The Stndrd boys come through with this beautiful acoustic rendition of their hit single 'My Uso'.
Click through to the video to learn the lyrics and sing along with the boys -
We caught up with Johnathan for a quick Q&A ahead of their debut album release.
How did Stndrd the group come together and how did the name of the group come about or evolve from what you used to call yourselves - Home Made Entertainment?
Yannis is my (J) older brother. We met Teeroy through church when we were probably around 10 years old? We were in the same congregation and same Sunday School class for a while before his family moved out of our boundary so we lost contact for the next 6 or so years.
It wasn’t until I was scrolling on YouTube one time when I was around 16 that I came across a familiar face, with the craaaziest vocals on YouTube haha and it was Teeroy. He was singing covers and I remember thinking – holy heck, I haven’t seen this guy in years!
Anyway, in the next year or so they ended up moving back into our ward boundary for church, and we reconnected at the age of 16/17. Teeroy was performing here and there for birthdays and stuff, and his mum hits my mum up one time saying that Teeroy needed someone to fill in for one of the boys, and they asked if I could do it. I did the gig with Tee and for the next year and a bit, we grew Home Made Entertainment with a few of the boys.
We played at the Niu FM Mixer 3 Concert and jammed regularly at the open mic nights in Otahuhu, where we’d see artists like Sammy J, Tree, TJ Taotua and countless others do their thing! Crazy to see where everybody is now in their journey.
Fast forward a few years and we all found ourselves living in Sydney. Myself (J) moved here first, then Teeroy moved in with me, then Yannis. We shared a 2 bedroom granny flat in Blackett, Mount Druitt at the start haha. Then one day we were staying in Hassall Grove, Mount Druitt and we decided to give music a proper crack.
We recorded our first track Poly People and got it mixed & mastered, and the only thing left for us to distribute the song was to come up with our artist name. After some shocking suggestions, Teeroy jokingly brought up using the word ‘’shtaaandard” (standard), which is a common slang term synonymous with being “all good”.
It stuck and to make it fancy we removed the ‘A’s and that’s how we came up with STNDRD. We feel it represents us pretty well – we’re just a few standard blokes and what you see is what you get!
Can you tell us how your viral hit 'My Uso' came about and how the remix came together.
Teeroy’s younger brother Moziah aka SYGOTBEATZ is the mastermind behind My Uso, and a lot of not only our songs but Pasifika artists internationally. He messaged me (J) on Instagram at 3am one Sunday morning. I remember waking up from my overnight shift at work at 6am and checking my phone thinking what the heck is this guy doing up haha. He messaged saying that he had a beat he just made that he thought we’d really like.
So I hit him back straight away telling him to send it through. I thought he’d be asleep by now but to my surprise he replied saying that he was sending it. I got to my next shift at 7am and he sent the beat not long after that. I went to my car and played the beat on the speakers – and straight away I knew it was something special.
It reminded me of a ‘Dear Mama’ by 2pac type beat or a 6 pound ‘This Must Be Love’ type of beat – one of those ‘once in a while’ kind of songs that has the power to move people and become something bigger than music. So I sat in my car and listened a few times and one of the first things that came to mind was – the love that we as Pasifika men have for our brothers. It seemed to fit in perfectly with the beat and with Yannis being my older brother, and Teeroy being Moziah’s older brother, I thought it was the perfect topic for us to share our experience on.
I walked back into work and wrote my verse and the hook in an hour. I sent it to the boys (I still have the video too haha) and that same Sunday night, we met at my brother’s house in St Marys and wrote & recorded the whole song from top to bottom – before dropping my brother off to the airport to go to Samoa at like 5am the next morning. The atmosphere while writing and recording it was almost tangible, there was so much emotion in that room – we were all literally on the verge of tears as we recorded the song and listened back to it.
As soon as we finished recording that night – I remember telling the boys, how cool would it be if after we release this track, we reach out to some other artists and open up the song for them to share their own experiences on the love they have for their Usos. I knew then and there that it had the potential to be something special. And it wasn’t because of our doing – we don’t take credit for making this ‘successful’ song – we just created a space that allowed listeners to tap into the true nature of Pacific People, which is filled with love and with family.
A lot was going on in the music scene at that time, a lot of contention and ‘rap beef’ on social media – so the timing couldn’t have been any better and with BIGGs, Ron Moala, Masi Rooc and Lisi all bringing their own flavour and their own stories to the track – it was bound to have an impact.
When did you realise you had a hit on your hands and did the success of the track surprise you?
