Adeaze return with positive vibes

By Rebecca Blithe


On a dark street, bright-eyed children in pyjamas jump on a trampoline. Clusters of people amble along a footpath and tiny hands clutch at sandwiches from a charity van as smooth soul voices harmonise over the scene.

It's the latest music video from Adeaze, documenting the brothers' work for the Good Neighbour charity, helping deliver food to poverty-stricken families.

"The charity goes and feeds families that don't really have that much and the kids are just running around the streets, especially at night time. So they go out once or twice a week, and it's all volunteers. It was all real footage," says Viiz, 30. "We felt it tied in well with the song."

Much like the rest of the album, the title track - Rise and Shine - is an uplifting tune, reflecting the empowerment they say is paramount to their calling.

"To sum it up, it's about being positive," says Nainz, 31. "There's a lot of negative stuff out there, especially in music, and in every industry really."

"I know it's not cool, these days," adds Viiz. "But this is the music we've been gifted to write. We're not going to change for the industry or for anything. This is music that we believe heavily in. Our first experience was our parents teaching us Sunday school songs. All that influence built a foundation to help us write music that could change lives and build up people who aren't confident in themselves."

Their second musical offering has been a long time coming for good reason - the pair took a break from the scene for their families.

"We had kids to raise. We know that our parents were there for us, so it was important for us to be there too," says Nainz, who has three children. Viiz has four.

Of Samoan descent, the brothers were born in Hamilton and moved to Mangere in 1995. Viiz and his family live in Weymouth while Nainz and his family are in West Auckland, but he still visits the family home in Mangere each week.

"The kids started getting to that age where they'd ask, 'Oh Dad, are you going to be here for Christmas?"' says Viiz.

"It was a big thing for us to be away for Christmas and New Year's Eve, because that's where the big money is. But we'd be feeling sad. Everyone's with their families and then there's me and this guy," he says hitching a thumb at his brother.

But they say their children, who they are teaching to sing and play instruments, have come to understand their fathers' jobs and why they may not be around sometimes.

"I always make sure I ask them, 'Why are Daddy and Uncle Nainai going away?' And the answer's, 'Because you're going to help other people with your music.'

"Just hearing those answers encourages me," says Viiz. "They know that it's like a calling for us. My little child, she says, 'Yeah, people need food so you need to help and go sing'."

Adeaze, who say they probably buck the trend with their uplifting music, have performed together since they were young. It's been seven years since the release of their first album, Always and For Real, and they say the industry's tougher now than when they left.

"It was a big shock," says Nainz. "Back then we sold way over double platinum and now we hear of our close friends who are artists and they can't even sell over 200 units (albums)."

Though their 2011 single Rise and Shine sat at the top of the iTunes charts for two weeks here and in Australia, the pair say they're a little bit "old school" when it comes to measuring their success.

"Now the internet's so big... iTunes is big. The album's really big in Australia. But we don't feel like we've achieved anything till we've seen the actual CD."

Since their first album, they've also started their own record label, Str8 Up Music, so they could have full control over their work.

"It was always hard for us to understand other people making decisions for us and if we disagreed with it, it would be like, well, this is the deal," says Nainz. "But now we're the happiest we've ever been with our music and [being able to] control it ourselves."

Despite the independence, they've maintained a good relationship with their old label, Universal.

"They're very supportive of us. But it's much easier for artists to do stuff themselves these days than it was. A lot of bands out there are just setting up their own websites, their own tours, their own gigs. But breaking into the actual industry is still hard if you're an independent. We were lucky because we had a foot in the door," says Nainz, adding Universal was there to help them get an important gig.

"That's how we featured on Ronan Keating's album," says Viiz. "There's some big-time artists on that album like Elton John. We flew over and met Ronan on The X Factor."

"It was a big privilege," says Nainz. "I would've sung Kumbaya if he'd wanted me to sing Kumbaya," Viiz says laughing. "But he was real humble, down to earth."

Having performed as a duo their entire lives, they look slightly taken aback when asked if either of them would ever do their own thing.

"I'll be honest, it feels lonely if we have to perform apart. There was one gig where I lost my passport so Nainz flew over but not me. Before he left it was like, shucks. The way he was hugging me, it was like, 'Have you been cutting onions bro'," reveals Viiz.

Nainz frowns briefly at his brother before the pair begin to laugh. "You notice how different it is without your brother," says Nainz. "We're capable of performing on our own but..."

