The koi Boys - NUZ Ngatai
The Koi Boys blazed into the national consciousness in 2016 when they appeared on The Voice, but the sweet-sounding trio had been entertaining crowds at their Sunday sessions at the Koi Dining & Lounge Bar in Broadbeach on the Gold Coast for years before. Here’s how it all began…
EC: Tell us about the band - how and when did you get together?
NN: Danny (Faifai) and Kevin (Keepa) were mates since they were 19, Danny performed on the Island Queen cruise boat, they did Polynesian themed music, and he was asked if he knew anyone else. Kevin was a busker, Danny knew him so brought him on, then they performed as a duo. After they split up they both had really popular bands in New Zealand, Danny had Chur Bro and Kevin had Sex & Chocolate. I grew up seeing these guys, I was originally a hip hop dancer, I couldn’t sing. When I got out of school I was in a band that mimicked those guys, I just held a mic and copied all their routines. I went to see them sing at Koi on a Sunday afternoon, I was a young Kiwi boy, the new kid on the block - I introduced myself and they knew about me, but I had to take singing lessons! We’ve played together for nearly 12 years now.
EC: What are the dynamics of the trio?
NN: The boys were pretty relaxed, I probably brought a dancer’s discipline with me. Although we are from different generations (Nuz is 33, Danny 45, Kevin 48) my pickup was pretty good, and with a lot of hard work and practice, I’ve chore’ed plenty of our stuff, but we’re in suits, there’s no need to do big moves - we groove, y’know?
EC: What kind of music were you listening to at home when you were a kid?
NN: I come from a very strong, united Maori family. My father used to run corporate karaoke, my family used to all sing a range of old music from the 50s, 70s – ABBA, Gloria Gaynor, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, you get to hear all this music – I was into Usher and Justin Timberlake, I used to try and mimic them.
EC: What was the very first album you remember buying?
NN: All my Life by K-Ci and Jojo
EC: Tell us about your very first gig…
NN: My father used to call me up on stage for karaoke when I was very young so I was full of confidence, performing was always what I wanted to do, I’d always have a go, nothing fazed me. Our first gig was at a wedding, I only had to hold the mike, they said, ‘don’t sing’!
EC: How would you rate your experience on The Voice?
NN: Prior to going on we made a decision to improve on our marketing, that we were just bumbling away, we had nothing on YouTube, people were saying good things, we were doing lots of weddings and private functions by word of mouth – but we couldn’t get to the point to earn good money or have Australia know who we were.
Kenny and I went in the studio and sang Sh Boom (Danny couldn’t make it) and put it on YouTube, a year later it had 70,000 views and The Voice asked us to come on the show as a duo. We asked if they would consider a trio, and they said yes. We got signed by Universal two weeks after we got eliminated – we knew what we wanted to do and where we wanted to go
EC: Tell us about the Koi Boys style…
NN: We dive into the Rat Pack – old classics, Sh Boom was one of those, we do it in our first set, we do so many genres, Motown, hip hop, between the three of us, we’ve got a massive repertoire.
EC: After music, what is each band members’ secret skill, hobby or interest?
Nuz : I love my days off, I’ve got six dogs, two French bulldogs, one bulldog and three Amstaffs; the French bulldogs are only young so they’ve all got their own areas, I’ve got a big house! I got my house at 19, and paid it off, I’m very motivated.
Kevin : he loves to surf and he loves to cook, he’s a great cook. He’s married with two kids and has three from his previous marriage, he’s been through a lot of terrible hardships but he’s one of the funniest people and one of the greatest vocalists I’ve ever shared a stage with.
Danny : He’s the bass/baritone with the group, he’s married with three kids, a boy and two girls. His wife is coach of the netball team and Danny is the assistant coach, he’s a very active father.
We all share the same motivation, we are all trying to succeed, we all want to be successful…