When New Zealand first went into lockdown in March this year, Emile Rima had to make some tough decisions.
Rima was in Auckland to perform at the Rage concert – one of New Zealand’s last big events before shutting down to stave off Covid-19.
The concert brought some of the top Cook Islands and Pacific artists together.
Rima saw the lockdown as an opportunity.
“People say we were stranded,” says Rima, who returned to Rarotonga earlier this month. “To be honest I saw it more of an opportunity.
“I had nothing to lose. I am happy I stayed back to create and compose music during Covid-19. I wanted to show our people that this is not the end, this is the beginning of a new era; we just have to seize the opportunity and give it our 100 per cent.”
While many complained and moaned about the Covid-19 situation, Rima got to work “releasing music and continue doing what I love most for myself and for my family”.
Rima performed at the Rage, Kuki Winter Vibes, birthdays and many more events. During his extended stay there, he formed a special working relationship with other artists.
The highlight was collaborating with local singing sensation Jarome Pare on the latest craze, the Taki Taki song. The song was produced by Astrobeatz in collaboration with Heimana Music Distribution.
The hit single which dropped with a music video shot in Auckland alongside footages of stranded Cook Islanders returning home in May was released at the Winter Kuki Vibes. Rima says he has also worked with Auckland-based Cook Islands group Samson Squad.
“We have something coming for you very soon.”
Emile Rima had a passion for singing and composing music from a very young age. But it was not until the Raro Idol win in 2010 when he started pursuing music as a career.
Rima was approached by the renowned Cook Islands musician Papa John Lindsay and Tepaeru Skinner. He also recorded with Caleb Teulilo and Heimana Productionz.
In 2011, Rima released his first album, Emile, which is available on all platforms.
He went on to write and create more Cook Islands music garnering a wide following locally and overseas.
However, his favourite song is “Koe Anake”, released last year in collaboration with Hiede Ben and Cruz Robati.
Rima says when they started working on Koe Anake, they wanted to come up with a song that would stand out. It became an instant hit and has passed 1.1 million views on YouTube, one of the first Cook Islands song to achieve this feat.
Koe Anake is about “character, emotion soul and feelings” of women. It is also about love for ancestors, “love for you and me and everyone around us”.
“The kind of love that is unconditional.”
Rima says they created Koe Anake with a vision to embrace the change music industry has been undergoing but also maintain the local culture and tradition to give the song a unique blend.
“It was a song that made sense to all of us. We were blessed from the making to its release and to this day Koe Anake has gained over 1 million hits on YouTube and still growing.
“It’s so global that I guess everyone understood where we were coming from when making Koe Anake.”
Emile Rima says he has received fan messages from as far away as Nigeria and Mexico, praising Koe Anake.
A short video posted on Rima’s music page shows some Mexican girls dancing to the beats of this song. “All the way in Nigeria and Mexico, Koe Anake is making moves through all sorts of cultures.”
This has inspired a new Koe Anake Dance Challenge, created by the Festival de la Cultura Polinesia.
People can participate in groups or alone. They have to first “like” the challenge post from Festival de la Cultura Polinesia on Facebook and ORA Music By Emile Rima page, tag four dancers, and share.
The participants have to learn the choreography of Koe Anake or develop their own.
They then have to upload their video on Facebook. The challenge ends on September 16, with prizes for the top three most liked videos.
Now in Rarotonga and united with his loved ones, Rima plans to pursue music to “share my content to the world and to give it my all in our Lord’s name”.
“I would like to thank all those that have supported and grinded with me through my adventures through music Wallace Aroita and partner, Terangi Rima and Terryane Strickland and Meitaki Designz for their major sponsor and support.
“Thank you to my family, my team from Panama Productionz and most of all my grandmother Mary Rima for being there for me through thick and thin.”