Dave was on RNZ (Radio New Zealand) about a week ago. Nothing super news-worthy in what he said (he avoided the question about when the album will be out), but he does go pretty deep into the Pacifica/Maori influences on the new music.
The first half is mostly about Angel of 8th. and Unison. Then at about 6:45 he starts talking about the new album influences:
DL: The album’s actually … a lot of it deals with my Pacific Islander heritage and indigenous identity, in general. The record kind of takes places, I guess, from about 2017 to now and within that time my father died. I went looking for all the stuff in his life that was sort of missing, and I think a lot of it is to deal with Pacifica identity, Maori identity. I’ve got two brothers who live in New Zealand. They’re in Auckland. [inaudible at 7:15] I have so much family tied in with New Zealand, and Auckland, in particular, and with the Pacific.
The record is sort of dealing with indigenous identity, me identifying very strongly with that heritage and my father. Being Samoan, and being Pacifica and Maori is a rare thing to be in kind of the belly of the colonial beast if that makes sense?
It’s interesting, [it’s] sort of a collision for me of a lot of the indigenous Pacific music that we’re using and the collision between that and, obviously, our context is like … we are a band that was quite influenced by white art. Me? Quite influenced by white art. And obviously in London, and a genre that isn’t known for people of indigenous heritage like myself.
It’s a bit of that and I think for me, it’s like the connection with New Zealand, especially, is so strong because my brother, Matthew, was raised in a Maori family. He speaks Te Reo. He identifies very strongly as a Maori. And he and his wife, they’ve helped me a lot to understand so much about what binds Pacific and Maori people especially in a melting pot like Auckland where we’re kind of all … Pacifica people and Maori people experience similar things and similar communities.
I think a lot of that stuff is coming to the forefront for me now, as an adult, whereas maybe 5-6 years ago I guess I never really thought about it. I just figured I was a Samoan kid without a place in either world – the world of being Pacifica and the world of having a white mother. It was a difficult thing. So I think I’m kind of wrestling or grappling with a little bit of that whilst also living in London, which is, like I said, the belly of the colonial beast.
Q: On the album, are you bringing that through in lyrics or in sounds and instruments? How is it coming through?
DL: We’re firing on all cylinders with it. We’ve been really fortunate to be able to work with the family of a wonderful composer and explorer named David Fanshawe. And he was a British composer and explorer who went and recorded vast amounts of indigenous music that he wanted to preserve because he was worried that, without this stuff being recorded, it would be lost to time and people wouldn’t be able to understand these magnificent cultures that are so far flung from Britain and the United States. So he went this odyssey recording all this music from the Pacific and the Fanshawe family have one of the largest collections and resources for indigenous Pacific music anywhere in the world, and it’s here in the United Kingdom. So we’re using some samples that they’ve kindly allowed us to use. And we’ve worked with them … sort of as a love letter to David Fanshawe, who I consider to be kind of a legend.
When we went to New Zealand in 2020, we recorded with the Auckland Gospel Choir led by Simon Matāfai. We worked with really gifted Maori and Cook Islander musicians and [inaudible at 10:27] and we’re still in the middle of it.
So Total Serene is basically the condensed sonic identity of what the album will probably feel like.
Q: How long do I have to wait til I can hear these recordings?
DL: I’m gonna have to get around to finishing them…