Before I knew Sam Ratumaitavuki as the MC Fortafy, the promoter, the “body marked up” or even the body builder, I first came across this half Fijian/half Welsh former Mr Suva in the Pacific Smiles Calendar. (The shot above is taken from the calendar). I can’t remember how I came across the calendar because it was a couple of years ago but I remember I’d volunteered to help promote the calendar (as you do lol) cos you know – it was for a great cause and all that – it had nothing to do with all the eye candy in the calendar haha HONEST! lol!
We’d exchanged a few emails at the time in regards to information on the charity and how people could get involved and also help promote the calendars and raise awareness of what Pacific Smiles were doing. A couple of years later I’d started the blog and had done a few of the Ink Series posts and thought it would be really cool if I could get Sam to feature in the Ink Series.
As you can see he has quite a bit of ink – his “Body Marked Up” track had come out by then and had a lot of the story behind his tattoos. Was fully jumping up and down when he said yes, he’d love to be in the Ink Series (look out for his Ink Series post coming soon too) and was just going to email him the questions but as luck would have it, I got to meet him in person at a fundraiser here in New Zealand. A friend of mine has a little girl Kosher-Love who is currently undergoing treatment for cancer and he’d taken time out to come and show some love and support at her fundraiser when he was in Auckland for a gig. You can read more on Koshers story here. He was also kind enough to let me have a quick interview with him so was able to talk to him about his involvement in Pacific Smiles, his music and of course his ink! Was really impressed with how down to earth and NICE he was and he really seemed genuinely surprised and humbled at the support and love he’d been getting from fans here in New Zealand as well as the fact that radio stations here were playing his music.
Me: The first time I saw you was in the Pacific Smiles calendar – was that something you initiated or …?
Sam: Yeah, I’m involved in Pacific Smiles charity and we raise funds for books, utensils as well as take over books and utensils and stuff for the kids in the remote village orphanages in Fiji. I help with promotions and sort of marketing ideas cos it’s just a young couple who are doing it. A Fijian guy and his wifes Australian, so I’m just helping out and I mean, I like the cause and so I used the calendar as an idea and was like ‘Hey lets use my connects with like my mates to be the dudes in the calendar and I’ll get my mate who’s a photographer to shoot the photos for free and we’ll put it together and raise money’. In the end we didn’t raise too much money from the calendar because there were costs we hadn’t factored in and there were so many things we learned – for example we wouldn’t do them that big because that meant the postage went up to $10 whereas if it had been the size smaller it could have been $1.50 so yeah, just stuff like that. BUT it raised a lot of awareness which is like priceless anyways so that was cool.
Sam was able to get a number of well known Poly rugby & rugby league players such as Digby Ioane, Will Genia & the Faingaa twins to be featured in the calendar with all proceeds going to Pacific Smiles and because I care about you I’ll share a couple more of the Pacific Smiles calendar images with ya’ll seeing as I don’t think you can purchase the calendar any more.
I’m sure these pics brought smiles to your face too right? Hey! Sharing is Caring lol!
For more information on Pacific Smiles you can visit their facebook page here.
You can read the background on the company, the services they provide, bank account details if you’d like to donate to the cause and also their charity registration number in case you’re concerned about the company being legit here
Today Sam will be going back to Fiji with Pacific Smiles to put some smiles on the faces of the children there and to help distribute the learning equipment, clothes, backpacks and donations that people sent in after Cyclone Evan hit earlier in the year. They also donated to Samoa who were hit by Cyclone Evan prior to it hitting Fiji.
If you’re going to be in Fiji this weekend you can check him out playing in both Suva and Nadi. More details on the poster below:
To be honest I hadn’t heard of any of Sam’s music back when I’d first heard of him through the Pacific Smiles calendar and it was actually The Rock that had me sit up and take notice (as most people know I’m a bit of a Rock fan so if The Rock says then I’m listening lol). He actually tweeted about a track that Sam – artist name Fortafy – had made a video to that was shot in a gym and featured Australian boxer Tyrone Tongia.
I asked him about this and his music when I met him as well.
Me: What was the song that I think you did with Beatkamp that The Rock saw?
Sam: Oh nah that wasn’t Beatkamp that was my mate Fundamentalz and the track is called ‘Never Give Up’ and my mate Tyrone Tongia, he’s an Australian boxing champion – he’s one of my friends and he shot the clip and yeah, The Rock saw it and he tweeted us saying he loved the message and that shooting it in the gym was an awesome idea and I think just by him tweeting it – the next day the vid had, had an extra 40,000 views so yeah, that was crazy to see that! I always post the photo up every now and then and I’m like yeah, yeah! The Rock tweeted my clip (laughs)
Me: So you hadn’t sent it to him or anything? Had he just picked it up on the net or something?
Sam: Well I got heaps of like dudes that just help me out like street teams cos like over there it’s all indie grind, there’s no radio help, it’s just all independant so if you wanna do it you gotta do it yourself so I’ve got dudes that like just help me out and promote, promote, promote for me.
Me: Oh yeah, so are you a Promoter yourself?
