Reorua Songwriter Geneva AM Shares Waiata Taonga ‘Pikipiki’

  • Reorua Songwriter Geneva AM Shares Waiata Taonga ‘Pikipiki’
Reorua Songwriter Geneva AM Shares Waiata Taonga ‘Pikipiki’

Reorua Songwriter Geneva AM Shares Waiata Taonga ‘Pikipiki’

Geneva AM is the moniker of Geneva Alexander-Marsters (she/her, Ngāti Ruapani mai Waikaremoana, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairoa, Aitutaki, Palmerston), an award winning producer, beat maker and vocalist based in Tāmaki Makaurau.

Her bilingual approach to songwriting has been prominent throughout her musical career, most notably with the band SoccerPractise (2012-2018) and her debut release ‘IHO‘ (Waiata / Anthems). ‘IHO‘ went on to win Te Tohu Puoro o te reo Māori (Favourite Song featuring Te Reo Māori) at the 2023 Student Radio Network Awards.

Following the success of her chart topping single ‘T(M)²I‘ (pronounced Tangaroa Made Me Ill) Geneva AM now releases the new song ‘Pikipiki‘ featuring accompaniment from Mara TK, Samara Alofa, Hawkins and Rewi McLay (KIKO). ‘Pikipiki‘ is accompanied by a music video (made with help from NZ on Air) directed by Ally Sua. To celebrate Geneva AM is hosting Miki Rapu Waiata: Pikipiki, a Mixtape Activation on May 11 at The Domain via the app PickPath.

The track positively bounces, with its optimistic 00’s eurodance inspired rhythms and its layered harmonies. The waiata begins with a conch played by Tyson Campbell (“calling to our ancestors to give us their strength, Whakamana vibes”) and features guitar solos provided by Mara TK.

“This waiata references my childhood and highschool years,” says Geneva. “When I was growing up, coming through the Rumaki Reo (Pounamu at Kowhai Intermediate) I began to see Māori pop culture emerging. There was the TV show Pukana where they covered pop songs in Te Reo and as an urban based school we even made it to the Kapa Haka Nationals for the first time (which for a mainstream school was basically unheard of). So this cheesy beat is my way of referencing a big turning point where I began to notice Te Reo becoming more mainstream.”

Lyrically ‘Pikipiki‘ reflects on the last four years and looks to the future with hope and optimism. “The 2020’s have been a bit hard on everyone in different ways and I wanted to create a song about overcoming obstacles. The term ‘Pikipiki‘ means to climb and ‘Hikihiki‘ refers to ascending. The lyrics are about climbing the highest mountain and flying over those obstacles like a kite as it ascends into the sky. I was also thinking about Tāwhirimātea (atua of the wind and storms) who always stands up for what he believes in, using storms to bring new beginnings. ‘Pikipiki‘ is a call out to him, asking for his breath to aid our kite’s flight and help us bring change.”

For ‘Pikipiki‘, Geneva AM is joined by a who’s who vocalists from throughout the motu, including Mara TK, Samara Alofa, Hawkins and Rewi McLay. “Over the years it’s been great to become friends with them all and in the back of my mind I’ve always wanted to make a supergroup – so it was such a pleasant experience to have them be part of this waiata. For ‘Pikipiki‘ I wanted to be in a healing space and sometimes that means seeking community, manifesting joy, creating space for renewal – you don’t have to do that alone.”

Speaking to the experience of singing with others Geneva AM notes that “I think music is supposed to be a collective experience with different levels of skill and knowledge. Singing in a group is healing and a natural thing for all people to do.”

“I love the harmonies in Pikipiki and getting to arrange the parts alongside the other singers. I wanted to be in a group again. Just singers singing for a day. It was great.”

Pikipiki is accompanied by a music video made by Ally Lase (with assistance from NZ On Air Music). Featuring all of the contributors writing and recording their parts, the clip could be seen as the local version of ‘We Are The World.

Now the track is released Geneva AM reflects “I feel like I’ve been crafting some kind of positive force field that I’m about to throw over everyone. When they hear it, I hope it helps with any negativity they may be facing. Now more than ever we need to unify and believe in our collective power to make positive change.”

Check out all things Geneva AM below:

Photo credit: Mike Hall