Amy Hanaiali’i and Willie K
Amy Hanaiali’i and Willie K are just as charismatic and friendly in person as they appear to be on stage. Fans who have followed the duo since their earlier days would never guess it’s been a decade since their last album together.
But here they are, 10 years later, with Amy and Willie K Reunion released this week.
Chalk it up to timing, they say. “You grow up, you change,” says Hanaiali’i. “We just happened to be at the right time and the right place.”
Both Maui residents, they worked on the album in Willie’s home studio on the Valley Isle. It took them a year to complete it, and although it had been a while since their last project together, working with one another came with ease.
“He and I, from the past, have a very unique writing team,” says Hanaiali’i. “I know, when I write a song, that he’s going to do it the way I’m hearing it.
“And it’s simple — very, very simple.”
With Reunion, the pair says they have created a new Hawaiian sound. Though it incorporates many musical elements used in past music, on this new album Hanaiali’i and Willie sought to push the envelope a little.
“We’re stepping beyond the hula skirts,” explains Willie. “There’s a sound that people relate Hawaii to,” he adds. “There’s a certain sound that everybody can understand from around the world.
“We’re trying to get off that sound; we’re trying to redirect that way of thinking.”
Hanaiali’i describes it as a “world sound.” It was a natural departure from their more classic hits, since both artists enjoy all genres of music. This new musical style will become more apparent in future songs and albums they plan to record together — the 15-track Reunion represents only a fraction of more than 56 songs they wrote for this initial project.
The buzz around this album has been growing steadily. So much so, Hanaiali’i says, that Costco even is reintroducing its music section so that it can carry Reunion. This, she says, is hopeful for others in the same genre.
“Thank god Hawaiian music is coming back,” she says.
At a time when social media has given society the ability to connect with virtually anyone, Hanaiali’i has used it to their advantage to connect with fans and keep them in the loop. Last month, she posted to her Facebook page a 23-second video of Willie playing Michael Jackson’s Thriller. It got 650 likes, 45 shares and, according to Hanaiali’i, 30,000 views.
“I like to have instant contact with my fans,” she says. “What an instant way to your fans — and they love being part of that; they love being part of the process.”
Up next, at the beginning of next year, the duo plans to go on tour. One thing to remember when listening to Reunion, says Willie: “Enjoy this music with an open mind.”
For more information about “Amy and Willie K Reunion,” visit amyandwillie.com.