Tahiti’s Own Rising Star: Q&A w/ Noemie Tahiti
We first connected with young singer-songwriter and Kala Ambassador Noemie Tahiti just before her tenure on France’s The Voice Kids, where she took to the stage confidently with an 'ukulele in-hand! Having spent much of her childhood in Tahiti, Noemie has impressed us with confidence on-stage, the seamless integration of her vocal style with her ukulele, and her ability to sing in both French and Maohi: the native language of Tahiti. Now with The Voice behind her, and great things ahead, we took the opportunity to chat with Noemie to learn more about her earliest experiences with music and the television event that has helped define her early career:
How did you get your start with music?
I've always rocked out to music for as long as I can remember. My parents used to listen to music all the time; my dad played piano and guitar. As a baby I used to sit on his knees while he was singing and playing lullabies on piano. But for me, it really started here in Tahiti where we settled back in 2016. I learned my first ukulele song at school in 4th grade with an awesome teacher, Mr Hugues Oopa, during an initiation to ukulele. This song in Maohi, the tahitian language, is called “Apepe” and talks about sailing and the va’a which are the traditional canoe in Polynesia. What is incredible is that I had the chance to sing in August and October 2019 with the band Huimana and the singer Teiva LC that originally sang “Apepe.”
When did you know that you wanted to pursue music seriously?
At the end of 2018, after practicing ukulele on my own for a year and thanks in part to online Youtube's tutorials, I told my parents I wanted to be a singer and an artist. After a couple of weeks, my mom proposed to me to play ukulele and sing at a young talent contest here in Tahiti, The Kids Talent Show, which I won. That made me start to believe in my dream.
What drew you to the ukulele as an instrument? When did you first start playing it?
It just came naturally. Here in Tahiti, the ukulele is everywhere and has a major part in the Polynesian culture and tradition. My first ukulele was an Tahitian Ukulele with 6 strings. This type of ukulele sounds a bit different and allows artists to play much faster as the strings are thinner and often doubled. During the summer of 2018, my grandparents offered me a Makala ukulele as a birthday gift. That helped me a lot to pursue my dream to become an artist and I worked hard for months. On stage, ukulele helps me gain confidence mostly in singing because it offers me a sort of protection. I often call it my shelter.
Tell us a bit about your musical journey in Tahiti before The Voice.
I cannot say much about about my musical journey before the Voice, everything went so fast and frankly I never imagined to be part of this show, I clearly thought that I didn’t had the skills, that I wasn’t good or strong enough. I had experience, no vocal coach, just hours of practicing on my own in my bedroom with my uke.
How did you come to audition and be on The Voice Kids?
In April of 2019, my mum suggested that I participate in another young talent contest, Le Grand Casting. I was so excited because I knew that this competition was the first step for a selection at The Voice Kids.
What was the day of the audition like? Was it a nerve-wracking experience?
I love being on stage: the adrenaline, to give and share emotions, I love to see smiles and tears on faces. But for the first time, facing 2 huge doors just before going on stage, it was very destabilizing and I really felt stage fright for a couple of minutes. After a couple notes I started to be in my cocoon, protected by my instrument and I just realized what happened after the show and on my way back to the hotel. It was a combination of laughs and tears with my family.
What was the most memorable part about participating in/being a part of The Voice Kids?
Definitely the jams with my buddies at the hotel after rehearsals! It was fantastic. That’s what I love in music: friendship and jamming.
What advice would you give to kids who want to pursue music?
If you have a dream: go for it! Just believe in yourself and hold on, work hard but don't forget to have fun. Nothing is impossible.
What's next for you? Have you written any new songs?
I became an Ambassador of the international airline company Air Tahiti Nui in September 2020, which allows me to travel between France, United States, New Zealand or Japan. It’s just incredible! Air Tahiti Nui helps artists, athletes and women to live their passion and make our Islands shine across borders, I’m so proud and thankful to be part of this program during this difficult period for everyone, especially for airlines and their employees.
Regarding music, in December 2020 I released the video of my song "Dear Mister Presidents.” This song is an open letter to urge world leaders to step up their climate actions and commitments. Environment is a major concern for me and I am convinced that music can make a difference and that somehow this song will maybe help change things.
I released my most recent song and video in February, called “Porinetia mon Amour” which means “Polynesia my Love.” The song describes my attachment, feelings and love of my adopted country and island. The video takes place on a plane and on different spots on my island of Tahiti. We’ve been working on this project since June 2020. It is my first real studio experience, and I can tell you, I just loved it!
Even if COVID 19 has complicated everything, I was blessed to participate in a lot of musical projects in 2020. I’m now part of a Tahitian choir. After a couple of appearances on TV, we might even participate in an exchange project with Hawaii in 2021.
Finally in December of 2020, my lucky star allowed me to meet Teva Salmon, an extremely talented artist and singer. After a couple of Facebook Lives, TV shows and jams, we are even thinking about creating our own band. Life is amazing! I will also be collaborating with an electro artist from the French Riviera named Melkyor. We are working on a tour for Summer 2021 in France as I will be singing and playing ukulele for Polynesian festivals.
You can keep up with Noemie’s latest projects on Instagram and Facebook.