Tiki Taane's triumph 'It's the biggest thing I've ever tried to do'

The musician’s acclaimed documentary became an emotional farewell to his father

By Hayley Barnett
Tiki Taane wasn't expecting his latest project to be an emotional journey spanning generations of his own whānau, but that's exactly what happened when he took on the biggest endeavour of his musical career.
His self-funded music documentary covering a sold-out concert with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra (CSO) became a connector to generations past, an emotional farewell to his father, and a unique bonding experience with his kids, Charlie,14, and Karcia,12.
Premiering at the New Zealand Film Festival in his hometown of Christchurch on 11 August, Tiki Taane In Session With CSO has already racked up multiple awards internationally – 15 so
far – proving his creative instincts know no bounds.
Tiki emerged as a pioneer of Kiwi dub music more than 20 years ago with Salmonella Dub and later Shapeshifter, but recently, at 46, the musician and music producer has been more consumed with film – this latest one being three years in the making.
"I've made a couple of music films already," explains Tiki. "So when CSO approached me to do this project, to put something positive back into Christchurch after it was damaged by the earthquake,
I thought it was a good opportunity to record that on a big scale. I thought, 'I'm just going to throw everything I've got at 22 cameras and see what happens."
Rachel couldn't be prouder of her talented family, but being their "roadie" can be rocky!
What occurred was 15 awards and official selection into18 international film festivals.
"It's got legs!" laughs Tiki humbly. "It's definitely the biggest thing I've ever tried to do."
Being the film's director, producer, sometimes editor, sound mixer, composer, leading musician and project manager, Tiki admits it was a lot to take on. But his familial connection to CSO was a huge motivating factor.
Tiki's aunt and his great-great-grandfather were both a part of the CSO. His aunt, Glenny Grunfielder, was a double bass player who went on to join the Sydney Opera House Orchestra. Tiki thought it only fitting to include yet another generation on the stage that night – his son and daughter. Playing Tiki's song Serendipity, written about the time he met their mother Rachel, the kids took to the stage with Charlie playing bass while Karcia sang the lyrics.
"We had heaps of fun rehearsing," shares Tiki. "Sometimes I'd do things like turn the lights off so they had to play in the dark. I wanted to get them used to it because sometimes on stage the lights go out or you get blinded by light. So I set up a light and shoved it in their faces. It was like being the coach on a sports team, getting them prepared for anything!"
When it came to go-time, Tiki reveals their guest appearance very nearly didn't happen, due to wife Rachel's questionable navigation skills.
Karcia and Charlie performing with Dad.
"Rachel had one job," explains Tiki, playfully scolding her. "To basically get the kids to the venue and into makeup, then to the green room and onto the stage. One job. She got lost and ended up under the stage instead of on top of it."
"I didn't know where I was!" cries Rachel, 33, in defense. "It all worked out in the end, though."
Another of Tiki's family members was also to join him on stage that night – his father, Uekaha Taane Tinorau. However, he sadly passed away at 73, having lost his battle with cancer five months before the concert.
"He was going to be on stage with me rocking out, but I could feel him with us that night," says Tiki. "There was a lot of energy in that room. It's strange but I don't feel sad about it. I'm sad he's not around, but we spent so much quality time together in the lead-up that I have no regrets. A lot of people regret not spending enough time with their parents when they pass. We did more than most fathers and sons will do in a lifetime. We crammed in a lot of stuff."
Tiki and his dad "crammed in a lot of stuff".
Watching the documentary, there's definitely a spiritual element to the emotional live-looping performance.
"It's so hard to have that translate through the screen, so it's something I'm really happy about," tells Tiki. "The film is a body of work that crosses a lot of cultural genres, musical genres, age as well.
It's got a broad bandwidth of appeal. Those things make me super-excited because you don't know what you've got until you shoot off overseas and get the feedback. Opinions from places like Italy, France, Germany and Slovakia are all telling me, 'Wow, this is amazing. You won best soundtrack? You won best original score?' I'm blown away by it."
Tiki aims to take everything he's learned from creating the film to continue venturing down the road of filmmaking.
"My plan for the future is to ride the journey of my film gaining momentum in the international film festival circuit," says Tiki. "I've also just picked up the job of musical director and composer for a New Zealand film which I'm so stoked about."
Watch Tiki Taane In Session With CSO at the New Zealand International Film Festival from this Friday. Visit nziff.co.nz.
  • undefined: Hayley Barnett

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