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Karnel, of Niuean and Cook Island descent, was born and bred in Massey, West Auckland. His family was heavily involved in the music and performing arts industry and this was naturally a huge influence on him from an early age. As a teenager in the 1990’s, R&B played an important role in cementing Karnel’s passion for music, with the likes of Keith Sweat, Dru Hill, Usher and Michael Jackson CD’s on high rotation. He also drew inspiration from rappers such as Mc Hammer, Fresh Prince, LL Cool J, 2Pac and Bone Thugs in Harmony, although the urge to actually become an artist himself was not on his agenda growing up.

In his first year at Massey High School, he accidentally ticked Music instead of Art for his optional class and before he knew it, he began taking guitar lessons. He knew from the very first lesson that it was something he wanted to pursue. Over the next few years, Karnel progressed to the drums and became extremely good at it. He became the drummer for a school band called New Era, but in 6th form realised he wanted to rap. So Karnel formed his own band and fronted as the lead vocalist. His band entered the school talent quest and he talked himself up to everyone at school about how his band would kick ass. However the band didn’t even place, with Karnel learning the importance of being humble.

At the age of 17, Karnel began to feel the pressures of life and the world around him and felt as though he couldn’t go on. After a bout of depression brought on by conflict and a failed suicide attempt, Karnel realised he needed to escape before it was too late. He ran away to Gisborne to live with his older brother Jay in an attempt to start over and leave his past behind. Jay was a teacher at Manutuke Primary School and Karnel was blown away by his teaching style, which surpassed the ability of any educator he had ever come across. Jay was teaching his students how to rap and Karnel after witnessing the confidence and intensity they possessed, thought to himself ‘if these 11 year olds can do it then there’s no reason I can’t’. Jay founded a hip hop group called M2K and Karnel stepped in and began to teach students. As time passed, M2K matured into a group called Higher Learning and Jay became a teacher at Gisborne Boys High School. Higher learning was a youth initiative to teach youth about life through performing arts. Karnel had made a best friend and then lost him to suicide while living in Gisborne, so Higher Learning’s message of No Passengers, No Drugs, No Racism and No Suicide was close to home. Karnel was also part of the high schools Kapahaka group, who placed 1st in the regionals. The discipline and hard work he endured during this time is something he has always held as a valuable learning experience. After 3 years, Karnel felt his time in Gisborne had come to an end and he returned to Auckland.

Upon returning to Auckland, Karnel was accepted into EXCEL School of Performing Arts, majoring in Drama and a guitar minor. EXCEL’s director John Knight became not only his mentor, but a close friend, who taught Karnel the importance of religion and important values which would help him along his journey. Although he majored in Drama, Karnel’s passion still lay with music. He pursued Drama in the mindset of “this will help me to become a better performer”. He graduated from EXCEL in 2005 and decided to take a break to focus on family and work, and figure out what it was exactly he wanted to do in terms of music.

By 2008, Karnel had decided he wanted to be a solo artist and produced his music himself. His first track “Who’s Got the Huri?” was released in May 2008; however the response from audiences around the country was that it was “too New Zealand”. He took another break and during that time, became good friends with fellow NZ producer and artist DLove. The two got to work on Karnel’s album and everything was going as planned. However, eventually Karnel’s personal life took priority and his music career took a backseat as an unhealthy relationship took its toll on his music ambitions. Karnel decided to give up and felt as though he should accept that he was never going to realise his dream of becoming a solo artist.

Fast forward to January 2011. Karnel decides that this as the year to make things happen – it was now or never. With a history of failed attempts at breaking into the music scene, it only made him more determined to push for the dream he had always had. His first single ‘Gone’ was released in February 2011 and after just two weeks of being on air, it hit number 33 on the Urban Charts. This was the kick start he needed to get the ball rolling. Karnel and DLove are now currently working on his album and are halfway there. Karnel is now well on his way to finishing what he started and realising his dream.

The End.

Band Members:
Karnel Williams


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Joined: 29/05/08
Posts: 1
Location: Auckland
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Gone and got me on fire
Posted: Tue May 3, 2011 10:38 am
Hey yall thanks for supporting the gone track.. It has allowed me to release the follow up single "Got me on fire" SO GRAB YOUR COPY.. NZ Music month.. Much love to you all out there

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