RJ Kaneao


There's world music, and then there's worldly music. Waikoloa, Hawaii's, RJ Kaneao is the architect of a unique sonic signature. Kaneao's tunes meld traditional Polynesian rhythms and reggae grooves with contemporary instrumentation and production—all flavored by that familiar, laid-back vibe that we've come to associate with all things Hawaiian. The resulting potent concoction relaxes the listener while commanding their full attention.

Kaneao has released a new full-length record every couple of years since 2001; as of this writing, he's working on his fifth. He also has shared the stage with notable island- and world-music stars, both peers and pioneers, including Don Ho, Melveen Leed, Dennis Pavao, Mana'o and Company, Kawao, Fiji, and, as his Web site states, “various Marleys.”

A vocal PreSonus advocate, Kaneao takes advantage of his FirePod interfaces, an HP4 headphone amplifier, and the Studio One DAW. “When I first looked at the FirePod,” Kaneao recalls, “I liked the fact that it's an eight-in, eight-out XLR and ¼-inch combo jack setup. It's completely user-friendly; I didn't have to be a rocket scientist to get it up and running. Once I got my first, I was amazed at how warm it sounded without an external mic preamp. I never had any problems, either. It was just a wonderful fit for my application. The price was wonderful also! From the day I got 'em until now, the FirePods have been among the few pieces of equipment I own that I never really had to troubleshoot.”

While reluctant to share his most trusted Studio One secrets, Kaneao is willing to offer a bit of common sense. “Just watch your levels, and get a clean take each time. Remember that tracking is just that: tracking, as opposed to the whole of the song. Be mindful of the fact that sometimes less is more, and adding too much can sometimes boggle and confuse a listener,” he advises.

“What I like most about Studio One is its ease of use,” he continues. “It's not like trying to fly a jet, you know? It's definitely an upper-level DAW, and to have three different levels of sophistication to choose from at purchase is awesome. I found that Studio One's soft synths are a one-stop shop, and I really don't have to use any third-party soft synths to find the sounds I need.”

Kaneao is quick to point out that his enthusiasm for PreSonus goes well beyond the products. “I just wanna thank PreSonus for believing in me and adding me to their wonderful ohana (family). It feels great to be part of something that I truly believe in, that has given me so much and become such a major part of my sound. As artists, we strive and search for our signature sound, while not falling into the trap of being too repetitive in our arrangements and compositions. Sometimes it takes months, and other times it takes years. PreSonus has given the world these world-class tools that make the process much easier. Brother Brad Zell and Rick Naqvi have been blessings to me, and I can't thank PreSonus and the great people behind this musical/audio legacy enough for such a great opportunity.

“Much aloha and mahalo, PreSonus!”

Sound Samples

  • Polynesian Woman-RJ Kaneao.mp3

  • Prodigal Son-RJ Kaneao.mp3