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Our one to watch (and listen to) right now, Maori singer Teeks has just announced the news of his upcoming debut album Something To Feel. The album, coming March 26th, will comprise of 12 songs including the songs on previous EPs, with Teeks’ brilliant, deep, dripping-in-soul vocals telling stories of love and emotional vulnerability. “Coming into this new album, writing about myself and how I am navigating my emotions internally, and the whole ocean of what that is, I have always tried to suppress so much of me,” says Te Karehana Gardiner-Toi (Ngāpuhi, Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui). “This is a story about maturity and growth as a person. A coming of age.” We talked to Teeks ahead of the release:

We love your EP, II. What was the process of making II? When did it begin, when did you know it was finished?

‘II’ is but only one piece of the puzzle. It is the second instalment of my debut album, which I decided to release in three parts. I only made the decision after the album was complete, so during the writing process, I had an entire record in mind. Some songs came very quickly and some took more time, but the writing period was roughly from 2017 right up to 2019."

How do you think everything that has happened in 2020 has impacted your songwriting?

“If I’m completely honest I didn’t do much writing in 2020. Most of my energy went into thinking about how I wanted people to receive the music from the album and what that might look like. Through covid I took it as an opportunity to take a break and I really enjoyed my time. Living a simple life and appreciating the small things. Suddenly having all this free time for self-reflection and introspection, it was really valuable.”

How has growing up/living in New Zealand played into your sound and visuals?

“For most of my early life I grew up in rural coastal towns, on the shores of the upper north island. Communities with small populations, somewhat isolated from the rest of the world. Aotearoa (New Zealand) is one of the most beautiful places on earth and I feel very lucky to call it home. Culturally, nature and our environment plays a significant role in terms of our identity as indigenenous people. So there is an intrinsic connection to the land and sea, which I believe contributes to my output as a creative. Humility is the mentality here, when I was younger I was painfully shy like most of the people around me, but that eventually grew into a quiet confidence. Saying a lot by only saying a little is an artform, which I feel like I’ve gotten quite good at.”

Who are some of your musical influences?

“Nina Simone, Frank Ocean, Donny Hathaway, Maisey Rika, Lauryn Hill, 2Pac, James Blake, Bob Marley, D’Angelo, Adele, Marvin, Stevie, The Eagles...Many more.”

Who would be the ultimate collaboration for you?

“Frank Ocean.”

“You’ve just finished a series of shows. How was it performing again?

Liberating. Live performance is the best part for me. Sharing that reciprocal energy with the audience. I know we’re very lucky here in NZ that we can still do live shows, that made it even more special.”

We love your look. How important is what you wear when you’re performing? Are there any designers you gravitate toward?

"Fashion for me is another chance to express myself. Another extension of my art. It’s also very fun. I definitely feel a lot more confident on stage when I’m wearing a look that I’m proud of. In terms of designers I’m a big fan of Rhuigi Villasenor, anything from Versace (special mention to my stylist Te Ura Hoskins).”

How would you like first time listeners to experience Teeks? Through headphones, in nature, on a drive? And what do you hope your audience takes away from your music?

“A good pair of headphones would be ideal, maybe ocean-side or on an evening drive. One of my favourite ways to listen to music. I hope my songs might trigger some emotion in the people who’ll listen. Maybe a few tears. I know that if I’m authentic as I can be in my writing, when I’m in that almost spiritual realm of creative expression, all those emotions will naturally translate to the listener. No matter who it is. That’s what I hope people can take away."

Something To Feel is out Friday, March 26th. Pre-save HERE.