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P Digsss at Shapeshifter’s Wellington Opera House gig. Best show of ’06 by far! Image ©Pat Shepherd
Letter From The Editor Welcome to Issue Three of Exposure Lifestyles. If there is one thing I have come to realise while putting this publication together, it is that good things really do take time. Throughout the interviews and photo-shoots for this issue, I was constantly reminded that being creative and producing quality work is a slow but incredibly rewarding business. I am lucky to have met some amazingly talented people while working on this publication. These individuals have chased their passions and got to where they want to be through a lot of grit, determination, and most importantly, experience. They have witnessed untold changes in their industries, gained priceless expertise from collaborating with others, made many mistakes along the way and learnt from all of them. Ans Westra has been taking photographs for the past 40 years and has shot over 50,000 images. Don McGlashan has been training himself musically and writing songs since his childhood. Anton Carter taught me that you earn respect and success through a lot of hard work, and even more belief in yourself. Devin Abrams summed it up perfectly when he said that patience is the most important skill he has learnt in his journey so far. There are also individuals featured who are at the beginning of their creative adventures and acknowledge the long haul ahead if they want to stay true to their work without compromising their vision. I am so grateful to all the featured artists for their generosity and willingness to share their thoughts and stories with us about what makes them tick. My hope is that this publication will be a documentation of a moment in time and that you will put it away on a shelf somewhere, only to bring it out again years down the line to see what has changed, who is the next big thing, who has left our shores for brighter experiences, etc. Only time will tell. Enjoy the publication and thanks for your time! Pat P.S. Past issues are available as pdfâ€™s at www.exposurelifestyles.com Editor: Pat Shepherd Cover Illustration: Seymour Heading Typography: Claudia Riedel (www.riedelclaudia.com) Contributing Photographers: Pat Shepherd, Amelia Handscomb, Stephen Mackay Contributing Illustrators: Peter Campbell, Naomi Clements Contributing Writers: Amie Mills, Nina Siegler, Tim Beals Web Design: Stephen Horner www.exposurelifestyles.com firstname.lastname@example.org The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the publisher or editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of the publisher. Exposure Lifestyles is subject to copyright in its entirety. ÂŠPat Shepherd 2007 All Rights Reserved.
“You’re one microscop ic cog in his catastrop hic plan designed and directed in his red right hand” ‘Red Right Hand’ – Nic k Cave (Julia Deans) “Louise, she’s all ri ght, she’s She’s del icate and just near But she ju seems lik st makes e the mir it all too ror concise a nd too clea The ghost That Joh r of ’lectric Where th anna’s no ity howls ese vision t here in the bo s of Joha n es of nna have ‘Visions o now taken her face f Johann a’ – Bob my place Dylan (P ” “Now you aul McLa ’re up shit ney) ’s creek with (Jeremy a turd for Toy a.k.a O a paddle” ta of Open – Ween souls)
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“And thanks for the trouble you took from her eyes I thought it was there for good so I never tried” ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’ – Leonard Cohen (Paul McLaney) “People h Have and in hand I lived to Wher e hate’s see the milk and ho a Or is ney lan this a v dream and lo d? ve fore ision in ver sta my min nds d?” – S tevie W onde
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Paul McLaney is no stranger to the music industry – over his relatively long career he has been involved in numerous projects that are diversely placed within popular music. From the experimental rock of Gramsci, to the eclectic indie stylings of SJD, and through to the 80s synth-pop of The Blush Response, McLaney always contributes something to mark the group’s originality. More recently, he has been promoting his latest solo effort ‘Edin’ – a poignant collection of songs written on acoustic guitar. Do you think a song can lose its original magic through too many tweaks in the studio? I think the area where obsessive tweaking can damage a song is in the lead vocal take. Magical moments occur when you perform a song start to finish. In the same way, group performances are, in my opinion best captured as a group. I love listening to musicians listening to each other. You have collaborated with many NZ musos. Who has taught you the most about life and music? Different people teach you different things. Sean Donnelly has inspired an attention to song writing detail, Jakob inspired an approach to realising your true musical identity, Paul Ubana Jones initially created my understanding of the true magic and purpose of live performance … the list goes on and on…
What do you get up to when not working on music? Living life outside the song. Spending time with my lady, having adventures, music … reading, music… www.myspace.com/paulmclaneymusic
With your recent release ‘Edin’, you moved away from the major record labels to a smaller label. Many artists would try and go the opposite way. Any reasons for this? I think it’s obvious to most people that the major record label model is not particularly suited to local musicians in NZ and, as time moves on, overseas performers too. All of the majors in NZ are staffed by wonderful, committed music lovers who are somewhat hamstrung by the sheer scale of the company of which they are a part.
You seem to be going off the beaten track with your recent solo tours. How is this fresh approach treating you? Grassroots touring is in my opinion, the true testing ground of a performer and it forces you to have your chops together. It’s something I needed to get back to in order to reconnect with why I was drawn to the life of a musician in the first place. I love the freedom of it all.
As a founding member of the team behind NiceUp.Org.Nz and a regular presenter on Radio Active, Newtown’s Anand Naran (aka DJ Art Official) has been responsible for promoting Reggae music in Wellington for over a decade. Through his work, Naran helped develop a roots culture that has become synonymous with the music scene in Wellington.
Could you fill us in on the current goings on of DJ Art Official and the idea behind Newtown Sound? Right now I’m helping to bring Jafa Mafia to town for a gig, they’re from Akld and are a great sound system with lots of heavy dub plates. Newtown Sound is a hat that I can put on for all the different things I involve myself with musically, from putting on gigs, recording and producing music/interviews at home, releasing mix CDs and original Newtown music, a cheeky website, and eventually a likkle shop where I can sell stuff.
You have currently been interviewing a variety of international Reggae artists. If you could interview any artist in history, who would you choose and why? Yeah the interview thing has been cool, must big up Venus Hifi and (www.niceup.org.nz) for hooking up some great artists to chat with. The next NiceUp interview exclusive is with Morgan Heritage, a ‘royal family’ in Reggae music, that will be broadcast on Radio Active’s Roots and Culture show soon. I would love to have had the chance to talk to King Tubby, or producers/engineers like that who took Reggae music and revolutionised it for the dancehall (again and again!) with next level electronics and mixing techniques. Do you think NZ’s music scene would have been any different if the vinyl plants had not closed down? Yep for sure, vinyl really is great. Over the years I’ve picked up bits and pieces of Aotearoa-made vinyl. Some great artists had their stuff pressed up on wax here, and it’s always a real joy to come across an old 12" or LP of some great classic NZ music. I have a lot of respect for peeps these days that are putting out music on vinyl here. I hope to do the same one day – I’m lookin for music/artists to licence and release some 7"s right now, exciting huh? :) It’s also cool to know that people still wanna buy music on that format too – even when
things like Serato are on the market. Really tho’, I think a dope record from your own backyard is a real special thing to have in your collection. Many people would say that a lot of NZ music has a roots/dub feel to it. Do you have any thoughts on why NZ has grasped this sound that has such a link with Jamaican Reggae? Well, we are an island nation yeah? And nuff people I’ve met from islands throughout the world are all down with the beautiful sound of Reggae music. The messages it brings in its lyrics and spirituality are uplifting and forward thinking, you know? Like really FOR the people. It’s great that Reggae music is now a serious international thing too – Aotearoa’s Reggae scene is getting better and better every day and there are some huge Reggae centers around the world now (Canada, France, Germany, Japan, etc.) Which artists or creatives inspire you to reach out and keep experimenting in your particular area of music? Anyone around me that I see or hear is an inspiration and motivation. I particularly like artists that apply their skills in a different discipline. You know like when a drummer jumps on the keys and will play that keyboard in a completely different style than a keyboard player would’ve, kna mean? (And no I don’t mean they hit the keys with their drum sticks! Tho that would be kinda funny aye?) Can I big up my bro in this bit? www.niceup.org.nz www.newtownsound.co.nz
Don McGlashan is one of those wonderful artists whose body of work speaks for him and renders introductions largely unnecessary. If you are a tourist reading this however, you should know that McGlashan is an iconic Kiwi musician whose treasured music tastes of this place. His contribution includes Blam Blam Blam, The Front Lawn, The Mutton Birds and most recently his solo album, ‘Warm Hand’, from which he played the majority of songs to an 8000+ crowd at this year’s WOMAD. There are some professions that people class as a lifelong education, such as journalism or acting. What has music taught you? Precisely that, actually: that there’s always something new to learn. Which musicians have challenged you the most in your music by inspiring you to push your songwriting and performing to the next level? Well first, it’s Mr (or Ms) Anon that’s always been the most inspiring songwriter for me. If a song’s lasted long enough for the writer’s name to be lost, it must be pretty good. Old Irish and Scottish songs, old Blues and Country standards, they’re some of the best benchmarks. You ask yourself: Why is that rhyme so strong? Why has that image stuck in people’s heads for so many years? After that, all the musicians I’ve worked with have challenged me, made me work hard. In Blam Blam Blam, The Front Lawn, The Mutton Birds, and now with the Seven Sisters, I’ve always been lucky enough to be with hard-nosed, opinionated people who are good writers themselves, and who don’t suffer fools (or crap songs) gladly.
Downloading makes it easy for listeners to cherrypick songs without the albums. What are your thoughts on how digital technology has affected the quality and creativity of the music industry? I think less has changed than you might think. You still experience music by starting at the beginning, listening to the end, and then (hopefully) saying to someone: listen to this, I love it, what do you think? And that’s the same whether you’re listening to a computer, an ipod or a wind-up gramophone.
