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Jemaine's Te Ahi Kaa - Radio NZ Interview

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Jemaine's Te Ahi Kaa - Radio NZ Interview

Postby ASmallTurnip » Fri Nov 21, 2008 8:30 am

Over on Jemaine's luscious photo thread, there is a bit of back-and-forth about the interview Jemaine gave to Radio NZ programme Te Ahi Kaa in May 2008. It's very sweet, and I really want to natter about it some more, but I'm afraid that if I start delving too deeply into off-topic stuff there, Sherry and Indigo will put me over their collective lap and spank me. Which could be kinky good fun, but I've seen the gleam in Sherry's eye, and girlfriend means business, so I'm not going to push it.

If you haven't heard the interview, you can listen to it here. It's No. 4 on that list, and about 21 minutes in.

First of all, Jemaine is adorably out of breath while he's giving the interview, as if he's running circles around his hotel room, trying to get his yips out before the Conchords' big Minneapolis gig that night. I want to hand him a paper bag to blow into and tell him to think of a babbling brook.

Secondly, it's a really interesting bit of insight into the influence of Maori culture on the J-Dog. I haven't read or heard any interview with him that touches on that aspect of his background, and I always like learning about that kind of stuff. I got a big kick out of him dryly mentioning that the only bits of Maori culture most people in the US have encountered were the movie versions of Whale Rider and Once Were Warriors, and that those weren't exactly representative of his experiences growing up in New Zealand. I'm afraid that my familiarity with Maori culture and te reo is pretty limited too, so if there are any Kiwis out there who want to correct me and point me in the right direction, then it's a chocolate fish for you.

I love the language that the three of them toss around, and it cracks me up when Jemaine says that when Americans ask him to speak the Maori language, they think he's just making it up and taking the piss. But it's a great language, and I'm glad to hear that it's making a resurgence in NZ. It still makes me giggle when I hear people say whakapapa (a term for bloodlines and ancestral relationships), because the "wh" in Maori is pronounced as an "fff" sound. I'll never get used to hearing it. Also, I am eight years old, and I still laugh madly when I hear anyone say "Let's do it!", so clearly I have issues.

Another of the other terms they use is pakeha, or a New Zealander of European descent, which is a nice one to know. I think it used to be quite pejorative, but it's widely and comfortably used these days to describe peeps like Bret and Rhys.

Then they talk about Jemaine's whānau coming out of the woodwork, which is definitely interesting. Whānau literally translates to mean family, but it's a lot more broadly encompassing than that. It means the people you're related to by blood, but also your wider circle of friends who might as well be family, and the people who support you through life. Jemaine definitely starts sliding away from discussing anything about his whānau on his dad's side, and I get the sense that there's a lot of dislocation there, both geographical and emotional. Eeeeeenteresting. Families are so complicated, aren't they?

And then Jemaine repeatedly uses a beauty of a word, whakamā, to describe shyness. But it doesn't just mean plain old regular shyness, or at least, it doesn't always. It also carries a lot of lexical cargo about feelings of shame or embarrassment, which may or may not be revealing about the kind of family Jemaine grew up in. I don't know. I can't help but feel that there is a lot going on there, and it makes me wonder if he'll ever feel comfortable enough talking more about it to the press. I'm guessing not, but then Jemaine is nothing if not surprising.

Okay, I'm going to stop now, because it's time for tea, and maybe a cosy bowl of porridge with far more brown sugar than is sensible. It's cold out there today, folks! Stay warm, and thanks for making me feel like part of your WTF! whānau. It feels good. Really good.

