Against the Grain: How Geneva Alexander-Marsters Conveys Her Culture and Ideas Through Music
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Follow the journey of Auckland's fearless creatives doing things on their own terms.
Whether it be our isolation from the rest of the world and hunger to jut above the pack, or the humble quality of calling things how we see them, New Zealand is full of sparkling individuals taking the reins and living on their own terms. With that in mind, and in partnership with Budweiser and Monster Valley, we're delving into the lives of local leaders of independent thought, who make up the rules as they go and use their creativity to produce world class original ideas.
Geneva Alexander-Marsters is the front-person and lyricist of Auckland band SoccerPractise. Together with founding member and beatmaker Thom Burton, visual artist Kim Newall and guitarist Leo Horgan, the group weave a lo-fi musical style with hi-fi visual content. Geneva describes the group's live show as an "intense exchange between the band and their audience"— a fair summary given their immersive blend of beats, live projected animations, and Geneva's stage presence— or as she candidly puts it "singing over everything like a crazy goddess". On top of that Geneva can be found hosting 95bFM's Morning Glory every Monday, playing music and speaking with her guests about cool things happening across the city.
We caught up with her to see what makes her tick and how she finds her way over life's hurdles.
In a stomping ground stretching from the Auckland waterfront to Grey Lynn, Geneva spent her childhood playing with bubbles and dirt. Her mother Raewyn Alexander, a "published author, performance poet and outrageous personality", has been particularly influential, always providing Geneva with nurturing insight. Early on, she learnt that as an artist she "transcends class", she can "move wherever she likes" and is "more sensitive to things and more receptive to surroundings".
Geneva believe that it's the role of an artist to convey those messages to other people so they can do them too. "Working with people, creative differences can be worked through conversation and being open and receptive."
CONVEYING CULTURE THROUGH MUSIC
Geneva has a multi-cultural background, she has connections to Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairoa, Rarotonga, Tahiti, Ireland, Scotland, Britain and France. Her diverse ancestry has always been a source of pride. Tikanga Maori has been prominent in her education from kindergarten through high school, and the art of kapa haka is something that helped shape her approach to songwriting and singing in SoccerPractise. "Being bi-cultural is natural to me so I've always grown up between two worlds."
She finds singing in te reo Maori is a remedy for her to express the language to alternative music listeners within a modern context. She wants to extend an invitation through these waiata so anyone may feel inclined to access te reo Maori and "in order for the language to be seen, it must be heard and spoken out loud." "Music is a good way to convey the language."
SOCCERPRACTISE MAKES PERFECT
When asked about the future of SoccerPractise, Geneva is clear-cut stating they are "aiming high" and "planning on world domination". Her favourite quote is, "Kaua e mate wheke, mate ururoa," translated as "Don't die like an octopus, die like a hammerhead shark". The hammerhead bitterly resists death to the extent that their fresh meat quivers as it is filleted into portions. She says "the idea behind this whakatauaki is to encourage perseverance toward a goal, no matter how hard the struggle."
When it comes to the group's creative process, Geneva interprets a song based on what beats Thom creates as a foundation. "It's like a house. A strong base makes a better song." She'll then write melodies according to what she hears, with fellow members Kim and Leo offering advice to help shape the songs. Lyrically, she says the band draw from their own experiences as well as inspiration from old songs.
The group's debut single 'Windfall' is a timely offering about the state of the Auckland property market and what it's like to part of the generation who cannot afford to own a home in the central city: "Can't go slow, hold me back, it's a trap." At the other end of the spectrum, SoccerPractise's second single 'Haere Mai E Tama' is a love song about a person seducing their lover to the side of the sea. It is a re-worked cover of a poi Geneva learned while attending school.
The band are currently recording a full-length release with sound engineer Sam Moore. Geneva states that, "It will be out soon."
LIVING BY YOUR OWN TERMS
The epitome of living by your own terms, Geneva only puts her energy into things that she likes. "If it doesn't succeed, it doesn't succeed. But I took a risk and did it." She has always been highly tenacious and says if she sets her mind to something, "You just can't get rid of me." In addition to her all encompassing drive, Geneva believes that collaboration is beneficial and asking for help is the best way. She puts it candidly, "You never do things by yourself." This again comes back to her close relationship with her mother, striving to support each other through a wide array of creative endeavours.