Formerly the front man of legendary New Zealand dub-reggae outfit Salmonella Dub, and now one of the most successful solo artists in his country’s history, Tiki Taane is riding pretty high right now on a musical wave that is soon set to break upon our fair shores.
With that in mind we caught up with the man as he was preparing for his upcoming Australian tour.
Music Feeds: So you’ve struck out on your own from Salmonella Dub, what’s it like compared to being with the band, across all aspects but especially when it comes to touring?
Tiki Taane: Yeah, I left three years ago on this coming NYE. It was hard at first with all tha uncertainty but everything has worked out well. Touring wise it’s a huge change. My band and kru are all my best mates and family, so tha vibe on tha road is like one big holiday really, with some gigs thrown in.
MF: What made you want to go solo?
TT: Many reasons, but tha main one would be progression. I felt Salmonella Dub was stuck in a rut and were making tha same music album after album, and I wanted to progress across tha board, with tha music, tha live performance, tha art work, tha videos, and within tha bizniz.
MF: You were involved in the metal scene a lot early on, how has that affected you musically over the years?
TT: Yeah I started my metal band when I was fourteen and was onstage at fifteen years old, and haven’t stopped since. Nothing much has changed since then, apart from tha music and hairstyle, but I still love big guitars and turn them up a lot for my live show.
MF: With the solo album and being free to explore your own tastes and influences a lot more (I would imagine) were you tempted to maybe do some metal stuff on the album?
TT: After spending eleven years in Sal Dub where tha guitars are thin and washy, I wanted to get back to my punk and metal days, fuckin aye! My next record will have plenty of heavy chunky guitars.
MF: Sal Dub was one of the bigger bands to come of New Zealand over the past decade or so, and a trailblazer for bands like Fat Freddy’s Drop etc, what was it like when the band was first taking off?
TT: I will always remember those days when I first joined tha Dub. They were very exciting times where we felt like we were apart of something special and new. No one was doing tha stuff we were trying to do so it was all so fresh and experimental. Drum n Bass had just hit NZ; also we started touring a lot more and were tha only band that could play on a line up of all DJs, which meant we played a lot of rave type parties. I was 19 years old and Sal Dub was my ticket out of tha shit hole I was in at tha time, so I was amped!
MF: With Past. Present. Future going double platinum and Always On My Mind being the most successful NZ single of all time, were you sort of like ‘I made the right choice going solo after that?’ Have you ever felt unsure about your decision to leave the band, either before or after you did?
TT: Yeah, at first it was a very lonely and soul-searching time. I had left tha biggest band in NZ to finish my first solo record, so it was a huge risk, but something I had to do if I wanted to progress as an artist. I was broke, depressed, trying to sober up, trying to get off drugs, and trying to make a record, so it was tha most intense experience I’ve ever been thru. But thru all that hardship and adversity I’ve come out a better person, and with that change has come fortune and success. So yeah I’m stoked, and everyday I’m thankful for making that journey.
MF: Having played music for as long as you have, have there ever been points where you felt lost for inspiration or direction? How do you overcome that?
TT: For sure, that’s just part of tha process of making art. Sometimes it flows like a waterfall, then other times there’s only a drip, and that can be very frustrating especially if it lasts for a while. When that happens I don’t stress out anymore, I just put tha paintbrush down and go do something else like drive really fast or mow tha lawns.
MF: I know it’s very important for you to progress in your art form, and with Past Present Future incorporating such a wide range of genres and influences where do you see yourself moving creatively in the future?
TT: I’m still trying to keep that edge, never get trapped into one style or genre, which I find really exciting. Past Present Future has set me up to be un-predictable in my music and art, which is a position I’ve worked hard to be in. My next record will be even more out there stylistically… Rebel music!
MF: You’re about to head over our way for some shows soon, are you excited about returning to Oz?
TT: Fuck yes! Especially after my last tour, which was breath taking.
MF: How have you found Australian audiences receive the solo stuff compared to Sal Dub?
TT: My audience now are fuckin loud. I have a big show now with huge dynamics so tha crowd really gets taken on a ride. My Oz fans are fuckin crazy man, they are so up for it. I love it.
MF: Are there any surprises you could let us in on?
TT: Sorry bro, I can’t give away my show secrets, you gonna have to come see and hear it for yourself.
Be sure to catch Tiki when he plays The Forum on December 4th with Optimus Grime or at Homebake in The Domain on December 5th.