Jon Toogood, Tiki Taane and Warren Maxwell at RIPPON ’08
In With A Grin/Out With A Shout ............................... 3 Greg Johnson .......................................................................... 4 Loren Horsley ......................................................................... 6 Steve Abel .................................................................................. 8 Good Laika . ........................................................................... 10 P-Money .................................................................................. 14 Dave Wright .......................................................................... 16 Tim Beals . ............................................................................... 20 L.A. Mitchell ......................................................................... 22 The Bonnie Scarlets ........................................................... 26 Breathing in Sound ............................................................ 28 Zitty ........................................................................................... 30 Tiki Taane ............................................................................... 34 Rippon ’08 . ............................................................................. 36
Mara TK .................................................................................. 38 Vanessa Stacey ..................................................................... 42 Aidan Mills ............................................................................. 44 Living The Dream by Cori . ........................................... 46 Matt Langley ......................................................................... 48 The Moon Whispers .......................................................... 50 Trip to the Moon ................................................................. 52 Thomas Oliver ...................................................................... 54 Sandwiches Summerset ................................................... 56 Chloe Langley ....................................................................... 60 Cori Gonzalez-Macuer ..................................................... 62 Chris Graham ....................................................................... 64 SJD . .......................................................................................... 68 Kirsten Johnstone .............................................................. 70
Letter From The Editor Witnessing each issue of Exposure Lifestyles grow from infancy, get edited into shape, travel to the printers, and eventually on to a bright future in the hands of others, feels like a rite of passage. It is a process of great joy, and as always, the words and workmanship of those involved in its content and creation astound me. As interviews come together and slot in side-by-side, tasty themes emerge from the stories and stick in your mind long after they entered it. In this issue, the notion of creativity as childlike is one that individuals such as SJD and Chris Graham talk about directly, while others like Tiki Taane describe creative development based on our past learnings – it is about our childhood, what is in our blood from birth, the stories we were told, and all the questions these raised. For many, it is as simple as knowing when to let go of the reins and let the wind rush in, unexpectedly changing the course of things as it soars by. In a constant state of flux, creativity can only grow stronger, and better equipped to overcome the hard times. Having a creative community to be surrounded by and to collaborate with was a requirement for the majority of featured artists who consider sharing ideas as another form of soul food for those smart enough to ask for assistance. Another thread that surfaces often throughout this issue is a conviction in the interface between presentation and product. Artists such as Dave Wright believe that the visual and tactile experience of encountering the product can only add to the depth of its artistic intention and make you memorable in the market place. It is with all the above in mind that Exposure Lifestyles has decided to take some of the artistic advice offered on its pages, and change the way we do business. Like all publications of this kind, we are heading into an adolescent stage of self-discovery, trying to figure out what we want to look and feel like as we head into the next stage of creative change. It is invigorating to think of new ways to showcase the passions and unbelievable talent that New Zealand has to offer, and we are determined to keep doing it well. So watch this space!
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Editor: Pat Shepherd Sub-editor and Proofer: Amie Mills Cover Illustration: Taika Waititi Heading Typography: Claudia Riedel (www.riedelclaudia.com) Contributing Photographers: Pat Shepherd, Amelia Handscomb, Stephen Mackay, Iro Frazer, Sarah Hunter, Sean Aickin, Louise Hatton, Jed Town Contributing Illustrators: Peter Campbell, Stephen Templer Contributing Writers: Amie Mills, Martyn Pepperell, Nina Siegler, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Redbird Jnr, 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. ©EXPOSURE LIFESTYLES 2008 All Rights Reserved.
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Currently based in California, but returning regularly to tour Aotearoa, Greg Johnson continues to produce albums, which reflect a certain New Zealandness we love. Whether targeting fish markets or international markets, Johnson is constantly absorbing the environments around him and letting them guide his sound. What are the main differences between life in the United States and life in New Zealand? Well, the reality of living in an apartment is the first thing for me. I have a tiny balcony garden, but I miss having a house with a big garden for sure. California is a great place though – very beautiful in the deserts and mountains, and the lifestyle here is amazing. LA can be a bitch sometimes, but contrary to the cliché, I generally ride my bike everywhere – it’s flat and it’s always fine. There’s great food if you know where to look, and every entertainment you can think of (except cricket!) In the broader picture, the United States is so diverse and huge it really is fifty different countries. My wife is from Memphis Tennessee and the South is a whole new thing. Such a great music history for one, but also a smouldering past and a malevolent under-current you can’t quite put a finger on. Americans are generally much harder workers than New Zealanders – there’s no social welfare to speak of, and you’re on your own. No limit at the top or the bottom, which makes it exciting I guess, but for the majority of people, the easy lifestyle we cherish in New Zealand is harder to find. What do you look forward to most about coming home? Family and friends, fresh air, great fish, Bluff oysters when you can get ‘em. I really enjoy playing shows to my loyal New Zealand fans as well. They’ve kept me alive through some tight times and I’m hugely indebted to them.
What markets are you looking to get your music into? Fish markets? Any market that will have me! There’s plenty of headroom here really. My publishers in LA are working some European angles right now that look interesting. I’d love to play in Japan because I’m so fascinated by that culture. How does a song travel from being an idea into a written piece of work? It’s as easy as sitting down at the piano or picking up a guitar, but you have to have the muse. I think my brain works like a camera on some level, taking visual and aural snapshots but printing out songs. My id runs the show. What is one of your favourite pieces of work you have written? No one song in particular. Oldies I like are ‘If I Swagger’ because it’s an evil song pretending to be a love song. ‘Save Yourself’ is a goodie and I made lots of cash from it (always a reason to love a song for a songwriter.) Recently, the title track for my last album ‘Anyone Can Say Goodbye’, a co-write with my pal Ted Brown, and ‘Horses’, which is about regret and nostalgia between old friends. I’ll release my new album mid ’08 (which is the first time I’ve produced my own record) and there are several tunes that I’m very pleased with. www.gregjohnson.co.nz
Loren Horsley has been doing the high-flying Hollywood circuit of late, promoting ‘Eagle vs Shark’ across the globe. But despite the glitz and glamour of the world stage, this New Zealand actress is just as happy contributing to the local arts community in Wellington, and musing about vege gardens, unicorns, David Bowie, and why we killed all the singing whales. If you could envision an ideal creative community, what would it look like? Vege garden. Swimming hole. Big old hall with a stage. Costume and props and music rooms. Big painting studios. Shared dining hall. Separate, sunny, recycled timber houses with kitchens. Chooks. Horses. Unicorn. Llama. Raspberry patch. How does your perfect day play out? I will have grown a long and extremely useful monkey-like tail in my sleep. I’d wake up in my little house. Have a swim in the swimming hole. Collect eggs from the chook house. Head to the dining hall and eat breakfast with my friends. Go to the rehearsal hall and start workshopping my new film. Have a ride on my horse. Go to the music room and play the tambourine with David Bowie who is writing a song for me. Do some painting in my studio and work on my self-portrait. Brush the unicorn. Milk the Ilama. Spend ten minutes kissing the young, alive, handsome Marlon Brando down by the raspberry patch. Go and swing on my tail with my pet spider monkey. Pick the veges for dinner out of the garden. Cook and eat with my friends. Light a bonfire. Make damper. Look at the moon. Die. 6
How could society function better without our 9am–5pm working lens? Smash all clocks and bring on the three-day week. If people worked less and lived more simply, we’d all be much happier and so would the planet.
If you could combine three animals to create the ultimate predator, what would you choose and why? In the spirit of ‘Eagle vs Shark’, the creature you create goes directly into mythical battle with Cori’s creature, page 62. A Haast Eagle with the brain of a Kea and the tail of a Diamond-back Rattlesnake. I would attach the tail to the bottom of the Haast Eagle so it was sort of like Medusa’s head. Very big clever bird with a very fatal bite. P.S. Darwin’s tortoise recently died aged 176.
How big a part does music play in your life? Very big. Oliver Sacks says human beings are hardwired for music; it is as intrinsic to us as language is. I guess we are like birds. I wish I was a bird. Apparently people in Thorndon used to complain about the sound of the whales singing to each other in Wellington Harbour once, before we stabbed them all to death. Humans are idiots.
Steve Abel values artistic intention when it comes to collaborating with, and being inspired by other musicians, which is a perfect analogy for the effect his music has on you. Firstly, his songs are gentle but purposeful. Secondly, he meets you somewhere in the middle; between providing you with messages laced into his meaningful lyrics, and allowing you the freedom to make up your own mind about the things that really matter. His new album ‘Flax Happy’ is due for release early 2008 so keep your eyes peeled. You have worked with many great musicians. Who has inspired or guided you in your music? I’m lucky to work with the musicians I do for sure. They’re a joy to play with every time, and like anything that’s tapped the right creative vein, it happens with a great sort of ease somehow. They’re very into it too, which is probably important. I think hearing artistic intention guides me a lot. The recklessness and anger of punk, the stripped back simplicity of folk songs and the timeless quality of a lyric always catches me. I like songs you can’t imagine didn’t always exist, and a phrase that captures a universal idea simply. Yeah, something like that. But guidance is a good word for it because there’s a point after which one does look to others – even the deceased – for the thread of integrity and form, which persists. Then on another level, it just sort of happens and the less you analyse it, the better. What is your ideal creative space to get your ideas flowing? Home, quiet, alone mostly. Music comes out of silence rather than other music, which is kind of strange but true. Perambulating is good. A book can fire the mind and any insight on any given day. Often when a little strained and weary, a song comes for some reason. How does your music function as another medium for you to voice your passion about environmental issues? Ha! Goddamn ‘environmental issues’. I’m interested in the dispossession of nature by culture and whose dumb idea that was. The ‘environment’ doesn’t actually exist, it’s just a weird cultural categorisation. ‘Environment’– as distinct from ‘us’ – makes humans small-minded and leads culture, under that misapprehension of separateness, to make life brutish and short for everything else. I don’t think humans
are inherently destructive, but rather certain ideas that underpin our behaviour can be wrong, such as ‘man here, nature over there’. Music needs to be a possible medium for all ideas at some level, but the songs aren’t ‘protest songs’, they contain a more whole and contradictory picture with doubt and love and death and fear and hope and beauty etc. and a bit of hallelujah too – which I guess is a ‘protest’ at some level. You can’t trust formulated solutions, which is why art is so important for culture. Your lyrics read like poetry in motion. How much attention to detail goes into the songwriting itself? Thanks very much. Sometimes very little attention at all, and sometimes too much I think. It’s really nice when a song just falls out in one sitting. I can somehow trust those songs better than the ones I’ve worked on a lot. You don’t agonise over them. They come quick and easy, and you just see them for what they are. It’s a mysterious and wonderful process that I can’t quite explain, and I’m very happy if they’re any use to anyone else! What do you see as one of society’s greatest misgivings, and how would you remedy it if you could? Giving up the idea that life is completely formed and at the same time always becoming was a tragedy in human thought. Giving up our animal dignity. Believing in material progress as an end in itself is one of the ugliest disasters that I mourn every day at some level (due to Auckland architecture and roading). The remedy is to rebind the universe together in our conceptions, which begins by bricking your television and singing more! www.abelsong.com
Good Laika are like that new kid in class who never has any trouble making friends and who comes across like they were always on the attendance roll. The five-piece band comprising of Robin Hinkley, Jason Faâ€™afoi, Nic Marshall, Matthew Armitage, and Ricky Boyd, released a masterful debut album in 2007 to a nationwide classroom, already brimful with adoring listeners. Hinkley gives us the lowdown.
