Geneva AM – T(M)²I: 13th Floor New Song Of The Day

Geneva AM is the moniker of Geneva Alexander-Marsters (she/her, Ngāti Ruapani mai Waikaremoana, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairoa, Aitutaki, Palmerston), an award winning producer, beat maker and vocalist based in Tāmaki Makaurau.

Here’s the blurb with more:

Geneva AMHer bilingual approach to songwriting has been prominent throughout her musical career, most notably with the band SoccerPractise (2012-2018) and her debut release IHO (Waiata / Anthems). IHO went on to win Te Tohu Puoro o te reo Māori (Favourite Song featuring Te Reo Māori) at the 2023 Student Radio Network Awards.

Today she releases T(M)²I (pronounced Tangaroa Made Me Ill), a new single that comes in both Māori and English versions. Alexander-Marsters originally wrote the song in English and had the opportunity to translate the lyrics into Māori which she decided to use as the ‘A side’ of the double release. The track is accompanied by a music video, made with help from NZ on Air Music, which takes inspiration from the 2022 coming-of-age drama ‘Aftersun‘ by Charlotte Wells.

T(M)²I distils its parts down to their most concentrated elements. Bass bounces over minimal percussion, while synth lines wayfare from start to end. Geneva’s tempered voice conveys feelings of safety and the warmth of the love one finds in a new relationship.

She notes that the bones for the beats in the track were conceived during a rough midwinter voyage to Waiheke Island. “I was anxiously playing around with a selection of mysterious organ sounds. As I giggled and lurched over the convulsing black ocean, I was stuck in this ominous loop with the Dracula theme (Bach – Toccata and Fugue in D minor). After reviewing the track on dry land, it turned into that sparse ‘solo’ instrumental. The riff is a warm sound, something that felt comforting yet mysterious. Looking back, I must have been articulating my own feelings around ambiguity and those initial butterflies you can get at the beginning of a relationship.”

Geneva AMT(M)²I comes with both Māori and English versions of the song, with Dr Tātare Jeremy McCleod (Ngāti Kahungunu, Te Arawa, Ngāti Raukawa te au ki te Tonga, Rangitāne) acting as the Mātanga Reo (language consultant). “Dr Tātare’s knowledge is a taonga, I was so fortunate to have had his input. Te Reo Māori is a contextual language, a lot of words can be flexible but it takes a lot of research and expertise to know the right phrasing.” This is the second time the pair have worked together, under the recommendation of Dame Hinewehi Mohi, Dr Tātare checked the lyrics for IHO as part of a requirement for the Waiata Takitahi Fund (Te Māngai Paho, NZ on Air) that allocates budget for a Mātanga Reo.

“I was really shy about showing my partner this song, being all vulnerable like that is so corny. Both versions mean the same thing. I use the metaphor of the light shifting as a way to convey the grandeur of Love. The night represents this dark lonely period of my life and then the sun reemerging into a new day, parallels my feelings that I am safe and ready to truly love this amazing person.”

Geneva’s family and friends feature prominently in the accompanying music video, made with assistance from NZ On Air Music. Shot across two countries, Japan and Aotearoa, the video draws deep inspiration from the award winning drama Aftersun. The vacation footage was shot entirely on a Nikon Coolpix W150 that their friends generously lended to them for the trip.

“Making the video was an organic experience. Earlier this year we were fortunate enough to go on a family trip to Japan. On the plane we watched the film Aftersun which inspired me to capture a portion of our trip for the music video. The themes play with the elements of memory, moving in between different styles of shooting to create a dreamy sequence of events. I wanted to capture in some way the impermanence of the present moment by celebrating our happy memories together.”

“Our wonderful friends Kingy, Jun and Soia helped us make the video during our adventure to the Naoshima and Teshima Art Islands. We passed the camera around during that weekend, it was such a fun way to enjoy our time together. The first shot is by Soia who was three years old at the time.”

In Aotearoa, Geneva worked with Director/Editor Eddy Fifield (who has a history of working with The Spinoff, Team Dynamite & The DHDFDs) to shoot within her home. As she reviews the footage from the trip she recreates the way she wrote the lyrics, like all bedroom producers, sitting on her bed with a laptop.

The T(M)²I Valentines Day release has multiple meanings for Alexander-Marsters. “Today is typically a day to celebrate your sweetheart. However, people also observe this time of year as the day Captain Cook died. We live in a post colonial era, there is a fragmented understanding of our history which has led to portions of our society having different generational effects of colonisation.

“For every person who has benefited from stolen land, there are others that have been robbed of their whakapapa. I sit between both worlds because my parents come from different versions of the same country, I can’t acknowledge one without the other.”