With his international hit song “My Baby” with over 2.4 million hits on YouTube, Pieter T is a force to be reckoned with. The New Zealand native just completed a U.S. Tour with EKM Records based out of Hawaii. The young Urban Island artist is humble and hard working with a will to dominate in the American music scene. But behind the music, this handsome RnB singer hasn’t had the easiest journey to get to where he is today. Unexpectedly he realized that music would take him to his own potential and beyond what he could ever imagine, so Pieter T’s journey is just getting started.
TWID: Describe your background:
PT: I was born in Hamilton, New Zealand and my parents were gypsies and moved around a lot. My father came from a broken home so he always wanted to ensure that he had the best for me and my brothers. My older sibling is disabled and has epilepsy and cerebral palsy. Although he was the older sibling, I was the middle child and was forced to become the older sibling and take care of him and my younger brother as well. We moved around a lot as kids for business opportunities. My dad wanted to ensure we had money to feed ourselves, clothe ourselves, and have a roof over our heads. I will always be forever grateful to my father and mother for showing me the true value of hard work.
TWID: We all know you as Pieter T the music artist, but did you have any other dreams as a child?
PT: I do remember I wanted to be an accountant up until I was 12 or 13, and it did follow through into high school. In high school I studied accounting, for what reason I have no idea because now I would never want to be an accountant. I’ve always wanted to be known in some sort of form or matter for my creative expression whether that be through music, obviously it’s music, but in high school I also had a very strong knack for acting and musical theater. I didn’t do music in high school, didn’t touch it. I never learned how to play instruments because I’m a very impatient person. I love acting and there will be possible things coming up in the future with pursing acting, but my main focus right now is the music. Especially going to the U.S. and seeing that I need to focus on that right now.
TWID: Will you be spending more time in the U.S?
PT: I think so, the opportunities there are phenomenal. The style of music I’ve been doing most people have noticed it, which is contemporary RnB. It’s the sound that I love and listened to ever since I was a kid, and it’s all my music has been styled and based upon. So, in order for that to get the most use and to get to the most people, this is obviously the place where I need to be to make that happen. I’m not saying I want to live there permanently, I’m just saying I’ll be spending a lot more time in the U.S. working on my music.
TWID: You’re quite the jet setter, out of all the countries you’ve been to, which is your favorite?
PT: I really love the Islands, for me Samoa is a place I like to go back to all the time. The Cook Islands as well, I think it’s the relaxed atmosphere and lifestyle and people’s ability to be happy with nothing. You drive around and see people with just food and the clothes on their back, and they’re happy. Whereas countries like New Zealand and the United States, you see people are homeless, struggling, and dying on the streets because of their addictions to drugs, money, and alcohol. In the Islands, it’s different. It’s all about looking after one another, one person has money means everybody has money, one person has food means everybody has food. It’s about community living and people are just so much happier. When I go to the Islands for a couple weeks, I leave feeling like I conquered something phenomenal. It really does something to the spirit and to the heart. For me, the Islands are always going to be my favorite place to be of any place.
TWID: Which Islands have you visited?
PT: I’ve been to Samoa, American Samoa, the Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea, which was an eye opener. I’m hoping to get to Fiji early next year. I have a dream to get to Tonga which is my main focus for next year. I want to get to Tonga and swim with whales. Not many people know Tonga is one of two places in the world where you can swim with whales. They say swimming with whales will change your soul. For me I’m all about those experiences in life, things you can take something away from. I could care less about mansions and fancy cars. When I visit new places I definitely try my best to do all sorts of things, go hit the beaches and go on hiking trails. So for me it’s about the real experiences and sometimes people get wrapped up in things they forget to experience something real. Experience something that’s going to touch your heart, not your wallet.
TWID: You must lead an exciting life, what would an ordinary day be like for you?
PT: To be honest, it’s not what it seems. It’s a lot of hard work. For me most days when I’m not on the road, I go to the gym, come back and have chicken and broccoli, sending emails, writing music. Since I left my job I probably work between 14-18 hour days focused on music. There are so many things I do based around music. Even on the road a lot of people think it’s fun, and it can be, but for the most part, it’s tiring and exhausting. Traveling long distances to get somewhere if you’re traveling with a tour band. The food is always terrible and you’re with the same people for 3-4 weeks so by the end of it you just want to tear your hair out. The life of a musician is not as exciting as what people believe. Being in the studio and on stage is great of course, but being able to go to new countries and experience new things is what keeps me sane.
TWID: Do you keep in touch with your fans?
PT: All the time. I constantly talk to people on Instagram or Facebook. I’m always checking what people are up to and what people are posting as well. At the end of the day your fans are your key indicator for your success. They are the ones who make or break you and if your fans aren’t feeling you, it’s going to be pretty hard for you to be successful. Especially coming from a place like New Zealand, we don’t have the big budgets to accommodate radio or television. You really need your fans to be the ones that will be your army and fight for your music to be played on the radio. They’re the ones who call the t.v. stations to get your video played, so you’ve got to be in touch with your fans.
TWID: Who would you compare your sound to in regards to American RnB? Name two of your favorite RnB artists:
PT: One group who is killing it right now who I enjoy listening to their music and I love their writing and production style is TGT-Tank, Genuine, and Tyrese. I’ve been a fan of their individual work for a number of years, and now that they’ve come together what they’re doing for RnB is phenomenal. They’re trying to bring back that real soulful RnB, as well as trying to keep it young and crisp which is very difficult to do. Considering a lot of RnB nowadays, it’s almost like rap music, it’s extremely vulgar; it talks about partying and living a crazy lifestyle. It use to be about seduction, but it’s just about going crazy.
TWID: If you had an opportunity to put in front of Tank, how would you infuse your Island heritage into it to make yourself more marketable?
PT: I think the heritage part in me already shows with the type of person I am and the emotional connection I have with the music rather than writing stylistically. I think it comes across in me as a person and my ideals and how I view the world. It also comes across in my skin and what I represent and what I wear on a daily basis. These are things that define me as an artist. The way I view the world and the way I see things is very different and has a lot to do with my upbringing living in a place like New Zealand.
TWID: What are you looking to accomplish within the next 18 months for your music career?
PT: I’m thinking two albums to be released internationally, not just in New Zealand or the South Pacific, but in the U.S. as well. I want a deal locked down that will ensure I have a hold in the U.S. market, which will determine bigger things in the international market. The aim is to get my music far more recognized, to get my music out to many different places as possible, and to represent for New Zealand and Polynesia on a big scale. We’re so heavily underrepresented in international media yet we are some of the most talented people in the world.
Driven by family, passion, and a goal to succeed, Pieter T will bridge the Urban Island genre of the Southern Hemisphere to the West. The soulful singer is quite determined and that’s only half the battle when navigating through the music industry. Pieter is undoubtedly one of the most focused Islander artists and is committed to go all the way without holding back. We are confidant that he will go far because of his desire and fearless attitude which is what it takes to go to the next level and that’s WhatItDo!
Interview By: Hon. Virginia Tuita
Written By: Elizabeth Lavulo