"We're a year apart. He's pretty much my twin," says Viiz.

During their "time out" Viiz worked full-time as a music tutor in Botany and Nainz became a full-time carer for their mother as well as teaching guitar and singing. They also performed gigs on weekends.

The pair have just returned from a lengthy tour, including school performances in America Samoa. Back home, a big chunk of their time is their involvement in community events.

"In our communities out in South Auckland and out West, there's five to 10 community events that come every week for us," says Viiz. "We'll always be part of them."

Nainz nods in agreement. "We're not tied to one particular charity, we're like a freelance charity."

"We want to see changes in our communities," continues Viiz. "So it's always great to be a part of something that's for a good cause."

Sita Selupe is the founder and CEO of Rise Up Trust, an organisation helping parents and whanau engage in their children's education through a programme aligned with the New Zealand school curriculum. Mrs Selupe says Adeaze has provided huge support to the trust by performing at their expos.

"They are a huge drawcard for bringing in Maori and Pacific whanau who we are engaging with to build learning communities.

"People just flock. You get children lining up to take photos and get autographs. It's a huge thing for the community. Viiz has also done our parenting programme so he's a great ambassador."

Despite their popularity, they express genuine surprise at the news of four Pacific Music Award nominations, for Best Pacific Group, Best Pacific Music Album, Best Pacific Urban Artist and Best Pacific Song (Paradise).

The pair, who won Best Pacific Group at the 2005 awards, say it's vital to have awards that specifically recognise the Pacific music community "because there's a lot of talent there", says Nainz. "And it's not really recognised that much. But having this is a great avenue for a lot of Pacific artists. It's so hard getting into the New Zealand music industry.

"The other cool thing with the awards, is there are a lot of artists that nobody knows of from the islands."

They say they enjoy seeing some of the older people from the Pacific Islands be recognised for their gospel music at the awards. They know that's the kind of music that is in their roots and which is now having an impact in on other people's lives.

Says Viiz: "It's a big buzz for us when people come up from all different walks of life, from gang members to school kids to old folk, all different nationalities, high profile people, coming up to us and saying our music's helped them."

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PACIFIC MUSIC AWARDS

WHERE TelstraClear Pacific Genesis Energy Theatre, 770 Great South Rd, Manukau

WHEN Thursday, May 31

HOW MUCH Adult $30; student $18; child $15, plus pickup or postage - TicketDirect. ticketdirect.co.nz or ph 0800 224 224

WEB www.pacificmusicwards.org.nz and adeazemusic.com

PACIFIC MUSIC AWARDS FINALISTS

BEST PACIFIC FEMALE ARTIST

Bella Kalolo Without the Paper

Iva Lamkum Raise Your Glass

MzJ Love Changes Everything

NZ MUSIC COMMISSION BEST PACIFIC MALE ARTIST

David Dallas The Rose Tint

Kas Futialo Good Morning Samoa

Stks Rhythm & Brown

NIU FM BEST PACIFIC URBAN ARTIST

Adeaze Rise & Shine

David Dallas The Rose Tint

Stks Rhythm & Brown

RADIO 531PI BEST PACIFIC GROUP

Adeaze Rise & Shine

Te Vaka Havili

The Hypnotics Coincidence

APRA BEST PACIFIC SONG

Adeaze Paradise, written by F Tupa'i/L Tupa'i

David Dallas Take A Picture, written by: D Dallas/A Iustini/J Iustini/T Rowlands/E Simons Ria

Over You, written by: A Numia/E Ensink

TAGATA PASIFIKA BEST PACIFIC LANGUAGE

2PouzFynist Upgrade - Cook Island Legacy

Kas Futialo Good Morning Samoa

Te Vaka Havili

BEST PACIFIC GOSPEL ALBUM

Erakah Infatuated

Mutalau Ululauta Matahefonua Trust Choir Lologo Tapu Tokiofa Mutalau Niue - Taofi Lologo 5

Samoan Autalavou P.I.P.C. Newton Lota Nu'u Moni

BEST PACIFIC MUSIC ALBUM

Adeaze Rise & Shine

David Dallas The Rose Tint

Kas Futialo Good Morning Samoa

OTHER AWARDS: Manukau Institute of Technology's Lifetime Achievement Award; Phillip Fuemana Award for most promising Pacific artist; NZ On Air Radio Airplay Award; Auckland Council People's Choice Award for Best Pacific Artist.

- THE AUCKLANDER

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