Interview by Tracey Moyle – Music Maven Events
In a world of chaos we welcome uplifting bands like Sun Salute with open arms. These six friends now based in Airlie beach understand the healing power of music and bring their blend of funky roots/reggae laced with hip hop, radiating their good feels across the country, from the oceans to the snow fields, and into the souls of those who come across their music. Their shows are full of energy and send a positive message to the world that it’s not all doom and gloom out there. They bring people together with their music evoking a feeling of togetherness with both and chilled and uplifting vibes. With a new album ‘Time Has Come’ and a tour kicking off December 6th they are about to grace the east coast of Australia and spread the love.
Speaking with front man Tane Tokorangi, we get an insight into their sound, what it means to them as artists and how their uplifting and unique multicultural mix came together in the first place.
You released your first album ‘Time Has Come’ in November and it’s such an amazing blend of music from all corners of the world, you’ve really brought that earth community spirit alive in this album. Can you tell us about out the inspiration behind it?
“Funnily enough the album itself is a mix of some of the older material I wrote quite a few moons ago and it was inspired by hard times I was going thorough at that time. So there’s a couple of songs on there that we wrote together as a band so it’s been inspired by different chapters of my own personal life and also relating to what the boys were going through.”
Do you take on the majority of the song writing or does everyone have input and you work on songs together?
“I’m the predominant song writer for most of these tracks bar two on the album. That’s because when we first started off as a band we needed original material. We started off playing covers and one festival promoter hit us up and we thought it would be better to do original music. So at that stage I already had quite a bit of original music to go for the band. So that’s how it started off really.”
There is such a World Music feel to your sound it’s quite unique with members from all over the globe, how did you all come together to form Sun Salute?
“Sun Salute started off as a duo just the drummer and myself, that’s Jarrah (Kurth). We were jamming together in the snow probably about 5 years ago and then after the season we didn’t know what to do with ourselves, because we didn’t have any commitments, I guess, to anywhere else except for the snow and maybe looking around for some surf. So Jarrah and I ended up moving down to Anglesea and started playing my original music then as a duo. And from there moved up to Airlie Beach because our current bass player (Dylan Hammond) had a booking agency up there and then we became a three piece. Then from 2014 we started adding member by member until we got to the current seven that we’ve got now and that’s how it all gelled together. Like you said, we’ve got a melting pot of nationalities in the band. I’m Maori myself I’m from New Zealand and we’ve got a Tongan keys player (Saia Latu), we’ve got and English trumpet and lead guitarist,(Chris Booroff), our percussionist (Nestor Galapia) is Filipino and we’ve got three Australians in the band(Dylan Hammond – Bass, Chelsea McNeiley – Saxophone and Kurth – Drums).”
With so much variety in the music do you try to have a signature sound to work on or is it just what someone brings forward to build on?
“Not really because we don’t like to pigeon hole ourselves to any one genre or relate ourselves to any one kind of musician. We let the listener make up their mind, so that way we can work out which pockets we can fit in. So there’s talk of Katchafire, there’s talk of The Black Seeds, there’s talk of Incubus, Shapeshifter. There’s definitely a kiwi sound in there, which would probably be a lot of the influence that I was accustomed listening to back in New Zealand. There’s definitely those elements in it. We don’t really pigeon hole ourselves to any one genre. That’s why there’s soul music on there, there’s folk on there, there’s drum and bass on there with a bit of heavy rock. The three songs that stand out are the ones we worked on the most as a group. That is Dreamscape which is the last track. Morning Light which is our drummers track he wrote and the other one I really, really love is Out Of This World and our bass player wrote that. So those are the three songs that stand out, and that’s because they come with those big different flavours which is why you probably hear that international sound because it is all different, we love it that way.”
You’ve released three singles off the album and they are all very different. I’d love to find out the story behind the songs. Starting with Hold On. It has smooth groove and an almost Motown feel to it. There’s a real togetherness feel to this song and in the video. You get such an uplifting feeling of compassion from it. Was there something particular that led to the inspiration behind this song?”
A lot of people could probably relate to it, especially the eco-warriors of the world and environmentalists. Essentially the song was written to our mother. It’s like a letter to your mother telling her not to give up on her children, which is us, because there’s a lot of shit going on in the world, you know what I mean. A lot of us snowboard, surf, skateboard so we’re out in the elements most of, if not all the time, in our spare time anyway, so when you’re walking down the river and you see pollution, pollution is one that pisses me off. Being from New Zealand as well and being brought up on the land and taking care of the land so much from an indigenous perspective it’s where Hold On comes into it. At that stage when I wrote it on a major note, I wanted it to be in a more positive way, because people know what the problems are, they just don’t know how to portray the answer. With the environment hopefully everyone can relate to that, how they would treat their own mother or their own parent, their own family, because essentially we are one in the same from our own perspective in terms of Maori, we are one in the same as the earth, we are one in the same as the trees, as the sun and the moon.”
