Ia ora na Charlie! Can you introduce yourself ?
Ia ora na everyone, my name is Charlie, alias “Didjelirium” for my artist name. I arrived in Tahiti when I was very young and grew up there. Since I've been here I've always been immersed in music, guitar, partying. I've been writing since I was 8 years old. I was doing a lot of poetry until I learned to play the guitar and then transposed my poems into song. I am a singer and a bit of a jack-of-all-trades, I also play the ukulele, but my talent is really writing.
What were your beginnings?
I started out as a philosophy teacher but soon realized that wasn't what I wanted to do all my life. I quit my job and went to China in 2006 to become a reggae singer. It worked well, we had small parties with DJs I met there. Then I started to get interested in music videos and I learned to make video for a year on my own, which allowed me to work in a design studio in Shanghai. Not many artists can say that they have made a living from their art at some point in their life and I had the chance to work for 10 years in music!
I love Asia but the pollution made me come back to Fenua. With Moana Louis, my partner at Blackstone Production, we opened an audio-visual production company where we make a lot of music and clips. We have a lot of artists in the office and we are also lucky to have a lot of local musicians who come to see us. The advantage of being only artists in the studio is that we create a warm atmosphere, we know what we are doing and the artists who come feel good there.
Do you do concerts?
With my group Mad Nomads, we made some music videos during the confinement and we had planned concert dates but for the moment we cannot do it because of the health situation. It's true that it misses a lot because music is shared, it feels. In my opinion, art is the only thing that allows you to free yourself. There is no pressure, no obligation. As long as the creative energy is there, you are free. Music saved me a little because I could be a philosophy teacher, but on the contrary I went away from that, to meet other cultures, to express messages with lots of different people. And it's magic when music blends together and forms something that could not have been born if we had done it alone.
Have you written songs for local artists?
Yes some, especially for young people aged 10-15 who have great voices! When I have to write for them I really put myself in their shoes and the inspiration comes to me automatically. I've never done solfège but you can tell when a chord sounds out of tune or not. You physically feel the vibrations of the music and it's the same with the people around you. Either that sounds wrong, or you vibe the same way and it feels like you've known each other for 10 years.
Do you have a favorite song that is played on the ukulele?
The song that I probably played the most on the ukulele when I was little! It's "Pahoho" by Te Ava Piti.
Do you have any pieces to recommend to young people who are starting the ukulele or to foreigners who wish to discover songs from Tahiti?
The Polynesian classics of course like the albums of Bobby Holcomb, Angelo and Esther Tefana. There are also the songs of Jack Johnson, and then even all the covers can be possible. The advantage is that it is a small instrument which has only 4 strings and which is quite practical. In comparison, for example, I play the didgeridoo and it's much more cumbersome. And above all, the ukulele has this unique and heavenly sound that instantly makes you travel and brings a smile back.
And how did you learn to play the ukulele?
With my friends in Tahiti, at the beginning you only start a few notes then little by little you learn. Like many things in my life, I had a physical and material experience of it so I learned to play music by practicing.
You said that when you were little there was always someone who brought their ukulele somewhere?
Yes, we always found a ukulele, and even now when I go to work around the corner, it's nice to hear the sound of the ukulele and to say hello to each other, to smile. Life is as simple as that. If we could wish a good day and full of happiness to a stranger every day, the world would be better off. If in addition we can say it in music with the ukulele, it's the best! And it's part of the magic of Fenua to hear the ukulele almost everywhere.
Thanks Charlie! And finally, what would be the most original project you would dream of seeing the light of day?
It's related to my childhood in fenua, when I went to the valleys to listen to music with my colleagues... I have a project related to Julien from "Own Mission" and several local artists like Teritua. We would like to take a truck tour of the island to reach people who cannot attend our events and share our music with them.
Mauruuru for the Upa Upa Tahiti interview!