While 2020 is a year to forget for many, it is definitely one to remember for 17-year-old Joshua Nanai aka Jawsh 685.
In 2019, the Manurewa High School student created Laxed (Siren Beat), a song that went viral on TikTok, before being picked up by global star Jason Derulo earlier this year.
The resulting collaboration Savage Love (Laxed – Siren Beat) has seen global success, reaching the No. 1 spot in 17 countries including the United States of America, New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom.
While there were rumours saying otherwise, Nanai has signed to the Sony Music-owned Columbia Records and is being paid for the use of his song.
To top off a huge year for the South Auckland teenager of Samoan and Cook Islands descent, he was presented with the Special Recognition Award at the recent 2020 Pacific Music Awards.
“This year has been amazing. A blessing - apart from COVID-19 and being in lockdown,” Joshua says.
“Honestly, I am very lucky to have had such an amazing year, I know a lot of others have struggled.”
Obviously, the highlight of the year has been Laxed going viral, he adds.
“It has reached a lot of people, especially people from the Pacific and I think it has made a lot of people happy.
“With everything going on, there has been a lot of changes in my life and some people do not like that, there are haters, and I’ve had to grow a thick skin.
“I’ve got to be strong and ignore that, which is tough sometimes.”
Joshua is learning to channel the energy and using it to motivate him to aim higher – rather than letting it bring him down, he says.
Making music is a relatively new thing for Joshua, who says he played a little guitar when he was young, but only got into “making beats” in 2018.
“I have been inspired musically by Elvis Presley, he is a big one for me as I grew up listening to his music,” he says.
“As I got older, I discovered Eazy E, Akon and Tupac who are big influences on my music today.
“I spend a lot of time on YouTube too, listening to siren jams from the Islands, I love what they’re doing.”
If 2020 is anything to go by, the future is bright for Joshua, who intends to keep making beats and being a good role model for people in South Auckland and the Pasifika community.
“I want to continue to put the Cook Islands and Samoan culture on the world stage and keep representing South Auckland.
“All in all, I want to show that wherever you come from you can live your dreams and do what you want to do if you just work at it.”