NewTracks New Artist: Kiko

NewTracks New Artist: Kiko

Put together Harvey Knows A Killer, Strangely Arousing, These Automatic Changers and The Wreckage and you have a mighty line up for a great hard rockin’ night out. Kiko is a fun-lovin’ combo comprising musicians from those variously well-respected Auckland rock acts, one that guitarist / singer Rewi McLay happily identifies as “a newly formed Māori band.” Their song Ngā Hau E Wha made it onto NZ On Air Music‘s NewTracks compilation this September.

What’s the background of how Kiko came to be?

The band came about after myself and Kara and producer Nathan Judd recorded a track together. That song was called Patupaiarehe. [The upcoming next single for Kiko.] It was such a strong track that we decided to make a band around it and write more songs in a similar vein. Now we have finished an EP and a couple of video clips and are about to launch ourselves into the stratosphere!

Who is in Kiko and what other bands might we know you from?

Kara Gordon (as in Kara Gordon & The Wreckage) is on lead guitar and vox. Lukas Wharekura who’s in Strangely Arousing also plays guitar and sings. Our drummer Phil Peters is in These Automatic Changes, Windon Bradfield on bass and myself (Rewi McLay vox/gat) are also in Harvey Knows A Killer.

How did you come up with the name Kiko?

Kiko is short for kikorangi, the Maori word for blue, or as it is directly translated “the flesh of Rangi Nui” the Sky Father in Maori mythology. The king of the blues! We play Maori blues essentially so we thought it was very fitting.

The direct translation of kiko is ‘flesh’ or ‘physical’ and as musicians and artists, we are bringing things to the physical world from te taha wairua, the spiritual world.

How has your own songwriting evolved to what it is right now?

I started writing songs in English and now for this project I write in Te Reo, which is a lot more challenging. In terms of the content of my lyrics, regardless of what language they are in I suppose I try and tell the truth a bit more, or what I perceive to be the truth anyway. Whereas when I was younger I would just go with a string of sentences just because they sounded obscure or clever.

What made Nga Hau E Wha stand out as a likely single?

It’s got a good vibe that encapsulates the band’s sound and our intentions for future musical movement.

What is the story behind the lyrics?

It’s about the dualities in life and about the choices we have as people to pick the path we intend to walk.

What’s your favourite moment, musical or lyrical, of the single?

The driving rhythm at the end of the song and the energy it brings.

Who did you record/produce the single with? 

It was produced and mixed in Auckland with Nathan Judd from Rageous records. We tracked the rhythm section with Kane Bennett at Silverpoint Studios. We had lots of fun recording it. Everything’s funny playing in a Maori band – when you’re not making music you are laughing at something stupid!

And what about the Nga Hau E Wha video?

The video Director/DOP was Isaac Te Reaina. The mastermind was Nick Taylor who also edited it.

In one sentence, what do you want listeners to take away ?

Indulge yourself and embrace your taha wairua, reconnect from the disconnect.

In general, how do you work out which song would make a good single?

We try to pick songs that encapsulate the band’s sound in the most accurate way possible. However we are just about to release a four-track EP and any of the tunes on this could be singles – they are all quite different. The EP release will be on November 23 and another single/video release for Patupaiarehe will be happening in the coming weeks.

Can you think of three other local tunes that should be on a playlist alongside your song?

Alien WeaponryKai Tangata
Strangely ArousingSummer Seasons
New Telepathics…. any of their songs!

Had any previous applications not get funding or included on NewTracks? Got any advice for people out there?

The first two tracks we applied for funding got grants and this is one of them. We haven’t been successful in getting grants since as we have taken a long time to release these and the funding people, I assume, are waiting to see how successful we will be with these…

My advice is that funding is random and doesn’t make sense. So just make good music and just give it a go and apply.

Was there an NZOA criterion you struggled with in the application? 

We got funding from Te Mangai Paho.

Any last words?

Mauri ora!