21 Sep 2018

Anatomy of a Scroll: Troy Kingi, 'Aztechknowledgey'

From RNZ Music, 6:00 pm on 21 September 2018

“It’s pretty much some bullshit that I conjured up one night looking at the stars. But there’s pieces of me in it.” 

That’s how Northland actor and musician Troy Kingi describes his Silver Scroll-nominated song ‘Aztechknowledgey’ from his high concept space funk album Shake That Skinny Ass All The Way To Zygertron.

Troy says the basis of the track came from the guitar line - “that ching ching chinggg ching ching” - which he wrote on New Years’ Eve family holiday in Taupo Bay

“That’s pretty much all I had and I thought it was cool. And that’s how it stayed for probably about six months.”

“It wasn’t until I started coming up with the overall concept for the whole album that the theme and everything else fell into place with that song.” 

The funky tune and its opening beat were inspired by the Isley Brothers which he said he was “smashing hard” at the time. “I just really wanted to sound like I was from the 70s,” he says.

Troy describes the plot of the song like this (buckle up):

“By this stage in the story, there’s a father who’s travelled through this portal and ends up in the fifth dimension in this kind of Amazon in this fifth dimension with this Aztec tribe.

“He reads these hieroglyphics on these old ruins and there’s one part that mentions that there’s going to be this person who’s born with golden feet and they’re gonna lead the people into the future but there’s also gonna be people that are gonna try and take him down.

“I dunno,” he pauses. “You gotta have those people - the jealousy ones.”

Troy Kingi

Troy Kingi Photo: Elliot Childs, RNZ

He continues:

“So he’s like ‘Oh shit. That’s my son. OK.’ And then he comes onto the other side of the ruins and rips these vines across and sees another little piece that says ‘Aliens made this civilisation’ and they’ve left remnants of their technology underneath the ruins of a temple something.

“So he ends up getting it, going underneath, finding a pod and puts his son in it - his son’s about five years old at this stage - and sends him to the moon.

“And that’s what this song’s about”. 

As for the pieces of himself he mentioned earlier, the lyric ‘A hum is replacing sound’ was a reference to going deaf in one ear which happened just two months before entering the studio. 

RELATED: APRA Silver Scroll 2018 - Top 5 finalists announced

“So that’s a sneaky little Easter Egg there.” 

Also: the line “You’ve gotta look back to move forward” is a nod toward his Māori ancestry.

“You gotta know where we come from to move to the future,” he says.

Troy says that when he went to record the album he had “minimal dollars” so he was only able to give the band three days to get the tracks down live. They had only played 'Aztechknowledgey' twice.

“I showed Ed [Zuccollo, synths] the chords the night before going into the studio. Pretty much what he puts on that song is him, on the spot, improv.

“That’s the magic that I’m talking about.”

Troy says Ed played in the control room - where they couldn’t hear him - while they recorded live. When they went into the control room, they heard the synth parts Ed had been playing. 

“It got to that bridge and then I started hearing all this stuff coming and I was like ‘holy shit’ and it was just so cool to get these nice surprises.” 

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  • Music details

    Artist: Troy Kingi
    Song: Aztechknowledgey
    Composer: Kingi
    Album: Shake That Skinny Ass All The Way To Zygertron
    Label: Private

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