Riqi Harawira – A Streetwise State of Mind
2014 is, and will continue to be a very busy year for Riqi Harawira.
With the release of his new single ‘Please Find Me Girl‘ and subsequent work on his next (being produced by Tim Skedden of The Babysitter Circus), things are starting to fall into place for the Auckland-born and raised singer. Its hard not to get inspired when you’re around Riqi either, he has an infectious ‘can-do’ attitude and positive outlook on life, plus an almost evangelistic enthusiasm for his music. A recent gig with Tiki Tane has added another feather to his cap of high profile artists he has shared the stage with.
It hasn’t all been roses and champagne for the vocalist. A departure from super-group The Dead Flowers nearly 20 years ago now may have been traumatic at the time, but it has also shown Riqi what is possible to be achieved, leaving him with the hunger to get back up there with his music.
‘I cut my teeth with the Dead Flowers, and it taught me how to be a professional musician. I always felt pretty good about what I was doing in the band, and the direction we were heading.’
He calls his new sound ‘Rootsy Funk and Soul‘, a feel-good Kiwiana reggae-dub with prominent Maori influences. While he didn’t grow up steeped in Maori tradition, he has always had a strong drawing to it. Riqi says its where he draws his power. His ever-present trademark acoustic guitar – an heirloom adorned with the unmistakable ‘Our Tearoa‘ insignia, is as close to Riqi’s soul as any material thing on this earth could be.
There’s plenty of contemporary hip-hop and funk in his music style, sure – but the foundations are well grounded with a solid, Maori feel. That’s something in your blood, not a recording studio.
The video for ‘Please Find Me Girl’ encapsulates the ‘Riqi Reggae‘ feel-good vibe and love of New Zealand. The tongue-in-cheek party playa’ eventually winning over a girls heart with his charms. Shot near Takapuna on Auckland’s North Shore, the backdrop couldn’t be better suited. The inevitable holding hands while walking down the beach, midnight campfire, slow-motion hongi…all typical romantic stuff – a little twee, but all good-natured fun.
With 4 singles under his belt now (Gutter Black, Greenstone and Gold, Oxygen and Please Find Me Girl) the goal for 2014 is to get that album made. His dream is to tour through Europe and Asia, taking his unique style to the world. Also, a break from NZ to find fresh ears and inspiration can only do good for any songwriter.
‘Definitely, at the end of the year we will have something out there, I’m just so looking forward to it. I’ve got plenty of other tracks I need to get into the studio to record.’
Currently hosting a couple of open mic nights and playing where ever possible, Riqi is as enthusiastic as it is possible to be about the future.