The Waitiki 7
From the album
The Waitiki 7 "Similau"
The West has long been obsessed with Hawaii and Polynesia, and when Allied soldiers returned from being stationed in the South Pacific post-World War II, their acclimation to Polynesian culture jump-started the bicultural experience that is Tiki Culture. Sadly, Tiki Culture also makes the A-List of the most unjustly maligned Vintage experiences, as does its official musical soundtrack, Exotica Music.
With Tiki’s mixture of Western and Polynesian cultures, people instantly assume that Western influences diluted the purity of the Polynesian culture, when just the opposite happened: Western innovations actually augmented the Polynesian elements. For example, Tiki cocktails, developed in the West, have some of the most complicated alcohol mixologies in the world, to the point that some of the famous Tiki cocktails almost became extinct because their inventor tried to take their secret recipes to the grave with him. In the same way, Exotica music also augmented and complimented original Polynesian sounds. The originators of Exotica—Martin Denny, Arthur Lyman, and Les Baxter—applied the more intricate compositional qualities of orchestral and jazz music to Polynesian sounds to create a complex sound that takes as much training to learn to play as Tiki cocktails take to master. Tiki’s music and beverages are great in and of themselves, but together with the also well-developed Tiki decorum, they create a one-of-a-kind gourmet experience whose true essence is in its details.
Exotica music and Tiki culture had a brief revival of interest in the 1990’s, with Don Tiki and Combustible Edison being the two artists representing the genre for that period. The musical Tiki torch has since been handed to THE WAITIKI 7, a group that began in 2003 as a quartet called Waitiki. The group has become internationally renowned as one of the world’s premiere exotica groups, and are currently the only exotica group who play the music all acoustic and without the aid of keyboards. The group features members that are either descendants of or have worked with members of Martin Denny’s and Arthur Lyman’s groups. The band has worked alongside some of the world’s top mixologists, who have created special Polynesian-style cocktails especially for the group and their songs. In 2005, the Hawaii Music Awards began a “Best Exotica Album” category in honor of Waitiki’s revival of the exotica genre—Waitiki and The Waitiki 7 won this award every time from 2005 to 2010.
The track representing The Waitiki 7 is a cover of “Similau,” which is originally from Martin Denny’s genre-defining album Exotica (1957/58). This version of “Similau” opens The Waitiki 7’s beautifully packaged second album New Sounds of Exotica (2010), which won the Hawaii Music Awards’ “Best Adult Contemporary Album” for 2011.
The Waitiki 7 Discography
Adventures in Paradise (Pass Out Records, 2009)
New Sounds of Exotica (Pass Out Records, 2010)
Live In Concert (Pass Out Records, 2010) (MP3 only)
The Waitiki 7 In Hi-Fi (Pass Out Records, 2011) (12" vinyl LP + MP3 download card)