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A view of the world from Aroha Bridge

Thursday 30th June 2016

Creative powerhouse Jessica Hansell - aka Coco Solid - tells us about making the second series of one of her favourite projects.

What makes Aroha Bridge is not the writing but the life skills, says creator Jessica Hansell.

The web series follows the band Hook Ups, made up of sister and brother Kowhai and Monty Hook, and their family. The name of the show comes from the fictional community they call home.

For those who aren’t familiar with the main characters, they started life in a comic called Hook Ups and then a web series came out a few years ago. That web series has been renamed Aroha Bridge - and on Monday the second series is coming out online here on The Wireless.

Why the name change? Hansell says this latest series has new characters, plus Aroha Bridge is less likely to turn up risky Google search results.  

A couple of the new faces are the sports-crazed Aunty Winny and Uncle Noogy, who only talks in Māori because he refuses to speak the language of the establishment.

Much of the series is based on Hansell’s own world view.

“I think the family is a micro society,” she says.

Hansell, who is of German, Samoan and Maori descent, comes from a big whānau herself and grew up in an Auckland that is reflected in Aroha Bridge.

With the series, she’s set out to bust some of the racial stereotypes that have developed in New Zealand and create stories that don’t have a male-based narrative.  

Those are serious goals, but the aim is comedy. She wants to push back, but in a funny way.

“I think people are freer when watching comedy,” she says.

The series also shows how hard it is to be an underground artist, which is how Hansell started her music career. You may have heard her music, made as Coco Solid.

“It helps me laugh at my struggle,” she says.

Hansell wanted her writing to be as strong as her music, so she signed up for the famed Institute of Modern Letters creative writing programme at Victoria University.

Making Aroha Bridge meant using all her creative power. She wrote the script, drew the animation, composed the score, and voices Kowhai Hook.

“This is one of my favourite things to do as an artist.”

*The second series of Aroha Bridge will be on The Wireless this coming Monday, July 4.

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Laura is a Massey University journalism student and a massive nerd. Her favourite Batman character is Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl, aka Oracle.
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