As the warm sun sets over the horizon, Muroki‘s balmy new single, “Sweet Lime,” washes over listeners with its laid-back, infectious vibes. The 21-year-old New Zealand artist has crafted yet another track that captures the essence of his smooth, roots-based sound, inspired by his Raglan upbringing, Kenyan heritage, and musical influences from across the globe.
This recent release not only solidifies the musician’s position as a rising star but also showcases his hypnotic vocals that effortlessly caress melodies, melting even the toughest hearts. Produced by Justyn Pilbrow, best known for his work on The Neighbourhood’s “Sweater Weather,” “Sweet Lime” was penned by Muroki during his travels to New York City and Berlin.
Sharing the story behind the track, he reveals, “Sweet Lime was birthed when I was half dead on the couch in Justyn’s studio in Brooklyn, New York. The song is about navigating the bittersweet ‘n’ sour nature of a long-distance relationship. After New York, I was kicking around with my girl in Berlin for three weeks, where the song pretty much finished itself off.”
As we sit down with Muroki to discuss his latest release, it’s clear that the young artist is just getting started on his musical journey. With each release, the New Zealand native continues to captivate audiences, proving that he’s an artist you don’t want to sleep on. Stay tuned as we delve into his inspirations, creative process, and what’s next.
Your music blends your Raglan background of skating pavements and surfing breaks with inspiration from local music, your Kenyan heritage, and sounds from North and South America. Can you tell us about a specific moment or experience that really influenced your unique sound?
I played Capoeira Angola when I was a kid and I think that has definitely influenced a lot of the percussion in my music.
You have a very distinct voice that captivates listeners. Were you always confident in your singing abilities, or did it take some time for you to find your voice?
It definitely took me some time to get confident with my voice, especially in public. I started singing when I was about fifteen and I’m not going to lie, it didn’t sound too good when I started haha. Practice takes you a long way though.
Your latest single, “Sweet Lime,” is a bittersweet ode to navigating long-distance relationships. Can you share with us a personal experience that inspired the song?
I was visiting my girlfriend in Berlin whilst writing the song. All good things have to come to an end at some point and I knew I had to go home to New Zealand soon after arriving to see her. So all the emotions in that song was what I was enduring at the time of writing it.
Working with Justyn Pilbrow on record must have been a great experience. Can you tell us about a memorable moment from the recording process?
Justyn is dope man, we’ve continued working on a bunch of music together. We did two sessions together in New York, and the night before the second session, I went to a party and maybe had a bit too much fun haha. Anyway, the next day the mood was set and we wanted to make a tune you would be happy listening to while extremely hungover on a couch, and boom! Sweet Lime was born haha.
Last year graced us with Heading East, an EP that showcased your diverse range of influences and styles. Now that some time has passed, how do you feel about the project?
I’ve definitely learned a lot from that project. The way I approach finishing songs, recording them, and writing them is much different now. But releasing a song or project is just a snapshot of where I was musically at the time. I’ve been ironing out the creases since then, so I’m very excited for what’s to come.
I also noticed that your music incorporates elements of indie, pop, reggae, and world music. How do you decide which genres to draw from when crafting a new song?
I don’t really decide, the song will decide itself and my job is not to fight where the song wants to go while writing it.
Looking back on your catalog, “Wavy” and “Surfin'” were obviously both hugely successful releases that introduced you to an international audience. Do you ever feel pressure to replicate that level of success with each new release?
I used to and It would completely ruin my creative process and take the fun out of it all. I heard a quote from A$AP Rocky saying, “We plan, and God laughs.” the stars align sometimes and certain songs do really well and others just don’t. So nowadays, I just worry about making and playing the tunes rather than how well they’re gonna sell.
Your songwriting is often praised for its introspective and relatable lyrics. Can you talk about how you approach writing songs and what inspires you?
I write songs about things that go on in my life. I think that’s why people can relate to them well, because it feels authentic.
On that note, what’s the most rewarding aspect of being a musician for you?
The most rewarding moment for me is finding myself in a room or on a stage with people who have made the music I’ve been raised on.
Outside of music, what are some of your hobbies and interests that people might be surprised to learn about?
I enjoy a bit of backgammon and a cup of coffee in the morning haha.