Ia ora na, can you start with a little introduction?
Ia ora na, my name is Teiva Hunter, I am an author, composer and performer. I wrote my first songs when I was 15 when I learned the guitar in Tahiti. Today I live in France and I released my first EP last November.
Have you always been animated by music?
Yes I have always been passionate about music. Very young already, I stood in front of the radio to listen to CDs. Later I wrote a lot of poems and thus discovered my love for words, the choice of the perfect word. Then when I found out that I was able to write a song, I never wrote a song again without a melody coming with it.
How do you create music then?
The music and the text come to me at the same time, to which I then make some arrangements if necessary. Like a cooking recipe, I add a few elements and make a song out of it. It is often a phrase or an emotion that comes to mind, and the melody comes at the same time. It's quite difficult to describe and as a composer you don't necessarily want to understand these moments of inspiration, it's this mystery that is interesting.
Besides, do you have any inspirations, musical references that you think of when you compose?
Less and less. I try to have my own style and to dig deep into myself. But when I was younger, it's true that I had the reflex to ask myself if an artist would have done the chorus in the same way, for example. In fact, there are a lot of artists, whether international or Polynesian, whom I listened to a lot and therefore to whom I referred rather unconsciously. Well-known Polynesian groups have influenced me as well as ukulele players crossed in the street or in trailers, with their beautiful melodies that rocked me. Now when I arrange a song I have the reflex to find these Polynesian tones and that's what makes my identity. I am thinking in particular of percussion, ukulele or Tahitian lyrics.
And when you compose music, do you listen to specific songs for inspiration?
I listened to so much music in my childhood that now I don't have to go looking for songs that could help me, I just let my imagination and memories wander and it comes back to me. I can find the sounds I am looking for because they are still alive somewhere in my head. It's true that it's a bit of the hidden phase of music creation. There's actually a lot of the work of being in the studio thinking about a melody, and then all of a sudden the inspiration comes and you create the music, and it's pretty magical! But this is in fact the case in most of the arts, be it painting or even pottery for example.
Do you also think of reaching the metropolitan public by making them discover the Fenua?
Yes, that's the point! My songs are still quite pop with this little ingredient from French Polynesia, but which does not take up all the space either. It can appeal to everyone. Metropolitan audiences listen to my music without necessarily realizing that there is a part of Tahiti with it.
Do you also have good feedback from Fenua?
Yes of course, it depends on the titles and their particularities. When I released my first single "Derrière moi" with an urban pop sound with a universal subject, it was more of a return from the metropolis that I had. However when "Danser" was released, which in addition was shot in Tahiti and features strong Tahitian percussions, I received a lot of feedback on social networks from Tahitians!
What are the messages you are trying to convey?
Through my first EP, I want to convey messages of tolerance, love, tenderness towards those close to them, self-confidence and in particular to let go with the title "Danser."
The eponymous title "Exilé" for example tells about living an expatriation. For my part when I arrived in metropolitan France after 16 years overseas, I was a little surprised by the violence of society towards minorities, which there was not necessarily in Tahiti which is more pacifist. So that's how this song was born.
Why did you decide to release this album?
I had written dozens and dozens of songs, and when I met my manager in 2017, he advised me to make an album to introduce myself to the public. So I decided to bring together among all my music either songs that had Polynesian sounds, or those that had lyrics with the theme of nostalgia.
Why the choice of nostalgia?
Tahiti reminds me of nostalgia as I grew up there. It's a good memory and when I think about it it's not with great sadness, but the emotion that I feel makes me create a song. I don't live with nostalgia on a daily basis but I felt it strong enough to make great songs out of it I hope.
Is this your only job?
For a long time I worked in aviation but it's been more than a year now that I devote myself entirely to music. I released my first album and I am now preparing my 100% acoustic concert with the help of my guitarist. We are waiting for the end of the health crisis to be able to perform on stage. Music has become a full time for me and it's wonderful, I can compose and rehearse as much as I want.
Have you tried learning the ukulele?
I already play guitar, and I would like to try the ukulele but I would be afraid of losing the guitar chords while learning the ukulele ones ... Which is maybe silly, I should surely m 'put it there! It's true that now that my guitarist plays the ukulele, it titillates me and from time to time he teaches me a few chords!
Despite the background as a young artist, isn't it too complicated for you to develop your notoriety?
In fact, as long as I have time, I use it to produce music. So the confinements allow me to prepare for the future. In that sense, it's not complicated because I can still do my job. You have to adapt because the life of an artist is usually to be in the studio, to release the album, to promote it and then to do the concerts. For example, there are many artists who released their album just before confinement and therefore could not promote or their concerts. So the current rhythm of a musician's work is more to produce repeat albums. It may seem strange but we adapt as best we can depending on the situation. We must continue to produce and wait patiently for the reopening of concert halls. With my guitarist we continue to rehearse despite everything and we tell ourselves that we will be all the more ready.
Do you have other projects in progress?
No, for the moment I remain focused on music production. In 2020 I finalized my album, made the clips and so now I want to take the time to create new songs. Last year was very inspiring for me, because I write a song when I see a very strong emotion (whether beautiful or not so beautiful), and with the coronavirus everyone has experienced strong things. Life has stopped a bit but life has also been very intense for everyone, so I wrote songs to tell these stories and the inspirations that came to me. In 2021 I want to free myself time to produce music and prepare for the future concert. Even if there are few because of the context, besides I like to apply for all the small possible castings such as musicals or TV shows in order to have new experiences.
Do you plan to come back to Fenua?
I would love to, but the opportunity should present itself! Today it is not possible to take a plane ticket so it remains a waking dream. But I can't wait! I will be back, I don't know when but I will be back for sure.
Could you tell us more about the theme of your next songs?
Unfortunately I could not say it because there is everything! But what is certain is that I want to concentrate on writing, I want to improve myself. It will be a little different because I don't like to do the same things, although there will always be some Polynesian tones.
Thanks Teiva! A word for the end ?
Mauruuru Upa Upa Tahiti for this interview! I wish everyone a happy musical year, better than the previous one at least!