How did your debut album, ‘Heads I Win, Tails You Lose’ come into being, and what was the recording process like? It was all sort of an accident really. Someone offered to make us a music video for one of our songs, and we faced the initial problem of not actually having any songs recorded. We quickly hatched a plan to go into the studio for a day to record one song, but then we felt sorry for the other songs that were going to be left out. We didn’t want them thinking that we were playing favourites, and some of them were even beginning to sulk a little. In the end, in the interest of fairness, we settled for the completely reasonable and achievable objective of recording a whole album in one day. In a pre-recording meeting with Nick McGowan, our sound engineer, we shared our ambitious plan. I interpreted his coughing fit and subsequent fits of laughter as
scepticism, but it turned out that he had choked on a gummy bear, and Jason Fa’afoi (guitarist and co-vocalist) was tickling him in attempting the Heimlich manoeuvre. In the end, it took a bit over a day to record all nine songs on the album (plus one that we left out for bad behaviour), and a couple of days to mix down. We recorded all together in one big room at Island Bay Studios. The place used to be a television studio, and the floors curve into the walls like a skateboard quarter-pipe. It was painted eye-spanking white. We spent a bit of time building caves for our guitar amps, setting up a scaffolded construct around the drums to limit the reverberations, and embellishing the alreadysurreal room with fairy-lights and strategically placed beer bottles. Finally, we sat facing each other, and a Dalek watched on with uncharacteristic sensitivity. In about sixteen hours, we played through each of the songs three to seven times while Nick McGowan tirelessly tweaked this knob and adjusted that microphone. It was an epic and tiring day, but so rewarding. What are your thoughts on modern technology detracting from the magic of making an album, with too many people seeking absolute perfection in the sound? Using modern technology in music is like having a whole lot of slaves that are much smarter than you are. Sure, they do your bidding and enable you to do things that you could never do by yourself, but they are surreptitiously laughing at you behind your back, and perhaps even planning an uprising. In general, the more you rely on technology to bring about your final product, the less involved in it you are, and the less it is a direct expression
of you. On the other hand, technology can allow musicians to bring about their imaginings more faithfully. It affords them more control and more time to experiment and to innovate. As in all areas of the arts, technology opens up new creative opportunities and can help bring about magic when it’s used sensitively – when the artist remains the driving and overarching ego behind the music, and the slaves aren’t allowed to run away with all the best cutlery. I think it is a shame that some musicians feel obliged to iron out any little imperfections in their recordings. Sometimes a slightly cracked note in a vocal part or a fudged guitar line can add a human element to a song, and can really make it. Some people go through their vocal tracks and remove the singer’s in-breath before each phrase. Recordings that are squeaky-clean of this kind of thing can still be great songs, but they do not engage you in the same way. When I listen to a recording, I love to be able to imagine a real, breathing person singing to me. I love it when I can hear that the guitarist actually has fingers. Which New Zealand artists have inspired or pushed you guys most in your music? For me, one of the joys of playing with Good Laika is the variety of influences that each member brings. We don’t set out to emulate anyone in particular, but draw from the wealth of talent we find ourselves immersed in, in Wellington and throughout New Zealand. It is inspiring for us to see other local acts do well in New Zealand and overseas, whether they play a similar style of music or not. These guys do the hard yards and, in Wellington at least, there seems to be a bit of a culture of helping emerging bands out – either by sharing their music with industry people, passing on contacts or just lending a bit of moral support. We have certainly been the recipients of this kind of support. Age Pryor helped us in a big way to get our album heard, and gave us some sound advice about promoting an album independently. The Phoenix Foundation have been kind enough to share their practice space with us when they have not needed it, and plenty of bands have lent us bits of gear here and there. Where are your particular places of inspiration that you gather to dream up new songs? Any place that all five of us manage to coincide is a special place. Because we are all so busy with our various jobs and with Jason spending a lot of time out of Wellington, we grin like idiots when we find a time and place to work on new songs. Once Nic Marshall, our keys player, grinned so much that her mouth split and started bleeding all over her Rhodes. 12
Even though she was bleeding so much, she still couldn’t stop smiling, which made sewing her up difficult. One place that we have fond memories of is Waitarere Beach, where we crafted and solidified the songs on our album. We set aside the weekend weeks in advance, booked out a little bach right on the beachfront, and drove up late on Friday night. The main purpose for the weekend was to record our songs on an old reel-to-reel tape recorder that Ricky conjured up. He managed to record a few handclaps on it at home, but after we arrived at the bach, set up our instruments, rubbed our hands together in anticipation, we all simultaneously realised that it was actually a piece of shit and was never going to work. A mood of darkness descended on the bach, threatening to mar our long-awaited weekend of fun. Then Matthew hooked up the bach’s record player, and dug up an old Rolling Stones album. Our good spirits returned as ‘Wild Horses’ filled the bach. We made the decision to abandon the idea of recording at the beach, and to focus on playing and composing instead. From that point on the weekend was a success. We played together each day for about ten hours, punctuated by walks on the beach, glasses of wine and delvings into the bach’s extraordinarily good record collection. Something clicked that weekend, and we aimed to bring the inspiration from those two days to our album recordings. In what ways does your music talk to people about issues you feel strongly about in society? Our music does not really address people in a direct and conscious way. At least as far as my own song-writing goes, I do not set out to placate or rally people, or to make bold and literal statements about society’s problems. Rather than writing about the world broadly and abstractly, our songs come more from personal impressions and observations of the beautiful, chaotic world that we live in. They document everyday human connivings, our own passions and disenchantments, bizarre imaginings and compulsive lies. At least for me, this level provides a mine of exciting lyrical possibilities and opportunities to express myself and to affect others with the pictures that can be created. That is not to say that we don’t feel strongly about broader issues, but just that we don’t use Good Laika as a mouthpiece for our concerns. As a songwriter, I appreciate the blank canvas that this provides. I am able to approach each new song without the responsibility of ‘towing a party line’. www.myspace.com/goodlaika
He is a household name in New Zealand for a bloody good reason. P-Money is an ideas man. When you hear him talk about the dayto-day running of his music business ‘Dirty Records’, you begin to understand the mastery needed to make it in the music industry. This year brings a shift in priorities as P-Money focuses more on his own sound as opposed to renovating everyone else’s.
How is 2008 looking for you? What fun projects are on the horizon? 2008 is lookin pretty damn good I reckon. I’ll be releasing a new album, which has been on the cards for a little while. I’m really happy to have the space to complete this project and bring it to my audience now. That’s my main thing at present, just getting this record completed and sounding great. Over the last couple of years, I’ve spent a lot of time working with other artists and producing songs for them or executive producing their album projects. It takes a lot of time and attention to do those things and I often put my own work to the side while I help others with their music. Now is the time to focus on my own career 100%. How do you manage your headspace switching between the business side of ‘Dirty Records’ to the creative side of your own music? It’s not hard to do when you have great staff and partners to help you in business. My team is small (there’s three of us!) but very effective. So when I’m doing my music, I know I have the full support of my crew and I don’t have to worry about the business end at all. Everything gets done and I can get down to doing what I do best. In reality, I’m only in the office three to four days out of the week mostly anyway – much less if I have a project I’m working on. My business contributions are the ideas and initiatives we work from, as opposed to the paperwork or administrative tasks. I’m an ideas man! How do nature and the sounds of everyday life inspire your beatmaking? I’m not the type to literally record the sounds occurring in nature and use those samples. I don’t think I’ve ever done that. But I do take inspiration from experiences and feelings that I
may have throughout my day-today life. More often than not, I’m hoping to conjure a new feeling or emotion with music. Say, maybe I’m feeling down, then I might approach the studio with the intent to make things that alter that feeling for me (i.e. I might create intense music to vent my energy or happy music to lift my mood.) It can be therapeutic in a way. To work through things or escape and meditate on a rhythm for a while. A good groove can take me away and I’ll zone out with a beat, playing for hours on end. What is the best piece of life advice you have ever been given? There are so many. Drink water and eat plenty of natural foods is probably the best advice I’ve been given in the last few years. I feel so much better when I monitor my diet. Never sell your publishing. That’s a real good one – Simon Grigg told me that. Get a good accountant and a lawyer. And a friend of mine was once having a conversation about creativity – he said you can’t force creativity, you gotta let inspiration guide you, don’t fight it. It made a lot of sense to me. That’s a good one too. What would your ultimate day off consist of? A day off from what? What I do is not like a normal job so I don’t really long for days off. I quite like my ‘days on’ actually. A day off would usually leave me fairly bored and a bit lost I think. LOL. www.myspace.com/pmoneymusic
Many people know you from Solaa or under your DJ David ‘Taay’ Wright has a way of alias Taay. What other projects are currently keeping pushing sounds beyond their musical you busy? boundaries, and as keys player for Solaa I’ve been working on a few different things and Wellington-based band Electric Wire lately, alongside the new Solaa album. I’ve got a Hustle, he has found himself some perfect new group together called Electric Wire Hustle, sonic playgrounds for sound exploration which is myself alongside Mara TK and Myele Manzanza. It’s difficult to put a label on it, but I and voyaging. Wright studied at the guess it’s Neo-Soul. We’re working on an E.P./ Christchurch School of Jazz, and lived in album at the moment and have just dropped our Melbourne for a few years, clocking up first single ‘gimme that kinda’ to radio. Mara work with some impressive international and I were recently in the States and were able acts before settling back on our shores for to link up with some amazing people so there should be a few interesting collaborations mixed some more good old fashioned creative in. We should have that out at some point this collaborations. year. I’m working on an E.P. with Washingtonbased MC and Producer, Oddisee. We connected at the Redbull Academy in ’07. I caught up with him recently in Melbourne, enroute to New York, and he mentioned we should do an E.P. together so I pieced together an array of beats I had been working on and brought those over with me. We’re trying to fit that in around everything else going on. I’m looking forward to it seeing the light of day. I’ve got a solo Taay 12" coming out featuring a collab I did with Flying Lotus and some other solo joints that have been simmering in the background. I’ve also been doing quite a bit of session work for the Ladi6 album and sessions for PPP’s Waajeed who I also linked up with through Redbull (look out for his Tony Allen remix on Honest John’s). You have been working closely beside some top American producers. Overall, how is the New Zealand music scene perceived and who is making inroads in the American market? I think overall, the scene is perceived to have a whole lot of untapped potential. Most of the people I connected with mentioned they had heard of Aotearoa’s love of soul music. Most cats were dying to get out here and it is definitely still seen as paradise. The Freddys often came up in conversation – Phonte from Little Brother couldn’t stop propping Dallas – it was inspiring to know that music from here is connecting with cats like that.
How important do you think artwork and branding are to the success of an album? They’re really important. Being a designer as well, I’m biased, but I see it as being the other half of a complete package. Music itself conjures up thousands of colours, but it’s something that is extremely abstract. If you can leave an impression in a person’s mind that is also visual, you have a greater chance of remaining memorable. I’ve always loved the tactility of buying vinyl and CDs. The packaging is another way for the artist to get across their intentions with the music to the listener. Check Miles’ ‘Bitches Brew’ – that shiz is crazy! Stevie’s ‘Hotter than July’ with the images of the riots and Dr King’s assassination – it creates a starting point for your imagination as you listen to the music. However, now with digital sales, there’s so much more music out there and regardless of whether it’s good or not, you need something to help it remain in your mind. It’s going back to shows and touring for artists in a big way and having a strong visual that ties into the promo for shows, your street presence, your web presence etc. The stronger and more cohesive these are, the better the chance you have of not blending into the thousand other amazing releases. 18
What do you get up to when you need time out from music? Music’s tough – it’s always around – get, scat, get outta here … get out to the bays bay, umm, I love building intricate ice sculptures of mythical animals such as Cerberus the two headed dog. Umm, I guess spending time with my girl – love you baby – long walks on the beach, sunsets along Oriental Bay, a great romantic comedy, perhaps a good pinot … ha! … lighting fires? What is your ideal creative living arrangement? Oh man! You know, I must dream about this at least once a day … well there’s a harem, haha, nah, let me see … I don’t think I’m too far off – having a base in a chilled environment, having enough space to set up the studio so that it can crank at any hour, having room to house any whanau that are in the area, having a decent outdoor area to get away from it all and having space that’s devoid of music to focus on other creative – undistracted. Of course there’s the hummer, the lear, the pool, the bling, the Hennesey, the blunts an’ all that too. You’ve got a thing for keys; playing them, gouging your hand with them, locking them in houses and/or cars… What lessons have they taught you in life? Hahaha – you got me there! Lemme see … if you love something let it pierce your hand? Guess I’m still figuring that one out… www.myspace.com/electricwirehustle www.solaa.com
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What was the thought process behind doing a recent live acoustic recording of your solo work? I’ve been working towards my debut album for a little while now, and have plenty of demo recordings, but I’ve never really been comfortable sharing them with people. Doing a live record means I can share my songs with people, while buying time to finish the definitive recordings. I also thought it would be a good opportunity to chuck some stuff online that people can download and enjoy for free. I especially like that the music was performed in one take in front of an audience, and it has a humbling ‘warts and all’ vibe to it – I haven’t really been too anal with correcting mistakes.
