Vaiteani: Signs

September 14, 2021

Flower Power

Listening Post 318. Imagine an archipelago, nine islands sharing a common culture but each welcoming visitors with a sign indicating its singular stories and features: One isle is focused on dance, another on flowers, others on music creation, parenthood, kisses, and the embrace of everything and its opposite. This is the universe Vaiteani paints on the pair’s second album, elements that begin separately and merge into creations greater than the sum of their parts. This is also Vaiteani itself, Tahiti-born singer-composer Vaiteani Teaniniuraitemoana and Alsace-born musicologist and multi-instrumentalist Luc Totterwitz, united professionally under her name. They were a couple before they became an artistic duo, which may explain why their musical confluence seems so organic. On Signs the currents around their island/songs are manifold—Polynesian and folk, with pop, Afrobeat, reggae and subtle electronic touches—carrying her clear, elegant voice in Tahitian and English and his repository of instruments as gentle as it is deep. Every song is a manifestation of a vital force: Homai (I Give, video 1) celebrates the synergy of rhythm, body and dance, while the title track channels the nurturing spirit of departed souls into natural phenomena, from light and wind to butterflies and bees (video 2). In Heitiare (Crown of Flowers), a floral tiara offers beauty, energy and protection (video 3). And Reason encompasses emotion in the form of a parent waiting for a child (video 4). Signs presents the flow of life, bountiful happiness but separation and loss as well—age-old stages reflected in unexpected and beautiful ways. As the incisive album notes put it, listening to these songs is “like watching snow falling on a tropical lagoon.” In the age of music without borders we routinely encounter new styles and fusions, enriching us with fresh visions of shared humanity. And in every poetic gesture, metaphor and symbol, Vaiteani delivers a rare blend of power and calm. (Motu Hani/Believe)

Vaiteani: Signs
Vaiteani Teaniniuraitemoana: Lead vocals, chorus, folk guitar
Luc Totterwitz: Electric guitar, folk guitar, ukulele, oud, balafon, percussions, keyboards, programming, chorus
David Grumel: Piano, organ, electric guitar, classical guitar, electric bass, bass, mellotron, vocoder, percussions, keyboards, Fender Rhodes, santoor, senza (thumb piano), programming, chorus
Cédric Gerfaud: Drums
Manjul (Julien Souletie): Bass, piano, organ, Hammond, kayamb, karignan, drums
Mahamadou “Assaba” Dramé: Ngoni
Olivier Koundouno: Cello

Related post. Vaiteani (eponymous debut album), Listening Post 144, April 3, 2018.


Homai / I Give
Lyrics: Vaiteani Teaniniuraitemoana / Music: Luc Totterwitz, Vaiteani Teaniniuraitemoana

(Sung in English and Tahitian. Translation of Tahitian lyrics in italics.)
My friends
The sound of my voice
Get up and dance!

I don’t need no makeup/I don’t need no dress
Tonight I wear the rhythm/My fabric be my dance

Let the beat into your body/Let the manna flow right into you, you!
Let the beat into your body/Let the manna flow right into you, you!

Ooh Polynesia!
Ooh Listen!
Ooh World!
Ooh Look!

It’s so simple
And so catchy
It’s liberating
Give me the rhythm
Give me the rhythm

I don’t need no powder/I don’t need no tequila, tequila
Tonight I take the rhythm/Intravenous injection (ah ooh ah ooh)

Give me the rhythm
Give, give!
Give me the rhythm
And look!

Ooh Polynesia!
Ooh listen!
Ooh World!
Ooh Look!

It’s so simple
And so catchy
It’s liberating
Give me the rhythm
Give me the rhythm


Lyrics and music: Vaiteani Teaniniuraitemoana

(Sung in English)
You send me signs to signify/That you lie in every beam of light
And I feel you though I cannot see you further/You, our love you know is forever

You come as a bee or a butterfly/Whirl down as leaves to pave the way on my ground
Yes I feel you when you’re blowing in the wind/You, with every inch of my skin

Becoming fond of every flapping of a wing
΄Cause you’re in every flapping of a wing… now

You send me signs so that I lift my eyes to the skies/To read your love in the clouds
Yes I feel you through the hardship of my life/You, I know you’re standing by my side

Becoming fond of whenever the rain is falling
΄Cause you’re in every drop that falls… now

Becoming fond of every moment that I live
΄Cause you’re in every moment that I live… now


Heitiare / Crown of Flowers
Lyrics & music: Vaiteani Teaniniuraitemoana

(Sung in Tahitian)
Crown of flowers/You beautify my body
With your rainbow colors/You sparkle on my forehead like pearls in a tiara

Crown of flowers/You protect me from the sun’s rays
I am not a queen/Even though it’s gold that I wear on my head

You allay my fear
When I sing
In front of the crowd
And you proclaim my identity

Crown of flowers/You energize my body
When the pahu* resonates/When I dance among my loved ones

You help me
At the moment of melancholy farewells
By your beauty and your perfume
To hide my tears

*Tahitian drum


Lyrics: Vaiteani Teaniniuraitemoana / Music: Luc Totterwitz, Vaiteani Teaniniuraitemoana


(Sung in English)
What is it that you love?/What is it that you wake up for?
What is it that keeps you standing tall?/Ooh, what’s your reason?
What’s the meaning of it?/Ooh, what’s your motivation?

Standing there behind the door/Waiting for the lady to call your name
Ooh, focus on the qualities, focus on the job/You’ve seen these neon-lighted corridors before
You know too well where they will lead you/Ooh, but you must smile  ́cause she just called you

Standing there behind the gate/Waiting for the bell to ring
The leaves are falling but your soul is rising/She comes running to you your baby
She’s got the irresistible smile of her mommy/Ooh, she’s exactly why!



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