Sean Na’auao & Robi Kahakalau - S & R And O-shen - 1 Rebel
Friday - August 03, 2007
Sean Na’auao & Robi Kahakalau - S & R
Released: July 17
When longtime friends Sean Na’auao and Robi Kahakalau sat down to decide what to call their CD, the name S & R (for Sean & Robi) just seemed like the most sensible choice.They did agree that Na’auao and Kahakalau would be a cute name, “but nobody could pronounce it,” says Robi with a laugh.
“Thinking of names for the CD was good fun,” adds the “mommy"of two red-nosed pit bulls.“We didn’t want to come up with a group name and be exclusively the two of us playing, ‘cause I still play with different people and he does too, so we didn’t want to limit ourselves and find a group name. We said the most simple thing is Sean & Robi, because it’s what we are and it’s to the point and nothing fancy.”
With a handful of Na Hoku Hanohano Awards between the two of them, Sean and Robi are claiming the spotlight once again with a CD that promises to capture all that is Sean and all that is Robi. The hand-picked songs hold true to their individual tradition and contemporary Hawaiian sound.
The CD, which released on July 17, features 10 tracks, including the song Where is the Love? made popular by Roberta Flack.
“Actually we only have two originals on there, and the rest are traditional Hawaiian songs and then rearranged to make ‘em contemporary sounding,” says Robi. “And my Hawaiian song, my sister wrote it.”
The recording process started off at a slow pace, then quickly shifted to high gear when Sean alerted Robi that he and his family sold their house and were moving to Maui. This ultimately meant that the recording studio at his house was going too.
“He said we have three more weeks and we gotta have everything out of the house, and I’m like oh my God, because I thought he was canceling the CD,” says Robi. “‘No, no, no,’ he says, ‘I’m telling you we gotta crank ‘em.’
So I’m like all right. And then we’re in the studio like eight hours a day, and I know when I left he worked on it some more because he had to lay down all the instruments. Lo and behold we did all that before they moved to Maui.”
Besides the rush on recording, all else went smoothly.
“Robi is an easy person to work with, so it’s no stress,“says Sean.“When we’re ready to start playing we just have fun. It’s really good working with her.”
Their CD is just icing on the cake, as Sean & Robi have been working together musically for years.What started as Sean helping Robi with instrumentation on her first album evolved to their recent weekly gigs at the Sheraton Moana Surfrider, Tiki’s and Chai’s. Upon Sean moving to Maui early this year, Robi has continued with the Chai’s gig Sundays from 6:45 to 8:45 p.m. with either Kimo Bell or Dwight Kanae.
Continuing a weekly gig was too hard for Sean to commit to, having to travel from Maui, but he will be making his way to Oahu for bigger events and concerts.
“As far as concerts and stuff it won’t be a problem because I’m just 20 minutes away,“says Sean, a Pearl City High graduate.
Catch Sean & Robi live at 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11 at Borders Ward Centre, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 12 at Borders Pearlridge.
O-shen - 1 Rebel
Released: July 31
For those like myself who have always wondered, is it O-shen like the ocean? The answer is, yes - well sort of.
Born Jason Hershey, the artist known as O-shen got the nickname from a bunch of high school friends.
“Living on the Mainland, a lot of my friends there were Black Americans, and they would just make jokes about me growing up in the jungle and the ocean,“says the Papua New Guinea native. “I just spelled it how it phonetically sounds, rather than the way it is spelled in English. It’s more of a pidgin spelling.”
Born and raised in Papua New Guinea, O-shen recalls always being surrounded by music and singing. He considers it an essential part of growing u that everyone is able to do.
“As kids we didn’t have TVs or video games and so I always would walk around singing, paddle canoe singing, the boys are always singing there,“says the 32-year-old.“Everyone is very musical over there. Everyone knows how to sing; it’s like knowing how to talk. It’s not a special talent in Papua New Guinea to know how to sing.”
O-shen’s musical upbringing followed him when he moved to Washington state to attend high school. There he was immersed in hip-hop, rap and other “American” music. During high school he also got into drumming.But along with the positive musical influences he also got mixed up with the wrong crowd, which eventually landed him in prison. “When I was on the Mainland I got involved with a lot of criminal activity and all that stuff, so I went to prison when I was 19 years old for about three years on the Mainland, and that changed my life,” says O-shen. “That made me want to stay away from all that negativity and get back to the simpler things in life.”
O-shen turned his energies back to his culture and his true passion - music.
And he’s done well for himself, as he released his sixth album,1 Rebel, this week. The album is produced in true O-shen fashion, with lots of energy, a great mix of genres and of course, some Pacific Island influence.
The album features 14 tracks, including two songs with Jamaican greats Don Carlos and Bunny Rugs from Third World.
O-shen, who has been living in Hawaii for the past
10 years, landed on the local music scene back in 1999 as a guest rapper on Fiji’s album,Gratitude. The next year, O-shen released his first album, Iron Youth, winning him a Na Hoku Hanohano Award for Reggae Album of the Year.
“It’s just great to be able to have something positive after having a negative period of my life,” says O-shen. “The best part of doing music is inspiring people and making them happy and smile.”
And as for words of wisdom from a guy who’s been around the block:“Don’t follow what’s happening on the streets. Be proud of where you’re from and remember where we live. Keep ties with the land and traditions, and balance that with the whole new pop culture.”
O-shen takes stage tomorrow night (Aug. 4) at Pipeline Cafe for the Summer Roots Riot. For more info on O-shen, visit www.myspace.com/o-shen
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