Tim Beals has a thoughtful eye, which absorbs the happenings around him, and turns it into an artistic vision within his music. He has been involved in the Wellington music scene for a long time now, and has played parts in musical adventures such as Sequoya and Beatnik, as well as collaborated with the likes of Module, Raashi Malik, and more.
How big a role do composition and song structure play in the creation of your music, and how do lyrics get thrown in the mix? I definitely see myself as a songwriter and composer first and foremost. I love setting myself restrictions for writing, and the big restriction for this project has been the instrumentation: a single guitar and two voices. The challenge has been coming up with parts (chord changes, melodies, bass-lines), and then experimenting with the guitar until all of the parts come together simultaneously. Usually this turns into a song over time, as I try to ‘figure out’ the message in the music and piece together fragments of lyrics. So long as it’s honest, I’ll write about anything. I’ve been really happy with the results and feel like the music is pretty unique. Your sister Holly sings with you on most of your songs. What does it take to make sibling collaboration work well? I’m pretty lucky to have such a talented sister who is so supportive of my songwriting. It’s been a breeze working with Holly. She has a fantastic ear for harmonies and can come up with parts where I have no idea what to do. Our voices are also a crazy blend (thanks for the genes mum and dad) and she even designs all the posters for our gigs. Yeah, she’s alright. We’ve always been pretty close though, so I don’t expect other siblings to have such an easy time. What are some of the realities you’ve faced, both working within the music industry, and trying to make a career out of your music? I have had quite a bit of experience promoting artists previously, and while it was a great way of taking a look behind the industry curtain, I was always really careful not to put myself in a position where there might be a conflict of interest. So in many ways it was valuable, but I’ve really started from scratch, building contacts and proving myself as a musician every time I take the stage. I enjoy the challenge and wouldn’t have it any other way. What’s the recipe for your ideal day? Camping out in Kaitoke Regional Park with a small group of close friends and my trusty gat! Might as well chuck an open fire and some grog in the mix too. Perfect. www.myspace.com/timbeals
Styled by JOLENE PARKER using M.A.C Cosmetics
There is an honesty and complicated beauty to L.A. Mitchell’s debut album, ‘Debut’, which weaves Mitchell’s voice flawlessly into the sumptuous threads of her jazzinspired background. One listen of ‘Debut’, which Mitchell self-produced, takes you on a journey into the depths of what it means to be a musician and to try and silence that ceaseless need to write and make music. In what ways has making your album been a journey of self-discovery? An album is a giant, and so the journey is multifaceted. I learnt primarily to trust my creative ideas. I learnt the discipline to follow through in situations of creative spontaneity without doubting your direction or ability to communicate your ideas and pull them off. I learnt to separate myself as the songwriter to develop a relationship with the songs as a producer. I don’t know if I was successful at that. I discovered I know a lot about music, and that that doesn’t always mean you’ll make the right decision. I discovered I didn’t really know intellectually what the right decision was. I discovered you have to be shameless in asking for more from your players, and that I had to lead them. I was always cautious with this. I feel intensely that the moment is more important, and if I tried to change everything, take every option, I’d risk never completing a thing. I discovered money was found or earnt from somewhere and champions emerged to support and carry you some way. In retrospect, I am unsure how this happened. At the time I tried not to think about the business, and concentrate on doing all I was able to do to bring these songs together. The better question was always, ‘What does this song want?’, which meant finding something fundamental in my writing or melody or in what the band was doing over the period of time we jammed the tunes. In every capacity I search for honesty, with myself, with the band, with my songs, with production, with my business structure and marketing – constantly asking, ‘Am I being honest in my representation of this thing?’ How much of your inspiration comes from looking internally rather than at external influencers? Inspiration is a curious thing. I am not sure that I am ever in tune with it enough to be aware of my
influences, so by that assumption, they are internal. However, one is a mirror for the other and at some point we rest. I don’t do it on purpose. Inspiration occurs, and I follow it, chasing chords and sounds and directions and words and rhythms. There are many and they are not always meant to fit together. In one instance they are not mine – I see them as gifts I get given if I do myself the justice of staying connected. I have a tendency to be introverted. I have and do suffer depression, anxiety, fatigue, and the consequences of all of these states of mind. They always represent an imbalance so I constantly reach for an answer. How to balance? How did I lose balance? How do I get it back? I am significantly further through those questions now than during the making of this album, so ‘Debut’ was a battle and its sound to me now is cooler and detached and less sure of itself than I feel right now. How does Christchurch foster and simultaneously limit your music? Christchurch works for me because it was where I started the process. I moved here when I was 21 for the sole purpose of studying music. I have players I have worked with here for six years, and their support and knowledge of my past is sometimes invaluable. They are my community. They are open and they enjoy it and work hard for it. I respect them. They respect me. Creatives anywhere need that community – they go daft when they spend too much time alone. Christchurch also works because those same people give me work so I have money to invest in furthering my own music, and the biggest benefit of that is that the work I get, I also really enjoy. I don’t believe a location can limit you if you are proactive in finding other people in other places to support and encourage you and you make an effort to go get it. The only person who ever limits me is myself.
Seeing as you play keys in The Dukes, is it important for you to have a number of projects on the go? Yes! Diversity, in my opinion, is key. I have learnt more about the business and working as a musician from working in other bands. I have spent more time on the road, played bigger gigs and bigger tours with music that I would never get a chance to play or perform alongside if it wasn’t for being involved in multiple genres. I never get frustrated with my stuff as a consequence because I always have breaks from it. It’s not always my sole focus so I get perspective on my own personal projects. I love not fronting a band and being on the
sidelines of organisation and management/promotion. Currently, there is no downside to working in multiple projects at this level that I can see, unless you’re disorganised. The biggest consideration is personal, and that’s making sure I put a cap on my time and don’t overcommit to too many projects in one time frame, otherwise I get this imbalance thing happening again and it makes it harder to be. What are your beliefs about taking creative risks? If you think you can do it, you should. In my opinion, you can never lose trying. Making an album is a risk. Playing music and being a musician full time … I don’t think any of that would happen if people didn’t take a risk, personal, creative, or otherwise. It’s a great risk for some people to even consider creative work. I thought I would be an architect when I was a kid because I thought music was too risky. I still think music is too risky, but I’ve since discovered it’s unhealthy for me not to write. It means too much to me to stop. So I would take them! Take as many as you can, as often as they arrive, and if they don’t show themselves to you, go looking for them. www.laurenmitchell.co.nz
The Bonnie Scarlets are a Wellington-based, four-piece, blues/beat/rock ensemble, comprising of Adam Ladley, Peter Bartlett, Curtis Baigent and Chris Chalmers. These guys are a performance-pumping live band, and are beginning to be referred to as big fish in a little pond. Bartlett talks to us about Russian gypsies, Tibetan monks, rhetorical rhinoceroses, and the Wellington music scene.
What are the ingredients and instruments necessary for a good songwriting afternoon? Electric guitar through an old valve amp, bass through an old valve amp, and drums (preferably old). If the question was, “Which instruments would I want if I could have them?”, I’d have Fender Rhodes and Hammond Organ, three female gospel singers, sitar, tanpura, and percussionist (congas, tambourines, bells, gongs, shakers). What type of mood do you have to be in? I’m steering away from writing a musical idea first (guitar) and then trying to wrap lyrics and melody around it, so I think your mood needs to be reactionary. You wait for things to happen that affect you in a more-than-incidental way, then let that circumstance point to a song idea, you know? The song comes about as a reaction to a certain thing. What is your ideal recipe for musical inspiration? At the moment: TV On the Radio’s ‘Return to Cookie Mountain’, Pink Floyd’s ‘Meddle’, always BRMC’s self-titled and always, ‘Exile On Main St’ by The Stones. What is the best non-musical metaphor to describe The Bonnie’s sound? A rhino crashing through a forest of hazelnut bushes happens upon an angry Scottish squirrel. The rhino is not sure what the squirrel is doing (definitely something a bit dodgy). The rhino also notices a little badger around, going about his business. The rhino asks the badger about the squirrel but the badger says nothing. Not a peep. In which country would you like to jam with the local gypsies? Definitely Morocco and India. Indian drone sounds are amazing and I want to learn sitar. Also, not sure which traditional Russian instruments there are, but I bet Russian gypsies (and their music) are awesome. Tibet also has some great sounds. When their monks chant, they excite the resonant frequency of their mouth cavity and one guy sounds like five in a strange sort of harmony. How do you like Wellington as a base? Wellington’s hard. You can’t always play to new people because of its size. You don’t want to bash your audience over the head with your music so you can’t play too many gigs, otherwise people get bored of you (well at least I do). Others might say you should therefore create new music all the time to keep people interested, but I’d rather focus on getting one thing right, than feeling like you need to change that thing so people don’t get bored of it. Maybe a larger city may offer a wider range of influences – I guess in that sense Wellington doesn’t inspire. Also, without being offensive to any Wellington bands (there are many that are awesome!), there’s a lack of good Wellington music in general and if there was more music for us to throw around, bounce ideas off, and most importantly compete
with, then we’d make better music as a city. I’d much rather play to Wellingtonians than Aucklanders though – way better dancers. While watching you guys play, I couldn’t help noticing attractive girls going wild in the front row. How do you deal with the steam? I probably don’t notice them. The problem is our drummer is very good looking and it’s hard to take your eyes off him. (If you don’t believe me, next time you see us play, watch.) Also, I’m pretty rubbish at guitar so I need to watch his little body gyrate or I get out of time. What side projects do you all have on the go? Adam has a great one called The Family Cactus, which Chris (and you!) are also involved in. Although I haven’t seen them, all reports point to “fuck yeah!”. ‘Side projects’ are an avenue for songwriters to apply themselves to different sounds that may not fit into what they already have going on. So if we say, “Do you have plans to make different types of music with different people?”, then yeah, definitely. Oh, and Curtis is starting a psychedelic aerobics troupe. Berlin or New York? I haven’t been to either so both. Actually, heaps of great records have been made at Avatar in New York. It’s entirely covered with wood and I’d love to record there. The Strokes or Rammstein?… Rammstein. www.myspace.com/thebonniescarlets
It seems utterly natural these days, whilst strolling down busy streets and waterfront walkways, to encounter an abundance of snake-white cords coiling upwards into earphones, which nest in each set of ears that pass you by. You have only to hop on a bus or train and count the headphones, to realise the effect that technology has had on our personal bubbles of sound in a relatively short space of time. Many people can identify with the sudden feeling of near-nakedness when they realise, whilst waiting at the bus stop, that they left their portable music device on the kitchen table, and have consequently subjected themselves to an entire public transport trip, without their aural security blanket. When the last episode of the Sopranos aired in America last year, the final scene ended abruptly with a black screen and silence. Many viewers assumed there was a fault with their television sets. This philosophy of noise, in many ways an ‘aversion to silence’, seems to have imprinted itself onto the social consciousness of the younger generation particularly, so that without the ability to shut out the everyday noise around them, they feel somehow less prepared to face the day. In all the noisy hype and discourse surrounding the ‘technology boom’, and its direct impact on the now fast-paced nature of our lives, we seem to have lost sight and sound of our relationship with silence. Silence is not the only thing we shut out. It is the voice of the everyday. In Tiki Taane’s interview (page 34), he talks about the inability to escape music, “It’s everywhere. Even in tha quietest, most remote place, you will hear music. Whether it’s tha wind, tha birds, or your heartbeat, there is always music.” This sentiment is echoed in an astounding documentary, ‘Touching the Sound’, about deaf musician Evelyn Glennie. The opening scenes show Glennie’s hands running along the rocky surfaces of a
ruined castle on the coast of Scotland, creating sound patterns and rhythms from everything her fingers touch. Her tactility is a thing of beauty, and reveals the ubiquity of organic sound, which surrounds and inspires us, if only we take a moment to breath it all in. However, whereas Glennie’s ability to hear conventionally has been physically taken from her, our retreat into a self-enclosure of MP3 players is voluntary and unsound in every sense of the word. A recent Cornell University study looking at noise distraction in ‘moderately noisy’ office spaces goes someway to explain our relationship with sound. The study found that with the rise of open-plan office spaces or ‘cube farms’, workers struggled to be productive in the working environment and felt their stress levels rising under the constant disturbances of telephones ringing, technology humming, and people talking to one another. One solution to this is an invention designed to mask the workplace noise. It does this by using discreet, natural sound (also referred to as ‘pink noise’), to emit a gentle whooshing sound similar to air-conditioning, which apparently reduces the clarity of the noise, whilst fading surreptitiously into the background. Noise begets noise. It is inescapable in many respects, and on a global scale, noise pollution is just another heartbreaking addition to the growing list of ‘things to crusade against’. A report from the Noise Association says that sound levels on the Piccadilly Line of London’s Underground can exceed that of a jet taking off at Heathrow Airport. Another recent report from the BBC states that the world’s oceans are now so saturated with noise that it can result in the hearing loss of whales and dolphins, causing them to strand themselves, and occasionally killing them. They are extreme examples of the pervasiveness of noise, but
it pays to sit up and listen to the issues, when, as Loren Horsley points out in her interview (page 6), the whales stop singing. We use manufactured noise to shut out other unwanted noise; thereby creating layers of sound surrounding us so thickly it’s no wonder our quality of hearing is slowly but surely deteriorating. Listening to music on the bus is often the most effective means of blocking out undesirable chatter, but it can come at the expense of sporadic and sometimes-magical encounters in the air around us. The random interactions you occasionally have with the stranger sitting next to you on the bus or the park bench are what opens you up to some of the mysteries of this universe and the next. It is not about casting aside our ipods and MP3 players indefinitely. It is about reclaiming some of the silence and sounds we have become particularly good at drowning out. We should recapture some of that good oldfashioned daydreaming, along with the occasional moments of chance that keep everything else turning. Silence is still golden.
