

“Mohi and Ruth had just come out of a writing session with our other friend Reti Hedley. We just got to chatting, got to yarning, and I think just to balance me out after writing such a big, pop funk, positive vibe song, I was just like, ‘I’d like to write a love song,’ ’cos I feel like that’s my home. I’m just a lovergirl at heart. They just joined in the conversation and we started chatting about that part of love where you don’t wanna show your whole self just yet. You just wanna play it cool, but inside you’re definitely like, ‘I’m in love!’ We were just chatting about that dynamic, and our own experiences of that, and then kind of were able to piece together some lyrics and a nice hook.”

This eagerness to write songs even in breaks stemmed from feeling a musical connection with the other SongHubs participants, Jordyn says.

“I think they just picked the right kind of people, you know? Sometimes you just get magic chemistry with everyone, and that week in particular it didn’t matter which group you were in, everyone just got along so well. So it meant that even in our breaks I think everyone was just really full and overflowing with creative energy, and it just made it really easy to keep creating.

“It didn’t feel like work, because I think sometimes it can feel like work, which is fine. And then you get these special moments where you’re just creating out of overflow. I feel like it was one of those. We all really care about te reo Māori. I think also, we all have similar influences for music. And really anyone that was at that reo Māori SongHubs, we all shared those same core values. It just happened to be us four in that particular moment, but it really could’ve been anyone that was at that SongHubs.”

When it was time to record the song, Jordyn and Mohi sort out producer Joel Tashkoff, aka Choicevaughan.

“I’m very old school. I grew up listening to people like Luther Vandross and Stevie Wonder, very old school feels. I love that slower soulful sound. When we sing it acoustically, you can really hear the old school influences, especially the vocals, the melody line. I really love that about Set…Go, that it has this old school kind of soulful influence.

“When we took it to Choicevaughan, we wanted to still hold that theme, but really bring it into today’s RnB soul sound. I feel like Choice makes that kind of music anyway. You can hear the old school influence, but it’s still very modern. We just thought he would be perfect for this track. I’m so proud of it now. I love the way it sounds. My mum does not vibe with today’s music, she just loves Motown, that’s her whole vibe. She listened to Set…Go and she just goes, ‘I can hear it. I can hear the old school influence, the soulfulness that you grew up listening to.’”

Perhaps it’s not surprising that despite Jordyn’s numerous musical influences, it’s still the style she grew up with that has her heart.

“I feel like I’ve done quite different sounds anyway, so far, but I think Set… Go represents the kind of sound that I feel the most comfortable in. I’m a fan of music anyway, but I would say that Set…Go feels like my home sound. It feels closest to Brown Melodies [2022], which is also my home sound. I’m a very comfortable RnB soul kind of singer/songwriter. It’s like I don’t have to work so hard for it. It’s just there all the time. This feels like this is my realm.”