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Garam Masala

Taking Our Young Musicians To The Next Level

Taking Our Young Musicians To The Next Level
August 19
13:00 2017

One2Eight launched their first-ever album on Saturday, August 12, at O’Reilly’s Bar in Suva.

The band’s primary goal is to pass on their skills and knowledge to young musicians in the country.

One2Eight founding members, Nesbitt Hazelman and Ratu Jo Tabakaucoro, sat down with the Fiji Sun’s Garam Masala (GM)to talk about their passion for music, their music journey, highlights, and their outlook on the local music scene.

 

GM: What were you listening to WHEN growing up?

Nesbitt: I grew up listening to funk, Earth Wind and Fire, Commodores and Motown music.

Ratu Jo:  At the time we were listening to reggae from Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff.

 

GM: Did you come from musical families?

Nesbitt: Yes, my mum had a piano in the house and I had a ukulele when I was very young.

Ratu Jo: Yes, My dad played guitar for the Army dance band.

 

GM: Just a brief summary of when your music journey started?

Nesbitt: I started playing in the clubs when I was in 4th Form (Year 10). Clubs like Bula Tale, Chequers, Dragon, and Lucky Eddies. In 1975 I was part of the band, Racial Harmony, a Lami based-band.

Then I joined the Marist Rock in 1978, then we formed the band, Erections. We played at Tradewinds (now Novotel Suva Lami Bay Hotel).

Later I with a fellow musician and at the time diesel mechanic Henry Cork formed a band called Sneak Preview and that’s when Ratu Jo came in. He was still young just back fromhigh school in New Zealand, at the time and the group included the legendary, Sakuisa Bulicokocoko. So we have played with some of the best in the local music scene.

So when I say we’ve played with the best we really have and so with all our skills gained over the many years we want to give back to these young artists before it’s lost.

Ratu Jo:  Back in the late  eighties we were playing everywhere, with the Freelancers, spent about five years with Tui Ravai and the Freelancers at Traps Bar, with Michelle Rounds, William  Hatch and Paul Stevens and almost all the clubs and hotels in Fiji.

We had a group of musicians who went out to Los Angeles for six months including  Apakuki Nayacakalou, Max  Rabaka, just jamming in clubs in LA just to get experience and exposure and to see how it’s done out there.

 

GM: Some of the great memories that you guys had playing back in the days?

Ratu Jo: Well one thing is definite. They were being paid more as musicians back then, the club and hotel owners valued our contribution to their bottom-line. We kept their bars busy.

Nesbitt: For me personally one of the highlights in my music journey would be playing with Sakuisa Bulicokocoko for four years. I learnt a lot from him as a musician, singer, composer and a person who valued his music. So those positives stuck with me.

Apart from that it was the ability to tour the Pacific with the Sneak Preview band to Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu, and Australia.  For five years we spent Christmas and New Year away from our families performing in large resorts around the Pacific.

 

GM: How did you come about forming One2Eight band?

Nesbitt: We were always around the Marist Old Boys family and the spirit of togetherness and support for each other.

So we had this talent just jamming around really going nowhere and there were opportunities out there and people were asking us, if we had a band that they could hire

So we started out. I had amassed equipment over the years and I just came back from Sydney completing my Masters. The band 4 Play was formed in 2007 and later thatyear we changed our name to One2Eight because new members joined.

The original member included Ratu Jo, Felix Chaudhry, and Johnny Bola.

Many musicians have come through our ranks like Knox Kalounisiga and Apakuki Nalawa of Inside Out band.

Ratu Jo: We had a few young members as well like Roland William, a bright young highly talented singer and William Vatubua.

 

GM: Which places and event were you jamming in?

Ratu Jo: We used to perform at Pacific Harbour, now known as The Pearl South Pacific Resort, and the Royal Suva Yacht Club.

Nesbitt: Let’s just say we have played extensively throughout Fiji.

 

GM: What are some of the challenges that you have faced over the years as musicians?

Nesbitt: I think one of the challenges would be most bands don’t own their equipment and are dependent on others and this is something we want to change.

The members that have been playing with us for long, we give them the instruments as a gift so they can go and play anywhere and earn a living.

The other challenge would be the discipline and I continuously talk to our young people about the need to be fully committed, honest to yourself and most of all strive for the best that you can do.  I often advise them that all you need to make it in the music world is one hit and if they’re not geared to do it, they are wasting their time.

You are either in it a hundred percent or you’re not in it at all. A good example is Knox. We go back a long time, he has changed his whole attitude to his music, the way his dresses, his style of playing. There’s an aura about him that is able to capture an audience.

We are really proud of his achievement. We know he works hard to get to where he is today.

When you walk off the stage you should be fully satisfied you did your best and you won’t have any regrets.

Because you want people to talk about your performance not just today but the days after.

This is one of our primary objectives to instill in young artist the discipline in whatever field of music they want to be part of.  It’s slowly coming into play.  You shouldn’t really leave music, it’s a God given talent.

The other issue is the cost of equipment because we import all of our equipment and we are grateful to Government on the zero rating of the duty on selective band equipment. The question we ask ….is this incentive being passed on to the consumer?

We only have a few people that supply equipment in Fiji so it should be easy to check compliance. We will be advocating for this with the relevant authorities.

The other challenge for local bands is having a consistent place to perform. Government may consider rolling back on taxes to allow hotels and clubs to take on musician as full time entertainers in their establishment.  It’s a win-win situation. Employment is created and tax is generated through VAT when these new full-time musicians provide for their families.

By doing that not only are they creating decent employment to musicians but also contributing to Fiji’s economy. Create an environment where they can provide employment throughout the industry in Fiji.

