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"AHoriBuzz on Christchurch"

Avenues asks singer Aaron Tokona for his take on Christchurch.

The Grill:

Aaron Tokona is a man of many bands. The Christchurch muso first made a name for himself with Weta, but now makes up half of Cairo Knife Fight, is frontman for AHoriBuzz and is also involved with Fly My Pretties. Based in Redcliffs for now, Aaron shares his local favourites - and sense of humour - with Avenues.

What are your plans for New Zealand Music Month?
I thought I might bugger off to Tahiti in May! But I'll probably be in the studio recording the AHoriBuzz album.

What's the story behind the band names Cairo Knife Fight and AHoriBuzz?
For both these bands, it was pretty easy - the first ridiculous name that came into my head was the one. I think I'd rather be in a band with a silly name that produces decent music than be in a band with an awesome name that produces stink music!

How do you describe your music?
Cairo Knife Fight music is a balls-to-the-floor headrush. It's loud in-your-face rock music that is unforgiving. AHoriBuzz music is a cross between techno, funk, house, blues, rock and reggae. It's a mongrel of a sound where anything goes.

Favourite Christchurch musician?
Delaney Davidson.

What do you love about Redcliffs?
I love the fact that my daughter can come home from school, grab something to eat and then bugger off down the street and play. This side of town is pretty battered, but the kids still play and that's awesome.

A career highlight so far?
I met James Brown in a hotel lobby in Auckland. I got to tell him how much I loved him and thanked him for all he's given us. He took my hand and blessed me. Two months later, he passed away.

My first memory of Christchurch is ...
Oh my god, where are all the Maoris!

Favourite restaurant?
Ann's Thai - now closed.

Best place in the city to buy a coffee?
Samo Coffee Lounge, Lyttelton.

What's one thing Christchurch has lost that you'd bring back?
All the lives lost in the earthquake.

Describe Christchurch in three words ...
O-Tautahi-Mean x

Aaron poses with Southern Blues, one of seven guitars the Heart Strings Project made using wood from iconic Christchurch buildings lost in the February earthquake. - Avenues Magazine

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36, singer, guitarist, loop-pedal master

Aaron Tokona spent the last months of 2011 flat out because this "Stevie Wonder on acid" was suddenly getting booked up to perform here and abroad. "I reckon I packed a whole year's work into a couple of months," says the Christchurch-based musician.

With a maze of dark hair frizzing around his face beneath a thick headband, the singer, songwriter and guitarist has been juggling two bands that couldn't be more different, and both are suddenly rocking.

In one part of his life, Tokona plays heavy rock with the duo Cairo Knife Fight, which has been signed to tour the United States next year. His fingers fly across his electric guitar as he performs alongside Nick Gaffeney, the band's chief vocalist and drummer. The duo, who got together after jamming in a Wellington bar, have been described as blazing their own trail - Led Zeppelin meets Radiohead. Tokona is also a master on the loop pedal, and used to be the front man for the Wellington rock band Weta, until it broke up in the early nineties.

Wearing his other hat, Tokona and his band, Ahori Buzz, are one of the headline acts at many of the music festivals around the country this summer. The dance, house and funk band has just released its second single, Turnaround. Tokona, who created it, says: "Ahori Buzz is very improvisational, and a lot of decisions are made during the gig. We've had 13 members and three members, depending on who is around."

"It's completely opposite music to Cairo Knife Fight, which is heavy, guitar-rock driven. I've always liked contrast in my life and my music."

His manager, Michael Tucker, head of Loop Recordings, says: "Ahori Buzz has just bolted out of the blue. Both of Aaron's bands are coming to the ranks right now." - The Dominion Post

"Going with the buzz"

From the fun and funk of AHoriBuzz to the darker drones of Cairo Knife Fight, guitar ace Aaron Tokona embraces his multiple musical personalities, writes Shane Gilchrist.

Asked how he's doing, AHoriBuzz frontman Aaron Tokona responds both succinctly and in a
manner befitting his latest act's tongue-in-cheek moniker: "Mean."

The brains behind the psychedelic rock, soul and funk project, Tokona is one of New Zealand's busier musicians.

In addition to singing and playing wild lead guitar with AHoriBuzz, he comprises half of Cairo Knife Fight (the other half being drummer-singer Nick Gaffaney).

Described by some as a "Maori Jimi Hendrix", both for his penchant for hippyish headbands as well as flailing, inventive guitar solos, Tokona says each act offers a different outlet through which he can channel his changing musical moods.