As mentioned above, we all knew that the remix was going to be something special. I think it started hitting us during the week of the release – we posted trailers of each artist on the remix and announced each artist as the week went on – and those visuals went crazy on our socials.
Once the track dropped, it didn’t take long for it to take off. The YouTube views and the streams went off. And so we decided to do the ‘My Uso Challenge’ to open the platform up to even more people to share their stories on what their Usos meant to them.
That’s when I think it hit us the most, seeing all these verses from people all over the world, male and female, young and old, it was crazy! Even to this day we get tagged in a ‘My Uso Challenge’ every now and then.
This is your debut album - do you all write or contribute to writing your own songs and what do you love about the song writing process?
Yes our debut album - Jukebox! Made with support from NZ On Air.
We all contribute to the writing process. Majority of the time we all write our own verses and then collectively contribute to the hook. If one of us gets a bit stuck then we all put our heads together and chip in.
I think that being able to put ourselves in the listener’s shoes – even before we’ve written any lyrics at all – is a process on its own that we love. Sometimes we know what we want to write about but I’d say most of the time, we’ll listen to an instrumental and just really tap into the emotions that we feel and then translate that into a topic or direction for the song to go in.
As soon as we nail the direction down, the pens come out and off we go! Sometimes it follows that idea to the end, other times it ends up being completely different to what we envisioned. No two songs are the same though so enjoying the journey each song takes us on is definitely a small part of the process that we love.
Was it hard to decide as a group what to keep on the album?
Not really, I’d say we’re pretty agreeable! Apart from myself and Yannis having the odd brotherly disagreement, and Teeroy sitting on the fence haha. For the most part, we’re all on the same page. So when it came to narrowing down the album tracks – there were a couple of tracks that missed out that we were gutted about but for the most part it was pretty smooth.
Do you each have a favourite track on the album and what are they?
J – ‘Keep Loving You’ would have to be my favourite! It’s a song we wrote the hook to in 2019. We recorded the hook back then but ended up losing the session so we had to re-record it recently.
Yannis – Fade Away
Teeroy – Music & Me
You have a couple of features on the album - how did those collaborations come about?
Richard Tiatia who features on ‘Keep Loving You’ is our (J & Yannis) first cousin! He’s always been one of my biggest inspirations growing up. We grew up seeing him and his siblings sing at church and at family reunions and his voice was always my favourite!
Yannis wrote the second verse to ‘Keep Loving You’, and none of us wanted to sing it so I reached out to my cousin and he was keen to jump on. He killed it too. Listen to that second verse on ‘Keep Loving You’ and he might just be your new favourite singer! It’s his debut as an artist releasing any music so there’ll be more to come from him for sure.
We recorded our song ‘Jukebox’ in the studio, and I (J) had the second verse recorded originally – but I didn’t like it haha. We all loved the song so much but the second verse just wasn’t hitting right for me, so we discussed it as a group and decided to clear that verse and get someone to feature on it instead.
Around that time we had started to get more and more familiar with Sam V who was making waves in NZ at the time (and still is). I hit him on Instagram to see if he was keen to record a verse and he was, so I sent him the song and in less than a week he recorded his parts and sent it back. Needless to say, he absolutely killed it!
What other artists or songs do you have on heavy rotation at the moment?
J – Village90 – 'That’s How I Know' is an absolute track. Been listening to a lot of Maoli, Kenyon Dixon and Lucky Daye too
Yannis – Laga Savea (RIP to the Uso) and Kiwini Vaitai
Is there one Pasifika artist or group that you feel has inspired you in your musical journey?
If I had to narrow it down to one it’d probably be Nesian Mystik. They were way ahead of their time. An unreal catalogue with a mix of the fast stuff you can dance to, as well as the slower, more meaningful songs. The brothers did it all and they did it well!
Other artists would be Adeaze & Sammy J.
What is the best piece of industry advice you've been given?
That just like the seasons come and go, the highs and the lows of being an artist come and go as well. So just because it might not be our ‘winning season’ now, that doesn’t mean it won’t come. And on the flipside - just because you’re winning right now, that doesn’t mean that it’ll last forever!
It’s an ever changing landscape out here being an artist, you have to adapt and be resilient. So ride the highs, and stay diligent through the lows, because it all comes and goes in cycles. So when we see other artists doing well and on their grind and making waves, we salute and give people their flowers! And we continue to grind away, preparing for when it’s our season for success. There’s plenty of room at the table for everyone to eat!