When: Saturday 20 January 2024, 7:30pm onwards
Where: Butlers Reef, 1133 South Road, Oakura, New Plymouth
In the early 1990s, Laughton, Francis, Stuart, and Brad, four brothers of the Kora family hailing from Whakatane, began catching the attention of local audiences. Afterwinning multiple band competitions, they earned a first release on Tangata Records. In 2000 while living in Queenstown, Laughton began jammingwith local muso Dan McGruer, who encouraged him to experiment with vocals. Their live project Soulcharge was associated with locals including KP, Downtown Brown (Sunshine Sound System) and P.Digsss (Shapeshifter). Dan and Laughton both sharedsongwriting duties and recordeda four-song demo. Laughton and Fran were reunited in Wellington at Toi Whakaari (NZ Drama School), and began jamming with Dan, and then eventually all four brothers together becamepart of the 1stincarnation of Kora.One of its tracks, Politician, written in Queenstown by KP, Dan and Laughton, becametheir firsthit onradio, launching the band’s career. Kora released their Volume EP in mid-2004, and it proved hugely popular, reaching Platinum sales status and being picked up for distribution by Inertia Music(Australia), Shiva Records (UK), and Unity Records (Hawaii).
After a UK headline tour came the self-titled debut album, recorded and produced at Kora’s studio. Kora immediately went to No.1 in New Zealand, reaching double-platinum status. The follow-upsophomore album, “Light Years”, came five years later and showcased the band’s diverse musical range. With an influence from electronic music, and with an increased use of synths, the album achieved platinum sales and was one of the highest-sellingalbums of 2013. By this point, Kora had well and truly cemented themselves as one of the nation’s finest live acts.
The amount of ground Kora has covered throughout New Zealandand on the international circuit is impressive. In Aotearoa, Kora hasbeen seen at The Big Day Out, Rhythm & Vines, One Love, WOMAD, Coromandel Gold, Homegrown, and Splore. Internationally, their touring highlights include London and Scotland with Crazy P& Norman J, a sell-outat London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire, WOMAD UK, Snowsplash (Japan), Sierra Nevada World Music Festival (USA), and Mosaic Festival (Singapore). Closer to home, they have performed at Australia’s WOMADelaide, Pyramid Rock, Playground, Fresh Fest, and Quicksilver Pro music festivals. By2019, Kora’s live efforts were focused around anew ensemble, consisting of core members Fran and Stu Kora, Dan McGruer and Richie Allan, with new additions Darren Matthiassen (Trinity Roots, Shapeshifter) on drums, Marika Hodgson (Hollie Smith, Troy Kingi, Alae) on bass, and Karlos Tunks (Troy Kingi, MMQ) on rhythm guitar and BVs. Songwriting for new releases began, with new material being instantly well-received amongst fans at shows.
The first song of that new material, Secret Lover, a funky tale of infidelity, was well received and landed nicelyon the New Zealand radio charts. With its DJ Spell remix, Weekendbrought hip-hopflavours back to the mix; rockanthem L-Overhit number #1 for Rock music via RadioScope in October 2021 and remained onthe radio charts for ninemonths. Kora’s unique and eclectic blend of music has passed 50 million streams on Spotify.
Throughout the COVID era,Kora hascontinued writing and performing at Aotearoa’s biggest festivals. Kora continue to headline shows such asRhythm & Alps, Soundsplash, Electric Avenue, and Sundownon thesummer live music circuit. In May 2022, Kora headlined Australia’s Gold Coast’s inaugural Good Love Festival, and other recent live highlights were slots playing before Six60at stadium shows in Aotearoaand a landmark set at Splorethat blew the roof off.
July 2022 saw the release of Taraketi-a re-recording of Kora’s first hit Politician in te reo Māori.Thisre-recording has not only been rewritten for the project: Taraketiis a fresh take on the original. Beloved across Aotearoa and frequently heard around the world as a soundtrack to political movements, the recreation was a “precious process that holds mana and pride to an updated version of the waiata.”
A regular output of new works, tested in the live arena have been released throughout 2022 and 2023, including Gone, Champion and All We Need / Kia Arohatia Tātou, which featured in the documentary “Waiata Anthems”, and Dancing In The Rain. With that new energy and more recordings to come in 2024, festivals are already queueing up to book a band that remains one of the hottest live acts in the country, with a diverse fusion of influences unlike any other.