Hanging out in central Christchurch, waiting for a mate, St Bede’s teenager Jamayne Feast and his two friends filmed and posted a short music clip. Just over a year later, he has soared past Go and collected 655,000 followers and 10 million likes. Frank F
A moment of boredom, a 15-second capella, and #FliFlaFlo has hurtled one Christchurch teenager into instant fame.
It was school holidays, early 2020. Jamayne Feast was hanging out in Christchurch with two friends when they decided to record a song and post it on video-sharing social networking service TikTok. By the time he got home, he tells Frank Film, his phone was “going crazy”.
What’s going crazy? asked his mother, Taipua Feast. “My TikTok!” he yelled. “What’s TikTok?” she asked back.
Feast was an overnight TikTok star. The short capella, Fli Fla Flo – “Kumbalala, Kumbalala, Kumbala savesta” – has clocked up 10 million likes, rocketed his follower base from 3,000 to 600,000 and spawned an avalanche of impersonations. Within two weeks, the quietly spoken sports fan was being wooed by agents, managers and producers. Since his video blew up last year he has signed up with a French music label and released a remix of Savesta.
What did he do with the money?
“I spent it wisely.”
Did he always know he could sing?
“Not well enough to get 50 million views. But it happens – it is what it is.”
Exactly what it is mystified his mother and infuriated his grandmother.
When a group of young fans found out his address, Yvonne Apanui sent the group of girls yelling at the gate packing. “I was out that door. I said, I don't think so.”
The Chinese-owned social networking service is also a mystery to his rugby coaches. “I walk past boys flicking through their phones in the classroom,” says one, “but that’s about it.”
But his classmates are all too aware of the social media star pounding across the pitch. As one says, “Around school everyone wants to be his friend because of all his TikTok followers.”
Living with his extended family in Northwood, Feast appears level-headed, unassuming, quietly proud. On returning home from school he might find over a hundred requests on Instagram from people wanting him to promote their products – “I delete them all. I just can’t be bothered with it.”
His dream, he says, is not about music stardom but sport – he has represented Canterbury and the West Coast in four different codes. As his mother says, “He’s pretty hot stuff when it comes to sport.”
In the meantime, he keeps up with the demand for new content, “to keep my views up and keep my followers alive.”
What sort of thing do you post? asks Frank Film. “Umm… you won't understand.”
Producer: Gerard Smyth
Director: Oliver Dawe