Thursday, February 07, 2013

Igelese - Groovalation

Iglese, from Rip It Up issue 214, 1995
Igelese Ete released the single Groovalation in 1995, on local label Papa Pacific Records, run by Manu Taylor, then working at Marbecks (these days he is station manager at BFM). Papa Pacific also released early recordings by Dei Hamo, Johnny Sagala (Lost Tribe), Stellar, and Fieldstyle Orator [now Tha Feelstyle].

Igelese moved from Samoa to Wellington when he was 7. Rip It Up's John Russell (Issue 214, 1995) writes that "Igelese began singing in the choir at the church where his father was a preacher, and wound up as both a member and conductor of several singing groups, including the National Youth Choir. At age 15, he was resident pianist at the Park Royal Hotel in Wellington." Igelese went on to complete a music degree at Victoria University, with a major in performance singing.

Igelese says Groovalation was his "plan to combine different styles of music, and by doing that I hoped to get a unifying effect. I included the Polynesian styles because that's my background,  and Maori because I wanted to pay tribute to the tangata whenua. The other reason I wanted to do Groovalation was to prove to young people that if you have a vision, not to give up."

Once he had the song recorded, getting a NZ On Air video grant proved difficult without a record company backing it. Russell writes that "Igelese was turned down three times ... for video funding. He had no initial success when he began searching for a recording contract."

Igelese : "I'm no record company, but I think most of them were too scared to take a song that had a Samoan and a Maori rapper. Maybe they just thought it was too extreme to try and sell"

He eventually got a deal with indie label Papa Pacific (distributed by Warners), and RIU reports that there was an album planned for later in the year (95).

RIU: "Meanwhile,Igelese has begun collaborating with Gifted and Brown and former Rough Opinion rapper Kas [now known as Tha Feelstyle] on what he describes as a new urban sound. Igelese  "I think the next thing people are going to get into is Polynesian fusion - mixing up a lot of different styles. That will be the thing to look out for." [which neatly points to the rise of the likes of Urban Pacifika/OMC]

Groovalation proved successful at commercial radio, earning Papa Pacific a Radio Hits funding rebate from NZ On Air, given to acts that achieved a significant level of radio airplay. The song spent 11 weeks in the NZ singles chart (and 5 weeks in the top 20), peaking at number 13 on 2nd July, 1995. Video directed by Makerita Urale (one of King Kapisi's sisters) and Simon Beaufield.

From NZ on Air Kiwi Hit Disc #13 liner notes "Groovalation started life as Tutufa'atasi (Meaning "standing together" or unity) and was written for the 1994 International Festival of the Arts' finale concert."

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