From Music 101 on RNZ
Yesterday saw the release of Troy Kingi's fifth album, Black Sea Golden Ladder. It marks the halfway point for the Tai Tokerau singer's 10/10/10 series. The folk-inspired album sees Troy team up with Delaney Davidson on his most personal record yet. Black Sea Golden Ladder was written and recorded as part of Troy's Matairangi Mahi Toi artist residency hosted by the Governor-General and Massey University.
That's where Yadana Saw and Troy Kingi meet up to speak about his residency experience.
"I had no research under my belt, normally I'd spend a good at least five, six months, if I had more time 10, just researching the type of folk music I wanted to get into, but with this one I didn't really, I was listening to songs here and there," Kingi said.
While he had met Davidson briefly before, the pair only really got to know each other about three days before going into "writing mode".
"He had a gig at the Wine Cellar and we just chilled for a couple of hours in his hotel room and just jammed and tried to feel out what we wanted to do.
"Because, initially, I wanted time to write poems for each of these songs but they kind of never really materialised. I tried but I just didn't feel good about them, but I still wanted to have the concept of the album be each song be a different phase in life that most people can relate to. So instead of doing poems, we just had conversations about my life."
While he said Davidson was more of a "lyric heavy guy", who started with words, Kingi tended to work the other way around - "I'm like get all the music and then let the words come."
He described the resulting album as being "folky singer-songerwritery" - and also his most personal work yet.
"It was quite confronting like, these songs ended up being about me and it was like me looking in the mirror. It wasn't so much scary, it was just weird," he said.
"I never ever thought these things were like interesting, most people, ordinary people just have this stuff but when you start putting it down, we'd have this conversation about work and I'd just be talking to him for like 40 minutes and he's like 'I think we've got lyrics here', turn it around and all this rubbish I'd been saying he'd picked out a few gems and written down, it looked real legit.
"I just started talking about my life basically and we got to know each other really quickly, real intimately, and I thank him heaps for that because this is the first true album that's really truly about me."
Now that he's reached the halfway point in his 10/10/10 series, Kingi says it's both exciting and hard anticipating its completion.
"It's going to be a big transition finishing the 10 because basically that's the end of me as an artist, as Troy Kingi, and so it's going to be hard to let that go and move onto the next phase.
"It's also exciting, knowing that this is what I've got, this is what I've got for the moment and I feel like my audience as well is really along for the ride."