NewTracks New Artist: Sapphire

NewTracks New Artist: Sapphire

Sapphire Matāfai didn’t study music at school, but she hardly needed to. Her father Isaiah began teaching church choir when he was just 10, and with her mum Clera had established a record label, Dúnamis Music, to nurture the musical talents of their seven children – (eldest to youngest) Sapphire, Ezekial, Izayah, Caleb, Gabriel, Zephaniah and Elijah. Not surprisingly the siblings started a group, but it is as a solo artist (with production courtesy of her younger brother) that Sapphire came to the attention of NZ On Air Music who featured her latest single Dilemma on their NewTracks compilation this February.

What’s your full name, where are you from and what instruments do you play?

Talofa Lava, I am Sapphire Te’evā Princess Matāfai. I’m from Auckland, New Zealand – Avondale. I am of Samoan descent & no I don’t play any instruments sadly. 

Was any high school or other music training important to you?

I attended both Avondale College and Auckland Girls Grammar. I had no music training but was raised in a musical family. Both my granddads played instruments, piano & guitar. My mother was in a band growing up and my father plays piano taught by his father who then taught his brother and so on…

Any other previous projects might we know you from?

I dropped my remix of Nivea My Man back in 2019, produced by my brother Izayah Matāfai aka Kid99. Even before that my siblings & I started a group called Charisma and dropped our very first single as kids, Butterflies, produced by Emmanuel Ensink. 

What’s the background of how this project, you as a soloist, came to be?

My solo career has always been my main goal & so in 2019 our family independent record label known as Dunamis Music NZ made the decision to go solo & drop my first remake of My Man

How has your writing evolved from your beginnings in songwriting to now?

Looking back at old lyrics to now I have improved A LOT, but there’s still so much I need to work on to perfect my craft. 

Aside from this release, what’s been the big highlight to date?

I have a few highlights! Going on tour with the legendary Ardijah has to be at the top of my list. Also, our international tour to Australia, Sydney and Melbourne. My biggest shows here in Auckland would have to be one of the biggest poly concerts (SekiFest) a crowd of thousands, it was an amazing night of pure talent. Nesian Vibes held in Manukau, again another great night. 

I’ve been blessed to have two of my recent tracks get constant airplay and my other single Get Down hit the charts. 

What makes Dilemma stand out for you as a single?

Of how raw it is. My lyrics have no filter & that’s exactly how I like it. 

What is the story behind Dilemma?

My own experience of toxic relationships & mental, emotional battles. This project was real personal for me. Dilemma comes from my experience in toxic relationships and I really wanted to use my platform to normalise speaking out about toxic relationships whether it is emotional, physical or mental. 

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

Definitely the features. Jarna and Blasé absolutely killed that. 

Who did you write/record/produce the single with? 

My brother, KID99. It was actually quite random, I happened to be in the studio when he played me the beat and asked whether I liked it. At that time I was going through some hard-ish stuff and free-styled most of that track from raw emotions and feelings I was going through at that time. 

What would you like listeners to take away from this song?

That no matter what you go through, you are not alone. 

How do you generally work out what song would make a good single?

It has to go through a lot of people before getting the big okay. 

Who else is in your team?

My team: Dunamis Music NZ, managed by Isaiah Matāfai and Clera Matāfai. Behind all our visuals is the beast Fata Tuialii.

Can you please name three other local tunes that would fit well on a playlist alongside your song.

  • Truce: You
  • Jarna: Chill
  • Truce ft Wayno: Jungle Book

Got any advice for others considering making NZOA applications? 

Don’t give up. Good things don’t come easy. 

Any last words?

Thank you so much for this opportunity. I am truly grateful & blessed! 


NewTracks is a compilation of new music from New Zealand artists which is distributed to broadcast and online platforms on the first of each month. Previously the Kiwi Hit Disc, New Tracks is one of the ways that New Zealand On Air promotes kiwi music to the industry, radio, streaming services, and media. To apply for New Tracks you must have a completed, airplay-ready song and a promotional plan.