My Song: Gin The Artist – This Is Me

My Song: Gin The Artist – This Is Me

Kiwi Samoan musician Gin The Artist (real name Gin Papāli’i-Curtin) is mostly known for being a singers’ singer in her Tāmaki-Makaurau community, with too many high-profile projects on the go to list here. After years of prolifically working alongside others, 2022 is the year when the former University of Auckland student is stepping to the front of the stage by herself, debuting with a beautifully arranged gospel cover version of The Greatest Showman’s upbeat and liberating tune This Is Me. The multi-talented Gin told NZM about her choice of introductory single. 

This Is Me from the movie, The Greatest Showman has a deep and personal meaning that has inspired me to embrace and accept myself. The lyrics encourage my heart, after having fought my own personal battles of accepting myself in spite of my insecurities and flaws.

I’m on this important journey of self love and self acceptance, despite people’s negative words. This is my journey and I will stand tall, love me. My dreams will not be deterred by any ‘put downs’ about my appearance. I will not hide or stop from pursuing a career as a solo music artist. ‘Look out cos here I come’!!

Our gospel version of This Is Me was arranged by the band and myself. It was recorded as a tribute to my roots and one of my favourite genres. I was blessed to work with some of the best musicians in Aotearoa on the track:

  • Ross Nansen – drummer for Stan Walker, The Levites Session Band, Melodownz, Kings.
  • Jireh Falaniko – pianist for Seth Haapu, Adeaze, Tone6, Ministry of Tone, Brotherhood.
  • Loni Havea – bass player for Three Houses Down, Seth Haapu, Vince Harder, Poetik.
  • Moiho Leaupepe – guitarist for Ministry of Tone, Brotherhood, Seth Haapu, TJ Taotua.
  • Nate Dousand Peseta – vocalist for Stan Walker, Synthony, The Beat Council, The Standard.

The band had lots of fun in rehearsal, putting together some tasty gospel stabs and riffs. I arranged the backing vocals with full harmonies and gospel goodness, performed by myself and the amazing Nate Dousand Peseta. Jireh and Loni also took the time to create a track with extra percussion for the band to record alongside.

We came together for one day at Parachute Music Studios in Kingsland with my producer, Edy (Edward Liu) to record and film the music video in one go. Edy with his brilliant creative ideas and direction, brought our skill sets together to create a track that I am very proud of. He had me playing my violin and layering string harmonies as a unique feature for the song introduction. He also mixed and mastered the track.

Our day in the studio showed the professionalism and skill of everyone involved. There was a great vibe of excitement, working together with such a talented group of people, so not many takes were required. It was a fun time. If we weren’t recording or eating food together, we were grinning and bopping our heads to another person’s musical part or idea being executed with finesse.

At the end of the session Edy surprised us with an idea to record ‘gang vocals’ in the choruses. So we managed to persuade all the musicians, and spectators who had spontaneously come to watch from the control room (two being singers from Brotherhood Musiq), to gather around a microphone with me in the main studio. Together we belted out the harmonies with great gusto! Later, our bass player – Loni, announced that this had been his vocal debut – and to watch out for any future vocal appearances 😉

Much to my delight, the musicians requested a rough mix of the day’s work as we left the studio – which we later listened to on repeat in the carpark as we gathered around someone’s car stereo.

The recording part felt surprisingly easy, looking back, the main challenge we faced for the project was booking a studio during/around Covid outbreaks in Auckland. We had to reschedule several times after a nationwide lockdown, musicians being exposed to Covid contacts at gigs, and people on our team having to isolate.

As we filmed the music video while recording the audio in studio – we also needed to find a date that was suitable for my amazing videographer (Matthew Lewis, Krunk Films), photographer (Cara Graham Photography), and publicist Bev Adair. Fortunately, we were able to make it happen, and I can absolutely say that it was one of the best days I have ever had!

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