Written by AMIE MILLS Illustration by PETER CAMPBELL
This fresh-faced quartet treat sound design, synth tones and soundscapes with a similar fervour to the child with shiny new gumboots who spots the best and biggest puddle in the park to slosh spectacularly in. The messiness is the music. Zitty is made up of school-mates, Rupert, Fraser, Paul and Al, who, quite frankly, are destined for complete and utter greatness. Rupert explains why. As a fresh new band still finding your way, what are the adventures and misadventures of sound exploration? The best part about the music we play is that there are no necessary standard sounds. We play trance, and find that the harmonic material gives the music its unique character – more so than the specific sounds. At the moment, we have appropriated a subtle 80’s-style synth tone and it works fine, but as we get more and better gear, sound design will be one of our biggest priorities. We’re satisfied with our sound at the moment though – we feel it is identifiable to us and different
enough from the other bands in the indie/dance genre. But it’s not just about tone. We like to put in things like sound effects and soundscapes. An area that we will definitely explore for its effects is circuit bending – you can get some crazy noises there (and it looks buzzy!) Your winning performance at the Wellington Regional Final of Smokefreerockquest was phenomenally colourful. How important is stage presence to the look and feel of Zitty? Stage presence is everything to us – our live shows are generally the first encounter most people have
with the music so they’re really defining us as a band at that moment. The first aim is always to excite the crowd, then each other, and the best way is just to have heaps of fun ourselves. We just love playing live! Energy is the most important part of our performance; we try and inject everyone with it and we find we get a lot back too. In fact, there was so much adrenaline pumping at Smokefreerockquest that some of us couldn’t remember the performance afterwards. The aftermath of a gig is always good fun too, seeing everyone red in the face and sweaty is one of
the most (perhaps perversely) satisfying experiences. Colourful clothes also play a part in our look; anything bright, interesting or unorthodox – too many kiwis wear black and white, especially at Smokefreerockquest! A certain t-shirt of Rupert’s has even become a trademark... How do you share the role of songwriting? For us, writing a song can be likened to cutting down a tree. Paul and Fraser hold the axes whilst Rupert … actually no, it’s not at all like that. It’s more like a sandwich. Often Paul will contribute the riffs – the bread
if you will – into which Rupert then inserts the chord progressions – the meat. Finally, Fraser spreads his vocal melodies and guitar licks over the track – a generous layer of mouthwatering sauces – and the track is almost done. It is now time for Al, the sexy guy who sits on his stool and touches himself, to add his solid, driving beat to the song, and the process is over. Cheap, boxed wine is our muse. Seeing as you’re heading into uncharted music industry waters, what aspects are you most looking forward to learning about? So far, working through some of
dance/electronic scenes overseas that we would be keen to be a part of and expand our network. However, for the moment, our sights are set more on the music and performance. Ultimate gig? Any band or artist (dead or alive) and anywhere on the planet – what would you choose? Steve Hill, a pioneering DJ of hard trance. He changed our sound. We played fairly normal rock until we had a communal rave to Steve Hill. Now we play indie-tronic organic trance. In short, he created us. We’d play with him anywhere. In a nice way, of course.
If you could allocate a super power to each band member (including yourself), what would it be and why?
Al – as he cooks better than God himself whilst inebriated, we would assign him the power to cook almost as well when sober. Such an amazing gift would see him
swiftly shipped to Palestine to solve all global conflict with one heavenly mouthful of his speciality; an amazingly potent onion-flavoured ‘dip’ that the rest of the band has enjoyed on perhaps too many occasions.
Fraser – certainly deserves the power of love, based on the amount of kisses he frequently attempts to distribute. If his kisses could cure all disease, they would perhaps be better received by some of his more disgruntled victims. Every Super Team needs the sidekick, like Adam Sandler so desperately needs a bullet, and as our resident Cupid, Fraser’s powerfully penetrative arrows would help make our beats catchier than AIDs.
Paul – the power to turn his supernaturally vacant stare into a ferocious poker face with which to hit the professional circuit, earn some funds, and actually contribute
financially to the band. Oh, and the power to become invisible at will because, well, who wouldn’t?
Rupert – gaining the power to use his freakishly infectious laugh for good rather than merely to terrorise fast-food outlet owners worldwide, Rupert would be able to attract fans to our gigs like flies to a heap of steaming dung or paedophiles to a Wiggles concert. Such an enviable ability, as well as a few skintight spandex suits, would complete our Super Team, and ensure we were stuck firmly atop the charts within a few short seconds. www.myspace.com/zitty07
the old fashioned aspects are proving tricky enough; like whether to credit individuals or the whole band as songwriters. That said, it’s going to be an awesome challenge for us to try and make a living off digital music! Figuring out how to do a decent home demo is also definitely on the cards, so learning about how to use some of the standard audio editing programs will be interesting. In terms of album design, we’re keen to experiment and create ones that look good enough so that people would rather buy the physical CD than download. We want to make album art that attempts to capture the experience of synesthesia – blurring aural and visual perception together. We’re also really keen on making cool t-shirts. We need a friendly friend with screen printing gear, and then we’ll make a few trips to the op shop and start printing! Travel is also something we’re very fond of. There seem to be some decent
Since his 2007 debut album ‘Past, Present, Future’ began its ripple effect across our cultural conscience, Tiki Taane has been trailing a wake of sweet-sounding achievements behind him as he carves the way ahead in rough Aotearoa music industry waters. Taane makes no claims other than to follow his creative instincts, ask the questions, and do it with the respect that history deserves.
As one of Aotearoa’s best sound technicians, who does your sound and is the role of the sound technician given the recognition it deserves? Mr David Wernham (aka Horse or Hoiho) has been doin my live sound for 16 years now. He mixed my very first gig in Christchurch when I was 15 years old. My band was called Cultivation and we played thrash metal. I was so green back then. Horse told me to turn up for soundcheck at 5pm and I was like, “what’s that?” He holds tha world record for tha longest soundchecks but I don’t mind though coz he does kick ass! Here’s something that I’ve worked out over tha years I’ve been doin this music stuff. Sound guys are failed musicians. Lighting guys are failed sound guys. And roadies have failed all of tha above. I’m gonna get so much shit for saying that but I’m afraid it’s true. Believe.
What are the parallels between your tats and your music in terms of storytelling? They’re both goin to be judged, liked or disliked. They’re both reminders of who I am and where I’m from. Sometimes they both hurt and bleed but that must happen for it to work. I get tattooed coz it’s in my blood. I can’t ignore that. I write music coz it is also in my blood and I will never ignore that.
You seem to live and breath your music. What do you do when you need to escape it? You can’t escape it. It’s everywhere. Even in tha quietest, most remote place, you will hear music. Whether it’s tha wind, tha birds or your heart beat, there is always music. I can’t complain though – it’s a beautiful thing.
How important is it for you to take your beliefs and learnings of Maori culture out of the history books and into new school music production? I’m still working all this out. Every day it gets deeper and deeper. There are so many things to acknowledge and remember. My job is to push all tha buttons, ask all tha questions and turn over every rock. And if I can do that with as much integrity, dignity and acknowledgment as possible, then I believe tha kaupapa has been preserved. But no matter what I do or say, I will always be too Maori, or not Maori enough. I will forever walk my own path – tha path that’s less trodden. I can’t help it, I’m tha youngest born – potiki.
What state of mind do you need to be in to get the creativity flowing? Well, I’m in love with tha struggle, tha pain and heartbreak of life. I hate being sad and depressed but that seems to be tha most creative time for me. It’s my way of healing and working through whatever problem I’m obsessing about. Although I have written some pretty uplifting tunes, some are borderline cheesy, but it depends who’s talking. Compare my shit to Hayley Westenra and I’m tha fucken anti-Christ. Seeing as you’ve recently done the media circuit for your release of ‘Past, Present, Future’, what are your thoughts on the quality of music journalism in Aotearoa? Seven times outta ten it’s fucken crap. I’ve been misquoted, mispronounced and misinterpreted, but that’s what you get when you deal with rockstar journos who wanna make sure tha article is as much about them as it is tha artist. But I do have to say that I’ve definitely had some awesome articles and reviews written about my record, so thank you kind journos and I do know who you are. BLESS!
by Pat Sh
Giving Mara TK a whiff of roti chanai and one well-oiled BMX is like handing him turntables and a mic. Once done, it’s just a matter of watching the magic unfold. Most reviews unanimously settle on the descriptive ‘multi-talented’, but even that doesn’t do justice to the skills that have seen Mara TK open for the likes of 50 Cent, DJ Craze and Scribe to name a few. You have worked with many talented people in Aotearoa. Who are you currently jamming with? No one. I’m just watching TV. Me and the guy from the Beaurepairs ads have just done a Christmas album. All the instruments used on the album are made from black rubber. He also plays the coins. I’m part of a psychedelic soul project called Electric Wire Hustle aka The Congenialities, with pianist/producer Taay aka ‘Captain PT’ aka ‘poo finger back up ninja’ and drummer Myele ‘are you gonna eat that?’ Manzanza. I’ve also done a couple of tracks with Benny ‘I need a blue powerade’ Tones, Pacific Heights aka Dr Phil and (Br)Oakley Grennel. I got to make a track with Om’Mas Keith from Sa-ra while I was at the Redbull Music Academy. He couldn’t say my name right. You come from a very musical background. Were you influenced by this at a young age? Yes, but aside from the musical influence, there was the effect of being surrounded by a group of people on an intense spiritual path, trying to find themselves and discover what it meant to be a Maori artist and dealing with the instabilities of being one. I honestly thank my parents for not having it all together, but placing good people around me who not only influenced me as a musician, but as a person. How does your inspiration shape the way you write your songs? Sometimes directly. I might sample a Nina Simone vocal line and put chords to the notes she’s using, then I have a progression that is different to what I would usually come up with. I may not end up using the initial sample but it’s just another way of taking an idea and re-forming it, which all musicians do anyway, consciously or unconsciously.
