As the Pacific Music Awards 2021 ceremony looms closer, we catch up with some of this year’s nominees. In 2019 STNDRD took the music scene by storm with their Polynesian anthem My Uso and My Uso (Remix). In 2020 they released their EP ‘Keep It STNDRD’, garnering the trio a finalist spot for Flava Best Pacific Group.
Integrating soulful melodies with hard-hitting rap deliveries is what makes STNDRD’s music gratifying to hear.
The Samoan trio comprises of brothers Johnathan (aka J) and Paul Aoina (Yannis), with their great friend Teeroy Leo (aka Leo). Their unofficial fourth member is Teeroy’s younger brother Moziah Toleafoa.
“[He’s] the mastermind behind a lot of our music thus far. [Moziah] goes by the producer name SYGOTBEATZ, and he’s produced for a lot of top artists including Cuuhraig and Lisi,” J says.
Born and raised in Ōtara, South Auckland, the trio derived their name from a South Auckland slang that was often used as an interaction tool.
“[It’s] pronounced “shtaandard”, [which] can be used interchangeably with the Samoan word seki,” explains J.
“It felt so natural calling ourselves STNDRD with the laid back vibe of our music. What you see is what you get, and so we felt that it fit perfectly.”
This year’s Pacific Music Awards sees STNDRD go up against other Pacific artist groups such as Church & AP, Shepherds Reign and Team Dynamite. The trio say they’re stoked to be nominated alongside acts that are killing it in their respective spaces.
The recognition for their work has kept them humbled and grateful for how far they have come so early in their career.
“We don’t want awards and accolades to define our journey and to be a measure of success,” J says.
“Just being nominated is a big win for us. Seeing the work of our fellow Pasifika artists and musicians will only motivate us that much more to continue to raise the bar and tell our stories.”
Their award-nominated EP ‘Keep it STNDRD’ ft BIGGS 685 is a letter of encouragement to Pasifika people. The visuals feature outskirts of Ōtara, New Zealand as well as West Sydney, Australia showing the separated members of the trio during the pandemic.
In 2019, Teeroy moved from Sydney to Auckland, while J and Yannis remained in Sydney. The separation was already hard for the trio, but when Covid was thrown into the mix, it made “what was already hard, literally impossible.” With support from family and a hunger to create, STNDRD managed to release music despite their circumstances.
“What we’ve learnt through it all is that there is no excuse not to create,” J says.
“You can always expect us to be real and you can always expect us to challenge ourselves constantly with this music. I don’t think any two years will sound the same from us; such is our desire and our drive to keep levelling up and to challenge ourselves artistically and musically!”
STNDRD’s long-term goal is to leave behind a legacy that their families and future generations can enjoy and be proud of.
You can catch more of STNDRD in the upcoming year at Promiseland, One Love and Good Love.
Join us for the 2021 Pacific Music Awards right here on TP+ tomorrow, Saturday 11 December at 7pm.