Driven by a need to perform evident to himself since childhood, Tane “The Forest Kid” Williams found his feet at a London party attended with his Mum very early in life... ‘apparently I spent the whole party on the dance floor… literally - I never left.’
Although he only vaguely remembers it now, he feels that surge of emotions from this time as a child whenever he performs to this day. Tane speaks of the addiction to attention that he felt in childhood, which as he has grown, has turned into a love for entertaining and faith in himself as a performer. ‘I know I can act, and I can write, record and perform music.’
It is clear that the artistic household Tane grew up in helped foster his love for dance and music. ‘I grew up sitting on the side lines, while Mum taught her dance classes. She had posters and pictures of her performing arts career around the house, and there was always blues music from the 50’s by musicians like Sam Cooke and The Drifters playing in the background.’
What is clear from the interview with him, is that performing is in his blood - the need to find a voice, a way to express it. A self-stated shy kid who had a lot to say, he found he was able to use spoken word and music to express himself. ‘I would turn frustrations and complicated emotions into poems - then I found I could create instrumentals to sit with these, and I started performing these poems for my friends. Their reactions were what made me realise I had something.’
Tane’s influence from music was not limited to the blues that his mother played. His ‘sisters and cousins would play lots of black music, mostly RnB and rap…’, and he was also taking drum and Hip Hop dance lessons. ‘Not lessons on your regular drum kit, but African drums like the Bongo. I was always more into rhythm when I was young. It wasn’t until recently that I started to become more acquainted with melodies and harmonies.’
He found friends who were like minded, and he discovered Hip Hop and RnB artists - bands such as Bow Wow, Scribe and Chingy. Nearing the end of high school, he started recording and releasing his own music with his ‘homie Rej’ who encouraged him to take his music seriously. Although he does create some music strategically, his music is still the most organic way to vocalise his emotions. ‘[It] still has therapeutic qualities for me - it allows me to let out thoughts and feelings that I wouldn’t verbalise otherwise.’
It was at this time also, that the acting aspect made an appearance in his life - he saw drama school as another notch in his performing artist’s belt, with the added benefit of sharpening the blades of his performance in all forms... ‘Plus, who doesn’t want to be a movie star?!’
Being in a small New Zealand market has not slowed Tane’s hopes' and ambition. He has graced the stage with ATC as ‘Antipholus of Syracuse’ in The Comedy of Errors, played Ali Karim in Shortland Street, and was cast in the feature film Fantasy Island. He is known under the name Tane the Forest Kid for his music, and has collaborated with such local artists as Jamie McDell, Jupiter Project and Vince Harder, and released the EP Forest in 2018.
‘I don’t think it’s the size of the industry that determines your potential for success, but more the size of your dreams and the strength of your drive.’ Tane finds acting another opportunity to perform, but ‘music is different for me, because I found it with no intention of performing or making money from it.’
Covid-19, the dreaded word which has affected everyone on the planet, in his opinion has the potential to really lift local performers opportunities. Tane says ‘…the people who love going to gigs but save their money for the big international acts are going to need a fix, and Kiwi artists will be ready and waiting. NZ promoters and festival runners will look [more] locally for performers, which is a good thing.’ Covid-19 has also put a stop to a lot of international content production for film, TV and theatre, and therefore the potential for actors to hit the American market - this should also create more local work for actors he hopes. ‘To summarise, I have no idea how the future will pan out, but there are still lots of reasons to remain hopeful.’
So, you may ask, what’s next for this multi-talented artist? Well, it seems his main objective is to stay audition-ready for local acting work ‘and to make as much music as I can. I’ve just released the final single ‘No One Like You’ off my EP Moon and have written and recorded about seven songs to consider for my next project. I’ve managed to find a career path that I enjoy staying passionate about.’
‘As people are the most important thing in my life, my family and friends are the reason I work at my skills every day. To support them in the future, to make them proud and celebrate with, when we win. I see all the mahi I’m doing at the moment asbuilding blocks. I want to spend my time like seeds I’m planting while I’m young, in the hope ofliving in the tree that it one day grows into. And like most people, I’d love to have a familyof my own to share that tree house with. I have a lot to do before then, but one day for sure’
Tane Williams has many strings to his bow, and yet there is no doubt that music is his passion - but don’t think that his performance bug in all other pursuits will be in any way restrained, he is sure to be seen on our screens as well and is most definitely one to watch [and listen] for!
Photography, Fashion, Make Up and Hair by David K. Shields
Introduction and Interview by Christy Quilliam
Tane Williams is represented by Gail Cowan Management