As the Pacific Music Awards 2021 ceremony looms closer, we catch up with some of this year’s nominees. Soul sensation Tree is setting the bar high by leading with four nominations. She headlined for Auckland’s Pasifika Festival, performed at One Love and runs her own production company, ASQUARED PRODUCTIONS LTD, and independent record label, BLK ENTERTAINMENT LTD, with reggae artist and husband Swiss.
Serving fresh tunes fused with her Polynesian roots is Samoan singer-songwriter Tree.
The Pacific Music Awards (PMA) finalist is up for Auckland Council Best Female Artist, NZOA Best Pacific Music Video, SunPix Best Pacific Language and Recorded Music NZ Best Pacific Music Album after releasing her self-produced album, Mrs Tree, on New Year’s Eve last year.
“It’s still surreal to me every time I hear it or am reminded of the fact that I am even nominated, let alone being most nominated,” Tree says.
“I get emotional talking about it. I poured a lot into this body of work and mostly grateful to my team — who are my family, my husband, my siblings — and to be recognised in all these areas for the labour of love we all put in together is super special.”
Mrs Tree is an album of vulnerability, life experiences and letters to her younger and present self and her small family.
The album charted in the Official NZ Music Charts for over six weeks, featuring award-nominated single Afio Ane Loa. The Samoan language song is Tree’s most “personal and precious work to date” and is up for NZOA Best Pacific Music Video.
The visuals burst with Polynesian culture and beauty, displayed in the New Zealand landscape, and honours Pacific women of every walk in life, including those who have gone before us.
It also embraces Tree’s reclamation of her culture and sense of belonging.
“I grew up as a New Zealand-born Samoan, and being light skinned, the term ‘NZ born’ scared me into embracing or owning any part of being Samoan from a very young age,” she says.
Creating the video for Afio Ane Loa was a real family affair. Tree’s older brother Quincy Filiga was the co-director and cultural advisor, and her older sister Liz Laupepa was the producer.
Carlin Leota directed the video, which also features the Ōtahuhu College Magnique Choir, Tuiga Dance Academy, Tolu Manu Iti and The Fala Girls.
Tree says creating Mrs Tree is one of the most unforgettable moments in her career so far.
“Recording [Mrs Tree] in the space of my own home studio and having my husband and lifetime partner executive produce it — to say ‘we did that!’ — is definitely a special, unforgettable moment,” she says.
Before lockdown, Tree was fortunate to tour Australia with her musician husband, Swiss. The pair have since returned home to spend time with their children.
“We have a studio in our home, so we always [have] something music-related going on whilst on lockdown,” Tree says. “On top of being artists, we are also self-managed, self-recorded (mix and master). I direct and produce our own visuals and run our own independent record label, so everything pretty much keeps us on our feet and busy.”
Tree is currently working on her next visual album and is looking forward to celebrating Pacific music with her peers and her team.
The 2021 Pacific Music Awards will broadcast live here on TP+ at 7pm on Saturday 11 December.