What did your time at the Redbull Music Academy teach you about life and music? • Getting smashed every night is a great way to meet people. • Redbull only gives you wings if vodka comes to the party as well. • Germans are crazy. • Americans are fucked. • Don’t squat in expensive hotels. They get angry. It also taught me that even though we live in a box in the basement of the world, we are creating music that the rest of the globe is interested in. I think we are fairly genuine about the things we talk about and that translates. While I was encouraged by the response to our music, I also got a big kick in the ass in terms of the volume and quality of material being made out there.
What is your philosophy about the power music has to affect society? Oh shit philosophy. Ok, here we go … I think society has more of an effect on music than vice versa. I guess music affects society at an individual level – the music comes out of our perception on life and is extremely personal, but it also has the ability to relate to others, to educate, heal or harm them. The more overt power it has is individual fame. Look at the influence of artists like Bob Marley, Gil Scott-Heron or Bob Dylan and more recently Bob Geldof and Kanye West.
We hear you are a big fan of roti chanai and BMXing. Where do you get the best roti in New Zealand and what’s the best place in the world you’ve BMXed? One day there was a poor boy who had just arrived in Wellington City. He was searching for something, not fame nor fortune, not even a sweaty midnight quickie with the girl from the 24hour. He was searching for that elusive cheap ‘n’ choice, chokablock chanai. He was on his way to Hope Bros one night, when he caught the sweet scent of virgin lamb done in aromatic spices and coconut cream. His loins moistened at the sight of the glistening hot bread and the strangely folded napkins that no man could re-create. There, at Satay Kajang, he had found his elixir of life. As for BMXing, or ‘Xing’ as I call it, the best place I’ve ridden was down a gravel hill when I was six. Fang it as fast as you can, handle the speed wobbles, back peddle to lock the brakes, ride it out, look back at the skid – mean Maori. What’s the best New Zealand festival you’ve ever been to, and if you could choose your perfect Aotearoa music lineup to showcase, who would you choose and why? I have two completely differing favourite festival experiences, and ironically they were both organised by Daniel Keighley. Sweetwaters 1999 was great because it was such a shambles – no one could afford a $10 hamburger or a $5 bottle of water, so we ate tent ‘potluck’ and CKF (Capitalist Krishna Food), but the chaos was heaps of fun. On the other end of the spectrum, was the 2008 Parihaka International Peace Festival. It was well organised, nice food, nice toilets, and they made a good call putting lesser-known bands like Hope Road and Departure Lounge on the main stage. Give him another chance, he’s given me some good times. OOOH, and my musical wet-dream team is: Drums – Riki Gooch (he’s forward-thinking in his approach to drum feels and patterns, and is on the whole Dilla tip). Keys – Jonathan Crayford (ET has nothing on JC). Bass – Johnny Lawrence (he’s got the baddest feel, and is heavily influenced by soul and gospel music, and knows his shit). MPC/Keys – Dave ‘Taay’ Wright (he’s a naughty bad man who’s on the same wave-length. He’s got the strangeness factor that makes him want to push things out a bit further). Guitar – Billy TK Snr (he’s got so much soul, and lives his music to the most beautiful and desperate extents). Backup vocals: Hollie Smith (spices), Rire Hall (chicken pieces), Mark Vanilau (grease), P Digsss (fire!) www.myspace.com/maratknz
Vanessa Stacey has oodles of musical talent tucked away in her pocket, but ask her about her own singing successes and she’s far more likely to sing the praises of other musicians she works with and admires. This could be the result of her work with Wellington-based company Transmit, tirelessly promoting Aotearoa’s artistic talents to the rest of the world. Has your acting work influenced your music in any way? I suppose they’re both about storytelling, which is probably why I enjoy directing and editing too, but I tend not to mix them – I’m no Julie Andrews. I studied jazz before I went to Toi Whakaari (New Zealand Drama School). My whanau on my pa’s side are all musos and my nana was a singer, so I guess it’s in the blood. We’re Irish and Maori so we like a good yarn and a jam. Singing was the only way to get a word in. How did your work with Transmit come about? I met Sarah Hunter through a mutual friend. We both have a passion for music and film, and I think I’m sympathetic to the artists finding it hard to make the calls to say, “Have a listen or look at this.” It’s hard to sell your own wares, but to do it for others is a pleasure, and considering the musicians and artists we’re lucky enough to work with, it ain’t a big ask! How did your time overseas open your eyes to new creative experiences that you hadn’t found at home? I found music again, over in London. I know that sounds strange, but when you’re surrounded by 50p pop and making shit TV, you get hungry for something real. If you scratch just below the surface, London’s such a beast, but I felt less inhibited than I did at home. I met these choice beatmakers, started jamming and playing every week in a club in Portabello Rd. We wrote a bit, toured a bit, and then things went to shit as they can do in London. I was over it so I came home. What are your views on creative collaboration? I think it’s a must really. Besides, that’s the best bit. Getting to jam with your band-mates or filming on
set with the crew. I’m trying to work on being less shy about collaborating musically. I should’ve called my band, Whiskey Cause I’m Shy. What have been some of the most valuable life lessons you’ve learnt along the way? Ahhh, don’t get stuck in a seven-hour van trip with my uncles eating a bucket of kina, jesus! As for life, I’m still learning. If you could live your life over again and go down a completely different career path, what would it have been and why? Ahhh, I’ve trod a few different paths in this one. I like to switch it up a bit so I’m always interested and invested in what I’m doing. I guess in a different life, I’d probably like to be more focused and be content. I think most artists, no infact, most people, are still looking for something and asking questions. Contentment would be great. I’m very interested in conservation and travel. I’m pretty social but also pretty private. Considering all of that, maybe I would want to be a camel. What is your idea of the perfect day? Had a pretty perfect day today – got lots of work done. It’s always a buzz getting some great hook-ups for the fantastic people I’m working with. Went to the beach with Easy (he’s a dog), came home, had a jam with the boys from Whiskey and Sly, who I love, and who amaze me. I feel very blessed to get to play with them every week! And then a friend cooked me dinner. Mmmm, that’s a goodin in my book. Hang on, maybe I am a camel … ah I mean content… www.myspace.com/whiskeyandsly
Operating under the business brand ‘Detroit Linwood Productions’, Aidan Mills covers about every skill set you can imagine in the music industry. He is the sound engineer for the likes of Hollie Smith, Little Bushman, and, in another life, Trinityroots. Alongside audio engineering, recording, stage and tour production, Mills managed to start up Wellington-based band, Groovemeister Combo. What’s currently going on in your world, music-wise? My world is as crazy as me. I’m being a demo head. Writing songs and demoing. It rulz. I’ve been in heaps of bands playing drums, bass gat, or whatever, up until I left my home town (Gizzy REP). Then it all stopped coz once I hit Welly a few years later all my new mates were Jazz School drop-outs who were older and better than me at playing with themselves and each other (pun intended). Thankfully I learned some more moves off them and thought, ‘Fark it, I AM a musician so I had better start acting like one and start playing with these drop-outs (okay some of ‘em finished and passed.) I started a wee band called Groovemeister Combo. We’ve played a few gigs at Havana, it’s very fun. Essentially, it’s groove-based funk/blues jams and has developed into some crazy megaphonic energies. I play guitar and Darren Mathiassen, Rio Hemopo, Crete Haami and Maaka McGregor join me, depending on who is around. I also do tour logistics, production management, and business management for myself and artists. Where and who did you learn your sound skills from? It started when I found myself at the tender age of 16, at the end of a music course in Gisborne. One of the tutors was Russell Braithwaite, who runs ‘The Sound Crew’ in Gisborne. Pretty much, I learned to hustle young and started working for him for free – just turning up and getting in his way, lugging gear, pissing him off, asking questions and annoying him until he let me twiddle knobs and every so often offered me $10 for a day’s work. This was like gold to me! He was the best teacher I could have asked for; teaching me how to mix and use my ears. He was very patient and would stand by my side letting me have the controls and would verbally guide me through each show. Over the next year or so, I was mixing all the shows that came through Gisborne, working in skungy, horrible-sounding bars (of course I was underage), cultural festivals and a bunch of cool gigs with him. This was the best learning I could have had. How does your knowledge of sound give you an advantage when making your own music? I hear things … in my head, like a crazy man, and can visualise how it sounds in space and time. This goes both ways really … my musical skills and knowledge enhance mixing sound as well. Here’s the props I owe: Trinityroots took me as the fourth member of the band, from what I offered and added to the live show in a dub sense. As the journeys within the live songs were different every show, I learned
to read how a song was forming and how to tastefully add my musical style through the use of effects. I learned to appreciate space in music and even from an early age, I learned less is more. It’s a lot to do with the energy for me and ALL about feel and passion and direction in a song, even if it’s two or 23 minutes long. I use my sound skills to help create a sonic vibe to my music … and demo a direction for the music and sound. I guess my sound knowledge helps me get good-sounding demos but really when I’m demoing a song, I’m more concerned about the energy and feel. I do aim for a technically correct capture but that’s almost second nature so I don’t really think about it. Where did the nickname ‘Nephew’ come from? Well, being 19 when I started with T-roots and with most of them about 28 at the time, I was somewhat younger even if I felt 35. The relationships became quite close and they adopted me as their nephew … it’s funny that a lot of people around the country know me by this alias. I think Nephew died with Trinityroots … my name is Aidan I think. Oh yea, can anyone tell me, what the fark is ‘roots music’?
Is it as glamourous as people imagine? Not showering for three days isn’t glamourous. Whether you are an engineer or artist … it still smells funky … sometimes it’s nice I guess, depending on who it is?
What is your philosophy of sound? Well, there are many angles but essentially this is where art and science meet. My philosophy and passion, as far as live shows go, is getting the bestsounding show for the artist to portray their art to the audience, by making it technically correct as well as sonically colourful and interesting with depth within the mix and something different. Understanding how a PA works to the finest point is just as important as having good ears. If you understand what phase and gain structure is, how equipment works, what its limits are and where to compromise, then this helps get the best from the gear without breaking gear (and artist budgets) and hurting people’s ears. High volume doesn’t mean good. It means loud. Ears are a one-time thing. I like to hear the tones in instruments and work with musicians to really understand what they are trying to say when they tune and play their drums, for example. The studio offers more freedom to experiment and maybe break a few rules to make something sonically interesting and I believe you need to be very open-minded to work creatively and break the rules while keeping them in mind. www.myspace.com/aidanmills
Yoshi Su for Wella Trend Vision. Barcelona. Spain. @buoy.co.nz
What has touring with international bands taught you about life as a musician? How to say, “What the fuck?” a lot. Wank! 21-years old touring across the world as the Black Eyed Peas engineer?! What a shock! This quickly opened me up to a part of the industry that most people I knew didn’t want to be a part of. It’s called the music biz coz it is a business. This means there are business people involved who don’t love it the same way as musicians. It’s all about people really. The passionate people are great to work with and usually are the happiest and most successful people involved. There are a lot of people who most would call ‘successful’ but who sadly make pretty miserable humans when you get to their morals and values. I must say that most front men/girls I have met and got to know (The 3 BEPeas front boys and Fergie and Justin Timberlake etc.) are a small few of the most down-to-earth and genuine people I have ever met and I connect with these types of people the best. I have found it’s usually the people that aren’t on the album cover that are so desperate for fame it turns them into ugly people.
