Gumatua shares musical journey

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Isireli Gumatua. Picture: SUPPLIED

For many people, the inability to pursue secondary school education would be viewed as a setback. But not so for Isireli Gumatua, one of three persons nominated in the Best Recording Engineer category for the upcoming 2023 FIPRA Music Awards.

His parents inability to pay school fees resulted in the Daku Village, Tailevu, native learning the basics of music recording from his uncle — renowned local producer Manu Railoa.

“I was a student at Ratu Sukuna Memorial School when I got a letter saying I couldn’t return to school because my parents couldn’t afford my school fees,” he said.

At 18, while many of his peers were studying, Gumatua was tasked with babysitting his uncle’s kids.

“My uncle, Manu Railoa was one of the famous recording engineers back then. When I babysat his children, he would be busy working, so I would just sit and watch. It was then that I realised that I wanted to do that too.

“It then dawned on me that if I could take a chance and follow my passion, it could be a way to put food on the table.”

Gumatua said his mother supported his dream.

“My mum had only two years left to retire, and I asked if she could help me follow my dreams of becoming a recording engineer with her retirement money.

“I bought my first recording equipment with the money she gave me and started from there.”

The upcoming music awards will be his second time being nominated. “The first time I was nominated was in 2018. For this year’s music awards I don’t want to get my hopes up, but I will accept whatever results come my way. “I believe I am a winner with all my artists. I gain their hearts, faith, and trust in all the work I do with them.”

Gumatua has recorded over 500 songs and has worked with old and upcoming artists – his signature tune Siviyara Me Yara was a huge hit towards the end of last year and one of the most viewed Melanesian music videos.

“My first ever recording that was a hit was the song titled Minibus Story by Rootstrata and after that I started a boy band called Domo ni Cakau, we did a few volumes and the members are now residing in Australia.”

Gumatua also launched Cagi ni Delai Yatova and Voqa Kei Munia and worked with Yanu Boyz and many gospel groups. He is the managing director of Raven Production which has been running for the past 20 years.

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