Backup vocalist steps to the front

By Jessica Tyson

Soul singer Victor Hawkins-Sulfa is set to release his fourth studio single after launching his solo career earlier this year.

Hawkins-Sulfa is of Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Tuwharetoa and Te Rarawa descent, and also has Polynesian, European and African ancestry.

He defines his music as a composite of all the musical influences he grew up with and heavily steeped in nostalgia.

“I was raised around a lot of different music and I fell in love with it all. It became both an obsession and escapism. I fell in love with the voice as an instrument and I wanted to learn to use mine to the best of my ability.”

The 32-year-old began his music career at 17 singing backing vocals for artists such as Vince Harder and Stan Walker. He has also worked with Sola Rosa, J Williams, L.A Mitchell, Erakah, Janine Foster, 64D, Illegal Musik and TJ Taotua.

In November Hawkins will release his fourth studio single Can't Leave It Alone which draws influences from Prince and Neo-Soul.

“When I began writing songs I always hoped that I could capture the essence of my influences and, if someone else could hear them too, then I had done something right. I often write from a very personal place and I'd avoided sharing my songs because the act made me feel so vulnerable. Either I'm sharing very personal stories masked in metaphor or I am conceptualising a narrative.”

His first studio album will also be released next year. He describes it as a nod to all the music he grew up loving, which inspired him to take this journey.

“This is the way many of us fell in love with our own influences and I'm always going back to my influences. I'm constantly experiencing music I haven't heard before and I love that there is so much to be discovered and rediscovered. Making the album I realise I am building a legacy and hopefully, one day my own music do the same as those that came before have done for me.'

His earlier singles released this year include I Couldn't Tell It All, Fireflies, Streetlights, The Lost Ones, What Have You Done? and another soon to be released, All This Time.  

The new album will be released in February 2021.