Ratu Jo: Music is one of those talents that you take to the grave.

 

GM: In regards to exploitation, most local bands/artists feel they are not valued as they should be?

Nesbitt: Just look at all the hard work that is put into performing and now they pay an average of $300 a night for a 5-6 piece band. For musicians back in our time, in the 80s, we were getting close to $600 a night.

I think there are more clubs now, competition is stiff and so they open their doors without covercharge to anybody. They are solely dependent on their bar takings.

And so they pay bands now through their bar takings.

With the 26% tax rate on tourism including nightclubs,bars and private clubs they are finding it very hard to justify the hiring of  musicians. We have a lot of young people now that are musically inclined and we should provide them with a better opportunity to display their skills and get paid for it.

One guitar cost less than $1,000 so the investment is high, equipment cost is high and when you’re getting paid $300 a night it doesn’t even pay for the transportation to the gig and back.

For those who own the equipment we don’t charge the band for the use of the equipment. That’s free, that is our corporate social responsibility, all the money we make we give it to the members.

 

GM: What is your overall view of all the talented artistS/ bands that are now in Fiji?

Nesbitt: You have bands like The Gang, Inside Out, The Relativ and a few in the West, I think it’s very positive. They are performing live music and I’m very happy about that. So we have achieved the objective that we’ve always been advocating for and that is “live music”.

What I want now is for nightclub owners and establishments to make use of this and allow them to perform and pay them decently.

We need to create that environment so these young bands can thrive and I have a lot of respect because they are now coming out and showing Fiji their individual abilities.

I would encourage more of these bands to come out, they are all around, they have found a gap in the market that is looking for youthful musicians and they’ve grabbed that opportunity.

 

GM: Just on the genre and style of local music, what is your view on this?

Nesbitt: The new trend now on bringing the remixes in using computers to generate the music is not giving justice to music itself. The style of this music, if you’re going towards a particular producer to produce your songs, if you have 10 bands playing on local radio, I can pick up who produced that album. Because it’s the same, we call it plastic music.  There needs to be more creativity.

So that’s why it took us three years to launch our debut album we were very critical of what we wanted to put out into the public sphere. We took a business approach and formed our own production company who was responsible for managing the project.

Ratu Jo: Music now it’s just like a template

 

GM: Do you feel it’s important that established artists need to share their knowledge and experience to others and not keep it to themselves?

Nesbitt: Those that act that way are rather selfish. First and foremost it’s a God given talent and it should be shared.

If you can allow a young person to create a living through music and you’ve had a hand in that development how would that feel? You would feel so good about it.

I think for us we have never taken that approach because we feel music is a living thing, it dies with you, your legacy is carried through the music you are able to leave behind.

We have done that with our young guitarist, Marcellin Tawake, I used to play lead guitar before now I’ve stepped right back and now he’s doing everything and I’m so thrilled about it.

I’ve seen his development in the past three years to a point where I wouldn’t put my skills against him. The experience is with me but the talent is with him. You grow even stronger if you do that.

 

GM: Just on the recognition of artist in platforms like the Fiji Performing Rights Association Music Awards?

Nesbitt: I think Fiji Performing Rights Association (FPRA) has to widen its scope in terms of recognition, it doesn’t have to be originals some young bands do good cover tunes take Makare for instance that is a  household name today by simply re-recording old popular Fijian songs…well done I say. They should think outside the box.

FPRA should work in conjunction with the whole industry including club and hotel owners. FPRA has got a long way to go but they’ve established themselves as the voice of composers in Fiji and are doing a great job.

 

GM: Just on the new genre of hip hop artists in the local music scene?

Ratu Jo: I think it’s a new category in music and we will support it. There is a market for it and it will grow for sure in Fiji. Just keep it local since no one in the world will come up with that material but us.

 

GM: You have the first female vocalist, Talisa Rabaka, how did that come about?

Ratu Jo: We just gave it a try initially and it worked out for us.

Talisa: I’ve heard about them growing up and so when they were looking for a vocalist, I told myself I need to join this band. I grew up in a musical family as well.

 

GM: What has kept One2Eight going, where does the consistency come from?

Talisa: For me it’s definitely the bond, we have become a family.

Jone Tuiteci (band member): Ratu Jo and Nesbitt treats us all equally.

Ratu Jo: That’s the way I treat everybody and we are all the same. It’s the talent and the passion we share for music that we all have in common.

 

GM: What would be the highlight places/events the One2Eight band has jammed in?

Ratu Jo: Probably going to Laucala Island Resort playing for some rich people and they paid us good.  And for me getting new band members as well, it changes the dynamics of the band all the time. We cover jazz, reggae, and pop all the new stuff now.

 

GM: What is the long-term plan for the band?

Ratu Jo: For me I want to focus more on the Silkwaters Production studio, getting artists in and do recording and producing. Once we are done with our album launch we will start setting up the studio.  So if artist come in we will be talking to them, how serious they are going forward and also the quality of their originals.

 

GM: Where do you see local music heading in the next 3-4 years?

Ratu Jo: I think a lot of people are coming up with new stuff and just to be brave to put it out and not to be concerned of what people think about it. From us as a band, expect more original sound releases and we have a lot of talent as well with the members that we haven’t even tapped into.

GM: Who has been the source of inspiration behind your music journey?

Ratu Jo: Definitely our family, we spend a lot of time away from them for the past 5-6 years and the support of our friends and our fan base throughout the years.

 

If you want to purchase their debut self-titled Album and their official One2Eight T-shirt and other merchandise you can contact them on their official One2Eight Facebook page for more information.

 

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