LIVING THE DREAM Life in the fastlane that is NZ comedy by Cori Gonzalez-Macuer Another day, another city I’m living the dream We don’t know where we are No one knows where we’ve been (Except for Steve who’s the tour manager and he’s got an itinerary) This time on the road When it’s all said and done Tell my baby I love her We had a good run (Currently single. Very lonely and very single) The clock on the wall Says quarter to four The girl by my side Is asking for more (There was no girl. There was no clock either) We live a rock and roll lifestyle Our middle name is trouble Don’t talk to us after a show You’ll burst our creative bubble (We appreciate any kind of feedback after a show) Finger on the trigger Hand on the nine Life ain’t a joke When a gun is the punchline (Never been near a weapon … ever) We pull in to the last city Time for new dreams to begin Because the sign by the road reads “Welcome to Levin” (Levin is shithouse. Without a doubt the worst show of the tour. Steve almost got stabbed by a lesbian)
One of the new school talents to hail from the South is Dunedinite Matt Langley, and his trusty sound that seems to span many a music genre. Armed with a passion for busking and the honest light it paints music in, Langley is a singing, songwriting, storyteller who is well worth a listen to!
Would you consider busking as a lost art or a joyful performance medium for music? I started busking because I’d had a guts full of club owners being gross about cash or moaning because I’d drunk all their Guinness. So I went from playing in a locally well-known band five nights a week to jamming in Albion Place by myself and I loved it. People give smiles, coin, wee notes of encouragement or ignore you completely. It’s quite honest really. Next thing you know, my bro and mates jumped in and we had a full band playing every Saturday. Good bye George Street, hello Taieri AMP show. We’ve never looked back.
What scares you most and excites you most about a life in the music industry? I think any scary stuff comes from my own fears and doubts. The usual things: What the hell am I doing? Is this song any good? Will I ever sleep right through the night? Shit like that. Friends and whanau bring the perspective back into focus. But anyone who puts their creative being out there has to fight that battle. Music is exciting I reckon. Having the band drop whatever they’re doing and come jam is the best; sing-alongs at six in the morning, working together on something you all believe in, playing live. Magic.
Dunedin’s rich music history must have offered you fertile creative ground, but you’ve recently shifted to the shores of Wellington. What was behind the move? Dunedin is home and I miss it when I’m away. Wellington is my second home and I love it too. Musically, Dunedin has been very generous to me. It’s an inspiring place to live, both for its music legacy, and the environment itself. There is always a lot of great music being made there for no other reason than people love it; love jamming, love putting gigs on, love getting together. I’ve been traveling and living in both centres since 2000. ‘Hometown Records NZ’ is based in Wellington, and we had a ball last summer doing the ‘Lost Companions’ E.P., so I felt like I should be Johnny on the Spot and get the team rolling into album phase this year, crack the whip, be present.
How do you know when you’ve created a song that’s really special? You know the feeling when you drop your bit of toast and it lands jam-side up? Kinda like that. We’ve been told you’re only in the music biz for the alcohol, women and rock and roll? What’s the true story? Completely. Of course now I do it for the children of the world. Any spare time I have after all that goes into furthering research in order to find a cure for television.
Elisa Di Napoli aka The Moon Whispers is neither a sound nor style to be pigeonholed. Labels and genres mean nothing in this instance, when spiritual transformation is at play. The strength of The Moon Whispers lies in the beauty of these amorphous songs, which get under your skin and travel through your veins, directly into the nerve system.
You seem to cross all kinds of creative genres (art, poetry, performance) with your music. Do audiences sometimes interpret your work differently to how you envision it? To be honest, I have no idea how audiences interpret my work. It would be interesting to know! For some reason I don’t tend to get a lot of detailed feedback so I am often left in the dark. It is also difficult to try and explain what I do because my music spans across different genres and people seem to expect you to stick to one genre and identify you with that. I have been classified as all sorts of things; the most bizarre was glam rock! I think that was because of the make-up, costumes and masks, not the music. Of course this kind of categorisation is frustrating, but what can you do? For me, the style is informed by the message rather than the other way round. As human beings, we are all multifaceted and complicated … so why oversimplify? In the interest of narrowing it down, I guess I would say that what I do is focused on the theme of spiritual transformation but my approach is to explore this theme in different ways and from different angles. For practical purposes I made up the genre of ‘psychnoir’ because it has to do with the exploration and transformation of dark psychological states. 50
How has the Internet changed the way you produce and promote your music? Well, it seems to me that the Internet has made music more globally accessible to everyone. This is good, but it also means that it can be difficult for the public to find you, as there are a vast array of different bands/artists online and it is easy to become invisible in the mass. As a consequence, it is first impressions that will distinguish you from others and it is ‘image’ that will catch people’s attention, before they even consider listening to your music. This would normally depress me, but in this instance I chose to see it positively as an opportunity to express myself and so I have spent a lot of time building my own website using images that most reflect me. Of course because I wanted to do a good job it has taken me forever … but with some luck, a comprehensive website including writing, art and music will be up and running this year. You’re a self-proclaimed perfectionist who spreads herself too thinly with countless creative projects on the go. Do you ever have to compromise perfection to get things done? Perfection doesn’t really exist – in that everything is perfect as it is, and also nothing will ever be perfect. To me, perfection is just a useful ideal to aspire to but not
Who would be your ultimate festival line-up and where in the world would you showcase them? Oh, I would love to see Steven Wilson (from Porcupine Tree, No Man and Blackfield), I am X (from Sneaker Pimps), PJ Harvey, Ladytron and Depeche Mode live ... with support from Antimatter, The Dresden Dolls, Wumpscut, Orbital, Carl Craig, Coil and In the Nursery. A bit of a melting pot of my favourite artists ... and as in where, well I think a beautiful spot in a warm country in the spring, say â€Ś Spain? www.myspace.com/themoonwhispersbandsite
to take too seriously. Basically, the way I see it is that if I have to do something, I might as well do it to the best of my abilities. But given that abilities grow and change the more work I do, I always find older work lacking or flawed. I try not to let this get to me too much because paralysis would be the only outcome if I did. Someone once said to me that my perfectionism is my best asset and also my worst burden. I agree and Iâ€™m working on it being an asset more than a burden, which means trying not to be too critical of myself without compromising quality too much.
Trip to the Moon, comprised of Tom Ludvigson and Trevor Reekie, is the antidote to all over-produced, boxed-in, mass and mis-marketed music. So, pretty much the cure for pop music. The intentions behind Trip to the Moon’s sound is elusive, which is exactly how it should be in this prepackaged world.
Is Trip to the Moon a full-time affair for both of you? Tom: Yes, insofar as you never completely stop working on a creative project – whatever else you may be doing, ideas may crystallise anytime. No, insofar as Trevor doing part-time work for Radio NZ, and myself teaching part-time at MAINZ (Music and Audio Institute of New Zealand). Trevor: Trip is music and music has in one form or another always been full-time for me (and Tom). In many respects, musically, I’m adept in most areas of the industry but ‘master’ of none. But I will concede that I feel privileged to be able to have done what I have done over the years without having a ‘real’ job, and (honestly) I don’t mind living in profitless prosperity … it’s an art form. Trip to the Moon is full-time if you work it from the angle that it’s not what you get for your music, it’s what you become by your music.
approach with the likes of Tuffy Culture and Dubhead, Bobbylon from the Hallelujah Picassos and a singer named Rachel Weatherly, but it didn’t feel natural for us, and it also turned us in a direction that was the wrong place for us to be. That is to say, we were suddenly working in the pop arena, and there they measure your worth by your last chart position. I gave up wanting to be in the Top 40 after leaving the Greg Johnson Band. An instrumental solo project I did under the name Cosa (Nostra) included Tom, and it was in the course of recording those soundscapes that I understood that Tom is the ideal musical partner for our mutual journey into jazz, electronica and meshing it with folk soundscapes … it’s cinematic. It grew from there really. It took us a while in Trip to work out that synchronisation (making money while you sleep) is our greatest earner. On the new album ‘Song For Harry Partch’ it sounds like something for a Sergio Leone western. Has your collective work in the music industry influenced the way you create and market your music? Tom: Perhaps – knowing how to avoid the more obvious pitfalls. Trevor: Sometimes. Not always positively. During the time that we were releasing with EMI we got sucked in to meeting with creative agencies to talk about the marketing of our Trip album at that time. Nothing transpired from those meetings cos no one had a clue as to how we should be marketed. I don’t blame EMI or the agency. They were all trying to do something that would result in the right sales figures. At the time I knew instinctively (and historically) that Trip was never going to be about sales figures. It’s about everything except the numbers. Since, and after, that detour we have done everything ourselves, except the distribution … There is no other way in today’s industry (which is totally about being responsible for your each and every self). The minute you delegate a portion of the creative process it will dilute the motivation in your own belief. Musicians today only need distribution. See that smoke in the distance? That’s the indielabel business! If your music had a vision statement, what would it be? Tom: All psychedelic colours. Trevor: To mix the pop structure (verse, chorus, middle 8) with jazz attitude (which I learned from Tom) and end up back at home in an ambience. How do you think your instrumentally-inclined style of music lends it to being open for use in other creative fields such as TV, film or theatre? Tom: Very well, as witnessed by past use of our music in Shortland Street, the E! entertainment channel in the States and television documentaries. Trevor: We tried the vocal
How do the lives you lead lend themselves to the style of music you produce? Tom: Exposure to a continuous stream of new people and music through our respective institutional affiliations (MAINZ – students, Radio NZ – interviewees) results in rather an omnivorous musical diet, that in its turn fosters an eclectic dimension that should be clearly visible in the more recent Trip to the Moon albums. Trevor: It wouldn’t matter because this is the only style of music I can produce (no matter if I was hanging out with the crème de la crème of the musical fraternity or with dark souls in want) … It’s probably fair to say that since technology became part of our daily life, that has had more to do with the style of music that we produce, which is in so much as that the ability to treat the studio as an instrument is suddenly readily available all the time, any time … the trick is not to chase your own tail. And in some ways that sums up life! www.jazzscore.com
Thomas Oliver is like a fine wine that knows how to sell itself, slips smoothly over the oesophagus, and leaves a trace of sweet-tasting power on the tip of your tongue. It’s not just the quality of music and clarity of Oliver’s singing/songwriting/guitarplaying capabilities – it’s the entire marketing package, and the vision of knowing exactly where he wants it to go. What sparks the ideas behind your music? Creative thought is hard to trace, so this is always a difficult question to answer. I listen to a huge range of music, and musical ideas are often inspired by something I hear, and lyrical ideas usually just pop into my head, unannounced. Because of the extent of what I listen to and the extent to which I’m inspired, I find that the main objective is refining these musical ideas into something which is producible with my band or as a soloist, or with my computer. It’s always a shame to discard ideas but they’re such a constant flow that not everything can evolve into a song or work. How do you get the band to see your vision for a song? This is one of the most important steps in the process of creating music with The Thomas Oliver Band, and I place a lot of emphasis on making sure that I genuinely convey the essence of a new song to my band so that we will all feel it in the same way and perform it with conviction. First, I explain my vision for the new song, with attention to groove, instrumentation, lyrical intent, energy, genre/style and the feeling I’m trying to create, then I play it to them so they can absorb it. We then approach it, hands-on, as a collective and refine it until the song has been ‘captured’. I try to give them as much creative freedom as I can within the framework of the song. This process becomes shorter and shorter as we perform and rehearse more and more. You talk about taking your music overseas. Where do you want to travel with it and will the whole band move together? Australia is an inviting next step as it has a culture and music scene similar to ours, only on a greater scale. However, parts of my original music are rooted in blues and alt-country, which thrive in the States, so that’s a worthy option also. Certain parts of Europe would certainly welcome our music too, especially because there is not much similar coming from there. As a band, we haven’t spoken much of travel yet, as New Zealand is treating us pretty well at the moment, but we are all committed to the cause and aware that travel is an integral part of life in the music industry. Lyrics can let people look deep into your soul. Do you find it scary releasing this honesty into the world? The day I started playing guitar was, pretty much, the day I started writing lyrics too, so I have never felt a sense of vulnerability through my lyrics as writing always came naturally to me. As I am a language lover, I put a lot of thought into the creation of my lyrics and absolutely encourage anyone who wants to read into my soul, as I feel that I have a lot to say and in ways that you may not have heard before. Honest lyrics have a power that cannot be created by any other element of music,
and I sincerely hope that the generations to come will continue to cherish the power of words. The only thing I do find scary is that the people close to me can often decipher things from my lyrics that I may not have wanted them to know! Ha, so the honesty can get me into trouble. Working for Phantom, you’re surrounded by poster design. How important do you think this visual publicity is as a medium for music promotion? I think that the visual publicity lends another dimension to people’s perception of a band or artist, and if the visual component stylistically matches the music, a strong artistic impression can be created. Over the past year or so, we have developed certain imagery to coincide with our music. Our gig posters and CD artwork are compiled using dark green hessian, white stitching, dark reds, wood grains and a specific logo. The fact that this imagery remains constant from gig to gig, as well as on our website, means that people start to identify it with The Thomas Oliver Band and, ideally, develop an entire artistic impression in their heads. I think it is important to put a lot of thought into this, as if the artwork does not complement the music, a false impression can be created. Strong music will stand on its own but can certainly be reinforced by accordant imagery. www.thethomasoliverband.com
Basin Reserve, 1870 by James Bragge / Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa(D.000017)
First established in 1868 as a public park, the Basin Reserve was quickly commandeered as the official cricket ground of Wellington with the first organised game held between a rag tag band of Mount Cook Gaol prisoners and the officers and crew of HMS Falcon, then docked in Wellington.
