Video Premiere: STNDRD – Let’s Roll

Video Premiere: STNDRD – Let’s Roll

The three members of South Auckland pop/RnB/hip hop group STNDRD are Johnathan Aoina (aka J), TeeRoy Leo (aka Leo) and Paul Aoina (Yannis). The Aoina brothers went to the same church as Leo, so the group basically grew up together. With a few singles under their belt, a finalist spot for Best Pacific Band in the 2021 Pacific Music Awards, significant radio airplay and a whopping (almost) 6 million streams for their video of My Uso, the mostly Australia-based trio are about to open the next chapter of STNDRD with uplifting new single Let’s Roll – the lead single to their upcoming debut album, due later this year.

Do you perform live much, and with a DJ or just beats?

So far we have only done one live show, PASIFIX, which was held at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne, which we headlined. We did have a DJ for that show who is also a cousin of ours. We also had a show in Brisbane slated for June 26 that was postponed due to the COVID outbreak in Sydney. We have two festival performances coming up after recently being announced on both the Promiseland Festival GC and One Love NZ 2022 lineups. At some point we will be doing live band performances which is something our fans can look forward to.

What is that brought you together as a musical group? 

We actually formed a band called Homemade Entertainment in 2013 and our keyboardist at the time, Andrew Naea, actually produced this track Let’s Roll. Fast forward a few years, I moved from Auckland to Sydney, with TeeRoy making the move over to live with me a couple of years after. Yannis followed suit and soon enough we were living in a two-bedroom granny flat in Blackett, Mt. Druitt. It’s safe to say that Fortnite and Uber Eats were all we knew throughout that time, haha!

One night we had the random idea of releasing original music with TeeRoy already having years of experience in writing and recording his own stuff, and thus STNDRD was created.

I think we each have our own individual inspirations and role models within our own families both immediate and extended when it comes to music. But from a general standpoint, I think we all draw inspiration from NZ artists that paved the way before us. The likes of OMC, Adeaze and Aaradhna, Scribe, Smashproof, David Dallas etc.

Are you all vocalists or do you have different creative/musical roles?

I guess we’re all vocalists in that we’ve all recorded singing vocals on our various songs. But Leo would be the main vocalist for the group with J also delivering a big portion of the vocals and Yannis more on the rap side of things. Leo is, in our unbiased opinion, one of the most talented vocalists around. In saying that, we all assume different roles depending on what the project requires.

When and how did you choose the STNDRD name? What’s it intended to convey?

The name STNDRD is taken from a popular South Auckland slang term. We tried to be a bit fancy so we minused the As, haha! We did a quick check to make sure it wasn’t being used, specifically the way we’ve spelt it but we never did any sort of extensive research into it. I guess in the literal sense of the word it describes exactly who we are as guys really, just simple people who are giving this music thing a good crack. Nothing fancy or flashy, just real music from real people.

Your videos are all very professionally presented, showing a certain management discipline. Is that all you three or do you already have a team looking out for you?

So far we’ve put it all together ourselves in terms of music and video concepts. J is our manager in the sense that he will come up with a lot of the concepts for our projects, but we all have input in determining our creative direction. It’s definitely been a journey of learning along the way. At the start you don’t think much about your image or about publicity and proper marketing, or the importance of having the “business” side of things in order, so that’s definitely something we’ve learnt and are still learning along the way.

The beauty of being a group is that we all have a say in the direction we go in and can always share ideas and constructive criticism which helps to refine the end product.

Aaron Bull and Kreezy Visions get regularly credits in the videos. Are they mates? 

Yes. Aaron Bull is one of the best videographers in Australia, who has also become a mate over the time that we have worked with him. He also directs and edits music videos. The same goes for Kreezy Visions who is another top videographer, director and editor. They are the two that we have used for pretty much all of our work so far.

What’s been your favourite STNDRD video so far? Why so?

I think the My Uso (Remix) has to be our favourite. There’s nothing fancy about the visuals, no crazy effects or flash cars. Just all heart in trying to spread a message of unity and love amongst our Pasifika people. It was shot partly in Auckland (Leo), Sydney (J & Yannis, BIGGs 685 and Masi Rooc, Brisbane (Lisi) and Darwin (Ron Moala) so the bringing together of different cities and different countries and also different cultures is well represented in that video clip. We’re definitely proud of how it turned out and the reception it received and it still receives from people worldwide.

