PHIL Dakei is excited. Fresh back from a recent trip to the Land of the Rising Sun where he spent eight days performing his hit single 'Play On' and other soon-to-be-released songs off his yet-to-be-titled official debut album, Dakei has managed to get a foot into the proverbial door and perhaps achieve a musician's ultimate dream - making money out of playing and recording music.
The story of how Dakei's music caught the attention of one of Japan's biggest distribution labels is a prime example of the power of social media and the internet to market a product across international barriers.
In this case 'Play On', a Pacific rhythm and blues tune, recorded in Lautoka two years ago made enough of an impact that it took Dakei 7,300 kilometres from the cane field strewn outskirts of Lautoka to the city that never sleeps, Tokyo in Japan.
"I received an email last year from the Media Factory in Japan, through their international relations office which asked if they could include 'Play On' in one of their compilations. After further correspondence concerning copyright issues, which was a great learning experience for me, I agreed. This was huge because Media Factory is an international distribution company that distributes music and movies and one of their most famous clients is the cult Japanese Anime Hit 'PokÃ©mon,'" the music whiz explained.
The compilation in question 'PACIFIC ROOTS II' is a combination of hits from Australia, New Zealand and Fiji and a follow up to the hugely successful 'PACIFIC ROOTS I' which made some serious waves in Japan.
"The experience was exciting, mesmerising and totally satisfying from a music business perspective because I got an opportunity to meet other musicians from Japan and the Pacific region, publishers, labels, recording companies and I came back with new opportunities to the Japanese market. Three labels are now waiting for a chance to talk about releasing my debut album in Japan and to manage digital sales worldwide," the 34-year-old Lomaiviti lad said.
Now, if you're living in Fiji and somebody in Japan gives you an all expenses paid trip just to let other people hear your music, then you have got to be something special.
Dakei said despite the language barrier, music lovers in the audience travelled for as much as 3 hours to watch Pacific and Japanese artists perform at 3 venues in Tokyo - the Blue Moon, The Hard Rock Cafe Tokyo and the mecca of live music, Sums Up.
"They have such an amazing respect for culture and music and even though many of them did not understand a word I was singing, they were visibly moved by the music and were very appreciative which was really a humbling experience for me as an artist," he shared.
Dakei is currently putting the finishing touches to new tracks which will feature on his official debut album and with the keen interest shown by Japanese distributors, there is no doubt that the Lomaiviti lad will become a household name in faraway lands in the near future.
It is unfortunate that mainstream radio in the country, and English stations in particular, fail to recognise the depth of talent in the country. Artists like Dakei, BigWilz, Knox, Alexia Rae Costello and even Rosiloa continue to be marginalised despite repeated efforts to get their music on air and out there.
Apart from the unparalleled support from Lautoka radio station Mix FM English music artists are often relegated to Fijian stations thus depriving the wider audience from listening and appreciating what Fiji has to offer.
Perhaps the 'Buy Fijian' campaign could encompass making it mandatory for radio to play a healthy dose of feel-good and uplifting local music that spread a gospel of love, unity and harmony as opposed to the ghetto propaganda which feature songs with strong sexual overtones and lyrics that leave a lot to be desired that is being piped across the nation.
"We just got to keep doing what we're doing. The message will get out there. When the music is good and inspired - there's nothing in this world that can stop it," said Dakei.