Since, as you all know, France is not just a European territory, one of this year’s finalists are AMUI, an exotic trio that comes right from one of the French overseas territories, French Polynesia (aka Tahiti) with the song “Maeva”. We were given the opportunity to chat with them, and in those rather cloudy days, meeting those 3 rays of sunshine was a real pleasure!
” ‘Ia ora na!” or “Bonjour!” to you guys, and thank you so much for chatting with us. First of all, could you tell us more about yourself?
We are AMUI, a trio of artists from Tahiti, and we’re thrilled to be part on this adventure!
Eva: I am Eva Ariitai. I am a singer and music has always been part of my life. I am also the weather presenter on the France Télévisions Tahitian channel, “Polynésie 1ère”.
Ken: My name is Ken Carlter. I’m a composer, a song writer and a singer. First I was part of a band, then I started a solo career some 10 years ago. I’ve even created my own music style, called Tahitian Pop. I’m really happy to be part of the adventure, especially with those 2 incredible ladies!
Vaheana: I’m Vaheana Fernandez and I’m a singer. I’ve recently started writing and composing songs too.
Where does the idea of AMUI taking part to the national final come from?
Ken: I came up with the idea back in June when I read that France Télévisions was looking for songs. My record company thought it was a brilliant idea and I started writing the song with my wife. Since the record company loved the song, I proposed it to Eva and Vaheana. I did not want to tell them about “Maeva” before since I wasn’t certain the song would be subbmited.
Eva: To be honest, at first, we thought Ken was joking! Well no, it was just the start of a great adventure.
Ken: Then, we flew to Paris in order to record the song. We submitted it and we were among the prequalified songs.
Eva: In a second time, we came back to Paris for the auditions, and it went extremely well for us. And finally, 2 weeks later, we were told we were among the 12 finalists. No need to mention how happy we were!
“Maeva” is Tahitian for “Welcome” but what does “Amui” means?
Vaheana: Amui means “Together” in Tahitian and that word sums us up pretty well.
What’s the story behind “Maeva”?
Ken: It is a song I co-wrote with my wife Serena. I asked my mum for the Tahitian lyrics too. Before “Maeva” I had a succesful song called “Ia Ora Na”, and for the national final I was told I should do something with the same vibe. “Maeva” means “Welcome” and it’s a song about invitation and openness. I wouldn’t have chosen this track if Eva and Vaheana had disliked it. But since they loved it, I was feeling very proud. When such talented artists agree on performing your own song, believe me, the feeling is just incredible.
Are you Eurovision fans?
Eva: Eurovision is obviously our common dream. It’s the culmination in an artist’s career. Most singers would love to take part since it is the biggest music competition worldwide. As far as I’m concerned, I used to watch the contest with my grand-parents, and it would be awesome if they could watch me, together with Ken and Vahena, on the big screen! It would make me so proud!
Ken: Isn’t it a lovely story?
Is the Eurovision Song Contest popular in Tahiti, 16,000 kms away from Europe?
Vaheana: Let’s be precise here: it’s 18,000 kms away! It’s a 21-hour flight, plus a 2-hour connection. Well it’s almost 24 hours!
Ken and Eva: Not to mention, sometimes, weeks of procedure to obtain a visa, but I would not say who had to face this issue (laugh). (Ken is referring to Vaheana, having missed some events in Paris because of visa issues with Canada).
2 Tahitian acts have performed on Eurovision stage already (“Humanahum” by Jean Gabilou for France in 1981, and “La Coco-Dance” by Séverine Ferrer for Monaco in 2006). Do you remember them?
Vaheana: Ever since the participation of Jean Gabilou, the contest has become more and more popular in Polynesia.
Ken: It is true to say that music is part of Tahitian people’s identity. You can hear music everywhere, all the time. So it’s natural Eurovision has become an unmissable rendez-vous for us. It’s been 40 years now Tahitians have been waiting for Polynesian artists to follow Gabilou’s success. Well, here we are!
Vaheana: As far as I’m concerned, I only know Gabilou’s song. I had never heard of Séverine Ferrer’s “La Coco-Dance”.
Eva: Me neither!
Ken: It’s true that in Polynesia, we don’t know about that second song. It’s all bout Jean Gabilou in Tahiti. Even if we were not born, we know everything about him since he finished 3rd and made the whole archipelago extremely proud.
What are your favourite Eurovision entries?
Vaheana (singing “Rise Like A Phoenix”): Who sang this one?
Eva: It’s Conchita Wurst. The best performance from the 2014 edition.
Vahena: Oh yes! For Austria!
Ken: I would choose “I Can” by Blue (UK 2011). Sorry, it’s a boys band song, I cannot perform it on my own (laugh)
Eva: I share Vaheana’s opinion. I think “Rise Like A Phoenix” is the best performance ever on Eurovison stage. But I have another song I know by heart since we used to play it all the time with my parents, it’s ABBA’s “Waterloo” (singing). And of course, I cannot forget Céline Dion! (and both girls sing “Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi”).
Do you have a message to our readers?
Eva (in Tahitian) and Vaheana (translating): Please vote for us for Eurovision 2021. Thank you so much. We love you.
Ken: Now you understand why I let the girls do the talking. When you have such beautiful creatures who say these sweet words, you have to vote for us! (laugh).
Let me tell you “Mauruuru roa e ia manuia outou e toru!” (Thank you and good luck to you). Yes I’ve learned some Tahitian for the occasion guys!
Eva, Vahenana & Ken (laughing): Nana! (See you)
If you believe rance should send “Maeva” to Rotterdam, please share your thought in our poll:
Let’s learn some French and Tahitian by watching their interview. Even if you don’t understand a word, you’ll see their energy is incredibly infectious!