Fast-rising vocal talent Mo Ete grew up singing hymns at a Newtown church where her grandfather was the minister. “I’d grasped harmonies by age eight.” Ete, whose Māori mum and Samoan father had five children, decided against music school. “I preferred to keep my music intuitive. But I’d always done drama too, so studied at Toi Whakaari.” Now 27, she’s acted in theatre and film, and written plays for children and adults. “But music’s my focus this year.”
At gigs by her three-piece R&B/electronica act A Girl Named Mo, Slade Butler and Marcus Gurtner build on beats that Ete created on her computer. In October, the trio recorded 12 tracks for their debut album in six sell-out multimedia shows at BATS. “It really felt like Wellington was behind the project – and recording live quietened my perfectionist thoughts.” Platonic\Romantic is set for release early this year by Dream 1 Media, which courted the trio and released its debut single (and student-radio hit) Who They Say You Are in 2015.
In August, the trio joined Fly My Pretties – a fluid collective of musicians who record albums live – for nine gigs in Wellington and Auckland. “Suddenly I was playing with musicians I’d idolised.” The resulting FMP album String Theory was released in November. This summer, A Girl Named Mo joins Fly My Pretties for its first national tour in four years, including a Botanic Garden gig (22 January) in Wellington.
Ete’s also curating the fourth annual Putahi Festival (22–25 February, Kelburn). The free-to-view showcase of (mainly theatrical) works-in-progress is staged by Victoria University’s theatre programme and Māori-theatre collective Te Pūtahitanga-A-Te-Rehia. Ete co-curated last year with Hone Kouka and, going solo this year, is including more visual arts, dance and film. “Think film scenes, and half-finished artworks and dances. Come check it out.”