Following the early March release of his second single, One Night, Kat Parsons caught up with the widely travelled New Plymouth artist these days known simply as Tobias, to talk about the new track, its video, and what he’s been getting up to over the past couple of years. Made with the support of NZ On Air Music.
“It’s about the Chase! The Game, I guess you could say!”
One Night is the follow-up to Tobias’ 2020 debut single One Love, and this new sultry, vocal-driven pop gem depicts a tale as old as time.
“The chase of two people getting together and having a special night. That’s probably the best way I could put it without saying a ‘one night stand,’” laughs Tobias.
Otherwise known by the name Caleb Haapu, the New Plymouth-based artist has been surrounded by music his entire life. Growing up with musician parents, he remembers sitting with his siblings (including brother Seth) watching band practices in their lounge.
“For me, it’s the place [music] takes me to. The magic feeling that I get in my heart and my soul. I think that’s what keeps me going back to it. My happy place,” he responds when asked what excites him most about music.
That happy place has been his world for many years now! As a well-respected guitarist and vocalist in Aotearoa for over a decade, he has toured the world with bands that include Katchafire and Sons of Zion. He joined the latter back in 2015 and was a key part of that stalwart reggae act’s breakthrough 2018 hit single Drift Away. That valuable association still continues.
“This song was written by a really good friend of mine, his name is Matt[hew] Sadgrove. Matt and I played in Sons of Zion together. He was the bass player, writer, and engineer for them.”
Tobias says the pair have great working chemistry, and he has another four songs ready to go, with plans to start on an album in 2023.
“I guess we’re kinda at a point where we are just creating all sorts of different stories about what different people go through,” he explains. “Matt is just a great storyteller.”
Having acknowledged that the band lifestyle and “burning the candle at both ends” wasn’t good for his health, he’s been content to bide his time over the Covid pandemic years with the planning of new releases, directing music videos, and working on his health and well-being!
“For the last six months, I’ve been on this health and fitness journey which has been really good! You feel like Superman! I can sing long high notes, sing for hours and hours,” says Tobias with a smile.
“I’m just stuck on these goals and I know what I’m trying to achieve. For someone like me who’s still growing, the road is easier because I can’t sell out big huge shows anyway,” he chuckles. “So I’m okay to be at home working on my songs, working on my image, planning everything out.”
One Night’s release also features Tobias’ directorial debut of his music video. Made with the support of NZ On Air, the video takes place in a nightclub; a visual depiction of the song, it has the ‘boy-meets-girl’ storyline, alongside Tobias serenading a crowded dance floor.
“It was good fun,” he says of his experience as a writer, director, and actor. “I suppose because I’ve been sitting on the song for a long time, I had a long time to think about how the video was gonna be done. Writing different scenarios, changing it, writing something else, changing it, [etc]!”
And while there aren’t any gigs lined up for the moment, Tobias has also been planning what his future live shows will look like.
“The same way I would direct and write a story for a video, I’ve kind of been writing out how my shows are going to be, from start to finish. I’ve grown up watching Michael Jackson and Freddy Mercury and all these amazing artists that inspire me, and I want my live shows to be like that!
“It’s been fun. Like writing out a stage production. Things like changing my jacket at this time, and having a drum solo there; right down to the finer details. In two years from now you’ll get to see this amazing show,” Tobias chuckles proudly.
A force to be reckoned with, Tobias is adamant that his work ethic is solely down to the support of his manager and wife, Kendyll.
“She’s the manager at home, and manager at work,” Tobias smiles. “She’s the boss! Everything goes good because she’s the boss. I always say, ‘I’m just the talent and she does everything else.’”
With an already rich musical background and plenty more things on the horizon, Tobias is happy to offer some advice for Kiwi artists trying to navigate the industry.
“I think my advice would be, to not be shy,” he suggests. “To be confident and to put yourself in a position to meet everybody, as much as you possibly can. You’ll be surprised how many different people you’ll meet, even if they’re not musicians. They might be managers, sound engineers, DJs, lighting technicians, or even website designers and artists. Before you know it, you know everybody.”
One Night has been one more step in Tobias’ master plan. Having shed 50+kg over the course of a year of serious gym work he has discovered a new shape and enthusiasm for the future, and nothing is going to stop him.
“When it’s all over, I’ll come out of it and I’ll be Superman! I’ll have this album, and I’ll be ready to go!”