Rapa Nui is the birthplace and homeland of renown and acclaimed international musician, artist and cultural ambassador Yoyo Tuki. Rapa Nui (Easter Island) lies 3700kms off the coast of Chile, and 4000kms southeast from Tahiti. The official language is Spanish as the island is part of Chile, though the Islanders also speak ‘Rapa Nui’ – a Polynesian dialect similar to Tahitian and New Zealand Maori.
Born into a culturally rich family, Yoyo developed a strong sense of identity. A deep respect for his land and traditions was nurtured by his upbringing, and in particular by the influence of his grandfather ‘Mana Roa’ (Great Wisdom). A highly respected elder, Mana Roa was regarded as a keeper of ancient wisdom, and was also one of the island’s greatest carvers. His cultural knowledge was legendary. As a child, Yoyo would listen to his grandfather’s stories, knowing that the day would come where he passed this wisdom to his own children. What he couldn’t have known then, was that his music would one day transmit a deep cultural message to thousands of his own people, and many more throughout the world.
From a young age Yoyo’s innate artistic abilities became apparent, though he was largely self-taught. His paintings and drawings won prestigious prizes, and he was invited to study under expert craftsmen; however, at the age of 15 a handmade wooden ukulele changed the path of his life forever. Teaching himself to master the ukulele had a powerful effect on the teen, whose newfound passion for music then transferred to the strings of a guitar, and to the composition of his first songs.
Yoyo’s first recording experience was at 19 years of age as the lead singer, guitarist and songwriter for Sony Music’s Rapa Nui band ‘Mana Roa’ In 2002. Mana Roa released their album entitled ‘Al Sur del Sol’ which sold well within South America and gained modest success internationally. Not long after it’s release, Yoyo decided to leave Manaroa to walk his own musical path, and in 2005 recorded his first independent album entitled ‘Teuingahanga’ which embedded Yoyo into the Pacific music scene. His second album ‘Taiko’ (2006) was produced with his family band Ohiro Hiro, fusing traditional upbeat rhythms and songs with modern music. Both albums sold incredibly well and remain popular over 10 years since their first release.
Travelling through the school of traditional Rapa Nui music into new modern compositions, each of Yoyo’s albums broke new territory at the time of its release. He sings in Rapa Nui, Spanish or English, carrying a message that is universal and inherently honest. Audiences remark on the incredible journey they undertake listening to Yoyo: sadness to hope, reflection to dancing celebration. His fine five-piece band and team of traditional dancers accompany Yoyo where possible, though Yoyo is famous for his one-man acoustic performances. Perhaps it is Yoyo’s wonderful flexibility as an artist that has gained him such a favourable reputation, however he believes that the strength of his music lies in his storytelling, and the constant guidance from the ‘Kuhane O Te Tupuna’ (Spirit Of The Ancestors). Yoyo feels a compelling sense of duty to promote, share and teach others of his cultural heritage, particularly as he now shares his life between Rapa Nui and Australia. He also plays music for the pure joy of expression, and understands this as the underlying success of his career.
Today, almost 20 years since he discovered his musical ability, Yoyo's contributions have broken new ground and inspired a cultural revival.. Like his ancestors who carved megalithic stone giants, Yoyo is an artist with a powerful ability to fuse tradition with innovation. With over 15 years performing throughout high profile music festivals and events in Polynesia, South America, Australia, Taiwan, USA and Europe - He is today Rapa Nui's most important and successful international artist. A world class singer-songwriter, musician and indisputable Rapa Nui music heavy weight. His songs reclaim Rapa Nui culture, communion with nature and the respect for the ancestors of the place. An artist that is different, committed with the idea of promoting the culture of his ancestral people.