In a world full of chaos, uncertainty, and despair, we can all learn a thing or two from Tiki Lau. Created by two former professional athletes, Colette Carr and NAKA, the fun, energetic, upbeat DJ group simply loves to make good music down to the core.
With Colette being a competitive tennis player hailing from Malibu, California, and NAKA, a professional surfer from Hawaii, both creatives fell into the art of creating music as the result of injuries, which quickly turned into one hell of a joyride. Most recently, Tiki Lau had the biggest look in the books: nationally debuting their record “Mike Tyson” featuring Mike Tyson, at the highly-anticipated Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr. fight which took place at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
With the legendary boxing legend using “Mike Tyson” as his walkout song, Tiki Lau proves dreams really do come true if you keep working hard and stay passionate. Beyond that, it’s their laidback, chill, positive outlook on life that speaks volumes to listeners all around the world. To date, they even had the pleasure of opening for one of the hottest EDM DJs, Kaskade, in NAKA’s home state of Hawaii.
Flaunt caught up with both NAKA and Colette, who were hyped up on energy drink Celsius, who sponsors their studio. Read below as we discuss their sound, how they met, having Mike Tyson walk out to their song, studio essentials, new holiday remix “This Christmas,” and what to expect from their forthcoming album Endless Summer.
How would you describe your sound?
Colette: We have a pretty tropical, EDM vibe to everything we do. Being from Malibu and Hawaii, it’s ingrained in who we are. It comes out sounding chill and fun and positive. The whole point for us is to make music that we enjoy listening to, windows rolled down, wind in our hair, full blast. On top of that, if we can help someone feel uplifted for the day, that’s the icing on the cake.
NAKA: I’d describe it in a simpler way to like Odesza, Marshmello upbeat, cool style.
Colette: Festival vibes.
How did you guys meet initially?
Colette: We met at this place called Shorebar. I can give you our entire conversation verbatim. It went like this: “sup?”
“What do you do?”
“I make music. What do you do?”
“I make music too.”
“Here, take my number. Maybe we’ll make music one day.”
That’s it. We didn’t talk for a year after that.
How did you guys rekindle?
Colette: I was in Turks and Caicos. He DM’ed me, asking if there were any waves. I said, “no,” and he said, “pointless.” [laughs] I guess I was posting a lot of bikini pictures, so I got DM’ed.
NAKA: Something happened. [laughs]
When did you realize you could do music for a living?
NAKA: We both came off of injuries realistically, so we had to rebuild life. The way life is, it goes in cycles. One cycle came to an end, and the new cycle came, and it discovered both of us. As weird as that sounds, neither one of us were in a household of musicians or anything. It really came to us, and we took it from there.
Colette: It was the same story for both of us. We had injuries that ended our careers. Instead of going to the drawing board that most people would go to, which is school and college, we found music and pursued it full-forced. Even though it was illogical for me at the time, I had no connections to music. I knew no one in the industry. I decided that’s what I would do full-force, and I went for it. Same for him. He was stuck on a couch and couldn’t walk.
NAKA: Yeah, it was really challenging, so I overcame a challenge. I couldn’t walk so I had two options: either the computer or the Xbox. I picked one, and on the computer, I downloaded GarageBand. From there, I kept progressing and falling deeper in love.
Colette: He was either going to be a pro-gamer or musician. That was the crossroads.
How did it feel making your world-wide debut at the Mike Tyson fight? That’s huge, congrats!
NAKA: Thank you so much! It was a really, really cool moment. Very special.
Colette: It felt pretty epic. We put our phones away. We didn’t want any distractions. We watched the fight, and we jumped around, it was a big moment for us.
How did that happen?
Colette: When we heard he’s having his comeback fight, we wanted to be a part of it. Luckily our team consists of people as epic as Damon Elliot, who can put in a phone call and get in the studio with someone like Mike to record vocals and send them over to us. We did it in the most quarantine friendly way in our Kawaii Nation studio. We got the vocals and churned out a beat. Mike’s reaction to it is on our Tiki Lau vlog. He said, “this is what I’m walking out to.” It really wasn’t expected, but it’s pretty amazing to be a part of it.
NAKA: Super, super unexpected.
Colette: Damon’s on our team, he’s great friends with Mike and a lot of amazing people. It was something we threw out into the universe, and it ended up happening. Really a huge blessing for us, really unexpected, so it’s a cool story for people who like to dream big. We wanted a dope collaboration. That’s what we kept saying. “We need someone really dope to collaborate with,” then Mike Tyson.
NAKA: So unexpected but so blessed. Super, super thankful for the opportunity to work with Mike.
You actually launched Mike Tyson’s EDM career. Can you touch on that?
NAKA: I think it’s for Mike to say. There’s a lot to expect in the near future so expect more.
Colette: Mike’s excited, we’ll say that. [laughs]
NAKA: Expect more from Mike Tyson.
What are your fondest memories with Mike?
NAKA: The overall presence of being excited about it. When someone’s excited about your art, it makes you feel appreciated. That’s something everyone out there as an artist understands, especially someone you look up to. It’s Mike, and he’s like, “this song is great!” It’s a super, super good feeling.
Colette: His reaction to the song was really special.
How does it feel to have the visual almost at half a million views?
NAKA: That’s really dope. We’re excited. It’s climbing on all platforms. Triller has this trend going on right now.
Colette: The Tiki Tyson Challenge.
NAKA: It’s really cool to see that everyone’s doing their own challenge and impersonating what their vision of them being Mike Tyson is. It’s really special to see everyone being a part of this movement. It’s really cool to see the song spreading because it keeps giving life. Everywhere it goes, it’s being passed across to other people. It’s really cool to see that.
