Bonjour Tikahiri ,thank you for your time to answer our questions. First of all, could you introduce your band? Who are you and since when has your band been active?
Our band is called Tikahiri, and Tikahiri means “Blood” in our native language and our band exists now since about 10 years and we have been playing together since then.
I heard that you have actually been the first Metal band in the area of Tahiti. Can you tell us a bit about your beginnings? Was there something like a Metal Scene back in the days? How did the idea come up to form a Metal band?
My brother Mano and I always loved Metal, for example to listen to Rolling Stones with our parents, we used to listen to Venom, Metallica, this was in the 80’s. When the 90’s came, we formed our own Black/Death Metal Band called Abigor, Maruabo and other bands. Then we grew a little and our Metal became Rock/Dark Rock, Gothic Rock and we liked Bands like Sisters of Mercy and things like that. We met Stéphane Rossoni on Drums and Simon Pillard on Cello and so Tikahiri was born. Then we made 4 albums together and now we are still playing together and cruising around.
And how was the reaction of the people who got to hear your music at first?
Oh, the reaction of the people is always surprising, especially when we are playing Rock or Metal in such an exotic area where Ukulele is normally the center of the instruments, but people get used to it little by little and the inner part of them which is tribal, warrior, animal gets woken up with our music, so we are coming back to the sources I guess. (laughs)
You have very interesting elements in your songs, such as bow instruments and also traditional sounds, but one can clearly hear some Gothic in it too. How would you describe your music yourself?
Our music is Rock’n’Roll, Rock, Dark Rock, Gothic Rock. Our music is all the influences we have been inspired from since we grew up.
Who were the bands that inspired you to do this kind of music?
Like I said before Metallica, The Cold, Blue Öyster Cult, Pantera, Sisters of Mercy, Dandy Warholes, all these bands cruising around playing good Rock’n’Roll
The band was found by Aroma and Mano Salmon, so I have to ask the two of you, when was your first contact with this kind of music and what band was it that you heard first?
We were something like 7 or 8 when we heard Rolling Stones and the Beatles on the Radio and then came Billy Idol and David Bowie, all the things on the radio that have dark influences.
Mano: Oh that that was a long time ago, when I was still a little fellow, I was something like 10 or 11 years old. I listend to my first Band called Guns’n’Roses, I was a fan of Guns’n’Roses before especially the Album “Appetite for Destruction”. I really liked that music and started from there, and then came Metallica and I grew up with that style of music.
How about the actual Metal scene in Tahiti, is there something like this existing nowadays? Are there nowadays more Metal bands around and do you have possibilities to play gigs?
Yes, we play gigs now and then in Tahiti, but the scene is quite small and the public is quite little also, so we don’t play to often so that the people won’t be exhausted, because we live on an island. Once you go around on the island back and forward the other way and people happen to know you from A to Z – that is why we are happy that we have the chance to travel around and cruise.
Many of your videos are directed by Patric Ullaeus who is very well known for his videos, how come you work together with him, especially as he is from Sweden, not living right around the corner?
We have always seen the things in Big. We have been dreaming about the big things like going on the other side of the planet, going to Mars, actually my Brother made a song called Mars. So Patric Ullaeus realized Dimmu Borgirs videos and I am a great Fan of Dimmu Borgir and I really love Patric’s work when he made these big, big videos. So, I send him an Email one night and I really hoped he would answer. And he answered me the next morning and I was so surprised and so happy then I made him a proposition to come and see the south pacific brothers so he came by with his little family and spend three weeks together and now he came here like four times and he is feeling like home because he IS home and we work together and he is our Brother and we are his south pacific family, we really love the job we make together.
Your band name Tikahiri means “Blood” in pa’umotu, why did you choose this name?
Because Blood is something every strong, very powerful. You cut yourself – you bleed – you die. The red color is something that I translate to passion and we are really passionate about our music and by life and Death. We like rising very high and sometimes we drop very, very low and this is called passion and this is what we are.
You sing the songs in English and your language pa’umotu which is really interesting. What do you prefer yourself? Singing in your mother-tongue or English?
