Q&A Scene: Nate Veniale ~ The REFUGEES

Nate Veniale of The Refugees answered a few of our questions ahead of the KIWI Festival this Saturday (15thFebruary). The REFUGEES are on at 5pm.


How long have you been playing music? In New Zealand and/or Australia? 

I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember, growing up in the church and within our Polynesian culture, but I’ve been performing and playing the guitar for around 20 years now. The same can be said for the rest of the band – we all were learning to play instruments, through church and family, before we got to high school.


Is there a particular KIWI sound?

I think there is, but to me, it’s quite diverse. That diversity makes it a bit harder to describe the particular sound, but it’s more about the feeling that Kiwi sound creates. Catchy melodies, amazing harmonies, innovative musicality. In my opinion, listening to Kiwi music/sound makes you feel a certain way through the song’s authenticity in performance and structure.


Who is your favourite Kiwi artist? Why?

I can’t go past the Legendary HERBS for their influence on the music landscape of Aotearoa, but also their political influence, both at home, and globally. Amazing musicians with a message that was used as a vehicle to bring about positive change (See “French Letter”). So many current Kiwi artists wouldn’t be doing what they’re doing if Herbs hadn’t laid that foundation, us included. Special mention to the likes of Che Fu, Katchafire, AKA Brown, Adeaze, and many others for influencing me and holding it down as Kiwi Legends!


How would you describe your sound in food form and why?

We LOVE Food, and we’re going to serve you a big plate of Soul Food! Some slow-roasted RnB, with a delicious side of Reggae, and a decent serving of Hip Hop, with a drizzle of Funk for full flavour! And you’re always welcome to come back for seconds!


Tell us a quick, on the road or studio, anecdote.

Our latest single “Stina” that we released around Christmas last year, was written and composed at a practice session. Within the space of an hour, we had gone from a failed attempt(on my behalf) to play Childish Gambino’s “This Is America”, to having 3 verses and a hook written to that failed attempt 😂Our Lead singer Teura heard what I was playing and told me to keep going. The rest of the boys jumped in, and we arranged the music while she penned the lyrics.

When we were in the studio recording the song we realised we needed another verse/bridge to extend the song, so I had Teura write another quick verse, and I shaped it into the bridge that I sing near the end of the track. Creativity that comes through that quickly is definitely something we thrive on.


What is the best thing about the KIWI Festival?  

Where do I even start?? It’s a great concept to bring a taste of New Zealand’s goodness here to Melbourne (Good Music, Food & People) for all of us to celebrate – both proud Kiwi ex-pats and envious Aussie’s alike!😂


Why should people come to see you at the KIWI Festival?

We have a fresh Kiwi sound that comes straight from our Polynesian roots but has been cultivated right here in Melbourne. “Catchy melodies, amazing harmonies and innovative musicality” along with some genuine fun times on stage are what you can expect from us. Come through and help us create some authentic good vibes!


What’s your scene?

Creating good music with like-minded people. 

A space where family and friends come together, share good food, and enjoy each other’s company, with the music and laughter never-ending. Give me an acoustic guitar and good company, and we’ll keep jamming till the night is through!


KIWI FEST 2020 – Saturday 15th February – Footscray Community Arts Centre, Footscray VIC


2pm Gates

2:30 Opening Ceremony*

2:50 Ala Mai*

3:20 Miss Fee

3:45 Nga Uri Whaioranga*

4:15 Iva Lamkum

5pm Interstitial DJ

5:15 The Refugees

6pm Nga Matai Purua*

6:30 Amin Payne & Stacey

7:05 Polysifik*

7:20 DJ Spell

8pm Interstitial DJ

8:10 Israel Starr

9pm Interstitial DJ

9:10 Che Fu

*Cultural Performance



Hangi Boys, Garage Project and Armageddon BBQ.


All Ages Event – (Alchildren must be accompanied by a responsible adult)

Tickets: $30-$55 +BF

Children Under 3 Free

Ticketing via: www.eventbrite.com.au/e/kiwi-fest-2020-tickets 

About Mary Boukouvalas 1396 Articles
Mary is a photographer and a writer, specialising in music. She runs Rocklust.com where she endeavours to capture the passion of music in her photos whether it's live music photography, promotional band photos or portraits. She has photographed The Rolling Stones, KISS, Iggy Pop, AC/DC, Patti Smith, Joe Strummer, PULP, The Cult, The Damned, The Cure, Ian Brown, Interpol, MUDHONEY, The MELVINS, The Living End, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine, The Stone Roses –just to name a few - in Australia, USA, Europe and the Middle East. Her work has been published in Beat magazine, Rolling Stone magazine, Triple J magazine, The Age Newspaper, The Herald Sun, The Australian, Neos Kosmos, blistering.com, theaureview.com, noise11.com, music-news.com. She has a permanent photographic exhibition at The Corner Hotel in Richmond, Victoria Australia.

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