When are you at your most relaxed and happiest in life? Probably when I’m in the middle of writing a song. When I’ve got the feel of it, and I think I can see the way it might come out, it’s like seeing a photo gradually emerge in a developing tray. The house could burn down around me at such a time, and I’d still be in a good mood. In your conversation with Nick Bollinger at WOMAD you said that people are born with the need to hear a song. Do you think songs have the ability to change the world because of our desire to hear music? Songs can be a catalyst for change; they were in the American Civil Rights movement and in the protests against the Vietnam War. But they can also be an effective tool for manipulating people, as the Nazis found. So I’m wary of overstating the power of them. The best way I think songs can change things is the same way all art does: if a song, a painting, a book, a dance is well done, it reflects life, and makes us feel more alive, more human. Hopefully we can then use this heightened sense of our own humanity to act in more humane ways towards other people. What would your ideal career be if you weren’t involved in music? My Dad would have liked me to be an engineer. That would be fine by me; I like making things. Or anything to do with sailing. (Team Emirates NZ know how to get in touch with me. They haven’t called yet, but I figure they’re waiting till it really comes down to the wire.) www.donmcglashan.com
sive live rate some seriously explo ne ge can n ow Br er ng Gi For a band of two, sound can be found an and some drums. Their org d on their mm Ha a th wi y energ and Roll. Well known for ck Ro s 50 d an lia de he yc Ps ce Taula have been somewhere between 60s , Joe Dobson and Lawren orn rh tte Ma the at s gig t es Bay. free midnigh l days in the sunny Hawk oo sch h hig ir the ce sin playing together
What is your collaborative process for song writing? The process is a little different each time but most of the time I write the songs and then I’ll lay down the simple structure of the piece to Joe and together we arrange the piece, adding polishes here and there. Gradually over time the song formalises itself.
Are you both able to survive off music or do you have other incomes? Income generated by the band is directed firmly into buying gear, paying guest musos, and saving for our EP. We both have jobs. Joe is now working less hours to allow more time to be spent mixing the EP and managing the band.
Do you think culture plays a role in the success of an artist, i.e. music sells in their own country but not overseas? How do you bridge that gap? Everything plays a role in the success of an artist. It’s how things are played in the success of anything. I can’t really answer how musicians can bridge the gap internationally. I guess you’re either at harmony with the world or you’re not.
Can you explain your reinvention of The Big Day Out in the ’burbs? It was just circumstance really. I live in an old cottage with a big garden in the bush. After accumulating a mountain of wood from work I built a big stage, mentioned the “Little Day Out” idea to a bunch of friends and it just happened. I put some big posters, which didn’t have the venue on them, up around town as a tease. So on the day, fifteen bands/solo artists turned up along with about 150 great people, who got stuck into the “all you could eat” bbq! And to top it off we had Vinyl Burns (a brilliant, local comedian/circus performer) to MC the event! He had everyone in stitches between bands and he stayed in character the whole day – even when he slipped ungracefully into a blackberry bush!
Does the size of Lawrence’s organ (musical instrument!) restrict your touring? The Hammond organ is like the third member of the band and it is a bit of a burden but without her we would be stuffed! Moving her is good, honest work and a team effort. It definitely restricts us from traveling by air. So when we head overseas next year, we will have to buy another one when we arrive … if we can find one.
Pearl are a two-piece band armed with a healthy philosophy of how to balance success and creativity alongside the challenges of a music industry that isn’t always easy to work in. Since joining forces in 2003, Lisa Nimmo and Shelley Hirini have been invited to open for some legendary acts including Eric Clapton and Elton John and released their debut album ‘No Ordinary Day’ in 2006.
You have achieved a lot since forming Pearl, which gig has been the most memorable? Without a doubt supporting Elton John at Westpac Stadium. The whole day was surreal and it was the performance of a lifetime – we were on fire! … Elton wasn’t bad either! How have you expanded on the business side of producing music? We discovered early on that as far as the NZ music industry is concerned, we’re not cool. But the albumbuying public love what we do. Therefore, our entire strategy to date has been about how to circumvent the music industry so we can get our music out to the people who will give enough of a shit to buy an album. Our best opportunities so far have come from overseas and it’s likely to continue that way as that’s where we now focus most of our marketing energy.
What does an average day of work consist of for you? Well, we’re not very rock ’n’ roll really. Because we are self-managed, our day can include a bunch of different things: booking gigs, publicity, marketing, radio plugging, album distribution, technical liaison, maintaining the website – the list goes on – it’s endless. And then somewhere in between all of that, Lisa’s kids roll in with sticky Marmite fingers, threatening to plaster us unless we take them to the park. Then there’s the other fun stuff – we rehearse most days, write new material regularly and of course do the gigs at night – YAY. Who has musically taught you the most? We both have our own influences/style of music that we bring to the Pearl equation. We have learnt a great deal from each other, as well as from the musicians we have been fortunate to work with. Our music director Chris Jones has taught us a lot about songwriting and how important it is for our songs to
have strong arrangements. We are constantly told how powerful our arrangements are, so we must be doing something right! What area of music gives you guys the biggest buzz? Performing to 35,000 people is quite a buzz, but so is making an intimate connection with a small audience. And we love the songwriting and arranging process – it’s great fun seeing how our songs turn out once we give them the Pearl treatment. www.pearlband.com
Laughton Kora has been performing to crowds from a young age and it shows when you watch him onstage with his band Kora. Seeing them play live you notice how he feeds into their collective energy with ease and enthusiasm. Kora are currently taking that live feeling, bottling it and releasing it inside the studio environment for the upcoming release of their highly anticipated debut album.
With Kora being the band name and your family name, is there a sense of upholding your family name through your music? Yeah … but it’s gotten to a point for us where we are doing the best we can as people and as a band, so our parents are proud of us for doing that. Dan is also a huge part of what makes Kora. Dan’s a part of our family and we a part of his. The band is family. Chur! How has your time in acting school helped your presence on stage? Drama school definitely helped hone my skills as a performer, gave me more control to express myself clearly and have more sensitivity to what was going on around me. I probably would never have got into drama school without my music though, that’s fer sher!
Is it hard to translate the live feeling of a gig into the studio? We’re new to studio, yeah … nah, we’re a live band. But we’ve just spent a month together recording for the album and have been enjoying that a lot. Being in the studio for us has been 50/50. Sometimes all you need is the vibe that only a live feel can give you. Other times it requires great production. One thing we did find, was if you listen to the song, it tells you what it needs … once you get past all the ego. Are you able to make a living from music? I can honestly say YES. Especially in NZ, the support over the last five to eight years has been amazing. There’s more support being offered, like, just look at the radio and TV. You’ve got Juice, C4, Alt, Maori TV, NZ Music Month. Check out the festival scene, musos have got plenty of work and even better, the people are turning up by the thousands. The music industry is healthy. Bands that are doing great things here are taking their talents overseas and waving that Aotearoa flag, representing our country, and opening the doors for the rest of us. Not just music either; our films, dance and art are just so inspirational. What area of making music excites you the most at the moment? For me, it’s once you have an idea, the exciting part is where do I go next? I think I’m (even ‘us’ as a band are) lucky that we don’t have a specific genre. The opportunity to explore and experiment are endless. Yeah, that’s really exciting and a little scary as well.
Mark Williams (aka Slave) is a man who multi-tasks. As one of the pioneers of Hip-Hop music in NZ alongside MC OJ (Otis Frizzell), the pair were a formidable force in the early 90s and went on to present TV3’s ‘MO Show’ together. As if that wasn’t enough, Slave presents on a number of independent radio stations, MC’s weddings occasionally, collaborates with Fat Freddys Drop, and directed their music video ‘Wandering Eye’.
Have you ever been the MC at a wedding? Yes, I was an MC at a wedding. My friend Luke and Marika’s wedding and more recently, Mu and Nicole (or MUCOLE) of Fat Freddys Drop had their much anticipated wedding early this year. In fact, many have said “the wedding/festival of the year”, and I was MC. I was honored and privileged to be asked… You just don’t turn down a gig like that! It was slightly nerve racking, more so than shows or concerts or whatever because it’s your friends, and it’s their wedding day, but at the end of the day, great, great, fun. It was my job to bring some ceremony to the ceremony, so that’s what we did. “Dearly beloved … we are gathered here today to celebrate this thing called life…” Nuff respect to the one like Prince! Friends have said I should go legit and be a marriage celebrant. I don’t know if I’d want to make a habit out of it but it would make my dad proud! What did your travels through ‘MO Show’ teach you about life and creativity? ‘MO Show’ was a learning experience full stop! A few years on it’s kinda got a cult status! Over three or four years I experienced some of the most fun and amazing times of my life. We got to bring so much cool stuff to people’s living rooms. I got to meet a few of my idols and discover some new ones. It taught me how to travel! It taught me you will find like-minded people wherever you go, regardless of language. It taught me how a simple idea can fly on the smell of an oily rag and a will to survive! How to order beer in different languages. It taught me how to make TV. How to shoot, write and understand the editing process. How sharing a room with two other guys for six to eight weeks can make you miss home. How the politics and dealings with TV networks and production companies and sponsors can be difficult … frankly it was a crime we were never funded by NZ On Air or the networks properly, considering all the utter fucking crap, that apparently ‘fits the criteria’, and gets funded! I know people who are denied funding always say things like this but in our case, it’s TRUE. They also say things like that. Otis and I are not so quietly bitter about this as anyone who’s cornered us to ask “Where’s the MO Show bro?” will understand. This is a fairly regular occurence. ‘MO Show’, with the exception of the appearance of classics on YouTube, is on hiatus indefinitely. However, we would love to discuss the matter and future possibilities of a reunion tour with one of the networks and NZ On Air over a yum cha lunch in Wellington some time. 17
Otis and yourself must have a great creative rapport after collaborating for so many years. Why do you think you work so well together? The whole thing goes back to secondary school, high school at Selwyn College in Auckland. I was a 13 year old apple pie Irish American kid who Otis slowly corrupted. Our rapport comes from that far back. We just liked music and art and performance and over the years found ways to do it. We’ve had some amazing times and experiences so in some ways I guess we just understand where the other’s coming from. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and we pick up where the other leaves off … I’m sure we’ll continue to do stuff for a while, one way or another. We even just hang out sometimes and have a beer. We laugh that we never made enough money to fight over! We got our own things but we still come together. Otis is a full-time artist these days, and doing well, and apparently, his dad is also quite good. You work in many different creative fields. Are there any new areas you still want to venture into? I have always been involved with lots of creative projects because I think for the most part in New Zealand, you can’t afford not to. So 1) it keeps you working and busy, and 2) it keeps you amused. I just want to get better at the things I already do. I enjoy acting and find it a real challenge, so I’d like to do more of that. I’d like to make another record one day. I’d like to develop my writing skills and make a film. And of course continue to be super dad to my two daughters Iliana and Koromiko. So yeah, lots to do already! Just get better and do more of it! 18
How did your stage intro for Freddys come about? I am not exactly sure where it began but you could say it started at the legendary AKAI MPC Battle in Wellington about six years ago where I MC’d. It is still one of the best nights of entertainment I’ve ever witnessed. I was doing my Michael Buffer (the famous boxing announcer) impression with a bow-tie and the whole kit. It was the dawn of the Freddys, and everyone was there and everyone just nailed it. A great night! As the years passed, I guess I just loitered at every Freddys gig I could till they let me on stage. These days it’s part of my job description. Freddy’s MC/Media Assassin/S1W. I liken myself to James Brown’s famous MC/Announcer Danny Ray, except with a video camera. I’ve yet to talk Joe Dukie into JB’s famous pre-encore on stage breakdown and cape routine, but it has come up in conversation. Hopepa may be down. James Brown got the idea from a professional wrestler called Gorgeous George who would break down crying and have his cape put on him only to snap out of it and come leaping back in the ring to fight again triumphant! Great, great stuff! Sorry … what was the question?
