"I know exactly what it's like to be bullied. It stopped me from doing things that I loved and it's also stopping others from reaching their full potential," explains Nakita Turner, the fifteen year old Christchurch teen behind the exceptional anti-bullying project and song, "One Voice."
Turner's two year dream of addressing the issue of bullying recently became a reality with the release of the"One Voice" song and music video.
I had the pleasure of catching up with the bubbly Nakita Turner on her fleeting visit to Auckland to talk all things ‘anti-bullying.'
First of all, can you tell us a little bit of the story behind the ‘One Voice' song and project for those who don't already know what its about?
Well, It started off with a small idea that was to write a song to raise awareness to bullying and hopefully make a difference in New Zealand and anywhere that it could reach. So I contacted lots of people around me who I thought could help out and push this project forward and I wrote a song called ‘One Voice.' I also had a Christchurch band, The Dukes mentoring me with the song writing process and from there I just contacted lots of singers and heaps of people in the film industry and got some amazing contacts which is really what started the project to be honest.
So you said The Dukes mentored you with the song writing process, did they write parts of the song too or did you write it all yourself?
I went into six schools and interviewed about 180 kids and they were the inspiration to the song, and then The Dukes came on board after that. They didn't write the song for me, but they mentored me and helped me put together the kids experiences and from there I wrote the song. They were quite a key part of the whole song writing process though and we also edited it together too.
What was it like working with The Dukes?
They're awesome! It was crazy to have quite a big band in Christchurch and New Zealand help out with a small idea and see it become a reality.
You worked with a big choir throughout the song too, what was that like?
I've met heaps of kids through talent competitions, school, performances and everywhere. So I just contacted them and they all seemed pretty keen. I actually contacted them before I wrote the song, but they were all really supportive of the idea. No one knew each other at the beginning either, but by the end of it we all became really good friends.
Being bullied at school yourself, was there a final situation that made you decide you were going to launch this project and stand up against bullying?
It's happened throughout my whole life and I think if you stand up for something you're quite a big target. It wasn't a situation that made me go, ‘oh, I want to do this.' I guess it was just the build up and seeing everyone around me getting bullied. It being such a big issue in New Zealand, and just seeing the stats from that, really made me want to do something about it. Especially experiencing it myself.
As you mentioned before, there's some pretty big names involved within the project. How did you get the likes of members from Peter Jackson's post production team to help with the video?
So I got in contact with a lady called Katie Hansen from New York. She's an award winning film editor and used to work for Peter Jackson so she's got heaps of friends under his Park Road Post Production team. So she ended up getting all of her friends on board to help out so that's how they all got involved. It was incredible, they organised the whole recording day with all the filming too and I was really surprised with how many people actually got on board for that part of it, it was awesome.
You worked on the whole ‘One Voice' song and project for about two years in total, what does it feel like to finally have it out there now?
Yeah, It's a relief! There were points in the whole process where we were thinking ‘I don't know if this is going to be released.' We knew it'd be finished, but we weren't sure about the release and everything so it's a massive relief that it's out there and can get to people now.
Now that it is out there, what's the next step for you?
We're just trying to promote it and get it out there to as many people as possible at the moment. We have a website that anyone can go to and add their own voice, share their experiences and the struggles they've been through, so we're just encouraging people to put up their stories on the website and we're also trying to encourage celebrities to get behind the project too. Encouraging them to record messages showing their support for the project, which will hopefully help with the promotion too.
Talking about celebrities getting behind it, you've already had tons of support messages from people such as Brooke Duff, Liam Martin (aka- social media celebrity, WaveRider) and the former All Black John Kirwan. What does the support from those people mean to you?
It's incredible! I couldn't believe that they were so open to spreading the message, but it just feels so cool that they're so supportive of it. They can truly promote it because from them it then gets out to a whole lot more people and everyone seems to take things quite seriously when they see celebrities supporting and promoting them, so it's just so exciting!! (laughs).
With over 26,000 views on the video through youtube, were you expecting the success of it to be so big?
No I wasn't actually! The thing was, with the website at the beginning, it didn't actually count the views. So there's actually been a whole lot more. Something about 40,000 now, but youtube didn't count those which was a bit frustrating. But yeah, I didn't think it would go that big, so I'm really happy about that.
You're voice is absolutely incredible for someone so young, has music always been a big part of your life?
Yeah definitely, We've got a pretty musical family apart from mum and dad. We've always been surrounded by music with church and family, so its just always been there as a pretty massive influence.
Is this song a one off, or can we expect more musical projects from you in the future?
Yeah definitely! This year I'm just going to be doing a lot of song writing, so I'm not going to be performing so much anymore, but hopefully in a couple of years I'll be releasing a little bit more music. But now I'm just really trying to get this message out there and then later I'll start branching off.
Last year you were selected to be in Parachute Music's Artist development programme, how did that come about how's it going?
So they considered me two years ago and then I got picked last year. They chose four people, two from Australia and two from New Zealand, and I thought it was incredible that they picked me, it's just been amazing. I worked with them last year on artist development and we just recorded and wrote with some people like Massad. I'm working with them again this year but it'll be a lot more focused on song writing, not as much recording.
To finish off on the anti-bullying note again, What would your advice be to anyone out there getting bullied, what should they do?
Definitely tell somebody. Because if you don't it can get worse. You've got to let someone know and get support around you, because they can help you through it and if you bottle it up inside it just gets worse, so yeah.. tell people you trust.
With well over 40,000 views, countless messages of support from celebrities and people all over the world, watch the ‘One Voice' video below, and help spread the word that our voice can make a difference...
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