The London based singer-songwriter and producer discusses his new nature-inspired EP “ZEPHYR” and how he developed his unique sound.
Taken from our Summer 22 issue. Order now…
“[Music is] a kind of meditation where I am communicating with myself in a language of emotion, beneath thoughts and words,” declares the New Zealand-born artist, Finnegan Tui. The 22-year-old is shaking up the music industry with his hypnotic and entrancing melodies inspired by the natural world. From his hit single “Once I’m Gone” released in 2021 garnering an astounding 800,000 streams to his awe-inspiring single “Bones”, Tui is continually making it clear that his artistry is one of a kind. A playful criss-cross between folk heritage and techno-electronic sounds, Tui’s new EP, “ZEPHYR” (named after the wind) is ready to storm the world and we expect nothing but the best. They say music is the language of the soul, something Tui’s introspective EP proves by throwing us into the deep world of his meticulous mind. With his seamlessly perfect smooth vocals dancing with his ethereal musical arrangements, it is no surprise that he has collaborated with the likes of Jasper Trim, Matt Lawrence, Robot Koch, Charlie Andrew, Dom Morley, Niv Adir, Andrew Scheps and Throwing Snow. Tui is no stranger to the music industry and you would think that a man of such talent would be overly confident and boastful, but that is not the case with Finnegan who is nothing but humble.
Whilst we await his highly-anticipated EP, Finnegan sits down with Wonderland to talk standout moments in its creation and how creating music is a therapeutic process for him.
Denim jacket and jeans FENDI and top STEFAN COOKE
Britany Josephs: How did growing up in New Zealand shape you as an artist?
Finnegan Tui: To be honest, it wasn’t the place as much as it was the people that made me want to make music. My memories are of warm, friendly and kind people. We spent a lot of my childhood travelling from festival to festival. Pacific dub, folk, and trip-hop music was the main music I noticed as a kid. My family lived and breathed music, and being surrounded by them and their friends was such a blessing. In many ways, I learned to play music as I learned to talk. Music felt like a language where people could say more than they did with words. I considered architecture for a moment after drawing a cool house once and thought about professional unicycling when I was 12. But apart from that, music is the only thing I have ever wanted to do with my life.
BJ: How would you describe your sound? Is there a specific artist/album that helped you find it?
FT: I have many inspirations and artists that keep me excited to make music, however, I couldn’t really name any who helped me find this sound. As strange as it sounds, I found this sound in the forest, in sunlight reflecting off the ocean. The question is always, what does this element sound like? How can I translate this feeling into sound? I found the songs when I was scared, excited, in love, or alone…there is no part of me or the places I’ve been that is not in this music.
BJ: How do you hope your fans react to your new EP “ZEPHYR”?
FT: I hope there is something in this music for them. Whether it’s beautiful or ugly, tame or wild – I don’t care so much. I just hope there is something real, a moment where they feel something visceral and alive stirring in them, in the sound, then within them.
BJ: Is songwriting a therapeutic process for you? And which song off the EP, did you find most therapeutic to write and why?
FT: Oh man, it’s the most therapeutic process. In day to day life, in my head, I think with words. Language and wordy concepts rattle around my brain all day. But when writing music, especially in that stage when a song isn’t even a song yet I just play for hours. A kind of meditation where I am communicating with myself in a language of emotion, beneath thoughts and words. And as the song emerges that world below mixes with the thoughts from above and the animal and intellect move together and that flow state is one of the most beautiful things I know of. “The Guard” was the most difficult song. Me and my sonic partner in crime, Jasper Trim, really pushed it with that one. We had a deadline and leading up to it we got very little sleep as we were working so hard. We added a verse the day before sending it off as well as lyric changes on the morning of the deadline. Whilst it was difficult some of my favourite moments of making music ever were in that song. I remember when Jasper and I received a double bass part and we statically screamed and whooped along to our song with joy whilst listening and then proceeded to skip and dance through the street on the edge of tears afterwards.
BJ: Which song from the record do you think crowds would react best to when played live? And why?
FT: “Once I’m Gone” because that’s our most known song but we play a different version live and I can always feel curiosity or excitement in the room when that happens.
BJ: Who would be your dream collaborator?
FT: Justin Vernon, Rival Consoles or James Blake.
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