On March 22, 2008 Summerset will showcase a diverse mixture of local and international DJs and live acts including Norman Jay (UK), Dave Seaman (UK), LTJ Bukem with MC Conrad (UK), Digital Mystiks (UK), The Black Seeds, Shapeshifter, Rhombus, Minuit, Tom Middleton (UK), Crazy Penis (UK) and more.
One hundred and forty years later, the ground where umpire Bruce Wallace had to apologise to the players as stones and thistles caused damage to hands and fingers, has become in the words of Jonnie Halstead, “the nicest piece of cricket turf in the Southern Hemisphere’’.
The common denominator here is quality; not just the quality of the artists performing, but quality of sound, lighting and decoration. Quality of bar and food service capped off with quality of vibes in the most quality of locations - the now iconic Basin Reserve, which is fondly referred to by locals and cricket regulars as ‘the Basin’.
Along the way the Basin Reserve has played host to numerous sporting events, concerts, social gatherings and has now become the official home of Sandwiches’ now annual Summerset Festival, a day/night event where music is the new sport.
At Exposure Lifestyles publication, we decided to give you a quick run-down on the origins and history of the Basin, a unique landmark that’s actual existence
has been credited by some to an act of God. Also the largest traffic island in the Southern Hemisphere, the Basin was originally a lake, and the plan was to connect it to the sea with a canal to create an alternative inner city harbour, with major warehouses and factories encircling it. However, an earthquake in 1855 (read: act of God) uplifted the area nearly 1.8m and turned the lake into a swamp. Considering the colonists’ English roots, sport, particularly cricket, was a vital part of the community’s tradition. Sadly, no land had been allocated by the city planners as recreational reserves. Though natural grounds, such as the Te Aro flat, provided a small area, the colonists wanted more recreational land than what they had. The situation became dire as buildings were erected on the flat plains, for as most readers will know, flat land is at a premium in mountainous Wellington. Following the 1855 earthquake, influential citizens seized the chance in 1857 to suggest that the new land be drained and made into a recreational reserve. The Wellington Council accepted the proposal and on February 3rd, prisoners from the Mount Cook Gaol began the draining and levelling process. The swamp was drained by September and a fence was placed around the entire area, along with hedges. Unfortunately, massive population influxes from 1863 till 1866 meant construction on the Basin was delayed as Wellington became the capital of New Zealand, Parliament was established and the prototype civil servant pencil pushers started arriving and workers were dispatched to meet the demands in other areas. Following a council meeting in December 1866, the Basin became Wellington’s official cricket ground. No cattle or horses were permitted on the grounds and only small hedges and shrubs were allowed to be planted so as not to hinder cricket
matches. In January 1868, the first cricket match was played, the infamous stones and thistles apology day that is now viewed historically as the official opening of the Basin. Soon after, the Highland Games began their residence at the Basin. The games were organised by the Wellingtonian Caledonian Society, whose headquarters, the Caledonian Hotel, still stands south of the Basin. Showing some initiative, the society offered up prize money – a beacon that attracted many eager competitors to the region. Outside of cricket, events held in the Basin included athletics, racing, wood-chopping, dancing and cycling. The success of The Highland Games led to the construction of the now retro grandstands at the western end of the Basin. On a less positive note, in the following years, even up until 1872 supposedly, the Basin grounds were extremely swamp-like, with small pools of water and various weeds making the occasional cameo across the field, much like the streakers who would become commonplace at sports events much later on. Thankfully in 1872, horses were used to level the playing field, greatly improving the conditions. Reputedly, the Basin is also believed to be the location for the first game of rugby held in the North Island. The match was between the Wellington football team and the crew of HMS Rosario, which the sailors won by a single goal. The first cricket test match played at the ground was between New Zealand and England in 1930. One-day international cricket was played at the now 11,600 capacity Basin between 1975 and 2005 but has since moved to the 34,500 seater Westpac Stadium, known not quite as affectionately as the ‘Cake Tin’. Outside of sport, the Basin has played host to countless concerts, cultural carnivals and even ballooning displays. For a time it was considered Wellington’s social hub with groups of men and women parading the grounds in their Sunday bests, on Sundays of course. The Basin was intended as a community space for the people of Wellington to gather together outdoors and enjoy themselves. Culturally and artistically, we have come leaps and bounds in the last 140 years, so it is fitting that this March the citizens of Wellington should find themselves drawn together at the Basin by music as opposed to sport. Like the Summerset motto says – music is the new sport. Does that make Barnaby Weir the new Richard Hadlee? You tell me.
Written by MARTYN PEPPERELL
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Hailing from the beautiful hills of Golden Bay, Chloe Langley has set out with musical suitcase in tow, to bring her singer/songwriting wares to the world. Recently back from an exploratory Melbourne interlude where she did a lot of gigging around the local music scene, Langley is back refreshed and rejuvenated to have a play in the Wellington music playground.
Growing up in Golden Bay (arguably one of the most beautiful parts of the country), must have shaped your sound somewhat. To what extent is Golden Bay ‘in’ your music? I’m definitely influenced by my surroundings wherever I am. I was very lucky to grow up in such a beautiful place. I can’t wait to retire there with my rocking chair and a stick to wave at the youngins. But I wouldn’t say Golden Bay is ‘in’ my music so much these days. Due to my current surroundings, I’m more ‘city carnage’ inspired rather than my roots at the moment. But it has definitely given me a really supportive platform to launch from. When I’m there and I’m writing, I get really inspired, feel rejuvenated, and want to get back out there. Until recently, Melbourne was busy occupying you. Now you’ve moved back to Wellington, how would you compare the music scenes of each city? Melbourne was fantastic. Whatever you are into, there is a scene for it there – no matter how obscure the music genre is. Definitely a lot of difference in terms of the abundance of venues to play at for someone starting out. Over here, there’s such a support network for musicians. Everyone seems to know everyone else, and help each other out, which is fantastic when you’re an independent artist.
You are also studying graphic design at the moment. Do you see an opportunity for the two art forms to meet in a future project? That was one of my original motivations. It’s great if an artist can do both – tie their visual ideas in with their music. It gives the listener more of an idea of what the artist is really on about. What draws you to performing as a soloist, as opposed to being in a band? Back in 2005, due to minor setbacks with my band (such as my drummer not having a drum kit), I decided to sort myself out. The best action to take was to leave the country. I packed my bags and moved back to Melbourne to do some hard yards, and where I could be an anonymous musician with a funny accent. “Fush and chups mate”. Although I have got a couple of people lined up to play some music with this year. So what next? Next is an album, a few collaborations, gigs, maybe a little tour, get some sleep, eat some cake and finish studying in between. www.myspace.com/clolangley Interview by TIM BEALS Photo by PAT SHEPHERD
You may remember him as the pig-headed guy in a grey jumpsuit, taking scores during the epic video game battle scene in â€˜Eagle vs Sharkâ€™, but Cori Gonzalez-Macuer is more than just that guy. Macuer has been a staple on the New Zealand comedy scene for, like, ages.
What type of crowd dynamic do you enjoy performing in front of the most? Pretty much anyone who gets what I’m talking about and understands my style of comedy. I’m quite dry I guess, so some audiences might find it hard to get used to, but it usually works out alright. I love doing the university orientation tours as students are always up for a good time. You have just made the move from Wellington to Auckland. How do the creative scenes differ? I think that Wellington – being smaller – has got more going on in terms of collaborating with fellow artists. You just have to walk down Cuba St, run into someone you know, go have a beer with them, and all of the sudden you’re working on something together. The main thing about Auckland, is that there’s way more work up here. All the main TV work is up here so it’s no surprise that a lot of Wellingtonians make the move up here to go beyond sitting in a pub talking about a TV show that you want to make with your mates. If you could romance any style of joke, which one would it be? I would love to be able to get away with being more offensive. Some people just have it in them, but I always feel bad taking things too far. I’ve got a pretty sick mind sometimes, but I can’t quite bring that out on stage. I guess it’s something I’ve got to work on this year. I’m sick of all my jokes.
How does your process of preparation differ between comedy and acting? For me personally, it’s not that different. If anyone has seen me on TV or a movie, I pretty much play the same character in everything I do. There’s not much difference between me on stage doing comedy than me in front of the camera. I guess the only difference is that I’ve never shown up on a film set drunk, whereas a comedy stage… I’m still waiting for that big dramatic role though, where I can showcase my true acting talents. If you could combine three animals to create the ultimate predator, what would you choose and why? In the spirit of ‘Eagle vs Shark’, the creature you create goes directly into mythical battle with Loren’s creature, page 6. One of my friends came up with a really good one. Basically, you start off as an eagle and once you soar over your prey, you turn into a whale. That’s only two though. I guess after the whale is finished, you could turn into a human and feel bad about killing an innocent animal. www.myspace.com/corimacuer
Now that you’ve established yourself professionally, and personally with fatherhood, how does this inform your creative decision-making and choices in terms of an ideal work/life balance? Much the same really. I choose projects because I believe in the story or the song or the idea and that hasn’t changed. That’s always been my approach to things I’ve made, whether it’s a short film, a music video or the feature films – you commit to the project because it speaks to you. You decide to invest in it and spend all this time and energy to execute the idea that’s on paper, CD, or in your mind. Once you decide it’s something you want to make, then you want to realise it to your best ability and free it from how you see it in your head. That’s usually the case, except when I’m making occasional commercials – where that’s me paying rent and providing for the whanau and in effect, I become a temporary salesman for hire – whereas otherwise, I really have to care and believe in it to last the time span to make it, as filmmaking is always a hard slog and takes a long time. Like all good work, it speaks to you within the first impression, so when you hear a song like ‘Little Things’ or ‘Not Many’ or you read a script, you should instinctively know whether it’s special or not. In saying that, once you have a kid, it does change your whole perspective. Since we’ve had our daughter Mala, I’m not making as many music videos as I used to because I’ve made so many and now I’m concentrating time on both feature films and family. However, I’ll still make occasional music videos because I adore the art form and New Zealand music and I want to keep supporting both. I’m making plans with a few of my favourite artists now 64
for videos this year. I’ve found nothing beats spending time with your kid. It changes everything and it really is the most profound and magic thing that happened to me. Your work consistently travels in and out of diverse cultures and genres with a wonderful eye for capturing the nature of different communities. What is your secret to the way you share their stories? No secrets, just a common curiosity and respect for other cultures. I was lucky in that when I was growing up, my dad was a diplomat for Foreign Affairs and as a family, we were raised alternating three years in our hometown of Welly and then three years overseas. I was both lucky and unlucky enough to spend my childhood in three-year postings in Ottawa, Bangkok and then Geneva. Thailand blew my mind, as I was seven to nine years old there and my brother David was ten to twelve years old. Like kids do, we picked up most of the language like sponges from hanging out and playing with the local Thai kids on our street. So when we moved back to Welly, for a while there, it was like we had our own private dialect at school. That was cool as we were just a couple of white, kiwi kids who could discreetly talk in Thai when we chose to. The key thing with Thailand was that unconsciously it taught me that how I live was far from how the rest of the world lives, which eventually teaches you once you return back home to Aotearoa. That’s also the case from suburb to suburb in opposite corners of the same city. That’s where my fascination with other cultures was born, so that translated into an inevitable interest within film for me. For example, when I shot the music
Never a man to sit still for long, Chris Graham has been tirelessly showcasing Aotearoa talent in our film, television and music industries for decades. Operating under ‘The Film Brewery’, Graham has served us up some iconic treasures, including music videos for the likes of Bic Runga, Trinityroots and Scribe, as well as his recent directorial debut, ‘Sione’s Wedding’.
