Richie Meldrum
Richie Meldrum

mail@richiemeldrum.com

At first glance, Tiki Taane’s music appears polarized. On one side you have the sounds and sentiments of the past – the acoustic instruments, the organic, often tribal vocals, the strong historical and cultural influences of his people and his country. Then, on the other you have the future – the electronic synths and drum patterns, the musical engineering, the pounding bass and shameless embrace of modern club culture. However, harnessing the balance between reflection and progression, Taane flourishes within this melodic dichotomy, bringing out the best of both worlds and calling it his home. “First and foremost I’m a musician,” he says plainly. “I’ve always got instruments around me, especially acoustic instruments like acoustic guitars, flutes, traditional things, drums, all sorts of stuff. Over the years, almost through necessity, I’ve had to learn to use production, and learn how to use the computer and software. So I’m kind of in the middle of that.”

Born and raised in Christchurch, New Zealand, a young Taane quickly set his sights on his passion and that alone. “I started playing guitar when I was about 13,” he recalls. “I left school at 14 because I was like, ‘That’s it man! I want to start a band and I want to rock the fuck out!’” Taane lived his teenage dream for a while, doing gigs in and around his own home with the chords of Slayer, Metallica and Sepultura ringing in his ears. But when a new sound hit his shores, things changed. “The rave culture was starting to come in around 1993,” he recalls. “So instead of going out to the pub and rocking out to sweaty punk and heavy metal, I started going to these clubs and listening to this really big bass music and that’s what started really to turn me on. But there were also really hot chicks there, where as at the heavy metal gigs there were lots of longhaired, sweaty guys jumping around. So it was nice to go from that, to these clubs with these hot chicks with glow sticks taking E!”

Despite his eagerness to embrace this foreign sound, Taane has always seen the lights of home shine the brightest. He is passionate about the celebrated New Zealand reggae / dub scene and recognises the cultural, sociological and geographical reasons behind the enduring connection between the land and the sound. “New Zealand is an island that’s pretty much on the arse end of the planet and really isolated. Jamaica is an island as well, and then a lot of Jamaicans moved to the UK, after the UK colonised the land. Over here the same thing happened, we’ve got a lot of Pacific Island nations living in New Zealand, lots of Maoris, Samoans, Tongans and we were also colonised by the UK, so we’re very similar in that regard. And I suppose New Zealand being so far away and such a beautiful country, we kind of really embraced that reggae, good feeling music and applied it to our own culture.”

Back in Australia again after a sell out tour earlier in the year, Taane is itching to get back on stage to unleash his latest efforts, including some live dubstep that has really struck a chord with the man himself. “It’s been the most exciting music to hit New Zealand since DnB,” he says of the genre. “It’s really picked up the scene because there is a huge dub reggae scene anyway and also a huge electronic scene, so it’s really brought the two together. It’s perfect for someone like me who dabbles in both. A lot of my stuff I’m writing at the moment is definitely angled towards the dubstep genre. But at the same time, I’m also fucking shit up using lots of heavy metal guitars and stuff. Who knows man, I can’t wait to see where it all goes!”