MTV Exclusive Interview With Nesian Mystik
After 10 years of enviable success in New Zealand, Nesian Mystik are ready to take their unique brand of rap, soulful harmonies, scratching, and guitaring, (better know as "NESIAN") to the world.
On the local scene, the six piece have notched up three top selling albums, plenty of industry nods and feel good grooves that have become anthems on summer play lists. A constant presence on the festival circuit, coupled with a willingness to prop emerging talent, Nesian have won a hard-earned kudos. Now, off the back of their latest offering, 'Elevator Musiq' the boys are heading Aussie to spread the Nesian love. And we can't wait.
MTV calls up the very sweet and affiable Awa for a chat to talk Vodafone MTVAA Nominations (vote here), representing and giving back.
MTV: First up, congrads on your nomination for Best Kiwi Act! Are you excited about coming to Australia to spread the Nesian love?
Awa: Thanks! It's great news. The boys are really focused on Australia this year. We have heaps of family there and there's a lot of expats so it's a good market for us. All of March is pretty much dedicated to Australia. We have gigs all over the show, so we are definitely excited about it.
Hopefully we can draw some of the Aussies in and bring them into the Nesian Whanu [family]!
MTV: It's interesting that Aus & NZ are so close geographically, yet the charts are so different! It's more rock and dance here, while NZ is RnB and hip hop. What are your expectations?
Awa: Well first off, there's nothing wrong with dance music or rock music, cause, you know, Nesian can do that too (laughs). But we thought hey, we may as well give them something where it doesn't matter what age you are, doesn't matter if you're broke or rich, you can jam to it and you can still relate to the lyrics. We just praying to the Australian music Gods!
MTV: How's your latest album 'Elevator Musiq' going over there?
Awa: Album's good man! It's hit top twenty, which is good. We have had three top ten's and off it and a number one. We can't really ask much more than that. We are pretty stoked.
It's just going so well and it's on our terms, because we are out of contract now. So everything that we make here is all ours. It's a great place to be at, when you're at the top and out of contract. We are at that point in our careers that if we are going to do it we are going to do it our way, and we want to enjoy the process rather than feeling like an unappreciated artist.
MTV: It's been about ten years since you guys have been around.
Awa: Let's not put a date on it. I feel old at 25!
MTV: Ha ha, but it is really commendable, especially in a small scene like New Zealand where you see many artists release their first album never to be heard of again. So, what's the secret to success?
Awa: Just hard work man! Its hard work and song writing. It doesn't matter if you're the best singer in the whole entire world, if you can't write songs, you're pretty limited in what you can do.
We are really lucky. All of the boys are really gifted. They're very gifted in song craft, we know structure and we know chord projection, and we just add our natural humour to it, our horiness, (laughs) and our funniness and flavour and it becomes ours.
MTV: Were there any influences that drew on for the first time for the last album?
We are influenced by everything, especially old school; a lot of Bob Marley and a lot of the new hip hop stuff; we're influenced by so much so we just take what we like from them and put the... You know 'Pimp My Ride'? It's kinder like 'Pimp My Song' Nesian styles!
But to be honest we have just made music exactly the same. We just had a jam.
Everyone has a go on the keyboards. None of us are the mean key players. But we kinder just have a tutu [a turn] and if it's cool we keep it and if it stinks we just say, 'Nah that's whack bro, you're going to have to cut that!' and that's what it's about.
Also we are paying homage to Pacific Island artists that haven't cracked the charts, but they're still urban legends. So that's why you'll see people like Brother Love on our videos, who's well known throughout the Pacific Island community, and Chuck Upu who's probably one the best ukulele players in the world.
MTV: Tell us a little about your third single, 'Mr Mista'
Awa: That was just talking about those people that make those really distinct decisions and in my verse I focused on George Bush. I'm talking about him in my verse than we were like who should we get [to sing]? And then I saw this young girl called Kimbra at the gym running, when I was trying to get cut like the American rappers (laughs) and I saw her singing the song and I told the boys that this girl could be all right!
So we got her and she did a really good job and we taught her how to sing it RnB style!
You know it's a good way to give back, to support up and coming artists; you got to give! You have to look after the up and coming guys and give them a shot. So that is a big philosophy in life for us.
MTV: A lot of upcoming musicians do look up to you so it's great that you're supporting that talent.
Awa: Yeah, yeah! I mean you can't have a legacy if you don't give back. That's the key philosophy, especially seeing, there isn't much more we can do over here so that's another reward. To write songs or produce a song, or more to have them feature on our song and see them do well off it. It brings us back to ground to cause it makes us hungry again. You know, wanting them to do well.
MTV: So you mentioned that you wanted to crack Australia this year, you guys have had a huge success in Japan. What other countries have you guys really felt the love?
Awa: There is love everywhere! But as you know, with six dudes air fares can get expensive! That's another reason why Aussie is so attractive to us. Even though we've done great in Japan and other places, now what we want is to represent in Aussie! Why not?! All our peeps are there anyways. So we'll come over and first have a good time, then hopefully sell records on the way.
MTV: Well can't wait to see you guys over here, good luck for the awards!