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My Favourite New Zealand Artist: Siavani on Upper Hutt Posse

For NZ Music Month, Rolling Stone AU/NZ asked musicians to share their favorite Kiwi artists and what sets them apart



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South Auckland songwriter and multi-disciplinary creative Siavani may have grown up singing in church, listening to the likes of Neil Finn, Annie Crummer, and Dave Dobbyn, but it was the hip hop beats of Upper Hutt Posse that really shook him to the core.

Today, Siavani’s music is a mashup of hip hop, soul, reggae, and R&B, with uplifting tracks like “Love Look Easy” and “Think About It”.

Looking back, Siavani recalls:

As a toddler, the local music playing all the time at the family parties was the likes of Prince Tui Teka, The Yandell Sisters, Mark Williams and The Herbs.  

But the catalyst moment for me as an individual music fan was seeing Upper Hutt Posse with “E Tu”, for the first time on an NZ music TV program called Radio with Pictures, it shook me to the core! I knew right then and there that I wanted to do hip hop. At 14 years old I was singing in the church so listening to Neil Finn, Annie Crummer, and Dave Dobbyn – all the NZ artists that related to singing I was listening to so I could sharpen my singing skills

But at night I was jumping out my window to go to the local garage hood parties with my older hip hop friends to jump on the mic and bust out rap freestyles while DJ Ron was cutting up the turntables.  It was a surreal time living two lives without my parents knowing while they were asleep I was outside at 1am in the morning performing with 20yr olds, and then they would drop me off at home before sunrise. 

Upper Hutt Posse for sure was the battery in my back to go and research the culture of hip hop myself and connect deeply to the US and the movement.

I started travelling to the US because of the seed “E Tu” planted. Today I’ve made so many friends there that I am still connected to, to  this day with hip hop. Although it was my life I couldn’t stray away from my Kiwi roots of music so I loved reggae and soul and blues and Kiwi rock! So implementing that into my hip hop sound was easy, I became that type of artist, a renaissance most said, but I just thought I was just an artist.