Ladi6, aka Karoline Tamati, is well known in her native New Zealand for her sultry voice and being an all around classy Lady. FDRMX previously overed her recent video release, but this week she achieves a huge milestone with her first tour in the United States. The Music Exchange took some time to ask her about her concerts, the inspiration she felt at a young age in Africa, and the comfort foods that keep her sane while touring.
FDRMX: I understand you’re a very skilled breakdancer. Do you still put on the moves every once in a while?
Ladi6: Ha! No I was never a skilled breakdancer. I was in a bgirl crew when I first discovered hiphop in my teens called Anonamiss b-girl. We idolized the American hiphop collective the Anomalies and B-girl honey rockwell and Asia One, but I was pretty under-whelming at best.
FDRMX: You spent a considerable amount of time in your youth in Africa. What lessons, musical or otherwise, did you learn there that shaped your career into what it is today?
L6: I learned how to play guitar there and constructed my first song out of one of my sisters poems there. It was in Africa that I first really fell in love with music and songwriting, I learned how to put my extreme homesickness into song and express it. It was a very formative time for me musically. It was also where through letters, another sister told us of the hiphop culture she was beginning to fall for.
FDRMX: The music video for “Hold Tight” is a really cool example of animation. What was it like to be featured in a music video in such a unique way?
L6: We absolutely love that video. We worked with Robert on the Shine On video and he also designed all of our album art work so I knew from the outset that what ever he would come up with was going to be amazing, it’s just a very exciting thing to work with someone so creative that interprets your music visually in such a unique and hands on way.
FDRMX: I’m sure being on tour can be exhausting. Is there a comfort food you rely on to keep from being stressed out?
L6: I have a major sweet tooth that pretty much is ruining my life ha!
FDRMX: When you’re not busy being an incredibly talented musician what do you do with your free time. And interesting hobbies not many know about?
L6: I am a mother of a 10 year old tween, so he’s my side hobby and I’m from a family of six and over a hundred close first cousins – so I’m pretty actively busy being an active family member all the other times. Music, family and my two bffs pretty much have my time on lock.
FDRMX: The nicknames for some of your band members are “Parks”, “Bharu”, “Holt”, and of course “Ladi”. Can you briefly describe how they all got their names?
L6: Briefly? Ahh…I’ll try. Parks is his last name with an ‘s’ added. Bharu pronounced B-Haru or Baroo is his first letter of his first name and his entire lastname ‘Haru’, Holts name is actually Steve Roberts, but we named him Steve Holt off of the character Steve Holt from the TV programme Arrested Development, and my Dad named me Ladi at bith, and I am Ladi and have been called and known as Ladi all my life.
FDRMX: Any funny road trip stories?
L6: So many, but ya know how humour is subjective? We laugh a lot in this band about a lot of things. A lot of the things we find funny are in extreme poor taste, I refuse to admit any to you here today. I am for sure the boring serious nerd of the group.
FDRMX: The music video to “Shine On” is a really interesting Sci-fi space tale. Were you thinking of science fiction or exploration when writing it?
L6: The Shine On video was born from ideas we gave to Robert. Originally we came up with just the most simple story of a lil’ rocket ship going to different planets in the Universe bringing love to each world…and he took that idea, and made an incredibly heartbreaking story about a wee skeleton man being followed by a ghost/sperm band in search of love in a big lonely universe.
But yes, we were quite taken by the stars and the universe at the time and conception of both the video and the entire album Automatic.
FDRMX: You get to Portland by July 16th this month. How excited are you to tour in the United States?
L6: Um, I’m more scared to death than excited, if I’m to be truly honest with you.
FDRMX: Is there a specific venue that you especially love playing at? Why?
L6: I’m still to learn the States, but we just played this dope lil bar in Stockholm Sweden, and I also love outdoor open interesting settings. I love the intimacy of a small club, but also I adore those gigs that are set in an environment you wouldn’t normally have live music in.
FDRMX: What are the top three best concerts you’ve ever been to?
L6: ohh..my first Stevie Wonder show in Auckland I cried the entire way through the first 6 songs, his songs are pretty much the soundtrack to my childhood and my sons early childhood, it just bought back so many wonderful feelings and memories, I have to say the same for the Prince show I watched in Berlin. Prince is an artist that my family has always adored and I thought of them and sang, swayed and COLed (cried out loud) during Purple rain completely unashamed – the Germans thought I was nuts! And I recently just saw Erykah Badu and had this seat at the very front, she was just incredible and I felt like I had been taken there by divine intervention. I came out of there feeling like I had just witnessed something almost magical – I was changed after that performance, like, ohhh shit, this is how you do it!
FDRMX: After the tour (and a very well deserved rest) do you have any plans or are you just focusing on what’s immediately ahead?
L6: Focus on the immediate future only, but know whats coming up – that’s the strategy. We get back to NZ and tour there through August, then I’m returning to Africa being documented going back as part of an exciting project, I’m taking my family.
Then I’m doing some mentoring with the youth in New Zealand in October, then back in the studio in November. That’s the plan!
FDRMX: What’s the best music advice you’ve ever been given?
L6: Don’t sweat the small stuff. I didn’t listen at first, but know now.
Despite her fears, we’re sure Ladi6 is going to be incredible when she hits the United States. If you’re lucky to be around one of her concerts, we suggest hitting it up. Learn more details at her website, Twitter and Facebook.