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The Art Of Balancing Dreams And Reality: A Conversation With Troy Kingi

17 Jun 2024

Tap into the relentlessly creative mind of one of Aotearoa's most boundary-pushing performers and his keys to success - no matter your artistic outset.

Away from the spotlight in his family home in Kerikeri, Troy Kingi is a relaxed, content figure. 

An artist who has carved a remarkable reputation for musical versatility and creative excellence in New Zealand, Kingi defies definition. Acclaimed as an award-winning musician and a scene-stealing actor, nothing fuels his soul more than his two favourite titles - father and husband.

Kingi's offering an insight into his unique creative journey and the lessons he's learned about navigating the complexities of life and career - in an intriguing interview on The Learning Network

You can't beat hard work

As a young boy, Kingi aspired to be an actor. His initial foray into drama school, however, revealed a different calling. 

"I saw myself on screen and said, no, that is not for me," he recalls with a laugh - and a sense of irony given his success in the likes of Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Mt Zion and The Panthers

He had less hesitation when it came to music though - after moving to the Bay of Islands, he was bitten by the songwriting bug, inspired by his friends' bands.

"The number one thing you can do - no matter what stage you're at - is working on your craft," Kingi advises. "You can fake it till you make it - but if your songs aren't great, you won't make it.

"Focus on your art, focus on your craft -those ones that are passionate about that side I feel like are always going to succeed." 

That mantra has been a guiding light for Kingi throughout his career, one that continues to laugh in the face of genre boundaries.

Kingi is deep into his audacious 10-10-10 project: releasing 10 albums in 10 genres over 10 years. It's one thing to set a goal like that, it's another entirely to declare it publically and dedicate a decade to testing the depth of your creativity. 

Currently working on his eighth album, Kingi remarks "It's been a long journey, and it feels like it's getting harder, but we're nearing the end." 

Kingi spoke about the importance of finding what drives you. He recently travelled to the famed Joshua Tree in the United States, seeking to rekindle his songwriting spark. The trip, documented in TVNZ's Troy Kingi's Desert Hīkoi, was transformative. 

"We went there hoping some of that place's magic would rub off on us," he says. The result? 17 new songs and a renewed sense of purpose.

"Sometimes you need to put yourself in a new environment to reignite your creativity." 

Family and support

As any creative can tell you - balancing a demanding career with a flourishing family life is no easy feat. 

Kingi is a father of five - "When things get crazy, I'm lucky to have an awesome wife who holds it down at home," he says. This balance is essential, allowing Kingi to pour his heart into his music without compromising his role as a father and husband.

Kingi notes that when he's home, he's all in on his family roles - and when he's on the road or in the studio, he makes sure to maximise his opportunity to collaborate or take in others' art forms for inspiration.

It's not just his family Kingi turns to for support. Kingi emphasises the need to make sure you have people who back you along your creative journey. For him, those are producers, promoters and collaborators.

"Surround yourself with a good team that believes in your vision," he emphasises, providing you stability and encouragement, allowing you to focus on your craft.

Embracing Fear

Throughout his career, Kingi explains he has faced numerous challenges. Kingi declares that meeting such obstacles head-on is key to growth. 

"When moments come, embrace them. Don't be scared. Feel the fear but do it anyway," he encourages.

For those just starting in the creative industry, Kingi’s advice cuts straight to the point. 

"Be passionate and persistent. Don't let anyone's opinions deter you from your goals." 

He stresses the importance of staying true to oneself and never losing sight of the big picture, even when the journey gets tough.

Kingi's story is one of perseverance, passion, and the relentless pursuit of his own standards in creative excellence. His Learning Network interview offers valuable lessons for anyone looking to make their mark in the creative world. 

Find more of Troy Kingi's, along with fellow creatives Hayley King (FLOX), Sarah Foster-Sproull, Brita McVeigh, Lissy and Rudi Robinson-Cole, Henry Hargreaves and Dominic Hoey - as well as learning modules on finding your own roadmap and how to sell yourself at the Learning Network.