Te Karehana Gardiner-Toi ( Ngāpuhi, Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngāti Ranginui) has the kind of voice that sends pleasurable shivers up your spine. Going by the name Teeks, he's just released his debut EP, which was produced in New York by Jeremy Most, who has worked with Chainsmokers and Emily King. For this session, Teeks collected up a supporting cast of seven.
“He has the kind of amazing voice that makes singers like me want to stop, and let him go do his thing” said Rob Ruha, a year ago when he introduced Te Karehana Gardiner-Toi as part of his mixtape for RNZ Music. He's also been championed by Tama Waipara, Maisey Rika and Warren Maxwell, and Teeks says that kind of support is invaluable. "They're right behind me, in everything that I do. So it's a big thing for me."
Te Karehana was part of the 2014 intake of Pao Pao Pao a māori music mentoring program set up by the late Dr Hirini Melbourne. Tama Waipara organised for Teeks to head to New York to record with producer Jeremy Most, who has worked with Emily King and Chainsmokers.
The resulting EP 'The Grapefruit Skies' deals with themes of love and loss.
"For me, it's like being in a dream state, with the person that you love, or might have lost, and wanting to stay in that moment together, watching the sun go down. And I'm a real visual person, I like colours - so that's where the name comes from."
It's a fitting co-incidence that it has been released in time for Matariki, a time to reflect on those who have passed on. Recently Teeks has lost an Aunty and his Grandfather, who was an Archdeacon. His gospel song 'Wash Over Me' was written in his Koro's honour.
"It is like a redemptive song, it talks about coming new, and having a fresh start. My grandfather was sick at the beginning of last year, and my father asked me to sing a gospel song, and I didn't have one, so I wrote this song as a dedication for him."
Growing up in a kapa haka family gave him a good grounding in the kind of music he makes now, reckons Te Karehana Gardiner-Toi.
"Singing and performing is just a part of our culture, it's part of being māori. Kapa haka is māori soul music."