NewTracks New Artist: Tobias

NewTracks New Artist: Tobias

Though only releasing his debut single this November, Tobias has in the past performed in multiple other musical projects, notably local breakout band Sons of Zion, and internationally known ‘island hip-hopper’ Spawnbreezie. After touring extensively throughout the past 12 years, Tobias’s newly released One Love feels like a reflection on that busy period with a message about not losing track of what you love in life, particularly the one closest to you. Evidently NZ On Air Music liked the message, adding the song to their NewTracks compilation for November.

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

Caleb Tobias Haapu. I’m from Wanganui (Ratana Pa), my main instrument is a guitar but I can play all instruments.

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

I studied at Whitireia Polytechnic in Wellington for my degree in music. This expanded my knowledge in theory and studio engineering which I excelled at. I had amazing tutors and formed strong relationships. This gave me the privilege and opportunity to become the poster boy of Whitireia in 2019.

Any other projects we might know you from?

The first band that I gave birth to was L40, a bunch of young boys from Wanganui, Ratana Pa. From that journey I was honoured to have played lead guitar for House of Shem. I toured for internationally known Spawnbreezie and then was a member of Katchafire as lead guitarist and backing vocals for two years, which ultimately led me to join the band Sons of Zion. With Sons of Zion I started off as backing vocalist and lead guitar. After spending two years in the band we released my first leading single called Now. Now was the first of many hits that set the standard and bar for the remaining of my singles that I released with them. Is That Enough ft Aaradhna, Drift Away, Come Home and Road Trip. It was Drift Away that was nominated at the Vodafone Music Awards for Single of the Year.

What’s the background to your starting to perform as Tobias? 

It has always been my dream to be a solo artist and I finally decided to leave the band and start my own journey. There are others helping. Thanks to the team from NicNak for the drive, love and support. My main man, writer, producer and engineer, Matthew Sadgrove from Sons of Zion. I wouldn’t be where I am without him and I’m blessed to have met him and I’m so excited for the future that we are going to create together. My beautiful wife and manager, the captain of the ship – I owe everything to her.

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

Over the years of my music career, I have gone through many genres. From reggae to RnB ,and now I’m making the music I have always wanted to make, my passion, pop music.

How did you come up with the name for the new project?

Tobias is my middle name. I chose that as my artist name because of the story behind who Tobias was. A saver and a Levite soldier. So the name given to me by the father is the reason I chose this name.

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

Drift Away being named New Zealand’s most played song and number one on the New Zealand charts for 12 weeks straight. It also went multi-platinum and was nominated as Single of the Year at the VNZMAs 2018. For my best gig, playing alongside Six60s’ first sold-out Western Springs show of 50,000 people.

What makes One Love stand out for you as a single?

Approaching summertime with the upbeat tempo and feel-good vibe, accompanied by a percussive guitar riff and catchy melody that ultimately brings summer to your front doorstep!

What’s the story behind One Love?

It’s a simple love song that is focused on reassurance. We might put on weight, grow old, feel unattractive and insecure in this crazy world, but our love will never change. The song was written at No Filter Studios, Auckland.

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

My favourite moment would be the chorus.

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

I want my fans to take from this single, to love your spouse/partner through all the good times and bad times. And to always remind them how much you love them and that it will never change.

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

The way I pick a single is to choose a track I feel that everybody will love, no matter the ethnicity or country. That everybody can relate to and dance to. And playing the demos to all different people I came across.

Are there any other musical endeavours you’re working on that we should keep an eye out for? (With this band or others.)

I have my own studio in Taranaki, called Out The Gate Studios. Where I am currently writing, recording and producing for the Katchafire and other international and local artists.

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

Six60 – Long Gone
Drax ProjectWoke Up Late

Got any advice for others out there regarding NZOA finding or NewTracks applications?

As I have recently become solo, with NZOA funding I was unable to use previous bands that I was in. So my wife and I have pretty much funded this entire release alone to be able to reach the criteria for future funding applications. Next year I will be applying for funding as Tobias. So I say to those that need advice, to work hard and earn. Get familiar with the requirements and tick those boxes.

Is there a video for it?

We will begin filming the One Love video clip soon. This particular video clip we planned required fans to hear the music first as we are looking to involve them in a very special way. Watch this space.

Any last words?

Overall I just want to say thank you to my home, New Zealand, my fans, my family, my friends. This is just the beginning of the Tobias Takeover!


New Tracks 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.

NZMM 2022 Banner