AHoriBuzz, which takes the stage tonight at Wanaka's Rippon Festival (playing from 7.25pm to 8.50pm), is a fun trip.

Initially devised as a means to escape the more serious side of the music business (album, tour, album ...), it wears its heart on the dance floor.

The band's first single Glitter In The Gutter was included on LOOP label's Select 009 compilation album.

More recently, follow-up single Turnaround, on which Tokona riffs over 1970s-style synth funk, was included in the live set of the Fly My Pretties ensemble.

"I thought a good way to keep amused was to start another project," Tokona explains via telephone from his Christchurch home, where he lives with his wife and young family.

"I booked a gig in a bar in Wellington and invited all my friends to come and have a play.

"I did that a few times, nothing serious, but I recorded a few gigs and songs started appearing.

"I bought a sampler, which started it all, really. I hadn't made beats before.

"It built from there, but really slowly.

"I think the first time we got together was about four years ago.

"It crept along and now it seems to be heading into what people would call ... a proper band."

At this, Tokona cracks up. It seems paradigm shifts can be amusing.

"Yeah, nah. I like to keep the line-up revolving.

"It's really a one-man project and I just invite friends who aren't busy at the time to collaborate.

"But it seems to be turning into a 'thing'. We even have an album planned; I'll record it with Mu [producer for Fat Freddy's Drop]."

Revolving-door policy aside, it should be noted the current line-up comprises old mate Riki Gooch (Trinity Roots and Eru Dangerspiel) on drums, LA Mitchell (Fly My Pretties, Dukes) on keyboards and Tokona's bass-playing cousin Hori Pirere. ("That's his real name," he laughs, again.)

"The premise with AHoriBuzz is not to lock anything down," Tokona says.

"You do run the risk of everything going haywire, becoming a cacophony of messy notes.

"I guess that's why I like to run that ship with really awesome players who can pick up on things straight away.

"We try not to play 'songs'.

"I don't know how long we'll last. When you start taking a project like this into a studio to record a record, things change. But I really enjoy it.

"We played the Kaikoura Roots Festival a couple of weeks ago and here we were about to go on stage and I'm writing the chord charts out on bits of paper for everyone.

"That's about as close as AHoriBuzz comes to practising.

"As a band, we're not trying to sell anything. I quite like not having all the pressures that go with being in a proper band.

"Hopefully, by trying to reach some sort of zenith when we perform, that will be transferred to the audience."

Yet it's not all a barrel of laughs. The band's latest single, Turnaround, might offer its share of Stevie Wonder-like stabs of funk - accompanied by a video brimful of martial arts spoofs - but its lyrics touch on darker themes.

"For sure", Tokona agrees.

"I've been quite lazy when it comes to the art of writing lyrics, but I have an amazing relat - Otago Daily Times


Single: "Glitter In The Gutter (Radio Edit)"
Single: "Turnaround (Radio Edit)"
Single: "Turnaround (Joe Revell Remix)"

All the above singles have received airplay on a range of NZ underground and student radio stations.



AHoriBuzz have quickly become renowned for their captivating live performances, and after some groove ridden and crowd arousing sets at New Zealand’s finest summer festivals including Rhythm & Alps, Rippon, Splore, and Homegrown the band have created an immediate following.

AHoriBuzz is the brainchild of Aaron Tokona (also one half of Cairo Knife Fight) who steers the outfit on vocals, MPC and guitar.

A jam band with a revolving collective of talented guest musicians, you never quite know how things are going to roll when AHoriBuzz plays (the band swelled to a 12 piece at Rippon and a 14 piece at Homegrown).

The current core band includes Aaron Tokona, Riki Gooch (TrinityRoots / Eru Dangerspiel) on drums, soul sister LA Mitchell (Fly My Pretties, Sola Rosa) on vocals and keys and Aarons’ cousin Hori on bass.

Their first single “Glitter In The Gutter” was an underground favorite in 2011 across NZ’s alternative stations and the follow up single “Turnaround” is a bone shaking funk-fuelled tune, with an infectious hook. The video for “Turnaround” was equally well received, going viral on the internet and enjoying 8 weeks at ‘A’ rotate on C4 Music TV.

Aaron is currently gearing up to record his debut album at Neil Finn’s Roundhead Studios. Set to be the album of the summer, the album will be dropping late 2012.