26 Nov 2020
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TOI - Interview with Tunes of I

23 Nov 2019 // An interview by Mike Alexander

December is almost upon us and that means the season of summer music festivals, winery tours and new sounds for the backyard barbecue. An early contender for a party favourite is Get Up, the new single by Wellington dub rockers Tunes of I. They’re hitting the road on November 27, when they'll play the Festival of Lights in New Plymouth. Their schedule, which stretches through to Summer Stein in Christchurch on February, also includes four support slots with one of the  capital’s most loved sons, Fat Freddy’s Drop. Mike Alexander from Muzic.net.nz caught up with Tunes of I bass player Makura Tomoana, and here's what went down:

How many friends does it take to make up Tunes of I and how did you originally meet up?

There are currently six members, all friends, in Tunes of I: Makura Tomoana (backing vocals and bass), Conway Jeune (vocals and guitar), Luther Hunt (drums and backing vocals), Jules Blewman (lead guitar), Kaito Walley (trombone) and Bryn van Vliet (saxophone, backing vocals and keyboards). We all met at the New Zealand School of Music in Wellington. The band was originally started by Mudz Chadwick, the original drummer, but we have since parted ways and he is now a teacher.

Your name is an acronym of TOI, the Maori word for knowledge, skill, excellence, origin and mastery.  Do you try to encapsulate all of these things?

Yes, definitely. We always strive to deliver  in whatever we do and music just so happens to fall within those confines as well. 

Tell me about the inspiration behind your new single Get Up.

Most of the lyrical content was written by Luther Hunt and was meant as a pick me up song. Like, in a crazy world where stuff might be getting you down, you just gotta push through, get up and dance.
Musically, the sounds of motown, soul and funk inspired this tune. It actually went through a couple of styles but we felt this was the best, most accurate way to portray the awesome feelings of songs in those particular genres. More specifically we looked at Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye and more currently New Zealand's Lord Echo for inspiration.

It was recorded at Surgery Studios where you also recorded your debut album Restless. What involvement did the legendary Lee Prebble have?

Lee's awesome and we've loved working with him over the years. His knowledge and scope for all things live is awesome and he definitely had a ton of input. Obviously Lee is a sound engineer, so he recorded Get Up and helped us get to that vintage, old school feel. Lee is also great with the composition side of things as well, like maybe halving choruses/verses or adding/subtracting a couple bars from the bridge, etc. He's also an invaluable resource when there's a deadlock on a decision we need to make and more likely than not his input will influence the final outcome. 

That record was produced by Barnaby Weir.  Have any of you ever been invited to join is revolving door group Fly My Pretties?

Naa not yet ... (waiting by the phone Barney haha).

If there was a party at your place, what kind of music would you be listening to?

Either something by Daft Punk or Tool. Everyone loves Tool.

You have a hectic summer touring schedule including support slots for Fat Freddy’s Drop, who have just dropped a new album.  Who introduced you?

We were introduced to them through our agent Adam Findlay who works at Eccles Entertainment. Adam has been helping us for the past couple of years with shows and management and managed to get us a couple of slots with Fat Freddy's. We are super excited to be playing with the dudes.

Is there another album in the pipeline?

There's more to be had from us and we're definitely cooking something up. At this point we're just keeping things close to the chest as we're starting to work on something pretty big. However, the Get Up single release and tour are our focus right now. 

 

About TOI

Born out of the famed New Zealand School of Music in 2011, the then three piece band has spent the last six years expanding their repertoire (and members) into a full seven piece ensemble. Featuring a solid backbone of drums, bass, vocals and guitars, and complemented by some of Wellington's finest horn players, TOI (Tunes of I) - is renowned around the country for their original, tight and refreshingly dynamic live performances.

Having recently celebrated six years as a band, TOI have been working hard to cement their place in the New Zealand music scene. Most notably, the past few years has seen the award-winning band advance in leaps and bounds from their humble beginnings. In 2014 they were recipients of funding from theaudience.co.nz, resulting in their music video Give In, which enjoyed more than six weeks on rotation on Edge TV. They then pursued more than 25 shows around the country in summer 2014/15, rivaled only by a tour of slightly more magnitude the following summer, which celebrated the release of their debut album Restless at the end of 2015.

Restless - the result of a Kickstarter campaign which raised more than $13 000 - was recorded in Surgery Studios by Lee Prebble, mastered by Mike Gibson of Munki Studios, and produced by Barnaby Weir of The Black Seeds and Fly My Pretties. Its release at the end of 2015 was celebrated with performances at Rhythm & Vines and Soundsplash, plus more than 25 shows around the country as support and headlining acts alike.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for TOI

Releases

Wicked Ways
Year: 2017
Type: EP
Restless
Year: 2015
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
T.O.I
Year: 2014
Type: EP

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