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by Silke Hartung

Tone6: Friends In Deed

by Silke Hartung

Tone6: Friends In Deed

Probably so far best known for singing on tracks by local legends Savage and Adeaze, Tāmaki Makaurau six-piece Tone6 are working on standing on their own 12 musical feet. By now ranging in age from 18 to 21, Tone6 are Kirita Leavasa, Selevasio Tu’ima, Peachez Vetenibua, Shaelyn Togafiti, Seletute Tu’ima, Viliami Tupa’i, all with voices to boot. Silke Hartung finds out more. Made with support from NZ On Air Music.

Had Te Vaka’s Opetaia Foa’i not scored the job of writing the soundtrack for Moana, Tone6 might’ve never come to exist. When Nainz and Becks Tupa’i were tasked with honouring Foa’i at the 2017 Pacific Music Awards the year following the release of the blockbuster movie, they decided to pull together over a hundred young performers, both singers and dancers, to create a stirring tribute to the iconic soundtrack.

“We were selected as the lead singers for the piece, and this is what kicked off the start of our group, Tone6.”

The Adeaze brothers run Tāmaki Makaurau community programme SUPA, the SaintzUp Performing Arts Trust, from which they drew talent for the spectacle. “They would treat us young kids like little professionals, how we sing, perform, uphold ourselves, walk on and off stage, preparation before a performance and so on,” applaud Tone6.

Tutored by Pasifika legends like Nainz and Viiz from Adeaze, Erica Nansen and Grace Ikenasio, the Tone6 band’s professionalism showed early on, and got them booked for some very high-profile live gigs.

“We guess the one at the top of that list would be performing at the wedding of NBA basketball player Patty Mills, who was playing for the San Antonio Spurs at the time, and his wife Alyssa in Hawaii. They flew us and our six-piece band in for four days and we were the reception entertainment!”

Notable mentions also go to the one time they sang for Prince Harry and Megan Markle during their visit to Tāmaki Makaurau, and a few they’ve done in the presence of former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Released mid-June 2023 Tone6’s second single Close Your Eyes expresses their faith and values they say, while reflecting on the hardship of growing up as a young person in Aotearoa right now. The conversation gets deep quickly.

“There are instances when we require personal space to navigate our difficulties independently, or simply have some time to reflect. And frankly speaking, it is during these moments of solitude that we may find ourselves grappling with heavy and sombre thoughts.

“Ultimately, this song is a source of encouragement for those who feel isolated and hopeless, reminding them that they are not alone and that there is hope even in the darkest of times. With everything happening within our country at the moment, with suicide, poverty, floods, mental illness, we felt this was the right single to release.”

Co-produced by EdyOnTheBeat (Edward Liu), the song was originally written by Nainz Tupa’i for Kirita, about five years ago.

“He wrote each of us a song about a personal journey we were all walking through during that time, to tell our story and encourage us for a breakthrough. We then decided to release our singles as a group.”

In the classic, uplifting, devotional song, their voices soar and melt together in a way that underscores they’ve been doing this as a group for a significant time, some from as early as 7 years old.

Thanks to NewMusic Pasifika funding, the single received a warm visual treatment through director Samuel Ling of GimmeDatCamera, who beautifully captured personalities in the band’s whānau and communities, showing cases of real hardship, as well as those who provide support to the ones needing it.

The song quickly racked up tens of thousands of streams, but more importantly for Tone6, a deluge of kind responses from people who have been able to relate to their message.