When Lapana Ieriko was growing up, he listened to The Green, a local reggae group, among other local artists. He watched them play, dreaming of someday teaming up with them to make music.
Just two years ago, Ieriko’s dream came true.
“I remember listening to their songs [The Green] and trying to play them, or watching them play and thinking I want to work with them, ”said Ieriko, a 26-year-old music producer from Mililani and drummer from The Vitals 808.“ Now I work with them. them and it’s surreal.
This Kamehameha Schools graduate went from being a teenage band geek to touring the United States playing music. Today he produces music with famous Hawaii’s The Green, Ka’ikena Scanlan, Johnny Suite, Likkle Jordee, Kelandy and Sammy Johnson.
His musical journey began at the age of 10. Ieriko played the snare drum in her elementary school orchestra and continued to play in the Kamehameha Marching Band. During his senior year, a year-round craze for “making rhythms” had spread. Ieriko sat down and watched her classmates attempt to be successful with their rap singles on Garage Band, the app. During this time, he spent time taking YouTube tutorials on the basics of music creation and honing his skills. Ieriko drew inspiration from all kinds of music and loved to include elements from other genres in the reggae songs he created.
After graduating in 2011, Ieriko enrolled in a music business and audio engineering program at Honolulu Community College. Here he met and joined members of a local band, Kalani Koa, as they performed in the city. Ieriko’s last semester at HCC was spent interning at EKM Records, a record company in Kaneohe that produced some of her favorite reggae artists: Siaosi and The Jimmy Weeks Project. Immediately after graduating from HCC in 2014, Ieriko was recruited over a period of two and a half months. toured with The Jimmy Weeks Project, where they have performed in almost every state. Ttheir journey began in Los Angeles and then moved north to Washington and to the east coast.
Ieriko recalls that Utah had the busiest audience. The venue was particularly strict, especially when it came to alcohol consumption, but the rules put in place to keep audiences in check fell short of the sober but energetic group of Jimmy Weeks Project fans. The crowd knew every word to every song and danced wildly.
“It’s crazy knowing that your music can travel and that people care enough about you to come and support you,” said Ieriko.
Traveling the country with 10 other humans on a tour bus has certainly had its ups and downs. Nights were spent “getting close and intimate” with each other, sticking together on the seats to make up for the lack of space. The days of rest were rare but spent luxuriously in hotels with real beds. Meals were taken at the nearest buffet, leaving everyone drunk and ready to hit the road.
After living the hectic life of a traveling artist, then 21-year-old Ieriko decided it was time to open a studio in Honolulu. He rented a quaint room with his friends Leslie Ludiazo and JP Kennedy, under the direction of Hawaiian Brian, and transformed it into what is now the Live Animals studio. This is where Ieriko Currently spends his time creating songs and meeting artists to create music full time.
Some artists don’t have a team and don’t know how to advertise their work. It’s more common for Ieriko to be contacted to help produce albums, but every now and then he contacts those with a lot of potential. Once their work is done, he then helps the artist record, and sometimes market or promote, the music.
“It’s my role as a producer,” said Ieriko. “From top to bottom, when they come up with a song until it’s released.”
Ieriko researched Jordan Ramirez, aka Likkle Jordee, after hearing Ramirez in the song “Nighttime Session” on Eli Mac’s latest album “Tricky One”. The album was released in 2017 and a few months later Ieriko reached out to Ramirez via Instagram in hopes of collaborating.
Soon after, the two met in the studio and eventually created Likkle Jordee’s reggae album “Brand New EP”, which was released on April 1.
Making connections is one aspect of the music industry that has taken Ieriko far into the business. Ieriko’s connection to The Green is the one he’s most proud of. He worked with them on their 2017 album “Marching Orders”, which eventually qualified for the final ballot in the reggae category at the Grammys.
Looking back, Ieriko recognizes and appreciates the growth he has undergone, as well as the many successes that have brought him to where he is today. He knows what it’s like to play and turn. But he also experienced what it is like to sit behind the curtain and pull all the strings.
“It’s not all it appears to be,” Ieriko said. “But if it’s your passion and you want to do it, then you should.”
Ieriko’s discography is available at https://prodbypana.com.