Troy Kingi to release visual album

By Jessica Tyson

Musician Troy Kingi is about to release a visual album inspired by his latest album, Black Sea Golden Ladder.

Kingi collaborated with Hi Mama Productions, Te Māngai Pāho and seven Māori directors to produce the visual album that explores an existential life experience.

“We just want to showcase more Māori directors and just show what talent we have within our own people within our own iwi,” says Kingi.

Each song is based on a different stage or a different phase in life, he says.

“We had an ensemble of seven Māori directors who took each of those different phases and listened to the song and took it in their own perspective of what they thought that phase or that stage of life looked like," he says.

The album also has an underlining Māori theme, with te reo Māori spoken throughout it. Kingi says the visual concept was inspired by the late 1980s show Quantum Leap.

“If you look at my past videos and stuff I’ve done in the past a lot of it is quite dark. I am a big Tarantino fan, so visually I always kind of move toward that darker visual representation but there are a lot of light and beautiful moments in there as well.”

Kingi’s album Black Sea Golden Ladder is one of the 10 albums he plans to create, in 10 years in 10 genres.

"It is the most personal of all my albums – the first one I feel that is truly about me,” he says.

Silver Scroll award finalist

This week Kingi was also announced as one of 20 finalists APRA Silver Scroll Award, New Zealand's biggest songwriting honour.

He is a finalist for his song All Your Ships Have Sailed as well as for the song Turangawaewae written with Stephen Harmer, Maisey Rika and Tenei Kesha.

"It's awesome. It just means that people resonate with what I'm writing and any of the awards that are given out in New Zealand I feel like this is one of the good ones. I was able to get a Taite award last year for my work for Holy Colony Burning Acres but this one is based solely on how you write a song, how you craft a song, he says.

"I'm just honoured because look at the other 19 finalists - we had so many amazing songs come out over the last year - so I'm just happy to be among these guys."

Upcoming tour & ARONUI festival

As well as releasing the visual album on Friday, Kingi is about to go on tour alongside Delaney Davidson in August, playing the album live, in shows across the country.

In September Kingi will return to his roots to headline ARONUI an indigenous arts festival held annually in Rotorua to celebrate film, visual and traditional art, Te Reo Māori, music and theatre.

Kingi will be bringing his band The Upperclass with him, to perform songs from his previous album including songs in te reo Māori, to celebrate Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori.

ARONUI will also feature an international act with world-renowned dancer and drag performer Roymata Holmes returning to Aotearoa with their show I AM KING. I AM QUEEN.

Last year, the festival was postponed due to cOVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings. ARONUI festival director Cian Elyse White, of Te Arawa and Ngāti Pikiao, says she is delighted to bring back the festival stronger than ever.

“I am honored to spearhead this year’s exciting festival once again, bringing people together to celebrate, empower, inspire and be uplifted through the lens of arts in all its wonderful forms. ARONUI is a rongoā, a healing activation that looks to create togetherness through sharing stories and vibrant, diverse perspectives of the world,” says White.