A Family Affair

September 5, 2014 | By Erin Smith

For O‘ahu’s beloved ManoaDNA, a love for music is in the genes.

For many musicians, performing is in their blood. For one O‘ahu-based band, it’s in their DNA.

An acronym for Dad, Nick and Alex, adult contemporary pop group ManoaDNA is a multigenerational band, bringing together a father and two sons to entertain fans. Popular in Hawai‘i and Japan, ManoaDNA has been nominated for 11 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards and have had three songs, “Only in Hawai‘i,” “Our Hawai‘i” and “Discover Aloha with Me” featured in Hawai‘i tourism efforts in Japan. This exposure led to ManoaDNA quickly having hit radio songs in the Japanese market, and paved the way for collaborations with Disney.

There is something unmistakable about what happens when families sing together. A common timbre, a blending of sound that only happens when voices from the same gene pool are woven into harmonies. The ManoaDNA sound, reminiscent of James Taylor, or Crosby Stills & Nash, but with a distinct flair of Hawai‘i, is smooth as the seas. It’s no wonder they’ve become so popular as a local act and as a voice for Hawai‘i beyond our borders.

So what does it take to keep the band together while balancing family dynamics? Checking in from the mainland, Lloyd Kawakami, or Dad, as he is referred to in the group, said the family bond gets the group through moments that may break other bands.

“Although we’re family, everyone is expected to act and perform at the highest professional level, and that can result in an occasional disagreement,” Kawakami says. “But because of our strong family bond and the fact that we truly respect each other, I really believe it enables us to overcome a lot of challenges that would normally hurt other groups.”

When speaking of his sons, and watching them evolve into young men and musicians, Dad is certainly beaming over his brood.

“I think the most important memory I will always have is watching my sons grow as music professionals since the beginning. As a father, I am so proud of them as my sons; as a professional, I have great admiration and respect for all the hard work they put in, to get where they are today. They certainly did the family proud!”

Acutely tuned in to the value of social media and connecting to fans, all three member of ManoaDNA publish blog posts to the band’s website, www. manoadna.com. On the importance of keeping the lines of communication open with people who enjoy their music, Kawakami muses, “With the impact of social media today, fans want to know what’s going on with their favorite groups and entertainers all the time. It’s especially important for our fans outside of Hawai‘i, since we’re only able to see them once or twice a year when we go on the road. Our website and blogs give them the opportunity to stay close to ManoaDNA and feel involved as a fan.”

For music fans in Waikiki, you can catch the band on Wednesdays at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Swim Bar, Fridays at Lulu’s Waikiki and Saturdays at Kani Ka Pila Grille in the Outrigger Reef; all performances are from 6 to 9 p.m.

On the horizon for ManoaDNA, local shows, the running of local alohawear clothing company, the family run ‘Iolani Sportswear (that recently did a collaboration with international brand Uniqlo), and according to Kawakami, “Another phase in our music journey. of course there will always be the usual road trip and recording stuff, but there are also some tremendous opportunities later this year that will hopefully help us evolve to that next level. All i can say is, stay tuned!”

Lulu’s Waikiki [C:11 Waikiki Map]
(808) 926-5222

Kani Ka Pila Grille outrigger Reef [D:7 Waikiki Map]
(808) 923-3111