There's so much Moa

Stunning Moa looks younger than her 30 years.
Stunning Moa looks younger than her 30 years.

Award-winning outspoken Kiwi singer Anika Moa talks about life, love and racism.

SHE'S just won Best Female Solo Artist at the Vodafone Music Awards (VMAs), released her fourth album Love in Motion and is about to hit the road in the country she knows best for a very special tour.

Anika Moa's New Zealand tour started on Thursday and takes audiences on a storytelling journey through her life and musical career. The show moves from Youthful to her latest song In the Air, with a handful of covers from artists who inspired her.

Moa plays it for laughs with PM John Key.
Moa plays it for laughs with PM John Key.

"It's a rollercoaster ride of memories, feelings and emotions and what I am hoping to achieve is to make people think about their lives, their losses and their gains.''

Singer, songwriter and performer, Moa is a self described "big mouth'',  her love-life public knowledge for more than a decade  but there is much more to Moa than her lesbian relationship.

She wrote and recorded her first album as a teenager and released it at 20. She's been nominated for three silver scrolls and won four VMAs.

And she's taken a musical road less travelled, choosing to stay in her home country rather than chasing financial success.

"I could have gone to America and toured my ass off but that wasn't my path. It's boring over there, there was nothing I could connect to. It was, oh here's another massive plate of gross yuck food, another smiley American yelling at me `hey let's do drugs', another limousine picking me up. I don't need a frickin' limousine.''

New Zealand is home. "I value honesty and trust. I trust a lot of people in this country. New Zealand is like my sibling. You kind of love it and hate it.

"Sometimes you meet gems and winners and beautiful people and sometimes you meet Joe Cockhead who is in a bar talking about how much he loves Paul Henry and you want to punch him in the head.''

Moa grew up in Christchurch with her mother, whose band Illusions has inspired Moa's new collaboration with Kiwi music babes Julia Deans and Anna Coddington, called lluzionzz.

"We always had a band set up in the lounge, when Mum would have friends around they'd get on the piss, and we'd all join in and see what we could come up with. She's awesome, she's fun.''
Most of Moa's seven siblings (including two step-siblings) have also followed musical paths.

"All my family are my inspiration. My two brothers are rappers (20 and 21)  they think that they are better than me, and I've got a brother who only plays Johnny Cash and The Beatles. Another brother just started playing guitar and he's getting better than me. He only plays Dire Straits and Jimmy.

"Another brother is at jazz school and my sister, she sings when she's drunk,'' Moa laughs.

Her father also made music until he died from lung cancer three years ago.

Christchurch was cruel place to grow up for the large family to a solo mother.

"We had dads but they'd come and go. We had a very tight family, we all looked after each other. We got a lot of shit because mum was on the DPB, and we were very, very poor, we weren't like 'walk to  school with no shoes on' poor, but we were pretty poor.

"Other kids in the area used to call us dole bludgers so we'd just beat them up. When I was growing up I felt Christchurch was racist. Skinheads used to drive past me and go `you f***ing nigger' and go doof doof and pretend to kill me''

Did it make her stronger? "I dunno, it just made me think 'what dicks'.''
Moa loved school. She threw herself into her subjects, played rugby and performed in school musicals. Her dream was to be an actor.

Anyone who has seen Moa on stage knows performance is a large focus of her shows. At the VMAs she delivered a comedic performance followed by a flawlessly delivered song but she insists she gets nervous before her act.

"First of all I am nervous and I feel like spewing, and then its amazing ... I only just started flowering as an entertainer in the last three or four years.''

When she's not making music, she reads fiction, goes to the gym and spends time with her loved ones.

Her father's side has roots in the Hokianga and Cape Reinga. The beautiful Ahipara beach is Moa's place of inspiration. She learnt Maori at high school, then university and is currently working on a Maori album. University lasted just six months before her musical career took off but taught her to be less ignorant, she says.

"When you open up the paper and see "Maori want their seashore/foreshore back'', you don't just skim over it, I learnt to read [the articles] and to discuss them with people, involve myself in that way.''

Her second album Stolen Hill, was heavily influenced by her study of the Treaty of Waitangi. "When I learn about my Maori history I learn  about my family, about my ancestors.''

With Moa what you see is what you get. She wears not a scrap of makeup and looks much younger than her 30 years. Questions about both work and her personal life are answered frankly. "I love my life, I love everything about it, but I just get in trouble when I say too much. I talk about [my relationship] all the time. I'm very open about it but I don't like people that focus just on that because the things I focus on first are my music, my touring and my work.' She lives in the moment and her pride does not come from VMA awards.

"When I'm writing good songs, songs that are better than the last one, when the radio is playing my songs and when people are coming to my shows and we're connecting, that's all that counts to me."

Sunday News