At the end of the afternoon, the Upa Upa Tahiti team met Ariioehau Taumihau. The appointment is set at Paofai Park in Papeete, on the island of Tahiti, to discuss with this enthusiast with multiple hats!
'Ia ora na Ariioehau! Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
Ia ora na! My name is Ariioehau Taumihau, I am a young 24 year old Tahitian. I would say that I have several passions, audiovisual in particular! I made it my job. I have been working as a freelance TV and radio host for four years. And for almost a year, I started on social networks (YouTube, Twitch and Tiktok), in the hope of being able to live from it one day. I am also passionate about music. And I love being funny!
How was this passion for music born?
As for many Polynesians, it's a family story. My father played a lot before, various instruments (guitar, ukulele, piano). He regularly animated the parties. It rocked my childhood and my attraction to music developed little by little. I called it my shy passion.
She really woke up in 2015, on the occasion of the first ukulele record organized in Polynesia. The goal of this event was to gather as many participants as possible for a few minutes and play a song together. I did not participate but I had one of my uncles who took part. He bought a ukulele for the occasion and since he worked at TNTV he recorded sheet music and tutorials explaining how to play the songs. By dint of seeing him play, it made me want to get into it too. So gradually I fell in love with this instrument. I learned as an autodidact and then like the bike, it came a bit on its own.
Since then, music has been part of my daily life: I listen to it and I make it for fun. I don't have a favorite musical field, I listen to jazz, rock, classical, hiphop… At the ukulele, I have a varied repertoire. I play songs in English, in Spanish. And for a year and a half, I have been focusing on Tahitian songs. It's important for me to know the meaning of the music I sing, in order to interpret it with true power. I have a real attraction for text songs, as well as for Tahitian culture! Polynesian culture is part of my identity. And I'm all the more interested in it since I know how to play the ukulele better. This interest in my culture permeates each of the music I sing. I also sometimes explain what the lyrics of Tahitian songs mean to those who don't know their meaning. I try to share the Tahitian language as best as I can, to all the people around me who are eager to learn. And on a larger scale, to all people who have an interest in music and our culture.
What instruments do you play?
I mainly play guitar and Hawaiian ukulele. I also manage a little on the piano. I also play several Brazilian instruments.
I prefer the Hawaiian ukulele to the traditional ukulele because the sound is softer, therefore less aggressive for the ear. You can't play a little lullaby with a traditional ukulele. And to play alone, it's better. But during the binges, I go more towards the Polynesian ukulele. My choice will therefore depend on the mood of the moment, I adapt.
Do you have a favorite artist, which inspires you?
Gabilou because he was a pioneer in this field. He went to France, he took part in Eurovision… He made a lot of songs, and in several languages, so he's a local artist with an impressive career.
I also like Marua Teni. Especially for the connection that there was between us. I had the opportunity to play with him during a “Play with Maru” evening that he organized in a restaurant. The concept was to offer him music that we wanted to sing and he accompanied us on the guitar. During this piece we understood each other, without looking at each other or talking to each other. I particularly remember that I was singing and at the end of a verse I was supposed to continue but I stopped. And at this precise moment he did a hell of a solo. I looked at him with tears in my eyes. Then he waved to me and I started to sing again. There was a symbiosis between him and me, I have very good memories of that evening. Music has the power to make you feel beautiful emotions. And for once, she brought us together at that time, it was very strong.
Mauruuru Arii for this interview! Do you have something to add for the end?
Yes, I would like to send a message. I think that today learning Polynesian music should be accessible to everyone, free of charge. From an early age, schools should teach to'ere, ukulele… rather than teaching them to play the flute! In my opinion, it should be part of the public domain, just like the transition of the Tahitian language is today. It would allow young people to reconnect with their culture, they would develop a sensitivity for traditional music. Something that is currently being lost...
Thank you Upa Upa Tahiti!