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Re: Jemaine's Te Ahi Kaa - Radio NZ Interview

Postby dangerous person » Fri Nov 21, 2008 10:16 am

I don't think I have ever listened to this interview before but I definitely will now, this is fascinating stuff. Thanks for all the explanations Turnip, I think I'll go and put my top on that's got the words to the Haka on :D
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Re: Jemaine's Te Ahi Kaa - Radio NZ Interview

Postby indigo_jones » Fri Nov 21, 2008 10:19 am

Thanks for all the background and pronunciation tips on the different Maori terms, Neepje. (Sorry, between the Dutch lessons and the discussion of haggis and neeps and tatties last night, I couldn't resist.) It was a really interesting interview and I think you're right about some of the underlying stuff going on; I got much the same impression. I suspect the intrusion into the personal life will be one of the biggest hurdles for them as their fame continues to grow.
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Re: Jemaine's Te Ahi Kaa - Radio NZ Interview

Postby ASmallTurnip » Fri Nov 21, 2008 11:36 am

dangerous person wrote:I don't think I have ever listened to this interview before but I definitely will now, this is fascinating stuff. Thanks for all the explanations Turnip, I think I'll go and put my top on that's got the words to the Haka on :D

:x

That's supposed to be my haka face. I can't click on the tongue-sticking-out one because Firefox is being a dickhead today, but you'll have to trust me when I say I'm lewdly gesticulating with my tongue. It's very impressive.

indigo_jones wrote:Thanks for all the background and pronunciation tips on the different Maori terms, Neepje. (Sorry, between the Dutch lessons and the discussion of haggis and neeps and tatties last night, I couldn't resist.) It was a really interesting interview and I think you're right about some of the underlying stuff going on; I got much the same impression. I suspect the intrusion into the personal life will be one of the biggest hurdles for them as their fame continues to grow.

I like Neepje very much. Very much.

The issue of the boys' privacy is an extremely interesting one to me. As a fan, I of course want to ransack the world for information about them. I want to know what kind of pajamas Jemaine wears, and how Bret takes his tea. I want to know everything.

And yet. And yet.

There is something undeniably creepy about it. I recognise that obsessive interest in myself, and I'd be less than honest if I said it didn't bother me a little. As a deeply private person myself, I can't stand it when people get all up in my bidness. I suffocated in a high school with only two hundred people, and where everybody knew everything about me. It was such a relief when I went to the University of Toronto for my undergraduate work - with 60,000 students, I was blissfully anonymous.

So I understand, on a visceral level, just how disturbing it must be to be thought of as public property. Only, magnify that by a million times and you get something close to what they guys are experiencing. I think they're actually doing an extremely good job of managing it. They're very, very friendly with their fans, but they also just. don't. talk. about the stuff that's genuinely private. Not to the press, not to the fans, not to anyone publicly. They also seem to have some really terrific friends who keep their damned mouths shut. And that, almost more than anything else, is what impresses me and makes me think that they'll get through this current inflamed interest in them.

But I do still want to know how Bret takes his tea. Some things are important, and tea is definitely one of them.

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Re: Jemaine's Te Ahi Kaa - Radio NZ Interview

Postby dangerous person » Fri Nov 21, 2008 12:43 pm

That haka face really scared me, I had to hide behind the sofa for a while. :sofa:

I have to utterly and completely agree with what you say about privacy, fandom, etc. There's a fine line between silly fan talk and disturbed obsession :rolleyes:

More importantly, we know Bret doesn't like coffee much, but I have no idea how he takes his tea. :hrm:
It doesn't really matter as long as he tucks in to that pavlova though.
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Re: Jemaine's Te Ahi Kaa - Radio NZ Interview

Postby Val2150 » Fri Nov 21, 2008 3:33 pm

ASmallTurnip wrote:
First of all, Jemaine is adorably out of breath while he's giving the interview, as if he's running circles around his hotel room, trying to get his yips out before the Conchords' big Minneapolis gig that night. I want to hand him a paper bag to blow into and tell him to think of a babbling brook.

And then Jemaine repeatedly uses a beauty of a word, whakamā, to describe shyness. But it doesn't just mean plain old regular shyness, or at least, it doesn't always. It also carries a lot of lexical cargo about feelings of shame or embarrassment, which may or may not be revealing about the kind of family Jemaine grew up in. I don't know. I can't help but feel that there is a lot going on there, and it makes me wonder if he'll ever feel comfortable enough talking more about it to the press. I'm guessing not, but then Jemaine is nothing if not surprising.


