Internet sensations TJ & Huri had experienced unparalleled success in 2019 and were hoping to grow on that in 2020. But COVID-19 struck, shattering their plans.
“This year we thought ‘well you know what? let’s shoot our shot, let’s start making our own music’.
“We had an EP planned, we had just played our first festival, with the Cook Islands Music Festival, Rage in the Park,” TJ explains.
The chaps say that they were literally standing on stage at Rage in the Park, when they heard the news that Polyfest was cancelled. On top of this, their planned tours of Hawai'i, Australia, and their gigs across Aotearoa are on ice.
“Ki te pono, we had to cut everything! All of these opportunities, kua pau!” TJ says.
New Zealand Music should be about education, not promotion
Just before the lockdown, they had taken on a manager to help grow their reach. COVID-19 has effectively locked down their chances to work with her. But the chaps are confident that their winning formula of connecting through cover videos will continue to grow their brand.
Their success on the internet has made the chaps wonder if now is the time to change how New Zealand Music Month operates.
“If you look historically at New Zealand Music Month, it’s been about promoting local artists," TJ says.
“It had a good reason for starting but I think the way music is, in general, now with the internet, you can collaborate with anyone, from anywhere."
The internet has proven to be a two-edged sword. While it was instrumental in building TJ and Huri's profile, it's been detrimental for others.
Citing the example of Jason Derulo sampling Jawsh 685's Tik Tok beat, the duo suggests that perhaps NZ Music Month could be a time to educate, rather than just a promotional month.
“I’m all for cutting New Zealand Music Month as it is. But if you were to change it, to maybe say, support upcoming artists by helping them understand the business of music," TJ says.
“New Zealand Music Month, I’ll be really honest with you, doesn’t mean anything!
Transitioning NZ Music Month into an educational institution, they believe, could protect artists like Joshua Nanai.
“Things like that could be easily avoided if there was education, and information spread about how the industry actually works. They say that educating musicians about the music industry is more important than promoting their work.
“That’s what need's to happen to it. Just like Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori has now become more about educating as opposed to - look at all those Māoris over there!”
Their post-COVID plans include finishing the EP, which they say will be all original, all in te reo.