Something to Feel: Teeks reveals how tears, toxic masculinity and therapy shaped his new album

It's a busy time for Teeks, AKA Te Karehana Gardiner-Toi, AKA "New Zealand's soulful singer to know" according to Vogue magazine. 

He's just released his much-anticipated debut album, Something to Feel, along with a line of merchandise emblazoned with messages like 'Boys don't cry' with the word 'don't' crossed out. 

Teeks completed his first nationwide tour at the end of last year, including a stop in the church next to his marae in Hokianga, with many of his proud family in the crowd. 

Amid the madness of mid-2020, Vogue published a glowing story that introduced him, the places he's from and words like 'waiata' and 'kapa haka' to a global audience. 

On top of it all, Teeks welcomed a new addition to his whānau - an impossibly adorable bulldog puppy named Āpa. 

It's been quite the journey since his first offering The Grapefruit Skies EP was released in 2017. And that seems to be what this new album is all about: A searingly honest - and sometimes surprising - chronicling of a person navigating their changing world and reckoning with the most vulnerable sides of themselves. 

"It's a representation of all the emotions and feelings I've experienced over the past few years and it's symbolic of that journey, you know? Me internalising all of that," Teeks said on a sunny afternoon at the park - with Āpa in tow, of course.  

"Writing music and being in that state of mind, you kind of open yourself up to vulnerability. You navigate all these feelings and let them go into the world, and then you can kind of move on. 

"So for me, it's very cathartic and healing - exactly like therapy." 

The 27-year-old has been "learning a lot... and unlearning a lot," he explained, and much of that process has seen him focus on how to achieve authentic self-expression in a society riddled with toxic masculinity. 

"It's about trying to reach Māori men as well - because we've been taught false expectations of what it means to be a man. To not show emotion, to not cry. So this is an opportunity to change that narrative." 

Integral to seeing positive change in this arena is the traditional Māori concept of tuakana-teina - a mentor-mentee relationship that of passing down knowledge. 

"Everything we learn today we pass on to the next generation - they carry those values and principles," Teeks explained. 

Watch the video above to hear more from Teeks on his recent nationwide tour, receiving a shout out from both Russell Crowe and the RZA from Wu-Tang Clan, and his most surprising musical influences.