Hahaha, Turnip, I thought the same thing about him being out of breath.....like "what the hell was he just doing?" :lol: And the shyness discussion was so interesting to me - I'm continually fascinated by how he can be so shy and yet just come alive and really put himself out there when performing. As someone with plenty of whakamā myself, I find that pretty impressive. :D
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Re: Jemaine's Te Ahi Kaa - Radio NZ Interview

Postby indigo_jones » Fri Nov 21, 2008 3:42 pm

Part of me thinks that since they've gotten the fame at a slightly older age than seems to be common these days, and because they've actually been in the entertainment industry to some degree for quite a while, they've had time to become used to certain elements and be professional and mature. So now that their private lives are being invaded in a bigger way, they seem to know how to handle it a bit better. They also seem like they've been in the industry because of a true love of what they do, not because they desire to be famous.
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Re: Jemaine's Te Ahi Kaa - Radio NZ Interview

Postby SheWolf » Fri Nov 21, 2008 4:08 pm

Well I could surely go on and on about all this but I'll keep it to a few r-r-r-r-random observations.

There is lovely mix of deepness and sweetness to Jemaine’s voice when he’s being natural. I like the dichotomy of his burly physicality versus his gentle demeanor.

I think it’s safe to assume that most people outside of New Zealand aren't familiar with the Maori culture. I find it fascinating and naturally quite exotic. I’ve read a bit about the resurgence of all things Maori in NZ over the last 30 years or so and I think it’s wonderful that, when the native culture was waning, there was a movement to celebrate and embrace it rather than let it die. I don’t find it unusual that all most Americans would know of Maori is from Whale Rider or Once Were Warriors. Jemaine’s only knowledge of Milwaukee was Laverne and Shirley wasn’t it? LOL It’s nice to hear him use some Maori words and when he said whakama I did think he was swearing at first. :lol: I remember that during the tour he signed one fan’s LP “Aroha, Jemaine” when I found the definition for aroha I found it really really lovely. :D

This interview, as well as the one with his mother some months back make me curious as to the family dynamics growing up. It seems Jemaine was the authority figure in the household, playing the role of father, and I wonder how much of that was thrust upon him or how much he took on willingly and how he felt about it then and now. I wonder who his father figure was and how all of this fits in with him being a father now himself.

As to the extreme shyness I’ve noticed that Jemaine does a very endearing thing on occasion, in the middle of talking, sometimes you can see him shrink away just a bit, his expression changes and he becomes more hushed as if he’s suddenly overtaken with embarrassment. When he does this, I want to hug him.

I'm not too curious about Jem's pjs (he sleeps in the nude remember? :yawinkle: ) I'm more curious about what makes him tick. I remember reading something once where he said he was always worried about offending people so he often doesn’t say what he really thinks. On one hand I find that a bit sad and want him to feel free enough to say whatever is on his mind. On the other, I can’t help but think of what a good guy he is to be so thoughtful.

BTW welcome to the whanau Turnip, don't know why on earth you lurked so long.
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Re: Jemaine's Te Ahi Kaa - Radio NZ Interview

Postby sarpugster » Fri Nov 21, 2008 5:52 pm

ASmallTurnip wrote:
I want to know what kind of pajamas Jemaine wears...



See the UK commentary of Eagle vs Shark for the answer... :D Or browse one of the threads here... :D

Val2150 wrote:
I'm continually fascinated by how he can be so shy and yet just come alive and really put himself out there when performing. As someone with plenty of whakamā myself, I find that pretty impressive.


This is the bit that fascinates me such much about Jemaine. The shy private person vs. the performer who comes alive on stage. I find the One Night Stand show to be a perfect example of this - he seems to become another person and just glows with aliveness. As a shy person who might have to get used to performing in front of an audience this intrigues me greatly.

Fascinating discussion, thanks guys. :) If I got started, I could go on for hours too.