I like singing in pa’umotu our native language, then for a couple of the elder albums I loved singing in English, and now I am coming back to the roots, so I got couple of compositions only in pa’umotu the native language, but more acoustic as this music is more talking to my soul at this moment. I have a side project as well which is a Death Metal band and only pa’umotu language. So, I think that the native language is really speaking to me deeply so I am going back to the roots in this moment.
Can you tell us something about the pa’umotu lyrics? What are the subjects you write about most?
I talk about love about Death about God about Ghosts, we talk about our fears, about the things we love to have with us and other protections, just things that make the world turning around.
And who is responsible for the songwriting?
I am mostly taking care of this part. My brother Mano made half of the last album, so I think the is getting more involved in that part of the creation as well.
So far you have mainly played around Tahiti, but if I understood that right also in Japan and also France? Is that right? Do you have any plans where you want to go next? Do you have plans to visit Europe again?
We want to go to Russia. We planned something last year and we were supposed to go there this summer and going thru Europe to go to Russia and also going to Ukraine, because we have a Fan club in Ukraine. It didn’t happen but still I think we are going to make it happen at some point.
I guess for people in Tahiti, traditions and culture are still very important and they do a lot to keep them alive. Are traditions for you important too and how do they affect your music?
We are living with traditions, we have a Tattoo business we have been tattooing motives of our life, traditional motives for 25 years. We have a shop both my brother and I, so yes, we really live with the tradition and the music just goes together, there is not much to say about it, it is just all one.
There are documentaries about the band, especially about Mano & Aroma and their families which I really enjoyed watching, I see that we could learn a lot from your culture and your traditions and how close you are to nature. I wonder: Is city life something you are missing there? Would you give up your life like it is now surrounded by nature, to have the possibility for more success because you are closer to the hotspots of metal music?
Oh, I am not going to live in the city with cars or in an industrial zone, that’s for sure. I want to go there for playing gigs because this is a part of my life, but when I come back home close to the nature where the source is, then this is my real home. It is like a telephone, you are going to charge it on an electro source to charge the batteries. Same for me as a human being, my source is over here in Polynesia close to the trees, the sea, the nature and once you unplug me to go out and travel the world and play gigs out there, then I am charging fully 100% – this is how we work but we invite you to come down with us and check it by yourself and see that what we are saying is true.
Mano: Nature is part of our culture in Polynesia, if you go outside you are surrounded by trees, water, plants, and the sun, we live the nature everyday.
Mano & Aroma, you both grew up in the Tuamotu Archipelago so far away from big cities. But I guess after playing in Japan & France you know how it feels being there. How do you like it compared to your home?
Big cities are really cool and so are big countries. We have a little experience because we were born in New Zealand in Auckland which is a big industrial zone actually. And so, we already have an approach of all this but now the fact of living in the nature, going back and forward from a big city back to the nature, this is just part of our lives, so we think it feels natural. We really love to be in a natural area because this is where our source and home is, but we also really love to travel around to be in big cities and stay a while there, like something one month or month and a half before coming back, so this is a really, really good life for us. Back and forward – half in the nature, half in the city.
Mano: In Tuamotu especially on the Island we live Fakarava, a paradise that is on the other side of the atoll where no one lives, no families, no one at all – we live with the elements of nature.
Is there a big dream you have as a band that you want to achieve?
The dream is that life carries on, that we get happy, that we make albums, videos and keep trying to go around the world with our music. That people are happy to listen to our music and we can party together. This is the dream a nice life with going up really high and going down – we are alive and we are really happy to be alive and to be able to enjoy our lives, that is for sure.
If people are now interested in your music and would like to buy a record, where can they do that? Is it possible to order from you or only via iTunes?
You can order from us also. You write to Stéphane Rossoni, he is the one who looks after the band and does the administration – Stéphane Rossoni on Facebook is the one.
And last but not least: do you have a Tuamotu idiom or saying that you would like to share with us?
Is there a Polynesian wisdom? (laughs) I would say: ”As soon as your eyes are opened, then the pressure should be straight away, if not, they will be shot forever.”
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer this interview. It is an honor to have you.
A huge thanks goes to Stéphane Rossoni who made this interview possible. Merci Stéphane.
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