'Just give me three years': Victor J Sefo's promise to his parents
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In 2020, he was recognised as the most promising artist at the Pacific Music Awards.
Three years later, Victor J Sefo continues to show promise after winning the Apra Best Pacific Song award at Wednesday night’s awards ceremony for his unofficial Samoan anthem 685, which he wrote and produced.
Sefo was also nominated for Best Pacific Male Artist and Best Producer.
The independent artist, from Napier, says he always wanted to do music - something even his maths teacher picked up on, often sending him to the music room as he was not paying attention in her class.
Mrs Ngui eventually told him to continue to chase his music dreams after school.
“She just brought me in and really made me believe that once you leave school, carry on.”
He did just that and enrolled in a music course at the Eastern Institute of Technology.
“I’m not gonna completely do nothing because obviously, as a Samoan, your parents will be like: ‘What are you doing? Get a job.’”
One of his course teachers, Tom, showed him how to use the software that he uses to make his music, he explains. Sefo also writes, creates and produces everything from his bedroom.
Talking about 685, featuring Poetik and BIGGs685, he says he created the beat in 2018. The song’s title is an ode to Samoa’s country code.
The timing of the song’s release was everything, he said.
How the Rugby League World Cup helped
“I really think you can have a hit, but if you release it at the wrong time, it won’t go off. It’s really about timing.”
He finished the song last year in May, but knew the Rugby League World Cup was coming up, so waited.
When it came out, Toa Samoa rugby league fans clutched on to it and turned it into their anthem.
He recently produced fellow Pacific musician Swiss’ latest song, Never, and is now producing music for others.
He has been doing everything on his own his whole career, while music distribution company Precise Digital helps him with the business side of things.
The best decision of his career as an artist, he says, was to not be attached to a label.
“As an independent, you have to grind your way up. I was someone with 80 cents in my bank account,” he says.
“I’m only coming out now as a producer. I’ve always been a beatboxer making beats. I’ll play the guitar and I’ll beatbox. That’s where I get my weird type of feels.”
When asked about his career, Sefo says his life really changed when his first single, Naughty Girl, dropped in 2018.
He remembers the first time going on tour that same year and thinking: ‘Wow, I’m getting paid to do this now.’”
Since then, he has realised that to better himself and get a little bit more, he has got to do a little bit more.
“Over the years, I’ve just continued to release music that will make me relevant - making noise every time.
“I’m at the point in my life where my mind is so straight that nothing really validates me.”
He admits there have been fears and self-doubts. But over time, those have changed.
A promise to his parents
Even his parents were against his music, at first, urging him to get a job. He remembers being told to stop wasting power and to turn the music down.
He shares a relatable moment at the beginning of his music career when his parents would compare him to his cousins with jobs.
“I told them: ‘Just give me three years. I promise you.”
He laughs as he tells of the time he finally cracked it and they all shared a laugh, telling his parents, “Remember when you told me to turn off the power?”
“Financially supporting my parents is just the biggest blessing. If they needed to go to Samoa, they can go to Samoa tomorrow. I’m just grateful. I’m blessed.”
He knows his parents have some understanding of his success. At church, they sometimes say, “That’s my son’s song.”
It is in moments like that when he sits back and is happy about where he is in his career, he says.
“I’ve done it, and now the real work is gonna happen.”
He earlier said whether he won or lost at the awards, he would always be grateful for where he is today.
“I’ll still walk away happy - happy that we came there to celebrate Pacific music and that we still have a solid community that will still put it together and come and showcase Polynesian music.
“I’m still going to get my flowers, even if the flower shop is closed.”
Hero Image: A still from the official music video for '685' - the song Toa Samoa fans have turned into an unofficial anthem. Image / YouTube