Powerhouse vocalist Victor Hawkins has created a new series of videos to highlight the hidden issues and experiences faced by artists working in the cutthroat music industry.
Tāmaki-based R&B and soul singer and songwriter Tāmaki Makaurau accompanies the release today of his own video for the uplifting anthem “Lost Ones,” alongside a series of filmed interviews aimed at educating emerging talent on how to manage the pros and cons of the entertainment business.
“The things that kept coming up were the things that nobody tells you is happening in the industry,” Hawkins said.
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“The stereotypes about what it is to be a musician; how there is a lot of anger about it, but less conducive conversations and actions to back it up. Also, the importance that music plays in protest and social issues.
The interview series also features Hawkins, alongside award-winning recording artist, performer and mentor Bella Kalolo-Suraj, nominated recording and touring artist Lou’ana, backing vocalist, musical director and playwright Monica Cheung-Fuk, and saxophonist Thabani Gapara. , who has worked with Katchafire, House of Shem, Hipstamatics and Stan Walker.
Each of the artists speaks candidly about a range of less talked about topics, from ego breakdown, managing friendships in the music industry, jealousy, nodules and rules, as well as cultural and ethnic issues.
“There are a lot of things that we don’t talk about a lot. Or we talk about it, but in a compartmentalized way,” Hawkins said.
“Many of us would like to see the barriers broken down and for that to happen we need to desensitize the difficult issues that have prevailed. This is extremely true for Maori and Pacific artists where our identity is strongly rooted in our own choices and judgments.
“The interviews are more about what they had learned, to get through that, rather than the experiences that burned them.”
The video output of The missing comes after the song featured on Hawkins’ self-titled album released in March 2021, which also includes the Waiata Māori Music Award nominated single I can’t leave it alone.
the The missing The video addresses the apparent desire to follow your childhood dreams, with Hawkins drawing on his own experiences and learnings from nearly two decades of work as a live performer, backing vocalist and session singer. He has worked with artists like Stan Walker, Vince Harder and Sola Rosa, and has also played in many bands including the Levites, Hipstamatics, Jukebox and The Pickups.
“In all my jobs, I was just in a background role, which was really safe for me for years,” he said.
“Then there is the ugly side of the industry. There’s this facade with music that we put on, that’s really a pretty cool thing. But there are things to be careful of, and it’s very easy to get lost and that’s what The missing is about.”
Hawkins faced outside influences trying to persuade him to take a more commercial route with his music, but decided long ago that he would achieve his creative goals on his own terms.
Playing music as a corporate artist has allowed him to gain financial independence and self-fund his album, while for the past three years he has also worked as a music teacher at Papatoetoe High School.
“I wanted to do it myself so the focus would be on me. The arrangements, the songs – I was free to do whatever I wanted. And if I didn’t want to listen to someone telling me how to do things, I could.
“Just being able to make your own mistakes and own them, and have your successes. This was a very important sticking point for me. And I don’t think I would have made that decision at a younger age.
Hawkins, 34, (Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Rereahu, Te Rarawa) may still be breaking through as a commercial artist, but feels a responsibility to also help promote other talent and share their messages as part of his own project.
“I love finding ways to support others, even if it’s expensive,” he said. “I was raised quite Māori, not in the reo way, but in the tikanga (culture, custom, ethic) where you do things for your community.
“It was just an experience that I was able to share with these people that I really tautoko (support, defend), love and support.
“I want these stories to air, and I think our industry is starting to experience that a lot more often.”
Hawkins’ new video for “Lost Ones” premieres on Stuff Play on March 6, with a different episode of Hawkins’ interview series airing daily from March 7-1.