Pull some strings
“I can’t read or write music and here I would be working alongside the elite of the New Zealand orchestra scene,” says the platinum-award winning singer, MC, and dub master. “For me, this tattooed Maori boy who dropped out of school at 14, it seemed daunting.”
He decided to bring his own elite group to the alliance – Te Pou O Mangatawhiri, who performed kapa haka with him at big gigs, such as Homegrown and WOMAD. “The third time they asked, I said okay, but can I throw a kapa haka group into it as well, and can we do some real heavy stuff, too?”
Taane had to promise to play his award-winning hits, like “Always On My Mind,” which enjoyed a record-breaking 54 weeks on New Zealand charts, but in exchange he was able to turn a longtime dream into reality.
“I’ve always envisioned it and thought it would be amazing to do something with an orchestra and a kapa haka group,” he says, adding that Te Pou O Mangatawhiri have been around since 1921. “They’re the Maori king and queen soldiers, so they’re elite in their field, too. Putting them together symbolises so much. The orchestra represents the colonial European, and the kapa haka is the Maori, put together over my music. I’m not taking this lightly.”
Fellow hit-makers Opshop, will also perform a set with the strings, and the show, as well as behind-the-scenes footage, will be filmed by Eyeworks for a two part documentary to show on TV1.
Melding these disparate strands of music and performance hasn’t been too difficult, says Taane, though some of the beats are giving the strings pause. “The reggae side of it has been interesting. How do we compose strings to a reggae beat?” However, Taane has worked previously with conductor Hamish McKeich and Steve Bremner – both are part of The Adults. “I was very confident they’d do my songs justice and I could trust them to do something awesome.”
The audience can expect to hear songs from Taane’s 20 year career, including two unreleased pieces. They’ll be recorded for a CD released in April, alongside his own DVD of the collaboration process with documentary footage of Taane touring his native Christchurch, singing at the school where he was a student, and discussing his 2011 arrest at a Tauranga gig.
“I’m taking it right out there. I’m getting really political with it, talking about what’s wrong with this country,” says Taane. He holds the details for now. “Do you have two hours? That’s only on John Key.”
With Strings Attached, featuring Tiki Taane and Opshop, Old St. Paul’s, 7:30pm, November 3.