No More has a different vibe, a great blend of funk/reggae feel veiled with hip hop but there is a strong message behind the chilled tone to the song. The video you have put with it is simple but powerful.
“No More was actually the first single we released so that one was more in your face. (laughs) With the video, visually and with the message its kind of black and white, saying we don’t want no more bureaucracy, we don’t want no more capitalism in a sense where, you know, people are doing their thing and keeping food on the table and a roof over their head but at what cost. So we were trying to portray a message, make a statement really. We don’t want what you’re offering us, the riches and the wealth of the world, you know, we can get riches in a different way, make our money more ethically, spend it wiser.”
Richness and abundance isn’t just money either.
“That’s it! Especially from an indigenous perspective, where I come from richness is in the land that we look after and the land our ancestors have gifted onto us. That’s essentially how you balance thing back up. You’ve got the land you’ve got the food, the family. It had nothing to do with money, it had nothing to do with Prada, it had nothing to do with Mercedes.”
Dancehall Riddem has an amazing Latin American/reggae mix. You can’t help but move to that contagious beat when you hear it.
“Yeah, mission accomplished.”
It would be great to dance to. It must have been a great jam session putting this one together?
“Again that’s an older track of mine, written at one stage when I went to Jamaica on a cultural exchange. And at that stage the genre dancehall was huge. And Sean Paul first came on the scene. That’s when Beenie Man, Ninja Man, Elephant Man, they were all huge at that point. But the only ones that I heard of commercially were Sean Paul and Shaggy at that stage and I kind of got hooked on the genre and especially the language and how they speak over in Jamaica, which is Patois, which is basically Creolised English, it’s real choppy and it reminded me of how we chop Maori as well, our language. So dancehall music was catching me and I kind of caught the groove and I had to sit down and I wrote that track. The Latin part, that kind of Salsa part, came in a little bit later when our current members put a piece to because with the lyrics, it’s dancehall but it’s like “Clap your hands to this dancehall number, if you want to do it shake it like a Samba.” So in that section we thought, ok let’s just throw in a section to break the song up, you know what I mean, because you don’t want that same old rhythm all the way through and that’s essentially how Dancehall Riddem came out. It’s a dancehall genre of music with a bit of salsa in it.”
You have an east coast album tour coming up this week for ‘Time Has Come’, kicking off this Friday 6th December in Melbourne at The Fyrefly, taking you right through to Port Douglas Yacht Club on December 22nd. It sounds like a great tour hitting such chilled places like Mornington Peninsula, Byron Bay and Airlie Beach as well as the capital cities. It’s a great match to the music. Are you looking at as a tour or more of a working holiday?
“A bit of both actually. We can’t distinguish the line between it being a holiday because it is a holiday. We get out of where we live normally but we’re still working, we’ve got to keep up our professionalism, not go out too much, not get on the piss, get enough sleep, do vocal warm-ups and warm-downs, make sure we’re at our venues on time for sound checks. So it is kind of like a working holiday but we treat it like a tour in the sense that we have to market it, it is tour but for us we consider it like a boutique tour, so we haven’t go too many dates, I think there’s seven or eight on this particular leg and we’re looking at extending it in April/May we’re heading over to W.A. next year.”
If you could play any festivals in Australia or around the world where would you have on your bucket list?
“Here particularly, in Australia, we’d love to play at the Bluesfest. And Glastonbury would be fucking awesome to play in. And Summerjam is a festival they have in Cologne Germany, that would be a dope one to play at and also Reggae on the River which I think is in California would be a great one to play at.
It’s also how we can organise ourselves because there are seven of us and we all have responsibilities, families and stuff, and the logistics of moving us around is quite challenging.”
Sun Salute ‘Time Has Come’ Album Tour starts starts in Melbourne this Friday night. If you want a musically uplifting night that will leave your spirits soaring, your feet dancing, and a smile on your face head along to one of the dates listed below.
Friday December 6 – The Fyrefly, Melbourne VIC
Saturday December 7 – Wine Folk Festival, Mornington Peninsula, VIC
Sunday December 8 – Henry’s Rooftop, Manly, NSW
Monday December 9 – Beach Hotel, Byron Bay, NSW
Thursday December 12 – The Bearded Lady, Brisbane, QLD
Friday December 20 – Northerlies, Airlie Beach, QLD
Saturday December 21 – X-Base, Magnetic Island, QLD
Sunday December 22 – Yatch Club, Port Douglas, QLD
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