The talk about the Maori culture and fame is fascinating too. Please continue. :)
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Re: Jemaine's Te Ahi Kaa - Radio NZ Interview

Postby SheWolf » Fri Nov 21, 2008 6:31 pm

It was interesting that Jemaine said he wouldn't recommend shy people go into performance since the attention doesn't stop when you're offstage. Therein lies the difference between the person and The Performer, I guess. I tend to think Bret is at the opposite end of the spectrum and is anything but shy.
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Re: Jemaine's Te Ahi Kaa - Radio NZ Interview

Postby ASmallTurnip » Sat Nov 22, 2008 8:43 am

SheWolf wrote:It was interesting that Jemaine said he wouldn't recommend shy people go into performance since the attention doesn't stop when you're offstage. Therein lies the difference between the person and The Performer, I guess. I tend to think Bret is at the opposite end of the spectrum and is anything but shy.
Really? :hrm: See, I'm not sure I'd say that. I mean, I don't know the guy, so this is just conjecture, but from what I've observed he doesn't seem to be at the other end of the spectrum from Jemaine at all. I truly don't think either of the guys are big extroverts. It's just that there are different shades and ways of being introverts. You know?

SheWolf wrote:I remember that during the tour he signed one fan’s LP “Aroha, Jemaine” when I found the definition for aroha I found it really really lovely. :D
Oh, absolutely! I use unconsciously use aroha all the time these days. I think my favourite definition of it is this, from an article in Time magazine:

"...Other words have a richer spread of meanings: "Aroha, for example, covers more than love. It also has the sense of affection, warmth and goodwill" - so people will talk of a crowd on a cold night being warmed by aroha."

I love that. So very much.

indigo_jones wrote:They also seem like they've been in the industry because of a true love of what they do, not because they desire to be famous.
Ah. Now that's it. Jones, I think you've got it. I actually think that in many ways, they'd prefer not to be so famous. I mean, they're undoubtedly ambitious, but that ambition is to make better and better stuff for the world, whether it's comedy or music or writing or animation or acting or something else entirely. For all that Jemaine talks about how exhausting the production of the TV series is, I have little doubt that it's that stuff that he truly loves. Not the press or the perks, but the process of building something great. It may absolutely flatten the guys, but if there's one thing I know about them, it's that there is no way on Earth they'd do it if they didn't get totally jazzed about it.

And that, I think, is rare.

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Re: Jemaine's Te Ahi Kaa - Radio NZ Interview

Postby H.... » Sun Nov 23, 2008 3:43 pm

What I'd really like to know are daft things that make a person an individual. Like the tea thing. Or whether he has a seperate drawer for his business socks and his Jockeys.
And whilst it is sad that he maybe doesn't have the traditional father figure in his life, he certainly appears to not use it as an excuse and it has definitely shaped him.

That is all.
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Re: Jemaine's Te Ahi Kaa - Radio NZ Interview

Postby Nancy » Sat Nov 29, 2008 5:17 am

Great to read all your input. Thank you, Turnip, for helping with the vocabulary. I haven't heard this interview since it came out in May, but one thing I do remember is that Jemaine said something like, "We're on the East Coast of the United States, in Minneapolis." That got me - when you're on tour, you do sometimes lose track of where you are, which poor Jemaine obviously did. :?
All of your observations are spot on - Jemaine and shyness, fame, his father,etc. I enjoyed reading all your comments. Now I feel I should give it another listen!
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Re: Jemaine's Te Ahi Kaa - Radio NZ Interview

Postby prettyrobyngirl » Thu Jan 29, 2009 4:38 pm

Can someone confirm that I am hearing this right?

During the interview, he talks about how he didn’t know really anyone from his dad’s side of the family, around the 27:00 minute mark. He says that he got an “email from one [a member of his Dad’s family] the first time I was a dad” and it was the first time he had ever heard from, this was while he was in Australia…

The radio interview was in May 2008, and his son wasn’t born until October, right? So Jemaine has some other little nuggets kickin around the world?

Not looking for a specific answer as to his private life, but just if I am hearing that right or not?
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Re: Jemaine's Te Ahi Kaa - Radio NZ Interview

Postby SheWolf » Thu Jan 29, 2009 4:57 pm

He doesn't say anything about himself being a dad. He says he got an email from a member of his dad's side of the family who he has never met.
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