With a sold-out nationwide tour behind him, Teeks is stepping into 2021 raring to go. To the delight of his fans, Teeks' highly anticipated debut album Something To Feel has finally been released.
The album is an emotional listen and sees Teeks reject colonised ideas of masculinity, embrace te ao Māori and surrender to his emotions.
Music 101 was lucky enough to have Teeks take Music 101's Charlotte Ryan through the new album, track by track.
He says the content is like "a linear narrative" drawing on his experiences over a one-to-two-year period.
"Some songs definitely are connected in some way because they are part of a bigger story and they represent different moments in time."
Asked if he is in touch with his feelings, he says he was not very expressive when he was growing up but now he has matured, he has realised it's healthy to say what he is feeling.
"We call it progressive masculinity but for me it's more of a reclamation of ideals and values that my [Māori] ancestors always knew and knew the power of so it's reconnecting to that part of who I am."
He says he lives in a "dual reality" of both Pākehā and Māori traditions but in the Māori world men were always emotionally aware.
The album inspired him to get a tattoo of the word 'surrender' on his neck after the nationwide pandemic lockdown ended last year.
"Through the process of writing this album and navigating that whole space of emotional awareness and vulnerability.... the word became significant to me because I found strength in it ...
"To me it's a positive thing - I've done a lot of introspection and I've done a lot of self-reflecting."
A lot of reading has kept his mind and spirit healthy, he says, instead of focusing on regrets and other negative thoughts from the past or worrying about what the future holds.
"There's definitely layers to the tattoo and to the meaning... acknowledging those feelings is the most important thing... I thought it'd be good to make a statement, put it [the tattoo] somewhere visible because again it's about being vulnerable and not being scared to reveal part of yourself."
'Lucky' to be around singers
Teeks is known for his distinctive powerful voice showcased on songs like Without You but has never had any formal training. "During the album I wanted to make sure I was looking after my voice - it was more so about the maintenance of the voice and understanding the mechanics of it, especially recording and going on tour because I feel that my voice has got a little bit fragile...
"But in terms of technique or anything, I haven't really had any training. I was lucky - I've always been around singers."
His whānau and growing up on the marae meant singing was a huge part of his early life, he says.
He describes 'Here Before' as one of the most raw and vulnerable songs on the album - it is just Teeks and his guitar and was a song that "wrote itself", he says.
"It's a healing song."
The track 'Remember Me' has already had more than 2 million listens on Spotify, with people letting him know from several parts of the world that they like it.
He didn't expect it to be a success on commercial radio, however, he likens it to some of Adele's hits.
As for the fact that his music is now gaining an international audience, "I write these songs in the moment and I do it because it helps me and then once I finish and put it out, the song doesn't belong to me anymore.
"It's like out into the world and whoever is going to connect, listens to the song, it's like a cool feeling..."
Teeks, who is 27, discussed a track called 'Younger' which is about "seizing the day, realising that we're not here forever in this lifetime so we might as well fulfil our purpose and chase our dreams and be content with life and do everything that you can to make sure that it was the best life you could have hoped for".
The final track, 'First Time', is written from "a place of hope", he says, and ends the album on a positive note although once again it exposes his vulnerability.
The album will also be released soon on vinyl: "It's so different to just pushing play on your phone," he says.
TEEKS tour dates Te Rerenga 'Something to Feel' ki Aotearoa
- Pipiri 4 - Municipal Theatre, Ahuriri
- Pipiri 5 - The Civic, Tamaki Makaurau
- Pipiri 11 - Michael Fowler Centre, Poneke
- Pipiri 12 - Opera House, Whanganui
- Pipiri 18 - Isaac Theatre Royal, Otautahi
- Pipiri 19 - Regent Theatre, Otepoti