Image for Tiki Taane – Charting Behind Bars

Tiki Taane – Charting Behind Bars

Written by Michael Carr on May 6, 2011

Experiencing unprecedented success with the release of his debut solo album Past, Present, Future back in 2007, the album achieving double platinum status and its lead single Always On My Mind proving to be the most successful single in New Zealand chart history, Tiki Taane has proven himself as one of his nation’s most popular artists. However this seems to have had no impact at all on the protection of his rights as a citizen. Performing at his own R18 exclusive concert, he rapped an excerpt from N.W.A‘s Fuck tha Police, only to be arrested an hour and a half later, charged with disturbing behaviour likely to incite violence. It’s come to this.

Having been released and with the matter still before the courts, Tiki hasn’t let it slow him down, touring in support of the release of his sophomore album In The World Of Light which shot straight to number 1 on the NZ charts. He’ll be touring here soon in support of the album so we caught up with him to discuss the new album as well as his correctional adventure.

Music Feeds: So you’re heading over with the Acoustic MC/DJ set; is that the same line up you brought out last time?

Tiki Taane: What was last time? I think we were with Sam from Shapeshifter. We did a couple of shows in Australia, but so far I’ve only gone over with the full band. This time I just want to break it down, so it’s just me and my DJ, Optimus Gryme, a dubstep dude from home, and then I’ll also play an hour’s worth of acoustic stuff, get everyone singing, getting everyone feeling the good vibes and then drop the heavy stuff after that. It’s pretty much two small shows rolled into one so it’s about two and a half hours straight and it’s a lot cheaper to tour so we can keep the ticket prices down so everybody wins.

MF: Have you toured like this before in New Zealand?

TT: I’ve been doing this in New Zealand for a couple of years now and I really enjoy it. I really like having both kinds of audience at the show. I’ve got the acoustic audience and I’ve got the people who like the heavier kind of dubstep style stuff and when you get them together in the room it just works.

MF: It makes sense, your music always seems to have a rather playful approach to genre.

TT: I love playing around with influences. With the new album I wanted to feature a lot of the guys I’ve been working with live and hopefully be able to get them some exposure through my fanbase and vice versa. In The World Of Light was a conscious decision to do something more progressive, more underground with more of a beat heavy kind of vibe. It’s just been great to be able to work with these guys who are actually running the scene over here and coming up with something different.

MF: Well New Zealand does seem to really embrace drum and bass and all the genre’s associated with that, so it makes sense for you to take inspiration from that.

TT: For sure, New Zealand has a real tradition of bass culture, we’ve really taken on the whole bass culture thing. We love our reggae and all the different styles that have spawned from reggae like jungle, dub, dancehall, drum and bass and dubstep, and they’re all doing very well over and it just seemed natural to draw on those resources and throw them on an album. It’s been great though it’s gone to number 1, which I didn’t think it was going to do, and they’re still going out the door, so I’m stoked.

MF: Yeah they always say the second album is the hardest; must be great to seeing it do so well?

TT: Yeah, I mean I don’t think it will outsell the first one though. The first record had Always On My Mind, this big acoustic jam that really sold the record, but this new album doesn’t have any of that and it doesn’t have any big radio hits. What it does have though is a bit more relevance and a bit more street cred which is where I really wanted to shoot my stuff at the moment.

MF: That’s great that considering your success you’d rather engage with what’s relevant than just churn out some more radio hits.

TT: Well I’ve got my acoustic album coming out at the end of the year, and that’s going to be unashamed pop songs.

MF: (laughs) So you’re playing both sides of the game then?

TT: (laughs) Yeah, yeah, I’m just sort of separating my music right now. I know that this album that I’m dong right now isn’t going to be a big success and it doesn’t worry me too much because it’s all about getting back to the street level and working with people who are running the scene. Then there’s the acoustic album which is kind of just straight up pop songs which will be blasted on every mainstream radio station in this country, so I’m not really too fussed, you know what I mean.

MF: Yeah definitely, why would you be? I mean drop the beats album now and the acoustic album at Christmas and you’re laughing.

TT: Yeah man, you got it man, that sounds like the perfect marketing plan to me.

MF: So these are both coming out on your label Tikidub right? You are still running your own label?

TT: Yeah when I’m not getting arrested

MF: Of course, I’d almost forgotten about that. What happened?

TT: It was my private R18 concert and I dropped a line from N.W.A, the first two lines of F Tha Police (note the artist edited himself here not Music Feeds) and I got arrested a hour and a half later and charged with disorderly behavior.

MF: What the hell happened to freedom of speech?

TT: I know, but apparently you’re not supposed to sing that in front of a police officer, I didn’t know there was a law against that. I mean what if I sung I Shot The Sheriff? I mean the whole thing is a bit of a laugh, I’m laughing because it’s a joke, but some people have gotten all uppity about it of course, and there’s all this political bullshit involved, but I’m just sitting back laughing. One cool really cool thing has come out of it though, I’ve written a song about it with Michael Franti, so I’m trying to make it a positive thing.

MF: So what’s happening though, have you been charged? Do you have a record?

TT: It’s before the courts. I’ve been charged with disorderly behavior likely to cause violence. There was no violence and there was no disorderly behavior, it’s just because of a police officer who got a bit cross when I sang F The Police. I mean the crowd were chanting along with me, so I think he got a bit upset by it so he came back and handcuffed me and walked me out through the crowd and put me in the car and threw me in jail for the night. It’s still before the courts and I find out on May 30 whether I’ve got a criminal record or not.

MF: I guess you just got to hope the judge is a NWA fan?

TT: Or just hope he can see the humour in the whole thing.

Here’s hoping.

Tiki will be touring the East Coast of Australia in late May, starting in Byron Bay on May 19 with tickets on sale now. For more information visit his website.

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