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NewTracks New Artist: Lost Tribe Aotearoa

NewTracks New Artist: Lost Tribe Aotearoa

How good to see a band from the Taupo/central North Island area bubbling up from those geothermal hotbeds! True, Lost Tribe Aotearoa identify themselves as being based out of Raglan / Whaingaroa, but several list Taupo or Turangi as their home bases. Sounds like they might have to do quite a bit of driving to get together, but no doubt the jams are legendary! Their Irie has been good to them, winning the 2018 Mai FM Big Break competition and now getting a roots/reggae act slot on the November NewTracks compilation of NZ On Air Music released to broadcast and online platforms.

Who are you all, where are you from and what instruments do you play?

The Hallets Bay – Taupo crew are Ben Aves (vocals/lead guitar), Tux Severne (lead vocals/rhythm); Lisa Mcleod (keys/backing vocals) is from Western Bays in Taupo; Jesse Biddle (lead vocals) is from Turangi; Vincent David on bass comes from Huntly/Aitutaki; and drummer Boyd Turongo Dixon is Nga hau e wha o Aotearoa.  

What other projects might we know you from?

We won 2018 Mai FM Big Break Competition with our song Irie, and aside from that people might recognise Tux Severne as lead actor on 2018 drink driving advert campaign.

What’s the background story of how Lost Tribe Aotearoa came to be as a band?

First cousins Tux and Ben found a love for music early on in life which saw them playing guitar and singing by the shores of Lake Taupo from the age of five. After years of writing music and playing gigs as a duo, they decided to take the plunge and create Lost Tribe Aotearoa. Initially, it was Tux, Ben, Vincent and Boyd in the band, and they played their first gig in Raglan early December 2017.

From that gig LTA were invited to play an opening slot for Cornerstone Roots on Boxing Day 2017. With three weeks until this gig, we decided to take our practice back to the shores of Lake Taupo for some inspiration. By chance Tux and Ben’s other cousin Jesse Biddle was there, we put him on the microphone and the first words he sung was Irie. From here we knew that he would be a perfect fit in the band, he was thrown in the deep end for the Boxing Day gig as it was his first live performance, but proved calm considering the circumstances!

In early 2018 we realised that we needed a keyboard player, and we recruited Lisa who absolutely gelled with the band straight away, and filled the gaps that we had perfectly.  Furthermore, Lisa and Tux were found to be relations!

From there LTA went straight Roundhead Studios and came out with a four-track EP which tracks are still being released off. Of the two songs that have released, we have seen much success. Irie is currently on high rotation on many radio stations around Aotearoa and also debuted in the NZ charts at #8.  Irie also won the Mai Big Break radio competition, which is used to identify the next up and coming artist on Mai FM. The second song released is called Badman and has just recently received funding from NZ On Air to film a music video, which will be released in January 2019.

How did your music and songwriting evolve from LTA’s beginnings?

In the early years, songwriting was very few and far between! The original songs we can sing now are enough for a whole 1hr 30min set, so we are currently honing this in order to create the best live performance possible. We also pride ourselves in our live show and we will typically play all original music at our gigs. 

It is a blessing, however, having such talented musicians and singers, as we are able to freely bounce ideas off each other. We still have no real structured way in writing songs, it’s more about coming up with a memorable chorus that has some meaning, then fitting some verses around that. New works are currently underway, but we will need to hit the studio again to complete our debut album.

How did you come up with the name for LTA?

Lost Tribe Aotearoa has multiple meanings and is up to the listener to interpret the underlying meaning of the name. However, personally, for the band, we believe it can represent us coming together from different parts of Aotearoa and the Pacific with mutual whakapapa (genealogy). All members are of Tuwharetoa decent with one Cook Islander from Aitutaki (where Te Arawa waka – the canoe of Tuwharetoa – left for its final journey to Aotearoa).

On the flip side it can also be interpreted as a gathering place for those who are lost, and can find themselves through listening, feeling and grooving to the unique flavour of music that LTA bring to the people.

What makes Irie stand out for you as a single?

Firstly, what makes this song stand out to us is the fact that it was the first song we ever wrote and released as a full band. The song pretty much played itself on the day and all of the music you hear flowed out of every member as if it was destined to be.

What is the theme behind Irie?

The underlying theme of Irie is happiness and positivity which reflects the mood and emotions we felt at the time of writing the song. There are certain undertones to the lyrics, but you will have to decipher this yourself by listening to the tune…

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

The whole song really, the fact that it was created so quickly and easily. Probably also Tux creating his verse in the studio 5 minutes before recording his actual part – and also a guitar solo made up on the spot.  Also through winning the Mai FM Big Break competition, we were given the opportunity to have a rapper put a verse on the song. The rapper in the remix is Sir T, and he puts an awesome spin on the song which has helped Irie’s overall marketability for radio etc.

Got any fun stories about the making-of?

Whilst recording this song in Roundhead Studio in Auckland with Scott Seabright, we were told on our last day of recording and mixing that we would have to be out of the studio for an hour as a big international artist was coming to record an acoustic song in our studio. We asked who it was and they said he was ginger and super famous. We said we would only let him in if we could meet him! We ended up meeting Ed Sheeran in the flesh, and when we left the studio, we made sure our song was blasting, so Irie has technically touched the ears of Ed Sheeran, which we saw as a good omen. We didn’t even ask for a photograph with him, but managed to introduce ourselves. Hopefully, we get some credit for his performance as we paid for his studio time…

Describe in one sentence what you want listeners to take away from this song.

Don’t let the little things in life spoil your fun, stay positive, and most of all, stay IRIE.

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

As long as the song has got a catchy chorus that is memorable you are off to a good start. A song, however, can take a long time to be the finished product, so don’t rush to record it, take your time to develop it and be open to some changes depending on the audience’s reaction. If the crowd are singing your chorus back to you, you know you are onto a good thing!

Are there any other musical endeavours you’re working on that we should keep an eye out for?

We are currently filming for our debut music video for our second single Badman. We were lucky enough to get funding from NZ On Air to undertake the project. The video will be released in early 2019. We are yet to release another two of our tracks, so keep an eye out for those, and we will also be hitting the recording studio again very soon.

Can you please tell us three other local tunes that should be on a playlist alongside your song.

Collie Herb Man by Katchafire; Burning by Kora and Miracles by Cornerstone Roots.

Have any of your previous applications not got funding or included on NewTracks? Got any advice for people out there?   

Thankfully all of our projects we have submitted have received funding or made it onto NewTracks. The advice we would give to any aspiring artists or bands, however, would be to join the Music Managers Forum (MMF) and attend ALL of their events. Not only do you network with leaders in the music industry, but also learn all the tricks of the trade. We can definitely credit some of our successes to this group.

How can we find you on social media?

You can find us on Facebook, Youtube (Minimal content at the moment) and Spotify

Any last words?

We would like to first and foremost thank the fans, bands we have played with and most of all our whanau who have supported us along the way.  LTA are still in their infancy as a group, so there are many exciting times ahead!!

Some more advice for up and coming artists or bands would be to take that next step, get your music out of the shed and take the plunge! It can be a very cut-throat industry but align yourself with the right people, write good music and you are on your way to a winning formula.

Ngã mihinui kia koutou katoa