New Music / New For '19

New Music: Teeks

We're shining a spotlight on the best up and coming New Zealand artists set to dominate 2019. Meet Northland-hailing singer-songwriter Teeks.

Ticketmaster New Music is your one-stop destination to discover the best emerging live acts before they explode. These are the artists we’re expecting to make waves in the live music scene, and we want you to know about them first.


Northland-hailing singer-songwriter Teeks grew up surrounded by music and performance. Growing up with, and finding influence in, everything from the old-school sounds of Bob Marley and Elvis Presley to the likes of Norah Jones and John Legend, Teeks (or Te Karehana Gardiner-Toi as he is known to friends and family) sounds both steeped in the classic, while eternally fresh and youthful. He is comfortably familiar, while also introducing you to something you’ve never heard before.

Raised with strong Kapa Haka influences, Teeks went on to form his own band in high school before being selected to participate in the late Dr Hirini Melbourne’s development initiative, Pao Pao Pao, for emerging and establishing Māori artists. His involvement in the program, alongside the mentorship he received from the likes of well-known figures in New Zealand music, Tama Waipara and Maisey Rika laid a strong foundation for what he’d go on to do.

After securing some Creative New Zealand funding, he headed off to New York to record with producer Jeremy Most. There he recorded the beginning of his debut EP, The Grapefruit Skies, with the rest recorded in Auckland’s The Lab studios. The two-year journey saw the EP released in June 2017 – debuting at #1 on the NZ soul/R&B charts and scoring him Best Māori Artist at the 2017 Vodafone NZ Music Awards.

Following a low-key 2018, we’re certain 2019 is going to be huge. It’s time to meet Teeks.

Teeks by Shaidy Pako

Photos by Shaidy Pako

The Story

From the beginning

“I think I wrote my first song when I was about 11 or 12, it was in Māori. My first impression of music was through Kapa Haka or waiata Māori. Singing and performing is a fundamental part of our culture so I’ve always been surrounded by it. When I got to high school, I tried my hand at songwriting again, this time in English, and since then I’ve never looked back.”

What you’ll hear

“I would describe my music as very vocal driven. Quite sparse in terms of musicality, leaving enough space for the voice and melody to lead. I’m deeply rooted in soul music, I feel like it’s the best expression I can give to my voice. I owe that to the likes of Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, Donny Hathaway, Lauryn Hill, and D’Angelo to name a few. More recently though I’ve been focusing a bit more on my lyrical ability, improving and finding ways to really tell a story.”

Influences & inspiration

“I owe a lot to the local Māori music community for inspiring me and those who have supported and encouraged me from the very beginning. Maisey Rika, Tama Waipara, Seth Haapu, Rob Ruha, and many others. In regard to who I’m listening to at the moment, shout out to Frank Ocean, Adele, Anderson Paak, Kwabs, Michael Kiwanuka, Leon Bridges, Nao, and Daniel Caesar for making sure we still have good music in this world.”

For the love of music

“Ever since I can remember I’ve had this deep attachment to melody – the way certain melodic lines could make you feel, the limitlessness and freedom of being able to control and manipulate it. It’s like nothing I’ve ever felt. Writing songs is my way of expressing myself, being able to compact everything I’m feeling into a three to four-minute song and letting it go, it’s a cathartic process.”

Kicking goals

“One of my biggest career highlights is probably playing a sold-out show in London early last year.”

The hard yards

“Keeping myself disciplined and getting into a routine every day when I’m not playing shows or recording has been one of my biggest challenges to date. I’m only accountable to myself, so treating this thing as a job has been a challenge especially when I’m working from home.”

The year ahead

“I am currently working on my first full-length record which I hope people can hear very soon. More music, more shows, more travel, more memories.”

Essential Listening

Teeks – Never Be Apart

“This song almost never made the EP. We had almost finished tracking another song when I told everyone I wanted to scrap it. I finished writing Never Be Apart in the studio and we recorded it then and there. RIP other song.”

Teeks – Wash Over Me

“I can’t really play piano, but I wrote this song on a shitty midi keyboard at home using three chords.”

Check out the rest of our New For ’19 feature artists here.

Keep up to date with everything Ticketmaster New Music right here.

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