Wellington seven-piece TOI return to their soul/R’nB roots on their brand new single ‘Essence’, with help from an all-star cast of production and engineering legends.
A smooth, soulful tune with hints of funk, ‘Essence’ tells a story of love that’s lost its way but there’s also an uplifting message of hope that shines through.
“There’s a reassurance in the song, that love can prevail when we focus on positives,” says guitarist Jules Blewman, who is a long-time member of TOI alongside lead singer/guitarist Conway Jeune, Luther Hunt (drums), Bryn van Vliet (saxophone), Kaito Walley (trombone, percussion) and Leo Coghini (keys).
‘Essence’ is the first single from TOI’s upcoming new full-length album and sees the band showcasing the signature soulful sound for which they’re widely known. The song came to life after the band locked themselves away in Conway’s newly built home studio - Te Māra Studio - with the goal of writing an album.
“The room has an awesome vibe. Iit was so good having a space with no time limits or restrictions,” says Jules. “It meant we could keep working when the momentum was there. So with this tune, Conway and I started around 10:30 pm and we were writing until 3:30am.”
From there, ‘Essence’ was taken to Ben O’Leary from Drax Project, who worked his magic on the production alongside the band. “Ben has been a supporter of TOI since day one and he’s a close friend, not to mention an all round legend and nice guy. The whole process was very natural and laid back - just some homies hanging in the studio having some laughs and creating some music. Ben’s skills on production truly were invaluable for the end result of how this track sounds,” says Jules.
The track was mixed by Wellignton-based artist, producer and engineer Neil MacLeod and mastered by the legendary Benny Tones (Pacific Heights, Julien Dyne, Electric Wire Hustle).
‘Essence’ follows TOI’s 2022 single ‘Way That We Feel’ featuring Zoe Moon and their 2021 self-titled EP, which saw them exploring indie-pop landscapes with tracks such as ‘I Want You’, ‘Tangerine’ and ‘Thinking Too Much’. The EP amassed more than three million streams on Spotify alone and saw the band embark on a headline New Zealand tour.
Now as TOI returns to their R&B roots, ‘Essence’ gives fans a taste of what they can expect on the upcoming album, which is being made with support from NZ on Air. And with the album on the horizon, it also means the band is primed to return to stages with a new live set.
With a hard-earned reputation as one of the tightest bands around, TOI has traveled the breadth and width of the country performing their own headlining shows; playing killer sets at festivals and sharing stages with heavyweights such as Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ocean Alley, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Katchafire, L.A.B. and Tash Sultana.
Get ready for the ride. TOI is back in business. Listen to ‘Essence’ HERE