March 5th, is here! For the link to the video, click HERE. Thanks so much for all your aloha and support. Mahalo to Luke D’Addario on Pahu drum, Steve Keola on upright bass, Hulali, the Source with the moves. Shout out to the camera work from Nui Brede and Malia Daraban. Mahalo Robert Brede for the security. Shout out to the video editor Evan Fujimoto. Shout out to Jaslyn Loftin, Guy Hess, and Tracy Larrua from Poi Planet. The PR team asked me a few questions about the vid and I will share them with you.
- What do you hope the viewers take away from seeing this music video?
1a. I would like viewers to notice that there can be a melting pot of new age and old classics when it comes to Hawaiian mele. I would like them to notice that using different instruments with traditional Hawaiian instruments can create more opportunities of exposure throughout the world without limitation. Hypothetically speaking, I can perform this at the Merry Monarch, and then turn around and perform it at a big concert in the states opening up for rock bands such as Metallica or Aerosmith.
2. What was your inspiration to re-imagine “Pua Hone” with a rock twist?
2a. My inspiration first comes from my parents. I listened and learned the song through them. From there, I heard the Cazimero Brother’s version that they enjoyed dancing and playing to. After studying most of the local musicians and artists, I noticed many like rock music. Roland Cazimero, Dennis Kamakahi, Bla Pahinui, Willie K, Henry Kapono, and more fused some rock into their songs. Then I wondered, why is there no electric guitar in Hawaiian music? Would it be disrespectful to have electric guitar in Hawaiian music? Well, I know for sure there are some songs we don’t touch. I started asking my mom which songs would be appropriate for a rock interpretation.
3. You said you wanted to keep true to Hawaiian tradition with the song while making it your own. What elements of the song showcases that? (I.e. the vocal delivery, the structure, etc.)
3a. I told my mom I wanted the song and future Hawaiian songs to keep their lyrical integrity, meaning a hula dancer could still dance to these songs without missing a beat. Dennis Kamakahi’s Pua Hone was first on the list and I feel it came out perfect. I still incorporate the traditional ‘Hawaiian Trio’ with acoustic guitar, bass, and ukulele. Adding drums and electric guitar to that mix brought it to the next level. If you were to take the drums and electric guitar out of the mix, it would sound close to the Cazimero’s version. Truth be told is that a hula dancer can dance to this version and it is still Hawaiian music.
4. What inspired you to make this music video? Why these locations specifically? No need to mention specifically where, as I know you folks want to preserve the nature of this place/ not advertise it.
4a. The music video was inspired by a thought of unification, acceptance, and an extension of Hawaiian music diversity. A thought that kupuna will accept this modern version of a mele if they saw another kupuna dancing to it. Hence, I showcase an inspirational hula dancer and a hidden treasure of Hawai’i. She has been dancing professionally for about 50 years. A product and extension of the strict and desired kumu of that time, Bella Richards from Kailua, O’ahu. With her help and experience, Hulali influenced me to showcase other places in Hawaii that people rarely see. She made sure the moves and clips lined up closely to what I was singing for the song’s integrity. Hulali brought a lot of emotion and feeling to this project and I am truly grateful. This video was filmed on the island of Maui with a few shots on O’ahu. Pua Hone is a long distance love song which ends in a proposal and marriage. My version is a Hawaiian Rock Love Ballad.
To further the content, there were some questions for Hulali and here they are:
1. How did you start out in hula? Who taught you more about hula?
2. What were the venues you performed at? Any Hawaiian entertainers you have fond memories performing with?
3. When did you start choreographing your own hula?
4. Are you still dancing hula now for different places/ occasions?
My Mother grew up as a student of the much sought-after extraordinary teacher Bella Richards in Kailua. I am the second generation and extension of this source(Kumu). Auntie Bella was a disciplinarian and taught Polynesian dancing, although ,extensive laborious training was mostly in hula.(Many Kumu Hula and Polynesian show owners would send their children, students, and cast members to her.) I did many shows with her as one of her main dancers from countless luau shows, to hotels, concerts, Waikiki Ho’olaulea, even for the Hokulea maiden voyage which she and her Ohana was involved with. (Her son Billy Richards was part of the original crew.) She took us to Tahiti to authentically learn from the people; a cultural exchange.
I was trained by her from four years old and my first time onstage was at five on the Moana Banyan Tree stage which is still there. Later, I would return to audition and was chosen to be a part of a large international cast for Tavana’s Polynesian Spectacular on that same stage!! Two shows a night, six nights a week. The show later moved into Dukes Showroom in the International Marketplace. Authentic cast, culture, and handmade exquisite costumes…glorious show to say the least!!
Having to move to Maui, I auditioned for and was hired by Tihati’s Drums of the Pacific show at the Hyatt(longest running Tihati production .). Again, an exciting six night a week gig , with frequently added two per night shows. I also toured with this cast a few times.
After having Ka’imi , I worked mostly as a soloist picking up gigs here and there in Hotels all over Maui. My favorite was the twenty-one years I spent at the property formerly known as Intercontinental Hotel Maui. (There were three management changes over that time. Now currently a Marriott.). I was asked by Bill Boyd to be the house dancer at the award-winning Hula Moons Restaurant all week, and to dance the whole night with various Hawaiian Trios throughout the week , for four hours, period costume change each hour, which is unheard of for a hula dancer. We expanded to five hours and did so for quite a few years. (Eventually, I found another hula dancer to cover my weekends.)
At the time, I had a hotel room poolside as my dressing room so Ka’imi and his brother Kauhinui would spend many a night there. Ka’imi as a young child up until he worked for a Polynesian production company, would always spend hours sitting near the stage, mesmerized, and study the Hawaiian Trio. He once told me that he doesn’t know how, but he knows all the chords of these Hawaiian songs as he was able to improvise with anyone. I believe he was immersed on a daily basis for years and so it became part of his essence. In the latter years, I would open the Marriott Luau Show, then finish my night at Hula Moons(Later called Kumu)Restaurant. There the Polynesian songs and drumming became part of him as well.
While dancing with the Waiehu Sons(Sheldon Brown, Kevin Brown, Danny Kapoi), Hula Moons restaurant was given the prestigious Kahili Award for the Hawaiian Entertainment and was used as a template for Halekulani’s House without a Key.
I also started to travel intermittently representing Maui Visitors Bureau for over two decades. And once again, with the Waiehu Sons, helped start the Kahului Airport Gig, which I was currently still performing at pre Covid.(March 13,2020 was our last night. Taught and danced at various resorts pre-covid as well)
I have fond memories becoming one with all my treasured fellow entertainers and musicians, I am grateful for their beautiful music that inspires me to create, sometimes in that moment, and who have been role models who influenced Ka’imi , not only in music proficiency and culture, but in professionalism. He has also been blessed with instruments , and pedals etc., and advice from too many to mention. Maybe another time because many of them are Hoku nominees/winners and have written songs honoring me.
The foundation choreography of the song Pua Hone is of my beloved Auntie Bella Richards. I owe all of my success to her. She taught us to improvise and that is what I do in concert with Ka’imi’s captivating arrangement. He inspires me to entwine my creation into Auntie Bella’s to become one for all time.
Mahalo for reading the blog. Mahalo to all that made this happen. If you missed the link above, here is another.