What would your ultimate day off work consist of? I actually like my work and am happiest when I’m busy doing stuff, being involved, and making money but … a warm day, by a pool, with family and friends, food, drink, and a babysitter who’ll look after the kids the next day would be bloody brilliant! Aitutaki in the Cook Islands could be a nice location! Could I have more than a day?
What do you intend to do with the 3 hours of daily broadcast time you’ve acquired? Serve the people of Wellington. Make the most of the free Havana Coffee, educate myself on he ﬁner points of NZ Music. But, most of all remind ourselves that we need to love one another. Make love not war. This is not the end times! What’s your favourite part of the Show? The start of the show, cos’ I get those butterﬂies and the need to run for the hills, then I whack a tune on and say good morning and the rest just seems to fall into place. What sets your style apart from the rest? I’m not sure, however, my accent (that of a
Who / What has inspired you since moving from England to our home called Wellington? Clinton Smiley – A living legend Sandwiches Crew – for being my family and friends Blanket Man – for being the best dressed The Vibe of Cuba St – It’s unique to Welly, I could walk that few hundred yards everyday and never bore of the people and sounds and smells and stuff Give us your current Top 5 tracks - Age Pryor – I don’t Want (it makes me cry!) - Shapeshifter - One - Solaa – Stepes in Time - Tommy Ill – Bill Cosby - Fink – Pills in My Pocket
Tune into Redbird on Radio Active 89FM Monday to Friday - 9am to midday. Streaming live on www.radioactive.fm
Photo Undercover Brother
We at Active are highly stoked to welcome onboard Redbird Jnr as the new Ampliﬁer host. The Ampliﬁer Show rocks Monday to Friday 9am through to midday.
Yorkshire Scallywag) seems to be doing the trick. Also the legacy of my father Redbird, who was a DJ in the 60’s and 70’s, means I have inherited over a thousand 7” vinyls - that is my library of love.
Byron Bay Blues and Roots Festival Story by AMIE MILLS Photography by PAT SHEPHERD
Start with a simple layer of annual leave. Add a dollop of Brisbane and a Wicked campervan to get the ingredients moving. Bake in the Byron Bay sunshine for one day and prepare to leave uncovered overnight before the music begins. Mix together five days of incredible music, 15,000 people, one hundred bands, four stages, a Ferris wheel, more than forty exotic food stalls, liberal servings of rain showers and thousands of mud-puddled gumboots. There you have the basic recipe for the 2007 annual Blues and Roots festival in Byron Bay. Best served with an open mind and a cold beer, the festival is a feast of musical delights. It’s hard to know what makes festivals like this so important, not only for individual well being but for society in general. I get the feeling it’s a combination of a lot of things that are brought together on a grand scale. It is the shared experience, the escapism, the quality of music, the
giant waffles with every kind of topping, the joy of being grown-up and jumping in puddles again and the brilliance of the song-writing and lyrics. After five days, and a magnitude of bands that you’d be lucky to see in a lifetime of giggoing, you can’t help but return home with a replenished soul. I had the same sensation after attending this year’s WOMAD festival in Taranaki listening to Don McGlashan speak about the importance of music in peoples’
lives. He argued that you are born with the need to hear a song and it was listening to him describe why his music tastes like New Zealand that made me think about why it feels so good to listen to music. It’s because it’s like learning. Like listening to a really good feature on National Radio, discovering a blogger whose writing you find edible, or stumbling across something on TV that holds your attention even when you’ve got a million things you should be doing. Music is a cultural experience. In this way, it is also the breadth of bands that hail from around the world, which makes the Byron Bay festival extraordinary. This year’s lineup was as eclectic as it gets, from the likes of Ben Harper, Bonnie Raitt, Amos Lee, Taj Mahal, Bo Diddley, John Mayer, and Fat Freddys Drop to Wolfmother, The Roots, Missy Higgins, Lee Scratch Perry, Joss Stone, Ozomatli, Gomez and The Magic Numbers. Each band or musician offered something in their show that spoke about where they
came from. Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars sang about being forced from their homes and surviving a civil war while Xavier Rudd discussed global environmental degradation and race relations in Australia. Some of the unexpected highlights included Australian blues-funk artist Ash Grunwald whose ‘Dolphin’ song had an entire crowd of 5000+ making squeaky dolphin noises in time with his beats, The Sunshiners, a group from Vanuatu, who used the power of the ukulele
Ben Harper and Bonnie Raitt
to warm hearts with their Reggae re-interpretations of pop classics like David Bowie and U2, and Flogging Molly who injected all things Irish, punk and energetic into their performance. The Fat Freddys boys were magnificent as always with their 18-minute-long songs and some new tunes that had people dancing happily. Each tent you wandered past had sounds belting from it that were completely distinct from the sounds issuing out of the tent next door. The whole event reminded me of a ‘snatch and grab’ section in a kids show I watched once upon a time, which may or may not have been ‘What Now’. Someone would be given
a supermarket trolley and they would race around a department store, with the clock ticking and a limitless amount of goodies to grab. With the option of one hundred bands to listen to, you had to choose wisely and race around the stages snatching all the tunes you could digest before the final day came and went and you were left with your basket full of memories. Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals brought the festival to a close on the last night. With a crowd of 10,000+, he single-handedly silenced them with an a capella gospel song sung without amplification. As whistles broke out throughout the crowd, he held up his hands to signal quiet and sang into the wind. He would occasionally turn his head back towards where he had left his microphone meters away and when he did this his vocals would lift slightly and travel to the far reaches of the audience. As the final note died down and the crowd erupted, it felt like the night air was electric. Whilst departing the stage shortly after, he thanked the crowd for giving him a present “that would take years to open”. It seemed a fitting analogy for the entire festival; a gift given unexpectedly that would take a lifetime to unwrap. www.bluesfest.com.au
Xavier Rudd Ben Harper The Roots Flogging Molly
DJ Flic is a longtime Wellington DJ who made the move to Europe in 2000 after attending the Red Bull Music Academy in Dublin. While she made a name for herself through DJing on radio and in clubs, she has more recently been producing music and it seems she has fallen for European culture and currently calls London home.
Red Bull Music Academy must have played a big part in your life. What are your thoughts on corporate sponsorship in music? The fact that Red Bull tastes awful and gives you the shakes after too many is almost irrelevant by now due to their incredible branding campaign! Not only the Academy, but so many amazing events and projects would never get off the ground if it wasn’t for the ol’ corporate dollar, so if the sponsor is a good match, I’m all for it! Where would you most like to live? Any plans to head back to NZ? I’ve always loved languages and really want to immerse myself in a foreign speaking country for a while, Spanish or French ideally … Barcelona has been in my mind for a while now, it’s an awesome city. However, there are things that tie me to London that I love, but I’ve definitely got a bit of a love/hate thing going on with the city. As for NZ, well I’m so grateful that it will always be there for me, that’s for sure, but it seems the longer I stay away, the more difficult it would be to settle back there. I still have no master plan. I’ll come up with one, one day. Does the UK scene have the same community feeling that music has in NZ? In a word … no! I can only speak for London, which is like its own country really, but there are just so many people here, all doing different things, it’s rare that you feel that community vibe. I guess it makes up for it in that there is so much going on and so much to choose from.
about seeing a DJ clicking a mouse to play music. It removes all the passion and graft from the equation. Not to mention the sound quality. Downloads are great and cheap in the short term but are also doing a great job of putting loads of independent record stores out of business. But I’m definitely for the proliferation of all styles of music, that’s gotta be a good thing … on the other hand, most of the music downloaded from places like itunes is chart stuff … Oh, and the ipod generation are all gonna be deaf by the time they’re 40! What aspect of UK living would you bring to NZ? Sunday papers, yorkshire puddings, and all the different markets like Spitalfields and Borough as well as all the little local ones. How has your lifestyle changed through your years working in the music industry? My lifestyle was pretty chaotic for a while, then did a complete 180 about three years ago when I had a huge health scare and my body told me in no uncertain terms to stop having too much fun for one person. Unfortunately it’s still telling me that! It’s been pretty life changing, mostly for the better (my new pastimes include the gym, cooking and trying out every alternative remedy under the sun), but it’s still a big source of frustration. Luckily my passion for music wasn’t based on anything artificial and I still enjoy radio and DJing just as much … although my tolerance for drunken hecklers, well it ain’t what it used to be! www.myspace.com/djflic
What are your thoughts on the pros and cons of technology in music? So many pros, so many cons. As for DJing, I’m still grasping on to the traditional two turntables and a mixer set-up … and lovely big slabs of vinyl. For me, there is something fundamentally wrong and soulless 25
I remember myself being very much in trouble in my own kitchen at about three in the morning for Sting being part of my party playlist. People looked at me with disgust and I had to talk myself out of it for quite a while. They even made me skip the song. I know that Sting has written criminal songs in his music career but I always think it is important to appreciate the good ones. I think ‘Shape of my Heart’ is rather excellent but I had to worry about my party guests leaving. All of them. So I skipped to ‘Money’s Too Tight to Mention’ by Simply Red. My friends collect their bags and put on their coats. Even Terence Trent d’Arby can’t hold them back. So the party is over and I have a dance by myself. I got a bit worried about the whole thing and so I thought it was time to talk to some talented Wellingtonians about their secrets. What I found out is amusing and wakes up memories about all those special songs that have been out there for all these years. I know that everyone’s got them. The 80s or R’n’B shockers in the far corner of the ‘oh so’ dusty shelf. They are mostly even self-bought and not just some annoying gift from Aunty Claire. And if there is no CD on the shelf, there is still the love for crap music in people’s embarrassed hearts. I had a myspace chat about it with the wonderful Lisa Tomlins and she presented me with her favourite karaoke songs. Two are even by Tom Jones. Yikes. ‘Deliah’ or the all-time classic ‘It’s Not Unusual’. Also, and this was her first pick, ‘Copacabana’ by Barry Manilow. It tells the story of Lola the showgirl and we learn that the Copacabana is “where music and passion were always the fashion”. This is great. I can’t wait to hear Lisa sing this at a local karaoke place soon. On one Friday night I had a talk to Adam Ladley from The Bonnie Scarletts about the whole ‘crap song’ embarrassment and of course he was very terrified to hear about my examples but he admitted that he knows every single lyric by Billy Joel and
that he loves the ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ Soundtrack, especially ‘The Heat is On’! That’s a double Adam, well done. Even the movie is questionable! Glorious. Osaka Silenzio from Date with Doom replied to me with a whole list of his all-time favourites. He refers to Boys 2 Men with grave goodness and wants us to know that Kenny G can really blow. There are also Destiny’s Child, Rod Stewart and Sisqo on the list. I’m sure he didn’t tell us everything because I heard rumours from his saxophonist that Mr. Silenzio dances to JT in the kitchen every now and then. But who doesn’t? Just mentioning Silverchair would have been enough but Dan Weetman from The Black Seeds enjoys their new song ‘Straight Lines’ and excuses himself with the words, “Sometimes a song just sticks in your head and you can’t get it out, embrace them all … well, not the really shit ones.” Excellent. Thanks Dan. Samuel Flynn Scott from The Phoenix Foundation says that ‘Telephone Line’ by The Electric Light Orchestra is as ridiculous as it gets and I first thought it wouldn’t be very embarrassing but then I listened to it again and oh yes, the man is right. Even that band name is unnecessary. But band names are a different story. I don’t think I have to say that judgement and taste shouldn’t be part of the same sentence. We all know that. I guess I can’t make everyone happy with my party playlists but I will try harder in the future. And if Lisa, Adam, Osaka, Dan and Sam bring their shockers along, it will definitely be a great time. Story by NINA SIEGLER Illustration by PETER CAMPBELL
If you’ve ever wondered how the sweet sounds of Kiwi music drift into living rooms across the globe on local, national and international airwaves, then look no further than Brendan Smyth’s office at NZ On Air. His walls are literally dripping with colourful posters, media passes and music paraphernalia. Smyth surrounds himself in NZ music while promoting it tirelessly to everyone else.
