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Are You Ready For Randa?

Ahead of NZ Music Month, Anna Henvest caught up with Randa, a local rap artist from the suburbs who is making waves both
here and overseas...

“Keep making music, we need more of this!”, “Probably the most skilled rapper I’ve heard in a long time” and “Love you, you’re gonna be so big!” These are all comments that have been posted on the up-and-coming rapper’s music video.

 This is Mainard Larkin, a Shore-based rapper and beat maker performing under the alias, Randa. The 21-year-old from Mairangi Bay is attracting international attention and getting airplay on some of Auckland’s most highly- regarded radio stations for his catchy pop-culture driven raps. With references ranging from Tamagotchis to drinking orange juice and plenty of cool stuff in between, Larkin is changing the face of what we all know of rap, turning away from the ‘thug’ stereotype and bringing it all back to where it began – the music.
After leaving school here on the Shore, Mainard moved to Sydney at the age of 18 and worked a nine to five desk job in data entry, before realising that these crucial creative talents needed to be utilised. “I’ve always been pretty creative and I needed something to put my ideas and energy into.” Hence the perfect segue into music, tapping into a rapping scene on the North Shore upon returning to New Zealand. Whilst the appreciation and amateur rapping began at high school, it wasn’t until late 2011 when Larkin first released tracks. Two EPs and one slick-looking music video later, Larkin is making waves both here and internationally. In fact, the fun 90’s sitcom style video for ‘Frankenstein’ earned a nomination for the NZ Music Award of ‘Best Video’ and has racked up over 30,000 views on YouTube since its release in June of 2013. With collaboration from Grey Lynn's Reuben Winter, AKA Totems, the release of ‘Frankenstein’ led to a performance at one of New Zealand’s major festivals, Big Day Out. Having been in the crowd at that performance myself, I can testify as to the cool and calm stage presence that Randa has – perhaps differing him from any other performer on the day. With a ‘less-is-more’ approach to crowd interaction, Randa’s smooth lyrics and catchy dance moves, in collaboration with Totems, made for a hugely entertaining performance.
Larkin’s tracks have a distinct difference to them, with interesting and somewhat unconventional lyrics being ever-present. Listening to the likes of Odd Future and admiring the work of any kind of artist is an inspiration says Larkin - whether it be a pro-skateboarder that also dabbles in photography or a clear blue sky, these can be the inspirations behind the quirky raps. “I just see myself as a person who creates, who happens to make music,” Larkin confides. He is incredibly down-to-earth and, considering some of his early success, is one to watch in our local music scene.
So what’s the next step for this up-and-coming beat maestro? After working with Josh Fountain in studio, Larkin is ready to release a new EP that goes by the name of ‘Goober’. Aptly named, the title in itself provides insight into the style of this young rapper, odd and quirky, but it works. “Hopefully the first track, ‘Molly Ringwald’ will be out by the end of this month and the rest of the EP out early to mid-June,” he says. He goes on to talk about his love of live performance, and jokes: “Playing gigs are a great way to get me out of the house!”  On a more serious note, he is making plans to take his music abroad and hopes that in five years time he will be able to make his dream of rapping full time a reality. For the mean time, the release of Goober and expanding his local fan base is a priority. He adds: “I really want to do a New Zealand tour in the middle of this year; going down to the South Island would be so cool.”  Whether you’re a fan of rap or a sceptic, it’s safe to say that this young rapper is pushing the limits and thinking outside the box - an interesting and exciting addition to the Shore’s music scene.
To catch more of Randa’s tracks, head to and keep an eye out for the soon-to-be-released EP, Goober.

The Top Ten
What is your favourite spot on the North Shore?

Probably the Browns Bay car park. One time I was really down and I drove to that spot and it gave me clarity for some reason.

What are your pet peeves?

Who is on your iPod right now?
I don’t actually have an iPod at the moment, but I do have a lot of guilty pleasures including Justin Bieber and Britney Spears’s ‘Forever’.

What would you save if your house was on fire?
Assuming everyone is out already, I would save my computer. I know its lame but I have a whole bunch of files I haven’t backed up.

What is your dream destination?
Alaska or Texas – nowhere too touristy.

If you could pick one artist (dead or alive) to collaborate with, who would it be?
Gwen Stefani.

Something few people know about you?
I used to train in professional wrestling from when I was 15 to 17 years old.  

What are three things you would take to a desert island?
Fruits and vegetables, a human and a large supply of water.

Best piece of advice you have ever received?

If you’re ever out in the city, or wherever, and you need to use the bathroom, go to a hotel foyer. Chances are there will be a whole bunch of clean bathrooms and it’s probably fancy so it’s a bit of an adventure too!

If you weren’t a rapper, what would you be doing?
Maybe a graphic designer or something creative!

by Anna Henvest