22nd August 2018
Well known Fijian band Tolu have announced a new direction for their traditional sound. Pioneers in the iTaukei music industry, the local band recently spoke of plans to introduce rap and hip-hop to their repertoire. Widely known for their love ballads, hymns and jazz numbers, the trio announced ta new album incorporating these contemporary genres to be released later this year.
Romula Leweniqila and music composers Saimoni Numo and Pauliasi Koroiwaca make up Tolu, predominantly known for their acoustic tunes and harmonious vocals played live at events across Fiji.
Coming together in 2011, the groups popularity has been steadily increasing with online videos taking off at an unprecedented pace.
“I met up with the two Pauliasi and Romulo in the West while they were also doing their own shows performing in hotels and small functions and what drew us together was our dream to explore new musical genres and produce something new for our iTaukei populace,” said frontman Numo.
Numo spoke of the challenge they faced in introducing unfamiliar sounds to a fan base who is used to their traditional direction.
“One thing was clear and that is we had to sing in iTaukei to appeal to our fans meaning our hip-hop, rhythm and blues and rap songs were going to be sung in the Bau dialect, or any dialect for that matter, depending on our target fans.
“It is something new because these genres of music have never been sung in the iTaukei tongue, or maybe if it was, it never really made it out there.
“Then we have our Fijian classics which seriously have never aged since they were written because the popularity of old iTaukei ballads has never lost their touch.
“If one sang a new song today people on the street would criticise the music but if one belted out a soulful version of Sai Levuka Ga you would have people clapping and smiling away,” said Tumo.
The band has developed a strategy designed to ease their fan base into the new sound.
“For me personally, I think our work as a band is to find that gel that will keep our fans hooked even if we introduce our rap numbers, but at the same time give them choices which is why we are still doing remakes of our old iTaukei classics,” he said.
“Therefore we are putting an album, made up of rap numbers sung by us and composed by the group including a few classical that haven’t lost their lustre over the years.”
Playing all across the Fijian archipelago, visitors can keep abreast of their upcoming gigs on the Tolu Facebook page. The debut album is expected to be released later this year.