Onya Soapbox


Tio is a singer/songwriter from Ambrym island in Vanuatu who grew up immersed in traditional practices, customs and stories.

His first interest in music was born from his early encounters with the traditional ‘tam tam’ (a wooden slit-drum) and songs in his language, Daakaka. Whilst living in Port Vila, Tio was involved with many groups in local music scene including local reggae and roots groups, Koncerners and Dropvcull. He has also collaborated with a broad range of artists from across the Pacific, Australia, Africa and Europe including members of Airileke, Blue King Brown, Kalja Riddim Klan, Simangavole, Kaumaakonga, Impossible Odds, Hermann Hartel, Natano Pasifika, Rize of the Morning Star, Tabura and Black Rose.

A talented multi-instrumentalist, Tio switches between violin, ukulele, guitar, tam tam, djembe and bush bass. He is driven by his passion to mix traditional and contemporary beats and styles and share his traditions with other musicians. In Vanuatu, he is passionate about encouraging Ni-Vanuatu youth to use local instruments and create music based on their unique cultural rhythms and mother tongues. Tio released his debut album Sorousian in 2020 which received a 5-star review in Songlines Magazine UK as well as interatonal acclaim and radio play.

The title, ‘Sorousian’, loosely translates to “story” and combines the many facets of Tio’s musical identity and history. Across the album, Tio effortlessly blends his traditional music customs and sounds with modern instrumentation and production to paint a story of his experiences; from living in his home island of Ambrym, Vanuatu’s capital Port Vila, and in Melbourne, Australia.

In 2019, Tio was involved in the We Have Come To Testify Project, a CD and book to raise awareness of the 1998 Byak Massacre in West Papua as well as the ongoing violence against West Papua Independence activists.