Better Dayz has a direct mental health issues and change agenda – sweet, soulful RnB with a message. Is that a good representation of your joint kaupapa? 

Yes, it definitely is a good representation. We are all about being as authentic as possible with the messages we convey in our music and we do that by tapping into our personal experiences and that’s something that resonates with people who have had similar experiences in their own lives.

A song that we would recommend for a first-time listener to grasp the essence STNDRD is our first single, Poly People. Everything that we are about as a group, family, love, culture, acknowledging mental health, can be found within this song.

Do you seek to keep your artist collabs within the Samoan musical community?

While we are all of proud Samoan heritage we are also proud to be NZ born and will be collaborating with artists of all different cultural backgrounds. In saying this there are a number of Polynesian artists in Aus/NZ that we would love to collab with, but as with most things in life it’s just a matter of timing. We’re definitely big on collaborating though!

We’ve been fortunate enough to collaborate with some amazing artists so far and to be completely honest we’d collaborate with everyone if we could. There’s something special about sharing a blank canvas with another artist/s and seeing what comes of it. Plus I think it’s great for the fans!

Who is the STNDRD beatmaker/producer, is it Sygotbeatz? 

Sygotbeatz has been our main beatmaker having produced the majority of our catalogue so far. Sygotbeatz is actually Leo’s younger brother and is basically the unofficial fourth member of STNDRD. He’s immensely talented and has already produced songs for a number of top artists in NZ/Aus and even in the US. We also have songs in the works with Andrew Naea aka Dr. Dru and Aaron Strickland aka prodbyastro. We’re definitely open to working with different producers and hope to see this become a reality as we continue on our journey!

What’s been the most important media for marketing your music to date?

I think our YouTube platform since the release of the My Uso (Remix) has to be our strongest platform with over 21k subscribers. This is closely followed by Spotify where we also have a great following. Niu FM and Mai FM have also been instrumental in airing our tracks to their listeners which has definitely helped our growth throughout our first 18 months as a group.

My Uso was your intro track, right? Released in November 2019. What will your album show us that we haven’t already heard from STNDRD?

This is the first time we’re kind of exploring this particular sound and that’s what the album is about, us trying a different sound and exploring our own talents and abilities.

My USO was actually our second release after Poly People which we dropped in October 2019. Our upcoming album will showcase our versatility in terms of musical genres as we have generally stuck to our “Poly Hip Hop” style for the majority of our releases up until now. You can expect to hear soothing melodies throughout, accompanied by more musically complex beats. We really wanted to focus more on musicianship within the album, and this is reflected with songs that you might not have associated with STNDRD before hearing it for yourself. It’s definitely something different and something we’re currently working very hard on.

What’s the lead single called. Can you tell us a bit about its writing origin, style and subject matter?

Let’s Roll is a fun take on the nuanced back and forth of asking someone out, and the adventure that can unfold if you take the chance. It’s fresh, it’s a vibe, and it’s the start of something new not only in terms of what the song is about, but also where we as STNDRD are trying to take our sound in this track. The beat for Let’s Roll was the first beat we ever received from producer and good friend of ours, Andrew Naea aka Dr. Dru, and as such was inspired by the theme of ‘new beginnings’ and by our conscious effort to experiment and explore a sound and a vibe that we haven’t yet explored.

And when’s the album due out. What’s that going to be called? 

We are working towards an October release for the album. We’re yet to come up with a name for the album, but that’ll be decided real soon! Yes all self-released with some help from DRM who work with us on our distribution.

Is what brought you into STNDRD still the glue for you all – or have expectations and ambitions changed?

When we first formed STNDRD there were never any expectations if we’re honest. We’ve always had a common love for music and that naturally evolved into making music together. The process of making music for us is still very much the same. It’s a lot of fun doing something you love with people that genuinely want to see you succeed as much as you want them to. The one thing that has changed is the expectations that we place on ourselves and our ambitions. Though we still make music for the fun of it, we have come to realise that we have a responsibility to our listeners to be a positive influence and to keep developing our skills in order to keep blazing the way for those who may be inspired to pursue a career in music especially our Polynesian youth.

support nzm