21 Mar 2023

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Maori artist Tipare is no stranger to the music industry. Having grown up with a musician father and a mother in the music industry, it’s been a strong presence in her life from a young age. “I was raised in multiple places – from the Hawksberry River to Aria in the King Country, Sydney, Los Angeles, before landing in New York. When I was little, I slept in my father’s guitar case at shows and watched my [modelling] mother be photographed on days off. She was beautiful and I was obsessed with her wardrobe. My father was deep and seeped me in the sounds of musical legends.”

A storyteller who has crafted a career as a multidisciplinary artist, activist, director, and producer, whether she is telling her stories through music, visual arts, fashion or documentary – Tipare skilfully weaves together the knowledge she has collected from her life experiences and funnels it into her art.

Tipare’s father Chris Piper, was in Australian band The Mangrove Boogie Kings – their popularity penned in a song by country legend Slim Dusty. Her mother, Linda Piper, worked at Schubert Sound Systems, a live sound equipment supplier and rehearsal facility in Hollywood, where she worked for over a decade, exposing Tipare to an array of musicians behind the scenes such as The Eagles, Michael McDonald, Fleetwood Mac, New Edition and Snoop Dogg among many others. As a teen Tipare was immersed in West Coast beats culture, soaking up acts like Pharcyde, Digital Underground, A Tribe Called Quest, Tupac and Wu Tang Clan at local clubs.

Tipare continued her musical and artistic journey by heading across to New York at 17 on her own into an exciting music scene, finding herself regularly at iconic Giant Steps and SOB’s club gigs, and swept away in the vibrant art and dance music scene before finding herself in a job that gave her a sense of stability. “In my early 20's, I spent 2 years as a Production Assistant touring every State in America with Steely Dan. I was really close with the band and crew and in retrospect being under their wing and listening to those live shows every night is a major part of who I am also.”

Even though much of her upbringing was overseas, as well as many of her early musical influences, she has always maintained enduring whanau roots and connections in Aotearoa – where she returned to live in her 20's straight back into the arms of her hapu and iwi. “I’m Maori through and through on the inside… on the outside, its a little hard for people to recognise (laughs). But I’m used to being comfortable in the uncomfortable.”
In 2014 Tipare released singles Backbiters and My Decision, produced by Aotearoa artist Laughton Kora, and New York producer Tiklah. More recently, she decided to take a different approach to her music, by upskilling so that she could self-produce, write, arrange and perform her own music.

“It was confronting technically, but rewarding emotionally,” says Tipare. “I flew to Melbourne to do a crash course in Ableton, so I could take control of the sounds I wanted to hear and be responsible for the risks in producing them. I live for artistic challenge.”

Tipare says that by self-producing she was able to choose her own vocal takes, which she felt was important and found rewarding. “Sometimes I want to keep the mistakes. I’m not perfect, and I’m vulnerable, and in this day and age I felt I needed to be honest about that.”

Once happy with her tracks, they were mixed by award-winning engineer Neil Baldock, and mastered by Los Angeles-based Gene the Machine at Oasis. The final results being her 2022 singles Abstract – a disco-era-inspired tune with the beats being the main driver, and Quicksand – a song about unescapable love, reflecting the artist’s connectivity to indigenous understandings, the first two releases from her upcoming EP.

Abstract reflects one of the aspects of kare a-roto (emotions) and ipo (affection/love) that she explores in the music she’s working on. It shows her love of disco era sexiness and affinity for 80's style production with its simplicity in communication form. “It’s called Abstract because to me that era was grounded and experimental at the same time. A lot of contradictory art and sound was created that crossed cultural and disciplinary forms. Video was just coming into being, hip hop was being created, and the art scene was burgeoning with street and pop culture combining. Those things were sitting in the back of my mind. But ultimately, it’s called Abstract because I really didn’t think I was going to catch feelings for someone who on paper seemed so different from me.”

Quicksand is considered a ‘B-Side’ single – with Tipare taking her cue from when singles were commonly released on vinyl. This single showcases her diversity of musical taste. Written in her homeland area of Aria in Te Nehenehenui. “I was living back in my rohe surrounded by the hills of my people and I remember having this distinct sense about the depth of indigenous love. This powerful feeling that no one should ever underestimate the intensity of historical love. It felt like a film in my head.”

Tipare's latest release Party Calls takes us back to the feel good music intentions of the 80's but with an updated dance radio friendly sound. "I wanted to make something that just uplifts you and makes you wanna move no matter where you're listening to it. Life is full of variation and it felt timely to make a song that inspires fun after everything we've collectively been through."

Tipare is a wahine who clearly paves her own path, creating music that feels both nostalgic and contemporary – going from a club in 70's Los Angeles, to a 2000's Bloc party in New York – or a whare in Aotearoa. Fuelled with stories to tell and the skills to create, Tipare is an artist to watch.


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