NewTracks New Artist: Supreme Brother Sound

NewTracks New Artist: Supreme Brother Sound

History will recall it as a time of cyclonic devastation when the focus might well otherwise have been on some of the great music stemming from North Island’s east coast area. One such ray of Tairāwhiti sunshine is Supreme Brother Sound, a band of seven mates from different musical backgrounds who all just love music. The infectious groove of their latest single Sorry Bout It convinced NZ On Air Music to feature the song on their NewTracks compilation this February.

What are your names, where are you from and what instruments do you all play?

Hi our names are: Philly Tarawa (lead singer) – Josh Te Kahu (guitarist vocals) – Cornelius Houkamau (drums) – Lawrence Rangi (bass) – Waiora Paul-Utiera (brass) – Kev Rangihuna (keys) – Mike Huriwai (guitarist).

… and kia ora, we are Supreme Brother Sound, and we all come from Te Tairāwhiti, ‘East Coast’, ‘Gizzy Hard’.

Was any high school or other music training important?

Being around like-minded people that love music is the best training. And we all come from a wide musical background ranging from kapa haka, heavy metal, Ratana band and various other genres like funk, jazz, soul and of course reggae. All in all, we just love music.

What’s the story of how Supreme Brother Sound came together? 

We are just a bunch of brothers who thought that it was a good idea to get together in January 2020 to jam a track and head to the studio to record it, and it’s still like that today. We are all very different peeps. We have a metal guitarist as our bass player and a metal drummer that loves reggae who both teach music at high school. Our trumpet player is a Ratana brass band member and our lead singer is the programme director at one of our local radio stations here in Gizzy. In saying that, we are all connected strongly in some musical form.

How and when did you come up with the name for the band?

We are a bunch of happy blokes that just like to laugh at anything n everything and SBS stood for something totally different then, but we knew we had to change it for professional reasons of course, lol. So we wanted to continue using the SBS mono and the name Supreme Brother Sound was born.

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

Biggest highlight to date is really just getting through the whole Covid situation as this had a massive effect on everyone in the music industry. It was even harder for new bands at the time who were just starting out to make even the most simple of tasks like practice! So being able to still rehearse, jam, and perform together is still a big highlight today.

What makes Sorry Bout It stand out for you as a single?

Sorry Bout It is just something fresh we wanted to play and has a cool little vibe we wanted to share with everyone.

What’s the story behind the song?

Writing music is just a canvas for the way we feel, and the cool thing is that with each new track we get to paint a different picture. Sorry Bout It is a song that separates the struggles, worries and triumphs of everyday life, whether it be love or life goals and generally just noticing and acknowledging that certain “someone” that always makes you feel good.

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

Favourite moments of the single are in the lyric, “It is what it is”, the saxophone solo and giving some local kids the opportunity to be a part of a video clip.

Who did you record/produce Sorry Bout It with and where?

Philly came over one arvo and was like, “Hey! I’ve got this hook.” So I (Josh) started to play around with some chords on the guitar and in the beginning it was just a clean, almost classical RnB feel. Months had gone by and we hadn’t taken the track any further since playing it on the guitar.

At the time I had recorded a track with the guitar riff as a guide for where the chorus would be and as we were about to start writing down some lyrics we remembered that hook! So we laid down some vocals as a guide and continued from there.

Seeing that the NZOA NewMusic Funding round was open we thought why not, let’s give it go? As we were very uncertain about the outcome we are always our own worst critics. We didn’t think that it would get anywhere (but if you don’t try you won’t know) and it did. Very excited to see our name on the funding list we were buzzing.

So off to Dr Lee [Prebble] we went and recorded the track at the mighty Surgery Studios. It’s always good to be at Surgery Studios. Lee is topman. He knows exactly what’s up when it comes to you and what you need, and just really makes you feel at home. We really love the wairua there.

Wanting a different element in the mix we were fortunate enough to have the talented Louisa Williamson come on board and add that extra flare with her saxophone.

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

Well, just to feel good I suppose would be the one, aye.

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

Umm, we really just go by the notion, if-it-feels-good-it-must-sound-good-approach .

Anyone else in your team?

We are pretty much as independent as it comes. We haven’t used a publicist or anything like that. We just do everything ourselves with the help of whanau and friends.

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

Tairawhiti is full of local talent. It would be wrong to just name three as they are all awesome upcoming artists and it would be our privilege to be on a playlist with any of them.

Have any previous NZOA applications not gained funding or been included on NewTracks? Got any advice for others?

We have had applications that haven’t gained funding but just keep on keeping on. The trick is to never give up and always stay positive even if it’s not the outcome you want . There is always going to be some obstacle in your way. Especially when it comes to certain criteria you may or may not have reached yet. Always stay focused, keen and persistent in everything you do.

Any last words?

Most importantly none of this would be possible if it wasn’t for the whanau holding it down at home and backing us all the way. We get to share our passion as musos together with the world, and for that, we are unconditionally grateful. Big shout-outs to NZOA for helping make this track possible. Also we would like to send a big thank you to Josh Llewellyn from (DownBeat Mastering), Ashley Pitman and Isaac Newcombe from Pitmanfilms for coming through to the coast and shooting our video. And last but not least Rangataua O Aotearoa for giving us a home and space to create our music.

Mauri ora …