Sam: Yeah, I’m a promoter full time in the clubs so I’m at Magic City in Brisbane and Shooters on the Gold Coast but I do MC’ing and performing around Australia, pretty much every weekend I’m in different parts of Australia as well as in the islands. Last night (Sidenote: IV was done back in November) was my first gig in New Zealand and it was crazy aye I loved it! So I can’t wait man, even coming here today – I was thinking why would they want me to come down and I couldn’t believe people actually want autographs (laughs) It blows me away aye cos we just did all that stuff through youtube and we couldn’t believe it but it’s so cool aye?
Me: So how did you come to be signed with Dawn Raid Entertainment?
Sam: They approached us, I’d been on D’s (Brotha D) radar for a while because he’s obviously signed Swiss who was in Brisbane as well and we’re both from Brisbane and also with the GC show – Jade Louise as well. He just heard that ATP and I were working together. ATP’s the guy from Beatkamp. So me and him got together cos he’s got the crazy beats and I’m building up a following on that side so we just said ‘Lets work together’ and then when D heard that we were working together he called up and we worked out a few things contract wise. We had our own following so we had a bit more that we wanted – not just a new contract and Aaron (ATP) had already been with them before and it’s worked out really well. The Donnel Lewis clip (below) – how that came about was crazy – D just sent me the track and said bro can you drop a verse for this new kid that I’m pushing out and I’d never met him or anything. I heard it and about half an hour later I sent it back cos I got a studio at home. I’d been getting ready for the gym and had popped some pre-workout and was buzzing so just thought I’d do it then and there while I was on a good vibe or whatever (laughs) So yeah, sent it back and then a week later they started playing it on the radio and yeah, we performed the track last night and that song went crazy!
Me: Oh yeah, cos I think LUI VILISONI @lui_maifm (I promised to write his name in bold capitals when I mentioned him lol) started playing one of your Back to the Island songs on Niu FM and then I’ve heard Mai FM play your Champion song pretty regularly too.
Sam: Yeah, man that dudes the man like he went to Wesley College as well (Sam also went to Wesley College back in the day) I think he was a bit older and we weren’t like hanging out or anything but it was that vibe and yeah, man he showed love and started playing that For the Islands song and yeah, thats crazy cos you can’t do that in Australia! You can’t be like yo! Play this on the radio – nah man you gotta like pay, your labels gotta pay money and you needa be on a big major label so I really appreciate it over here (in NZ) how its cool like that where if you work hard they’ll support you and play your music it’s not like nah we’ll only go with the major labels, it’s not like that here which is cool!
Me: Is there anyone else you’d want to collaborate with in New Zealand?
Sam: I just did a track with Scribe which is out on my latest mixtape “Whats the Scenario” (Free download here) and that was like one of the biggest things I wanted so yeah, I got that done and that dudes a legend – everyone that I’ve worked with I still can’t believe that I’m doing tracks with them you know like growing up Rex & Scribe were like gods when we were young and I remember catching 2 buses to buy Marekos album (laughs) and I remember like when Crusader came out just how crazy the buzz was and with me moving to Aussie I just never thought it’d happen but I’ve pretty much done tracks with everyone in NZ now – Pieter T, Young Sid, J Williams, like PNC, Scribe and the only other person that I really wanna do one with is David Dallas. I wanna make that happen – he probably won’t want to do it but I’m going to make myself that big that we’ll have to do a track together cos yeah, I really want to do a track with him. He’s the man and I know he doesn’t really do collabs and that but thats on the bucket list man!
Me: So what took you over to Australia?
Sam: Well I always went to Australia when I was young like we’d go to the Gold Coast . We’d go over there once every couple of years cos I had an aunty over there and I don’t know it’s just the sun, the weather, the positive vibes – everyone just seemed positive and happy you know – the weather dictates peoples moods & I never realised that until I went over there so yeah, that was it. Also more money – people over there work in factories and they get like $20 an hour, they’re eating steak you know? Over here you’d be struggling if you worked in a factory. It’s sad that you gotta leave but I think that if you want to get ahead in life you gotta do what you gotta do to get ahead. Whether it be like people leaving the islands to come to NZ to better themselves, from NZ to Australia or Australia to where ever else – you gotta do it.
Me: I notice that you’re really good with promoting yourself through Social Media etc so was that something you took on yourself or did you get tips from anyone?
Sam: I think that was the only way we could get our name out in Australia because like I said there’s no radio, no government grants, there’s nothing so like if you don’t have Social Media you’ve got nothing cos no-ones gonna hear your stuff so we sorta just had to do it like that. It helped that I was working in clubs promoting as well so I took the same principals and the same approach and just directed it into the music stuff and it’s worked and it’s still working. I wanna get a lot bigger than I am now but I always see that each month it’s progressing it’s not stagnant so it’s good!
Thanks heaps again Sam for taking the time to talk to me when you had a pretty tight schedule on your visit – really appreciate it and look forward to seeing you on tour here in New Zealand soon.
Check out some of Fortafys music videos here too:
Never Give Up
Missing My Love – Donnel Lewis ft Fortafy
Champion – ft Vince Harder, ATP, Blanco & 360