How did you end up in your current role with NZ On Air? I was in the right place at the right time. I was at the Arts Council, doing the music job there. I’d been at the Arts Council for 10 years and I was so ready for a change. Then this new agency was set up – the Broadcasting Commission – as part of the Government’s broadcasting reforms. It was like the Arts Council of The Airwaves and a friend said I should apply for a job. That was 1989. I did and I got it, doing the radio job which included the challenge of getting more New Zealand music played on the radio. Back then, New Zealand music was alive on the student radio airwaves but invisible on the commercial radio airwaves and the challenge was to change that. The Broadcasting Commission renamed itself NZ On Air in 1990. Are NZ On Air having to change the way they work due to the digital music era? NZ On Air is in the broadcasting business and my job is to get more New Zealand music played on the radio. The digital music revolution is impacting most on those who are in the business of selling music, which we are not. But we are watching digital really closely and adapting and adopting where we can and need to.
Does music ever lose its magic when it’s your full-time job? Never! I am blessed that my passion is my job. I love it. I still get a charge when I go to a good show or get a new record in, even if I am the oldest person at the Shihad show. What has been the most memorable gig you have ever attended? I could name lots but there is one – Finn Andrews of The Veils solo at Rakinos in Auckland for Pavement magazine in March 2005. Tears in my eyes magic. When are you at your most relaxed and happiest in life? At home.
For MC Xhale (aka Brad Bridgeman) and DJ D-Rail (aka Kane Hawkins), Hip-Hop isn’t just about the beats. It’s about feeding something back into the community and offering people an outlet for expression. After moving from Dunedin, Xhale met Taupo-born D-Rail and the two began collaborating. Xhale can be heard on his single ‘X Marks the Spot’, while D-Rail is constantly pushing his flavours out through his fresh mix tapes. What comes first, the beats or the lyrics? X – Well the beats come first usually because it’s the base of writing or composing a song. Sometimes people remix my a capellas with new beats or remixes but beat generally comes first. I usually write the hook then I find writing my verse comes out easier. D – I wish I could answer that one but I can’t rap … YET, haha. Are there any changes you would like to see to the Wellington Hip-Hop scene? X – I’d like to see better development and more local support amongst our Hip-Hop community. I’d also like to see more sponsorship to help fund recording, marketing ’n’ music videos. This is why I am creating X-press Entertainment to put something back into the communities that helped me grow. Hip-Hop is usually generated through struggle and pain so we really need people to get behind local Hip-Hop. It could make the difference. D – I guess it would be cool to see crews and DJs that love what they are doing, come into the scene a bit more and get some credit for the hard work that they have put in. I know a lot of DJs that have mad talent but haven’t pushed themselves into doing anything with their skills.
What part of making music excites you guys the most? X – Just hearing the finished product and going, “Yeah, that’s it right thurrr. That’s how I heard it when it first ran through my mind and now it’s a track and I can send it into radio or apply for funding because it’s officially a demo track until funding is granted.” D – Yeah, it’s a good feeling sitting back and listening to something that you’ve taken hours to complete and being happy with the end result. It’s also good to get out there and perform in front of a crowd after many, many hours practicing (many, many hours). Who influences you the most and has taught you the most in your music? X – My brother Mike Busy has taught me a lot. He’s been like a father to me and pointed me in the right direction, as well as inspiring me to be something
great. We both come from a poor background so we are both doing well considering where we’ve come from. I have high expectations of where we gonna go. It was meant to be because I was born with the Mike (mic). My boys D-Rail & Espionage also inspire me because we are working together. D – First of all, all my boys that keep motivating me to do things (Xhale, Percieve, Espionage, DJ D’Skys etc.) and local DJs and crews that keep on pushing their sound and style out there too (too many to name). And I have to say my mum. She taught me to just do what I want, oh, and because she had to put up with my scratching for years (at one point my turntables were in the kitchen. She didn’t like that, haha). www.myspace.com/djdrailmusic www.myspace.com/xhalewwwmyspacecom
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With self-proclaimed musical stylings of “funk, crunk and grime”, it’s no wonder that Wellington-based band The Aviators are out to entertain with a squadron of eight. They aren’t short of stories to tell either as their website abounds with tour antics and adventures. With the album on its way, keep an eye to the sky for these guys flying funk-styles!
With eight of you in the band, how on earth do you manage to get rehearsals organised? Is anyone always late? The Aviators set out strict rules and guidelines, which must be adhered to at all times. The rules are simple: Rehearsal days and times are Wednesday evening at 6pm and Saturday afternoon at 12pm. Show up to rehearsal at least ten minutes before the allotted timeframe. Rehearsals will be no shorter than two hours in length with an allocated 10 minute food
consumption period. Rehearsals may go on longer than two hours at the discretion of Paddy F Bleakley. Any food or beverage MUST be consumed in the allotted 10 minute break. No food/drink may be consumed outside this time period. Ned is the exception and may have a 350ml bottle of water for the duration of the rehearsal. Anyone to be found not demonstrating the guidelines will be dealt to with swift severity, again at the discretion of Paddy F Bleakley. Enjoy!
Is there a large social aspect to the band? Eight brothers, one passion! Does music support you all financially? Not at all. If you know a good place to buy clothes for under four cents let us know. However, there is always the exception of Skip. Skip has spent the better part of his life selling cheap, knock-off trombones at outrageous prices to orphans with trust funds. He lives a fruitful life upon a golden tree feasting on the sweet berries it bears. His personal assistants drop him off at gigs and no matter how much we beg him, he won’t give the band any money. He insists that “A poor band is good for personal growth.” Do you guys play in other bands? If so, collectively, how many bands are you all in? Paddy and Ned are in a band called The Harbour City Electric that plays at Sandwiches every Thursday. James dabbles in his own solo work, involving sonic art. Skip’s in the Kapiti Brass Band. Simon is in a band called Frenzied Moon Patrol and they only play when there’s a full moon. Dave and Kane were in well-known band King Jankoff but
couldn’t handle the copious amounts of money and power so they quit. Andreas is in any band you’d care to mention. We have all been in other bands in the past that are now either defunct, or made up. What aspect of making music excites you all the most (live shows, the women, the touring, etc)? It’s being on the winning team! It’s holding hands with your best gal! It’s scoring the winning touchdown! It’s seeing your favourite flick at the drive-in! It’s sitting atop the highest mountain, breathing in the freshest air, scouring the horizon and seeing the faint glimmer of nesting Albatrosses! It’s feeling the cool, refreshing lick of water across your skin as you dive into summer’s first water-hole! It’s putting on the new pair of jeans that hug you like no woman ever could! It’s opening the french doors to the sight of playful foxes on the moors! It’s smelling the newly cut grass in an autumn breeze! It’s feeling the harsh ocean spray over your face, on board the yacht you built, as you clutch the warm hand of a loved one! It’s waking up with no recollection of how you got there! So basically, the live shows, the women and the touring. www.theaviators.co.nz PAT SHEPHERD
It’s not often that an auditorium of around 700 people, the majority of whom are hard-core teenage punk-rock fans, are silenced by a female vocalist equipped with only a guitar and piano. This was the effect Moana Ete had on the crowd at last year’s Smokefreerockquest National Final where she won best vocalist. Ete is currently working on her solo album ‘Songs for Sina’ and jamming with her band My name is Mo. Was it a hard decision to move straight into full-time music once your time at school was over? Yeah totally, but I felt this was the only thing I could do. I can’t see myself working from nine to five, five days a week. And I’m not smart enough for Uni. I’m not driven enough either like most people and routine scares me.
How important was the Smokefreerockquest in your musical career? Real important. I think for me, I didn’t really think that there was room for another female soloist in the competition. But I entered anyway and got waaaay further than I thought I would. Rockquest was like the validating stamp for my music. If anything, it was a mega morale boost. If I hadn’t gotten far in the competition, I reckon I would be at Uni doing a degree in … whatever you can do degrees in at Uni. Are there any Pacific artists that you look up to and would really like to work with? Con Psy, Kimbra, Black Seeds, John Butler Trio, Luke Thompson, Spacifix, Olmecha Supreme and Bic Runga. www.moanaete.bebo.com
What part of making music excites you the most? Writing it I reckon. Yeah … I swear it’s the best buzz aye. Like coming up with one phrase then building on it and then coming up with another then piecing it together. A lot like a jigsaw puzzle. At the end of it you step back and take in the whole picture. Oh, the sense of achievement!
