NewTracks New Artist: Jordyn With A Why

NewTracks New Artist: Jordyn With A Why

Raglan-based artist Jordyn With A Why has recently released her second single, a harmony-filled RnB soul song Brown Melodies. More upbeat than her first single Te Ao Mārama, this song speaks to embracing who she is and where she came from. NZ On Air Music included it on their NewTracks compilation this May.

What’s your full name and where are you from?

Jordyn Fuala’au Awatea Rapana. On my dad’s side I whakapapa to Tainui Āwhiro in Whāingaroa, and on my mum’s side, I am from Mulifanua Lalovi, Falelatai, and Vaimoso in Samoa.

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

I don’t have any formal music training, but I grew up singing with my whānau in church and karakia spaces. I’m still very much a student of music and experience has been my most impacting teacher.

Any other previous (or current) projects might we know you from?

I released my debut single Te Ao Mārama in March 2021, so I’m a total newbie!

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

I always enjoyed writing simple songs and poems as a kid, songwriting has always been a great creative outlet and form of processing. I’ve noticed that beginning my Reo Māori reclamation completely changed the game for songwriting. It just unlocked so many more levels of depth and identity – an ocean of resources and inspiration.

How did you come up with that eye-catching name for the new project?

Jordyn With A Why is a bit of a play on the fact that my name is spelled with a “y”, and it also proclaims that I’m here with a purpose. As a teenager I called myself “Jordyn With a Y” as a reminder for correct spelling, but as I’ve grown into adulthood and experienced joy and heartbreak and all the nuances in between, I feel like, more than ever, my “why”: lands. My “why” is about creativity and storytelling and justice and humour and depth and meaning. So, naturally, “Jordyn With A Y” evolved into “Jordyn With a Why”.

Who else is in your team?

I am an independent artist, but I totally rely on friends and whānau to help me navigate the industry! 

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

My biggest highlight has been the response to Te Ao Mārama. This waiata emerged from my experience of pregnancy loss, and I have been so overwhelmed by how many people relate to that experience. Te Ao Mārama became a bridge in connecting me to so many others who trusted me with their stories and journeys through pregnancy loss. I will always hold these close.

What makes Brown Melodies stand out for you as a single?

Brown Melodies stands out because it’s both familiar and fresh. It nods to the music that shaped my younger years, the likes of Adeaze, Aaradhna, Nesian Mystik, Che Fu, etc. and it’s fresh and new and catchy.

What’s the lyrical story behind Brown Melodies?

Writing Brown Melodies was one of those magical moments where it felt like the song fell out of heaven and into my body. I was studying full immersion Te Reo Māori and we had been learning about Atua Māori, particularly Hineruhi (whose dance is seen in the light sparkling the morning due) and Tānerore (found in the movements of light) who are Atua of music. I literally wrote the song in 10 minutes and I knew it was an experience of divine revelation. I just think it’s such a powerful practice to think and say aloud the greatnesses that make up who you are, and Brown Melodies is that kind of proclamation.

What’s your favourite moment of the single?

My favourite lyrical moment in Brown Melodies is, “I’m not scared of the dark, cos I got the cross of the southern sky guiding my deepest nights, multitudes holding my spine.” It makes me feel powerful to know I am built for here and now.

Who did you record/produce the single with and where?

Covid definitely presented a lot of challenges for recording, so, I actually recorded my vocals just under a heavy blanket in my brother Levi’s room! He helped me lay down all the vocals and we just had to listen with our imaginations and try to create a jam.

My very talented friend Dr. Andrew Faleatua produced Brown Melodies and he was super easy to work with because he just got it. He got the sound and the vibe and turned my rough demo of the song into this smooth, funky RnB bop. I would love listeners to feel celebrated. I want them to have a little kanikani and just enjoy it!

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

Honestly, I think a good single just has to land right with you as an artist. If you are creating something that you believe in a hundred percent, and you believe in what the song says and how it sounds then that will translate to listeners.

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

Have any previous NZOA applications not got across the line? Got any advice for others out there?

This was my third time applying for NZOA Music funding and I feel so grateful to have landed the NewMusic Pasifika Single. I think persistence and trying different sounds/styles of singles are helpful. Backing yourself is really important too – I think I wrote really confidently about Brown Melodies and I was confident that listeners would love it.

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

The part I found the most difficult in the criteria was the live performances section. Because I’m a new artist and I didn’t have a lot of experience in live settings. It just meant that I planned some small live performances which helped me meet the criteria and also helped with experience – performing live is a whole situation!

Are there any musical blogs, Youtube channels or podcasts you’re super into?

I religiously watch Tiny Desk Concerts and the Colours Show on Youtube!

Who did you make the video with?

The music video was really a labour of love and a huge collaborative effort. My brother, Levi Matautia-Morgan filmed and directed the video and I pulled in all my friends and family to help me with filming.

Any last words?

I hope that Brown Melodies makes you groove, makes you smile, and reminds you of our collective greatness!