Seth Haapu

Could you give us a brief background to your singing life and career. Where did it start, when etc.

Music runs in the family and for many of my ancestors it was a lifelong passion that has been passed down. I recognise that it began with them and I carry it on as a way to memorialise their legacy.

Describe your art...

A union of Polynesian culture, music, and aesthetics led by voice and piano.

What inspires/drives you?

I recently read a letter by Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter in which they said, “Use your own lives, and by extension your art, as vehicles for the construction of peace”. I interpret this as an encouragement to look to our own narratives as a source of inspiration in a way that fosters something good. My cornerstone, the thing my whole identity is organised around would be my culture and the betterment of it.

Do you enjoy the creating or the performing more?

It’s an honour to be a conduit for creativity and an honour to be able to communicate that creativity to others. A large part of my creative process happens in solitude so I spend a lot of time in thought. In contrast, performing opens up an opportunity for shared experience which creates balance.

How has the transition from working behind the scenes to being out front been? They must be very different experiences.

I'm an introvert by nature, so stepping into the spotlight takes some discipline. I find that a good place to start is where the people around you value you. I owe a lot to a music community that enables me to do both more fluidly.

How does a live audience affect your performance?

There’s power in human connection, and I’m deeply conscious of that when I perform. In many ways, it affects me because I’m made aware that we are not alone.

Recently you got to perform in Tahiti - that must have been special.

It was a homecoming, being that it is the ancestral home for many people of the Pacific including myself. For the past few years I’ve been on an exploration of origin so visiting Haapu village on the island of Huahine was a dream realised.

What’s next?

I’ve been drawing greater inspiration from my cultural heritage and merging this with elements of contemporary R&B. There’s a new record on the way that intends to celebrate the land and sea in a time where we’ve become exiled from the natural environment. It documents a return to our origins and the things that make us human.

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