You told me that you don’t listen to a lot of music. Where do you get your inspiration for songs? How I’m feeling at a certain time. What can I say? I’m an emotional person! And I guess it has a lot to do with chance. If I’m playing the guitar I might play a wrong chord but then I’m thinking, “Hot Dang! That don’t sound half bad Cletus.” Hmm, don’t know why I don’t listen to that much music. Like if I’m driving in a car, I don’t like to have the radio on or anything. I like to come up with my own music.
For those of you who remember the days when the Matterhorn consisted of a bar, a corridor and not much else, you may also remember Vishal Vasan (aka DJ Vee), the resident â€™Ho DJ and turntablist for now-defunct band Police Lucipher, alongside Otis Chamberlain and P Digsss to name a few. Heâ€™s long-since taken his tunes and relocated to London where the music is universal and the culture is almost as rich as his Mumâ€™s curries.
How did you end up in the UK? Got on a plane and came to DJ at Spacific at Fabric in London. Got drunk. Got a job at a record store named Koobla (in Soho) and stayed there for a couple of years getting to know the ‘locals’. Travelled. Started The Elephant (record label). Helped set up and run Scenario Records store and started my own distribution company. Travelled some more. Started working at Kartel, a music management company and record label. Currently living and loving London. Does NZ music play a big part of your life over there? To be honest, not really. Good music is just that. I’m not biased towards music just because it’s ‘Kiwi’, good or bad. I always have an ear to the ground for fresh NZ music and am lucky enough to call a few of the current top players my friends. The upside to this is getting to hear a lot of new NZ music before it’s released, as well as being able to blag my way into gigs and drink riders when these people pass through London town. Chur. Do you get nostalgic returning to Wellington? Wellington is home. I was born and raised there, so I am Wellington. I miss the obvious, like my family (especially my Mum’s curries – nobody has shit on my Mum’s curries!) friends, crew and Cuba St but I choose to live in London because for me, it is the capital of the world in both music and culture. I’m having too much fun right now … so I think I’ll be here for a bit.
Could you please explain the legendary Mt Vee? Ha Ha! That’s a question for Kava in the next issue… What is the most memorable gig you have been to or played at? The sort that people still tell stories of. There’s been lots that I do and don’t remember! I’ve found that the best gigs are the ones that you least expect. One that springs to mind is when fellow Londoner/Wellingtonian Tubbs and I travelled to Perpignan, South of France. We arrived at the venue – an amazing
outdoor theatre overlooking the city – to discover we were playing to a few thousand photojournalists. When we opened our record bags we were both like, “Oh fuck! There is no way these people are going to be into these tunes! How are we going to bullshit our way out of this one?!?” The saviour came in the information that the party would begin at midnight and roll through to 7am … with free booze for everyone!! I remember the first hour was a bit of a struggle as people entered the party (sober) looking at us like, “what the…?” but after a few drinks the partygoers were soon like threeyear-olds at a kiddies birthday party. With the dancefloor rocking, each tune seemed to ‘crunk’ a little bit more than the previous (or maybe it was the obscene amount of free flowing booze?!) Anyhow, from shitting ourselves early on, it turned out to be one, if not the best, DJ gigs we had both played (even if it was just in our minds). They got drunk. We got really drunk. We got invited back the following year for Part II … but I guess that’s another story. www.myspace.com/TheElephantRecords
Changes In The Industry Phil Brökelmann has worked in the music business for years and has hung out in many different musical corners of the industry. He currently works as Promotions and Marketing manager for LOOP Recordings Aot(ear)oa and was happy to share his knowledge on all the changes that have been happening.
Are digital downloads having a major effect on CD sales in NZ? It’s never really clear how a movement of microtrends, which are either loosely affiliated or even unattached, can suddenly start hitting on the market. No matter what, digital distribution really is a landmark change. While the amount of sold LOOP CDs in New Zealand still improved slightly last year, our download numbers climbed up steadily. An aspect of digital downloads that really amazes me is to collect people’s data and built a community around the recorded habits. We all love communities aye? Check out last.fm for example, or myspace.com, of course. Compare that to traditional CD sales, where communities were built in rather different ways, and where niche communities were too often not sustainable at all. Digital distribution flips it around. Community building around niche music gets more and more interesting for business people, and the business opportunities behind a community attract musicians as well. It always feels good to do business with like-minded people, and today the tail is endless thanks to digital distribution. How has iTunes coming into NZ impacted the work you do? Not only sales start to shift, but also marketing. For our latest album ‘Our Place’ by Adi Dick, we edited and uploaded live gig music videos to youtube.com months in advance of the physical album. A year ago I would have spent the money for the youtube editing on street posters. Two weeks prior to the CD shipping date we released the album exclusively on iTunes NZ. We had never done that before, but felt we should give it a go, too. It made it to the top of the R&B/Soul genre. That was just what we needed in the nervous days before the CD release. On another level, the arrival of iTunes goes beyond local chart sales. It was a no-brainer that a label like LOOP wanted access to iTunes in one way, earlier
or later, but it was really interesting to see that when we approached Apple at the MIDEM music conference at a legendary early morning meeting in January 2006 in France, and pitched our repertoire to them, their reaction was like,”Yep, sweet as, you guys seem to release heaps of good music and visuals.” You don’t need to go through a third party, you can sign up directly worldwide. We were stoked. A direct worldwide deal was and is a big deal for us as a New Zealand label, because it made us feel equal, and accepted on an international level. Still, it’s hard work to promote and sell through iTunes. But the world of digital distribution felt good to us right from the start. The new feeling of being on par, worldwide, really has a lot of impact on how we do things now. Where do you see artists receiving money from in the future (downloads, gigs, merch)? Strange worlds like publishing can suddenly, magically, become real for musicians if a single sync license makes them more money than all their touring from the last two years. It’s pretty rare to land a big deal, but let’s say if you land a sync deal like Jose Gonzales from Sweden did with ‘Heartbeats’, suddenly your whole career gains a boost on all mentioned levels. I love his album and saw him live in Auckland last year, and he’s fabulous, but he certainly would never have played New Zealand without the Sony ad in the first place. Single and album CD sales and downloads picked up worldwide on the back of the sync as well, so there you go. It’s purely
the sync that made him shine. The fact that his album was independently exported to New Zealand and that Jose Gonzales even featured on Loop Select 007 way before the ad hit TV are just that, note-worthy smallprint. It didn’t get this Swedish singer-songwriter the packed Thursday night gig at St James. Will album artwork become a thing of the past? It’s not easy to foresee the future aye? Cover artwork to me belongs to the wider visual identity of an album or a song. Add poster and billboard artwork, merchandising and print ads, web banners, music videos and live show visuals – and you get the drift of what the visual identity of any music is. If traditional CD products fade out, yes, traditional covers may fade out, too, but I’d like to believe the urge for visual identity remains. It may just shift to motion graphics and other more contemporary forms and shapes of communication. For instance, currently I see a renaissance of hand-made stencil art and drawings, especially in electronic music circles. They seem to need it to balance the music out. Stencil art appears not only on posters, but also in motion graphics and even music videos. These are the new covers for tracks that are otherwise available at the Beatport Player without any artwork. How does the money side of making music affect the personal relationships labels have with artists? Nobody likes to talk about money. It takes a lot of confidence to sit down and address the issues and ask hard questions and sort stuff out. It goes without saying that artists rely on the label’s honest and accurate accounting, because the label collects the money first. On the other hand, artists often receive significant advances (be it for recordings, for gear, for tour promotion or just to pay the rent). The label often trusts that the artist is going to pull off whatever he or she needs the advance for. Ideally the confidence goes both ways. Personally, I’d like to have a professional attitude towards all artists I deal with, friends or not. I try to admit the mistakes I make. I’d like to be able to walk away from the job, if I ever wanted to, and not feel regret or guilt, and still be able to meet any of the artists randomly on the street and to catch up and have a good conversation. Illustration by NAOMI CLEMENTS
It hardly seems that long ago that Fur Patrol got out their imaginary instruments and Julia Deans donned a fetching blonde wig for their music video ‘Lydia’. It was in fact six years ago that Fur Patrol left our shores for Melbourne and the bright lights of the international music market. Those of us suffering withdrawals have the satisfaction of hearing Deans’ powerful vocals once more on their new EP, ‘The Long Distance Runner’. Do you find the Melbourne music scene has many advantages over Wellington? Primarily it’s a size thing. Melbourne has a far greater number of venues in which to play; not just in the city, but out in the ’burbs as well. If you’re brave enough to venture that way…
Are there any particular people or places that help get your creativity flowing? Movement. Walking, driving, cycling … I apply the memory theory here. What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given? If it’s not working, stop. Walk away, take a breather, try again later with a clear head. www.furpatrol.com
What challenges you most in the making of music? Finishing things. Is modern technology changing the way that you make music? I used to have a little four-track cassette recorder that, every time I wanted use it, I would have to re-read the manual and spend hours remembering how to use the damn thing again. I think my brain had some kind of synapse prolapse directly related to that machine. But when I bought a computer and started using Protools, it was like a light came on and suddenly it was quick and easy: switch it on, that goes in there, you click that and then press go … recording for impatient people! And dummies. I never used to record anything because I was too impatient. I also used to figure that if I couldn’t remember an idea, then it wasn’t good enough anyway. I still use that theory, but now I can also make a quick record of any random ideas for later referral.
1. I understand you didnâ€™t take the tertiary route with your musical education, where did you learn your skills? 2. Many designers are influenced by the shapes of nature in their work, does nature help shape your music in any way? 3. You are working with some talented fresh faces in the NZ music scene, how do they compliment your sound? 4. Do you have any favourite locations that help inspire your ideas and creativity? 5. What do you get up to when you are not working on music?
Benny Tones has music coursing through his veins and as a music producer with his own newly-established business ‘Organik Muzik Workz’, he’s clearly found an outlet for that passion. Based in his Newtown studio, Tones is currently working towards his second album.
