“I’ve been producing music for roughly seven years, and professionally for around four. Don’t Worry ‘Bout It was my first single as Kings, but it took years of developing my skills before that to get to that point.
I studied at Mainz, and I learnt through writing for other artists and doing small commercial jobs, but I didn’t really have a music background. I was actually into boxing, and boxing would have been the one if music didn’t pop off. Boxing is the same as music though – it’s very hard and you’re constantly fighting somebody. I started Arch Angel Records around the time my daughter was born, and she was actually one of the reasons I started the label. I think trying to form something from nothing, all while I was raising a little one, was difficult.
My grandfather built the Marae I produce from, and that cultural influence does play a part in my music. We have this thing called wairua, which is spirituality. When I first started six years ago my dad used to do this prayer for me to kind of open to the spiritual gods, to have creativity channel through us. We believe that we aren’t the ones that create, in a sense, we’re just conduits, and that’s been a huge part for me. And when I write, I try not to get in my own head, which I think helps me write a fair bit.
As soon as you start thinking too much, you lose the creative flow and start thinking about catering to radio, like ‘oh this will sound great on radio, I better not swear,’ so I just do everything. If it sucks, it sucks. I love grinding, so I haven’t really had a moment when I’ve sat down to rest. As soon as I finished the first album I started the second one. And even when the single dropped, work began straight after.
Hearing Don’t Worry ‘Bout It played for the first time in public was weird. Really weird. I think I was shopping for my daughter, we were in a Glassons or something and it came on. I was just like, Holy s**t. It was just a really cool moment. I didn’t believe it for a while. It hit a plateau at around 15,000 plays and I thought wow, that's huge for me. I was like, I'm done. That's amazing. I'm happy with it.
And then it kept climbing and I just didn't know when it would stop, and it didn’t stop. To this day it’s still getting streamed and getting played on radio. The music video for Don’t Worry ‘Bout It was shot on an iPhone. It was pretty much just one cut – what you see on YouTube is pretty much it, I edited it on the plane on the way home then just chucked it online.
On the business side, royalties are so important. After ‘Don’t Worry ‘Bout It’ I started seeing decent money for the first time. And that means I can fund my studio, which helps me to continue to create. Through royalties I funded my first computer, I funded the soundproofing and everything in my studio.
There is definitely a lack of education surrounding the music industry and what we do. I was lucky because I had managers and mentors along the way that told me all the stuff I needed to know. But without that knowledge, I probably wouldn’t be where I am. You need to understand the game, and your royalties, and your bookkeeping, and that management are a huge part of it.”