What’s your favorite part about vlogging?
Colette: My favorite part is being able to watch it back and hear him laugh. It’s my favorite thing in the entire world.
NAKA: Vlogging is very natural for us. That’s our most natural form of content. We pick it up and shoot whatever we’re doing.
Colette: We hit the milestone so fast in our lives, we work really hard, and we’re always focused on a goal. For me being able to document it, go back, and being able to appreciate it like “wow, remember when we were there?” See how far we’ve come. That’s the most important part about vlogging.
Do you edit everything by yourselves?
Colette: Yeah, we’ve got drones.
NAKA: During this quarantine, I saw it and thought “I swear that’d be so fun to buy a drone and get all these cool shots.” Luckily, I played video games during that time of injury, so I’m really good with a controller. [laughs] I get pretty decent drone shots.
Colette: He got offered to shoot drone footage on movies.
NAKA: Yeah, they thought I was a drone pilot. I mean, I’m down!
Colette: If you watch a vlog and think we bought the footage, it’s because he’s that good at droning.
NAKA: It’s a video game. You plug your phone in, and you play a video game. Basically, it’s really cool.
How was opening for Kascade in Hawaii?
NAKA: So much fun.
Colette: That was crazy because that’s his hometown.
NAKA: It was so surreal. It was like a welcome home. I came from Hawaii to LA to make music. It wasn’t her first show, but it was our first show as Tiki Lau. To go back for my first show, it was a big welcome home, sold-out show. To do a sold-out performance for your first event, it feels pretty special to walk out to. To see everybody singing your songs…
Colette: We’re having dinner at the Four Seasons with Fiji. It was a vibe.
NAKA: It was super, super special. It felt like a really big welcome home. Aloha!
Colette: It was crazy. We tested our music really. We hadn’t released much, so when we played unheard songs and people were singing the choruses by the second chorus, it was pretty epic.
NAKA: It was really cool to see everyone so engaged at the concert. We had a world tour planned off of that, actually.
And then Covid happened?
NAKA: Yeah, it was in December, so we’re like, “alright, we’re going full-force! World tour.” We gotta buss down that way. By that time, we didn’t have the Mike Tyson song. It’s funny how everything works full circle.
3 things you guys need in the studio? Is Celsius one of them?
Colette: It’s really important.
NAKA: Joy, peace, and harmony, for sure.
Colette: It’s very important when you’re working as a team and collaborating to have harmony in the studio and to respect each other’s creative input. It’s something that a lot of people struggle with, and we’ve got it down. If there’s anything this quarantine did, it brought us closer together.
NAKA: Material items: as long as you have peace and harmony, you can have anything. You can go from as simple as one chair and a laptop to 5 speakers and a helicopter dropping you off on the rooftop to create a vibe because everyone feels like “yup.” You never know what the actual vibe is, but as long as you have those 3 elements of initial vibes.
Colette: Endless plug-ins
NAKA: That part. [laughs] Plug-ins, synthesizers.
What do you like about Celsius?
Colette: It’s a natural energy drink. It sure writes the songs for us. I was drinking one at 5am once, literally jumping on this couch. ‘We’re at Coachella, right now!!” I wrote 3 songs in 2 hours, good ones too. [laughs]
NAKA: Red Bull gives you wings. Celsius gives us songs.
Talk about your new remix, “This Christmas.” What does it mean to be dropping during the holidays?
Colette: We get to work with more legends, which is insanely special. Dionne Warwick and Aloe Blacc are so insanely talented. Being able to remix this song was really fun, also a challenge to cross those genres. We keep picking these challenging things like sports, EDM, and now Dionne Warwick.
NAKA: It’s taking the Christmas song over to an EDM world. We had to take this tempo that’s not an EDM tempo and create it into one.
Colette: A lot of math, [laughs]
NAKA: Really test your producer skills when you could internally get in there and beat it, so it was really cool. Working with legendary people, you definitely want to try your best. They’re dedicated to their craft, so you want to show honor to them while you’re working with them. Okay, I want to show what I have, and she has to show what she has to the track. Obviously, give that respect to the other artists as well.
Colette: I’m excited to put music out that’s Christmas-y but not too Christmas-y because that’s always what I’m always looking for. Again, it comes back to what do we want to listen to?
NAKA: I know we could listen to this song all year round. I don’t think I’ve registered that it’s a Christmas song yet. The lyrics are all Christmas. It’s got jingle bells in there. [makes jingle noises]
Colette: It doesn’t sound like a Christmas song, which I like.
NAKA: It sounds like you can listen to it in June in Ibiza. [laughs]
What can we expect from your forthcoming album?
Colette: Fun vibes, good vibes. Endless Summer, the title says what we’re putting out.
NAKA: We’re doing all our albums in volumes: Endless Summer Vol. 1, 2, 3, 4, and so on. Overall, we want to leave the world with some happiness and joy. We love what we do, and we can give that away in little pieces of music, content that other people can feel moments of happiness in their lives too. We love to engage with our fans so everyone can comment, like, share, create their own content with us. We love to engage with our audience and uplift them through this process. We do giveaways, certain things with kids camps. There’s a whole behind-the-scenes we do, certain charity work.
Colette: It’s important for me to share the blessings in my life because I’m a big believer that if God will do it for me, He’ll do it for you. Grabbing testimonies. If you want to watch our stories and there’s something about our lives you want for yourselves, grab it because it can happen.