I understand you didn’t take the tertiary route with your musical education. Where did you learn your skills? I could never take high school seriously. Right from the start it just didn’t seem like I was supposed to be there. I just kinda cruised through it until 6th form when I decided that it wasn’t the place for me. During the next couple of years of soul-searching, music started to ‘really’ talk to me. I had heard about this institute in Wellington that was offering basic courses in audio engineering and production so I decided to follow that. This was a huge turning point in my life and showed me the door to my real passion. MUSIC. The course took a lot of hours after class, racking the tutors’ minds to get a grip on what I was looking for but it was a great learning curve for me. After that course I did another one in composition and arrangement, to try and get a hold on more of the musical side of things. It was during this time that everything started to fall into place for me. I started to meet the right people who were willing to lend their knowledge and expertise, plus I got my first computer! This is where I learnt the bulk of my skills, from pure uninfluenced experimentation. There are no rules on how ‘music’ should sound or feel. It doesn’t matter how or what you used to get there, it’s what comes out in the end that matters. Many designers are influenced by the shapes of nature in their work. Does nature help shape your music in any way? Most definitely. It’s a natural thing for any artist to be influenced by their surroundings. Coming from a very rural background, my life has been filled with the shapes of nature. This formed the whole concept for my previously released album entitled ‘Earth Tones’. I wanted to capture snapshots of sound from all the places around my hometown in Golden Bay that meant something to me and incorporate those into my compositions. Just knowing that those elements were in there made the whole thing mean that bit more to me. I also put together a music video with the help of Lakshman Anandanayagam from Nektar, for one of the tracks from the album called ‘The Calling’. The video was completely made up of Greenpeace archival footage from the past 80 years, and aimed to educate people about the major environmental issues going on in our world
currently. These are the sorts of issues that I want my music to be associated with. The video, along with a new tune, are coming out on a compilation soon that celebrates New Zealand being nuclearfree for 20 years! You are working with some talented fresh faces in the NZ music scene. How do they complement your sound? Because of the way my musical process works, finding the right people to fit into the gaps is a huge part of it. I usually lay the groove of the track and point it in the direction I want it to go, but after that I love seeing what other creative minds see in it and where they think it could go. I never tell the people I’m working with exactly what to play or say. I like to get them to jam and see what pops out of nowhere. For me, this is when the magic comes out. Spontaneous and pure. I also like to keep an even balance between the electronic and live elements of the tune – try to get the best of both worlds. Do you have any favourite locations that help inspire your ideas and creativity? Heaps of them! A lot of them are in Golden Bay where I grew up. I think growing up in an environmentally-conscious commune and being surrounded with a supportive family gave me a strong connection to the land there. Whenever I need some time-out to recharge, I usually go to a few special places there. Wainui Falls is one of them, a huge waterfall with a lot of famous Maori history behind it. Then there’s the classic childhood places, the swimming hole, beaches, just all the beautiful places really. Going back to them seems to put everything back into place and get me back on track. What do you get up to when you are not working on music? The last few months of my time has been completely taken up with starting up my own audio engineering, production, mastering and recording business, ‘Organik Muzik Workz’. It’s all go now and it’s the greatest feeling getting up in the morning and going to work for myself! In my own home! Almost seems like a dream really … just need some more work now … hint … hint… Ha! www.myspace.com/bennytones 43
Never one to be pigeonholed into one particular genre or another, the Stacks are a three-piece band with an infectious onstage energy, a cult-following and a knack for sound experimentation. Geoff Day, Antz ‘Maddog’ Maddock and Baz Thompson are a must see trio. Their new EP with it’s restless rock/punk/blues rhythms will get you dancing for sure!
What is your collaborative writing process? It varies for each song. A good portion Geoff comes in with skeletal or near-finished songs, others offer themselves during our jam sessions. Sometimes our partners/wives get to critique our works in progress, which sorts the cream from the other stuff. We try to let the songs grow in their own time and not rush any part. Geoff is very particular about the lyrics and can wait for months before adding extra verses. We like to make sure the story of each song unfolds naturally and from the subconscious. Each member of the band looks mostly after their own part except when we record, then more ideas are thrown around and we are open to each other’s suggestions.
What have you learnt from experiments with sound and different amps? We are lucky as Antz has a lot of top quality amps and guitars – Fenders and Marshalls mainly – but we have narrowed it down to just a few amps and guitars that we like and it keeps our sound fluent. We went for a live sound with our first EP but next time we will try more combinations and refine our recording techniques. We try to feel what the song wants. Our friend Glen Murray added Hammond organ on ‘Piece of Pie’ from the EP and we are looking to use more Hammond on our future recordings. The Hammond adds a lot of colour but not too much melody so you don’t miss it live. At some stage we want to work with a producer so we can use his experience as we are finding recording is an art in itself. How do you guys fund the music and the EP? We are really lucky as Baz has a small home studio so that has saved us a bucket-load of money as far as recording our first EP. We’ve been selling t-shirts at our gigs and the gigs themselves have been making a bit of money and that pays for all production and promotional costs. Everything we make goes
back into the band. The album is a different story and we’re gonna need some major cash for that so we’re applying to NZ On Air funding or maybe private investors. What area of music excites you the most? No contest: the creation of a new song. When the three of us start something new for the first time there is an energy that you can’t describe. It is like communication on a different level when it happens and it’s a great natural high. Playing live is a close second. When a crowd is reflecting the energy that you’re pouring out, it makes it all worthwhile. www.myspace.com/thestacksnz
You’d think after being nominated for an Oscar at the 2005 Academy Awards for his short film ‘Two Cars, One Night’, that Taika Waititi would be all about the arthouse. Turns out he’s all about the Jellymeat. Waititi has worked in acting, comedy, photography, visual arts, directing, music and more. Nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film festival, Waititi’s latest project, a feature film ‘Eagle vs Shark’ hits our screens in July. Considering you work across so many creative fields, do you feel like your ability to come up with fresh ideas is easier? Yes and no. And yes. I definitely have a lot of ideas, which can be realised in one of the different artforms I’m into. I guess one of the drawbacks is that I spread myself a little thin sometimes. I often feel that life doesn’t give enough time to accomplish everything you want but now I’m beginning to realise that maybe each person has exactly the right amount of time … y’know what I mean, huh? Eh, man, do ya? I’m constantly trying to push the boundaries a little further. I’m an innovator. I’m also a pervert. Sometimes I dip my penis in Jellymeat and go to the beach looking for stray dogs to befriend.
can drain you, it can make you bitter, hateful, evil. I’m evil now. I do evil things. I eat poo.
Is it hard to switch from your creative mind to your business mind when working on projects? I often don’t switch between those two brains because I have many problems managing time and money. Also, I don’t have the skills to realise any of my potentially lucrative business ventures. I once had an idea for an invention, a translator thing which is implanted in your pet’s head so you can find out what they want for dinner. But I didn’t have the proper resources or funding so nothing really came of it. If you don’t have the right kind of business skills then all you end up with is an empty bank account and a pile of dead animals.
There are thousands of publications in the world. If you were to start one, what subject would it focus on and why? I’d publish a magazine which is all about magazines, dailies, weeklies and periodicals. It would contain all the latest news from the world of magazines, it would be called ‘Magazine News’, and the format would be a circle. I’d be chief edtitor and I’d be all grumpy and I’d be shouting all the time and getting my blood pressure up. I’d be like, “Hey! I want that copy on my desk like, yesterday!” Which is illogical but I’d still say it. Real loud. Then I’d have a business meeting in my office and someone would be pitching me an idea and I’d be all like, “Mmmmm, yeah, that’s goooooood…” and they’d think I was all into the idea but I’m actually reacting to my secretary who is under my desk giving me a massive BJ. And I’m like, “Wooaaah, keep going…”, and the business people are all like, “Wow, he’s really into my ideas”, but I’m not. I’m into the BJ. Then later, after work, I’d go and get drunk with my mates from boarding school and we’d play wanking games.
What happened to “A Dog’s Show”? Are we crazy for letting that shit slip away?
When are you at your happiest and most relaxed in life? I’ll let you know. The closest I’ve come to being happy and relaxed was when I was about two. I am usually happy when I have no work to do. I wake up and experience that feeling of satisfaction in knowing the day holds nothing and everything. I’m also happy when I’m working on personal projects or things where I have a lot of creative freedom and loose deadlines. I’m usually unhappy doing other people’s projects. I used to say yes to everything, a very positive person, but that attitude
The Phoenix Foundation feature in the soundtrack to Eagle vs Shark. What other artists are rocking your world right now? Springsteen. I actually hate The Phoenix Foundation. We had a huge falling out over the soundtrack and we’re no longer friends. They tried to rip me off and then I had many problems with Sam, who is a complete egomaniac. The Polish guy is a total retard too. Jusssssst kiddin’. Actually, they’re my favourite NZ band after The Bilge Festival. Anyway, who cares? Bands are pussies. I smash them all with my fist. Then I smash you. In the face, with a block of wood.
as she describes the usual reaction, “‘Oh, she wants to be paid? We don’t pay artists. How dare they want to be paid?’ … It’s an incredible attitude.” In an industry where artists generally suffer, Westra has managed to not only survive off her photography but also to retain her artistic independence. She believes it comes down to an integrity of personal vision, “If you do it for the money – I found that out early on – that if you do what other people want, then you don’t develop your own style. You don’t find out what you’re capable of.” It is this straightforward honesty that attracts people to Westra’s work. Her collaboration with Fat Freddys Drop came about from her involvement in Dallas Tamaira’s music video ‘Better Than Change’. As Westra explains, “He wanted to launch his career … he and Sarah Hunter had a copy of my first book ‘Maori’ and they wanted to get ideas from that and so I ended up in the video … coming out of the 60s.” After that, her services were requested by Fat Freddys Drop as they wanted “photography that wasn’t just them standing in front of walls”. So Westra went along to a barbeque boil-up in the backyard of someone’s house and later to the airport departure lounge where she captured the boys at their best. The images were later published as a photo essay in the now-defunct Wellington-based magazine Staple. Once inside Westra’s photographic stories you can explore what you wouldn’t otherwise see, whether it is her ongoing documentation of Maori culture, her current work for Asia 2000 photographing Muslim communities or her photographs of rural hardship and the plight of the workers in the Philippines. Beneath the surface of her images is an insatiable desire to delve into other cultures and observe the mechanisms at play, especially when it comes to photographing Maori, “There’s a lot of world out there but I’m very committed to do a bit more on Maori.” Perhaps Westra tells stories so well because she likes listening to them so much and peeling back the layers for us to see what we had overlooked. Story by AMIE MILLS
Ans Westra is a story teller. Her photographs bear the markings of tales to be told and moments captured. Even her surroundings seem to whisper of things they’ve seen as the house unravels upon entering it, revealing two floors and countless rooms behind a deceptively modest street façade. The top floor of the house is in the process of renovation. Floors are being pulled apart, exposing untouched Rimu floorboards. Pockets of Pink Batts shout cheerfully from behind wooden struts draped heavily in wires and forgotten cables. Boxes filled with paper and all things miscellaneous cover every available surface as she explains that the residents who inhabited the floor have yet to reclaim their boxes of belongings. One of them hoards newspapers, which explains the newsprint stuffed in between gaps and climbing in piles up the wall. Of Dutch descent, Westra has been claimed in New Zealand history as one of our most celebrated photographers. Her work, including 48,000 negatives, has recently been archived at the Alexander Turnbull Library in an attempt to recognise and preserve the historical importance of her art. Despite the thousands of images and untold negative proof sheets scattered throughout her house, Westra can remember the moment behind each photograph. Nothing is forgotten. She talks about her current project photographing a small community in the Ureweras where a recent mill closure has left the community of around 400 people without infrastructure and with “a village that’s broken”. Westra was sought out by the community to help document their struggle and communicate it in a way that will be listened to, hopefully by people with the ability to provide support. Westra’s photographs speak of hardship but also survival. As she describes the beautiful bush surrounding the Urewera community and the way that they carve out their existence, you begin to understand how powerfully she can communicate information through her imagery. Like all good stories however, it needs a beginning and although Westra envisages the work as an exhibition, the necessary funding is hard to come by. She laughs
You will often see eight people on stage with The Wanderers, but the Wilton-based crew seem to be an organic group whose members show a huge variety of skills in the Hip-Hop industry. They have opened for De La Soul, 50 Cent, Dilated Peoples and Sage Francis and play a huge role in promoting Hip-Hop culture to NZ youth. They are currently recording their mixtape/street style album, ‘Tha Remindah’.
The Wanderers work as a collaborative creative group. What individual styles and skills does each member add? We have a variety of members influenced by different eras of Hip-Hop and this comes through in the sound we kick. We got lyricists – real lyric heavy emceez – that shit you gotta hear again just to let it sink in. We got beat riders and flow killaz-emcees that murder any beat with the illest cadence and bounce. We got battlers, street slangers, party rockers, cypha killaz and anthem spitterz. We can dig through the conscious mindset when called for also, bring it on the real tip. Each member brings a lot of skill to the team, something we all perfected in the freestyle cyphas. With a crew as large as ours, it’s important that the famz bring a lil’ sumthin unique to the table; not just to differentiate each emcee but to add all kinds of flava, all sauces to whateva style we cooking. It’s not something we purposely set out to do – that’s just how it went down.
Do The Wanderers play any role in educating NZ youth about the Hip-Hop culture? No doubt. Stand in a street cypha with The Wanderers, catch one of our mad live shows and listen to the tracks we drop in the booth. We educate the same way we learnt from our peers, by personifying our Hip-Hop. Everything we do can help educate Aotearoa’s next generation of hedz … if they want to learn that is.
Are there any changes you would like to see towards the support of Hip-Hop culture in NZ? Real support for the culture, for DJz/Bboys/writers and Mceez. Not just the bandwagon bullshit that gets caught on the commercial tip. More self-education, less imitation. If you could collaborate with any other NZ musician, who would you choose? Not one individual in particular. We connect with a lot of the maddest cats within the scene so eventually the collabs we want to kick will happen in time … maybe we could hook up with them Fat Freddys cats for a ‘Wandering Eye’ remix or sumthin? Ha. Welli Deep collabs on the rise soon, keep posted for that!
What is the most unusual place you have played a show or made a recording? Hmm, rocking a show during the daytime while standing on the side of the road in a small town up the East Coast has to have a mention. Uawa Tolaga Bay represent! Chyea, was mean though. I suppose Paramount Theatre in Welli 04. The whole audience sat down watching our live set like it was movie time. It was dead quiet and no one made a peep until the end … it was pretty unusual. Recording in the bro’s basement closet, literally stuck in between an old mattress and a wall full of stolen egg cartons while spit’n lyrics into a broken headphone with pantyhose as a pop filter! Not too unusual for the grinding emcees out there. They can recognise that ‘ish. Unusual for others. Chyea, so if ya don’t know … now ya know! Wilton Welli Wanderers – 04 raw. Peace www.myspace.com/wanderersnz
Iva Lamkum has a voice that can’t help but rise into the sky, which seems fitting for her featured vocals on a Benny Tones track ‘Within The Clouds’. Lamkum is fast growing a reputation as one of the top soul voices to emerge from Wellington in recent times. You can find her performing on regular Wednesday nights at Southern Cross or look out for her debut album ‘5.8.85’, which will be released later this year. How do you train yourself in song-writing? I start with a favourite word, normally a word that is relevant to my life. So if I see a word that’s mean as, I’ll pick up my guitar and strum a few chords and start plotting every word that I can think of in my little flash notebook, even if it doesn’t make sense. I just fix it later. It’s not necessarily an easy thing for me to get a verse down, but usually grabbing a cup of tea, Weight Watchers biscuits, and a break will improve another writing session. Free-styling is another way I do music but sometimes I can’t remember it because I get carried away and forget to write it down … damn, shivers, that’s why they call it free-styling. So why is Jay-Z so special? Has music given you direction or changed your direction in life? Yeah, I mean I wouldn’t think to the extent that music would be a full-time thing I’ll love to do, even though I started performing in my young years. I lived for so many other things, mostly sport, and I thought that would be the path for me but I knew basketball was for tall people, haha. Yeah, my height was the problem, just a little bit short though (you got me!) I think my height doesn’t match a professional game. I know with music, no matter how small, extra large, big lips, whatever, I still feel confident doing what I do … I’ve realised music is much more serious for me and I believe it’s something God wants me to do, for him, for my family, and for inspiration and I know this is the right path to walk on, but … I think I’m still gonna shoot hoops for fun, even though I’m a little bit short.
What aspect of making music scares you the most? Having to exploit everything I guess. Because when ya show the world who you really are within your lyrics, image, what you think about, how you talk etc. etc., it’s almost telling everyone what you write in your personal diary. But, I mean, that’s something I’ll have to sacrifice cause there’s always the disadvantages and advantages about what you say and do and I look at it in a good way, the happy way, say what I gotta say, and be happy even when I’m in a negative situation … and if people appreciate and respect what I do with my music then that’s good news. “Mum, I’m buying you a mansion”, haha. But you know, I’m not trying to be like Michael Jackson or anyone else and trying to make a big name for myself. I just want to inspire people for all good reasons and help make good changes in people’s lives. Either way, people will love you for originality or for being yourself or some just think you suck but it’s a fact, you can’t win them over all the time so I’m choosing to face anything and everything even if I have to. Are there any NZ musicians you would like to meet and learn from? I would like to meet all of them. Even though I know a few, I’d like to meet them again, haha. I think they’re all primo and gifted but I actually bumped into Lisa Tomlins the other day, she’s great man. We talked about some funny stuff and she asked, “How’s everything going with
you?” and I said, “Oh you know, same old, trying to earn that extra few bucks but things keep drowning me out most days” and she said to me, “Well you gotta hang in there. It’s tough. When a door closes on you the other one opens”, and from that day I realised how special that quote is to me even though I’ve heard it so many times from my friends but I never listen to them (sorry pretty girls.) But yeah, honestly I think I’ve learnt so much from my mother, cause she’s such a traditional person. I’ve learnt that the mistakes she’s made in her life have made me understand the choices I make in my life and she still teaches me these days. For me, being a musician, I don’t think I would learn the most important things in life from anyone else but my mum so I prefer to learn from my roots, it makes me a better musician … nice lady. You said you listen to a lot of music. What is currently taking over your stereo? Oh tricky one … my top four songs right now: Nas – ‘Can’t Forget About You’, Gym Class Heroes – ‘Cupid’s Chokehold’ (whoever came up with the title is a genius) and Fall Out Boy – ‘This Ain’t a Scene Song’ and, oh, that new song from Ciara … what’s it called? Damn … ahhh, ‘Like a Boy’. I wish I was in that video clip, the routine is out of it … exciting. Yeah, that’s what I’m krumping to at the moment and slow jams … haha not even! www.myspace.com/ivalamkum
Damian Alexander grew up in West Auckland listening to his own eclectic stylings of music, ranging from hard metal to the likes of Cat Stevens and the softer stuff. After becoming the lead singer for one of New Zealand’s most exportable bands Blindspott in the early 90s, Alexander stayed true to this varied background of musical influences. He consistently pushes his music in different directions, avoiding trends and genre labelling to create the exciting and unpredictable sounds that Blindspott have become masters at. After many world tours and two albums under their belt, Alexander has lost none of his exciting stage presence and his love for the things that matter in the industry and beyond.
Is music your full-time job? No it’s not. I wish it was but I gotta work to make ends meet. It’s not easy but it has to be done.
What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning? My two year old daughter screaming “Daddy” down the hallway and moshing in her cot (she inherited my lungs). www.blindspott.com
You have a very exciting and energetic stage presence. Has this been with you since Day One or is it something that has developed with each performance? I have always been passionate about our shows and how we are on stage … I can’t help it. I just go mental and often don’t remember parts of the set or what I have done.
Has fatherhood influenced the direction of your music? Yeah for sure. It’s opened my eyes to the world even more and accentuated the good and the bad ten-fold … It’s made me more passionate, feel feelings and dig deeper than I ever have. Has digital technology affected the way Blindspott produce and market their sound? Yeah, it has its good and bad. Good – you reach more people and have more access to the world music scene. Bad – people steal music and make it hard for musicians to live on just music alone.
Devin Abrams hails from the southern shores of Christchurch and after some time in the US, he studied at the Christchurch Jazz School before moving to Melbourne for three years. Abrams then returned home to help form one of our most loved Drum ’n’ Bass bands, Shapeshifter. He is working on a fourth solo album under the name Pacific Heights. It is a project where the sound is constantly changing and diversifying due to the freedom of experimentation that his solo work opens him up to. You talked about the new Pacific Heights album having a different sound. How has your taste in music changed or matured? The new Pacific Heights album is all Hip-Hop and experimental stuff, there is not one Drum ’n’ Bass song on it. I guess some would say that is a dramatic change. I’ve always told myself that Pacific Heights would be an outlet with complete creative freedom and no boundaries. My tastes haven’t changed much, I obviously buy more Hip-Hop/Soul music than I used to, but my vibe is a good song is a good song no matter what genre.
What would your ultimate day off consist of? A game of basketball, a huge cook up with some good friends and some Central Otago pinots. Any tips for living out of a suitcase? Not recommended for long … but if you have to, take enough undies and socks. www.myspace.com/pacificheightsnz www.shapeshifter.co.nz
Does touring help or hinder the writing process? It can be a great asset; you get to test run songs on a crowd before you lay ’em down in the studio. Especially now that laptops are so fast and affordable. The only downside is not having your “comfortable” studio to crawl into late at night.
What has life in Shapeshifter taught you? A great deal of things. I’ve learnt a lot about myself as a person and as a musician that I will be forever grateful for. The best one yet I’ve gained is patience, good things take time. Marinate, simmer and mature, like all good food and wine.
Death Rattle came together in mid 2006 when Slim Mackdaddy answered an ad for ‘drummer wanted’ on the Real Groovy noticeboard. He was instantly attracted to ‘like of whisky and lack of musical training’ specified on the notice. Longtime friends Betty Ford Clinic and Kristen were both committed to starting a band based on enthusiasm and pure enjoyment of making music. Outside of the band, all three members work and/or study full-time though their commitment to making music helps them find time in their busy schedules to come together regularly to create Death Rattle.
What sort of characters would you find at a Death Rattle gig? Drunken people in the dark drinking 750ml of shitty beer and whisky. Hopefully dancing heaps. At one gig there were plenty of anarchists. That was great, a lot less pretense and bullshit image than can be found in other scenes. STEPHEN MACKAY
Do you find it easy working in a band, as the creativity can be bounced off each other for ideas? Yeah definitely. The three of us get on really well. None of us have an ego bigger than the others so we can all fit in the same practice space with no attempts to deflate others’ egos for personal ego gain. Does modern technology change the way that you guys write music? Definitely not. All the stuff we own are just regular (and in some instances old and downtrodden) instruments and analogue recording gear. The way we write is by having a beer, getting our instruments out and jamming. Since we have a slight lack of any formal musical training, this helps us learn to play together and off each other. This gives our songs three-way organic evolution. We do a budget single track recording so we can tell what we really sound like and then hopefully it will make us improve. I think if we used software/modern tech to make and record music, well, it could end up sounding a bit hollow. The talent could be more the software/ modern tech designer’s than ours, making us a bit lame when live. Plus, sitting in front of computers is mind-numbingly boring (for us). Practice and thrashing around on stage is well fun. Also, we live in
a technology-driven, capitalist society making modern technology expensive. You have to be bourgeois, work for the man or jump into a debt trap to afford it. Working for the man can alienate you from your craft; though possibly provide inspiration for angsty music. For the music we make, what we have serves us well and modern technology doesn’t affect this. What changes would you like to see to the NZ music scene? The NZ government seems to be backing pop-tart shit that they think would be commercially viable overseas. It just encourages a culture of mediocrity. It puts more money in the hands of the rich, keeping control of production and accessibility away from the communities which produce it. The supposed help and support for fringe/underground/struggling musicians gets thrown at the mainstream. We’re pumping out clone musicians into the international markets six months after that very scene has already spun itself out overseas. We end up looking like the least creative or progressive country in the world. Mimicry for commercial success is lame. Music comes from the community so more support is needed at the community level. We would like to see more lo-fi music being celebrated. People going to gigs and buying music BEFORE it has been validated overseas or in the Sunday Star Times. Cultural commentary, exploration and celebration are good. We should be backing those daring to do something different. And if it happens to be dark, or dirty, then so be it. At least it’s honest. We can’t grow creatively as a country until we start listening to all viewpoints, even if some of them are critical and make us uncomfortable. A vinyl pressing plant would be good too. If you could support one band in the world, who would you choose? Kristen: Volcana and Boss Christ. They both fucking rock like little rocking things. Betty Ford Clinic: The Cramps if they were still making music together and I would like to add Boss Christ as well. I know I was supposed to choose only one band but it is really hard when I could name heaps more. Slim Mackdaddy: Keeping it NZ, at the moment I’m loving Ginger Brown so they’d be my pick… www.myspace.com/avoidavoidavoid 59
Anton Carter is a man of wise words and endless vision. He has witnessed many changes in the NZ music scene and has been a well-respected contributor since his days in Christchurch with the Beats and Pieces crew, whose members included Scribe and Hamish Clark (Breaks Co-op). More recently, Carter juggles his creative projects, including his role as MC Antsman in Rhombus, alongside his professional role as the Pacific Arts Advisor for Creative NZ.
Music and creativity play a huge role in your life. Could you fill me in on current projects? My main ones at the moment are: MC duties for Rhombus (3rd album/OZ/Japan tour), a collaborative multimedia project with visual artist Michel Tuffery and Mike ‘busy’ Bridgman called ‘first contact’, the Vehicle artist collective and mixtapes, casually DJing Friday nights at Plum Cafe on Cuba St with Daimon (aka The Nomad) when I’m in town and a few little personal projects bubbling away under the surface. Do you have any memories of a particular time
that you saw a giant leap forward with NZ music? I’ve seen it go in waves since the early 80s but probably OMC and ‘How Bizarre’ was one of the times when the ground shifted and a NZ Polynesian artist broke out in a big way, topping charts all over the place. The first Hip-Hop summit in Chch 2000 was cool for getting more focus, which lead to a leap forward for NZ Hip-Hop. Dub and Reggae is now having its time in the sun. More NZ music on radio has helped a lot over the past five to ten years but there’s still lots of room for that and more giant leaps forward. As a creative advisor to many people, you give out lots of advice. What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given? My grandma said … “Believe in yourself and work hard”. It seems to be working so far. You work as an individual creative and in a collective creative group. Do you find either has certain advantages? Eyeeyah! Each process has its own benefits and I find when they feed into each other it works best for me. Most of the time it’s coming up with an idea/ expression by yourself and then executing that expression in a collective process or group. For me the collective is important for inspiring the individual so I like doing both. Individual projects are generally smaller and easier to achieve and the collective projects can be more powerful but frustrating as well because of the people dynamics and therefore requires more work and energy. Certainly have more fun with collaborations for sure. The ultimate day off for Anton Carter consists of… Hmm if I could I’d probably go to the Islands for the day or at least a full 24hrs, ha. New Caledonia is only two hours away or Fiji is only three hours, sooo sunshine, tropical food and drinks, catching up with friends, make some music/art with the locals, DJ some Reggae at a beachside bar, more tropical food and drinks, then come home. www.rhombus.co.nz
When Kezia Nell Hinchey returned to her native Wellington from London, she set herself a mission to assemble a band to help realise a collection of songs that she had written. Late last year she finally got the chance to release her debut EP, â€˜Kezia & The Seven Year Itchâ€™ performing at Mighty Mighty bar on Cuba St to a sold-out crowd.
Do you have a favourite place to write music and get the creativity flowing? I don’t really have a set favourite place to write. I do have a little workroom where I nut out ideas. Songs can come to me at strange times; I have written a lot in the middle of the night or when I’m on the move, walking my dog on Mt Vic, sitting on my deck with a cuppa and again, late at night after playing records. I have my parents’ records, which are a big part of my early inspiration, so I go back to them when I need a reminder of the excitement that I got from them as a child – endless hours of dancing in the dark. Because I have written a lot of my songs from singing, I can write anywhere. These days I write at my keyboard more but I find that writing both ways makes for a more diverse style. I once wrote a whole song in 10 mins on the tube in London and sang it into my phone to capture it, then sat down later and worked out the chords.
What did your time overseas teach you about life and music? I left NZ when I was 19 and although I was driven and confident, looking back I was quite naive. I lived in Sydney for six months, which was not a good time. I learnt that there are a lot of selfish and cruel people out there but it did prepare me somewhat for the six years in London. It’s a very fast-paced life and can be a very lonely place but can equally be a city that dreams are made of. I met heaps of amazing people, saw some amazing bands, partied a lot, and found my voice as a writer. I came back to Wellington three years ago, feeling ten years older than I was, both mentally and physically but all the things that I experienced there, I feel, have given me way more potency as a writer and performer. Writing from reflection and experience about life’s lessons, the beauty in moments, heartache and happiness, trying not to take things, or myself, too seriously and being comfortable in my own skin. If my writing can help me work through these things then hopefully I can help others to do the same. Has your experience working for a record label influenced the way you make your music? Working in the industry hasn’t affected my music as such but it has made me a lot more aware of the importance of understanding the business side of music. If you want to make it your career, then
I strongly recommend at least getting the basics on contracts, tax, and marketing. There are so many musicians out there who have been ripped off, swindled and ended up with nothing. I have found that the attitude of “it’s all about the music” or “I’m just a creative” is very common. I understand feeling that way because I struggled with the same thing but you are much more likely to get ahead and protect your creative concepts if you make the effort to get the basics. This in my opinion, will in the long run create a situation where you have the freedom for it to be “all about the music”. Do you find the diversity of musicians in Wellington opens up a lot of new creative and collaborative ideas to you? A big part of the reason that I came back to NZ is so that I could really focus on my music. Seeing my friends who are musicians making a go of it and the support of the local musical community made me realise that it’s a really great place to start. People are much more open to getting involved in different projects and supporting each other. Conrad Wedde and Will Ricketts from The Phoenix Foundation – who I grew up with – really helped me get ‘Kezia & The Seven Year Itch’ out there. All the Phoenix boys were really supportive, happy to play on the recordings, letting me use their instruments and rehearsal space. Ryan Prebble and Osaka Silensio, who are in the band, are also established musicians in their own right with their own projects and bands that I think are great. I really support what they are doing and think that ultimately we will all bounce off each other. If you could have attended any gig in the history of music, what would it have been? God there are so many artists that I would love to have seen, especially given that I listen to so much music that was released before I was even born, but I think in terms of what I could have gone to in my lifetime I would have to say Nina Simone. She played in London when I was there. I didn’t get around to buying a ticket and it sold out. Not long after that she died. I still kick myself now. My friend who went said it was amazing. I would love to have seen her. www.myspace.com/kezia7yearitch