video ‘Su’amalie’ for The Feelstyle all over Upolu Island in Samoa, I was enthused to capture what we found and really saw. In saying that, Kas (Feelstyle) gave me the brief and vision that he didn’t want the tourist video that we have seen in other videos shot in Samoa. He wanted the ‘harder they come’ portrait of the authentic real-deal Samoa. I think this is one of the reasons that I was approached to make ‘Sione’s Wedding’ as my first feature.
in New York or London but be less happy with a more suffocated lifestyle. At the end of the year, it’s whether you want to make visuals for New Zealand music to be seen as well as heard, and tell New Zealand stories for us all to experience on the big screen, about ourselves, which is what I’ve always wanted to do.
You once described the film industry as the “largest artistic playground” you’ve ever come across. Which parts of the playground do you most enjoy playing in? Every element. I really enjoy all the differing forms of art and like to look for inspiration in each when I can. What I meant by the biggest playground is that, to me, it seems like the most endless artistic form of learning because it is the one medium that pulls so many contributions of art all together into one. From writing, photography, music, fashion, lighting, acting, sound design, make-up, psychology, colour grading to many more facets all in one. Besides, it’s also one of the youngest art forms at just over
How do you see sites like YouTube affecting the work you do and the film industry in general? Everything is changing, both through the digital revolution and the Internet as a global multiplex for any uncensored work to be seen. The digital revolution made it affordable and accessible for anyone who wanted to be a bedroom filmmaker or musician to finally just shut up and do it. Film is probably the most expensive art form. Before handycams and home-edit suites on your computers were possible, you had to climb to convince someone that you could be a filmmaker before you had proved it with any work. That classic Catch 22 held many people back. With most families now having video cameras and access to the Internet you can easily, as YouTube says, “broadcast yourself”. Nowadays,
100 years, so in the long range forecast we are all still pioneers with so much more to explore that’s unchartered. Part of the beauty and my obsession with it is that every project I do, not only do I have a memorable and unique experience but I learn all over again how little I know of the medium and how much more there is to learn. I figure I’m never going to get bored by making a career out of it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s unbelievably hard work and draining, and especially with feature films, at times you feel like you are drowning and you are on your own in the deep end, but you get through it because you have to and like all tough times, you tend to forget most of the nightmares you went through and simply recall the highlights. That ‘film is glamour’ thing is a bullshit myth. The truth is, with our tiny population in New Zealand, many of our arts industries struggle financially due to how many people we have to see, hear and support the work. So although I’ve never made a huge amount of money out of film here, for the experiences, the collaborations and the lifestyle, I’d still rather live modestly and happily here in Aotearoa than move overseas to make bank
people who live in the corners of the world can potentially get seen and maybe ‘discovered’ through that huge inter-fishing net. I was reading recently how a 17-year old girl from Sweden posted herself singing at her high school talent quest on YouTube and then got a phone call from Justin Timberlake who had seen her video while surfing YouTube and then signed her to make an album on his label. That’s what the Internet and these broadcasting sites have done for people. For me personally, no one has signed me from singing on the Net but it seems to be an endless chasm of information, true or not. It’s too huge and untouchable to police, filter or censor, so it’s this monster of info that is growing out of control. On the negative side of that, I’ve had people telling me about shit they have read on the Net about my work and myself, which is untrue and hilarious. On the positive side, it’s great getting feedback from the eyes of strangers overseas, who have seen your music videos and short films, and express their perspective and experiences of it. Just like conversationally in life, there are obviously lovers and haters on the Net too.
Who would you most like to do a music video for and why? Fortunately I’ve made a lot of videos over the last eight years for local artists that I’m a big fan of and have had a blast doing it. When I moved back to Welly in ’98 from living in NYC for seven years, I adopted the American approach of being pro-active with the people I wanted to work with. I phoned them out of the blue and did a show-n-tell of my showreel at the time and that’s really how I ended up making videos for Trinityroots, Scribe, Che Fu, King Kapisi, Rhombus, etc. I’ve been talking to Freddys, Hollie Smith, Ladi6 and the legendary Dave Dobbyn about making something for each of them because I love their styles and I haven’t worked with them yet. Unlike years ago where I made up to five or six videos a year, now with juggling screenwriting for my features, TV commercials and indulging in fatherhood, it’s often about timing and timelines. But I’ll always want to make videos, especially for local music, as I still find myself daydreaming up concepts and ideas that I scrawl into a notebook to see if it fits a song that may come along at some stage. That’s
what happened with the Kapisi farming video we did years ago, which we nicknamed ‘Footrot Raps’, as I had the idea five years beforehand of doing a kiwi Hip-Hop video on a farm with no urban imagery whatsoever. Then when Kaps played me the song and said he wanted to make something funny and unusual, the idea just married well to the track ‘U Can’t Resist Us’. Videos are also a great playground and worth all the effort for no money because they are like visual poetry with the song as the soundtrack. The song and visuals should complement and amplify each other and the best videos do that. Much the same way that film is young at just over 100-years old, videos are like the youngest child at almost 30-years old with the birth of MTV and the earliest videos. So again, it’s such unchartered territory. I feel fortunate that I’ve been making videos in an era of New Zealand music, which seems to be sculpting a collective cultural sound – a coming of age for a diverse voice for Aotearoa. www.thefilmbrewery.co.nz
Sean James Donnelly aka SJD is not one to sit back on his laurels and ride the waves of tried and the tides of true. He is constantly pushing his sound in different directions and recapturing inspiration. Alongside all this, he’s also a father of three, so amidst the commotion is a search for some middle ground between creativity and compromise.
There is a strange phenomenon that happens sometimes when we move from the impulse to the business of trying to live off our creativity. Some call it ‘evolution’, many call it ‘reality’ or, in various pockets around the world, it is referred to as ‘faded idealism’. It happens often in the art world as the realities of making a living doing what you love wraps its commercial tentacles around that which you cherish the most and squeezes the inspiration out of the creation process. SJD knows a bit about this when it comes to making music. “I feel quite strongly at the moment … about this need to create … that I could walk away from trying to make music and sell albums and stuff like that, and go back to doing it more for the love of it, you know?” After numerous albums and decades of constructing a consummate musical career, SJD has come to recognise that the nature of creativity inevitably changes. Becoming a father of three was one of these triggers but, unlike moneymaking responsibilities, fatherhood offers more surmountable stumbling blocks to creative production. “I have to work really hard and I don’t actually get that much creative time because I have to pay the bills and stuff, but I find the best thing, if I really want to get creative, is either to make the kids go to school or involve them some way in the process.” Abandoning his children in front of a television set comes a remote second to what SJD describes as the “optimal situation”, which usually involves piano lessons or getting them to play the drums, whilst he juggles both the parenting and songcreation side of things. In many ways, the analogy of songwriting and parenthood is apt. Both move to their own rhythms and, as SJD points out, trying to force either along is difficult. “There is an element where it’s analogous and part of that is taking the time to help the songs reveal their true identity, which is really what you want to do with kids.” In the end though, the songwriting needs more discipline than children do and, as SJD admits, whereas good fatherhood is about knowing when to be hands-on and hands-off, “…with songs, sometimes you have to force the issue a little bit. I
find myself constantly writing and rewriting material to get it right, which is something you can’t really do with your own kids. You’ve got to leave them to find their own way.”
In a saturated market bent on profit-making over growth development however, that time and crafting needed to bring songs to fruition is often lacking, which subsequently impacts the way music is shaped. SJD describes the processes of performing live and recording an album as two very different musical methods. “It’s seeing them as two different things. In the studio I’m trying to move towards bringing the music as close to its true perfect identity as possibly. Whereas live is just a totally different thing, where you’re trying to produce music with a bunch of people and those songs are your template in a way. That’s the ground you’re occupying but you’re using that ground as a basis to improvise and do new stuff and create.” This seems to be at the heart of making music – that ability to play passionately and allow the music to move forward willfully and unselfconsciously. Such a spontaneous nerve centre can too easily become clouded by commercial demands. “The more pressure is on you to sell an album, the more the love of it kind of disappears. It goes from being a hobby, which is basically good for you to a job, which gets in the way.” It makes you wonder to what extent passion can translate into a commercial reality and yet still retain its magic and mysticism. SJD is the first to admit that the coin has two sides, “The thing is, I make a living out of doing music for ads and TV and short films and stuff so there is a whole aspect there that I pretty much need to keep doing, unless I want to get some awful 9–5pm job.” Perhaps there is no clear answer to overcoming the impulsecum-business shift when we choose to carve career paths out of our creative juices, but it should still be the bottom line; that we fight to retain the ardor, which is what sparked that fuse in the first place. SJD couldn’t agree more, “For me, the ‘love of it’ is something I would really like to recapture.” www.sjd.co.nz Written by AMIE MILLS
When talking with Kirsten, the tables were turned. She’s usually the one asking the questions. As a broadcast journalist and avid music fan, she has cut her teeth in the sharpest of places. Researching and interviewing is what she does on a daily basis, so over a brew in the sunshine I got to find out what makes Kirsten tick, how boys can shape your music taste, and how to paint pictures out of sounds and words.
How did it all begin for you musically? “I spent my first 16 years in Hawke’s Bay brought up on a steady diet of prog-rock from my dad. We were living on the farm and didn’t really have access to record stores or anything like that. So I grew up on his record collection and we bonded over Pink Floyd, King Crimson and Yes.” “I moved to Wanganui where I had a boyfriend who played in bands – it was a good place to be at that time – everyone was in a band, so we’d see live music most weekends. Every boyfriend I’ve had since has introduced me to new music, or ways to get it … much as I hate to admit it … though being hungry for more, if someone gives me a starting point, I’ll go off and seek out more where that came from. These days record companies and distributors send me stuff, but if they’re not fast enough, I’ll be scouring the Internet for what I’m after…”
Although grounded in the school of rock, Kirsten achieved her childhood dream of training classically as a flute player and reaching the heights of playing (one tour) for the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. However, she encountered the odd run in with an arrogant orchestra conductor or two and realised it wasn’t necessarily her bag. She admits that she attended too many Drum and Bass gigs, although there is a constructive side to her all-encompassing love of music. Working as a DJ at the iconic Wellington station Radio Active 89FM and with electronic musician Rhian Sheehan has led her to where she is now. Four years out from university, Kirsten found herself at Concert FM filing music on the merit of her “spotty knowledge of classical music”. But nine months later, realising again her desire to work in the contemporary field, she moved to National Radio to start producing content for their programme ‘The Music Mix’. She enjoyed then, and now, the technical side of her job, splicing together interviews, and does a vast amount of research keeping in constant contact with producers, promoters and musicians of all genres. “If you get any of your facts wrong, you’re going to know about it, they [the listeners] will tell you about it. So I don’t generally make a habit of getting my facts wrong, I try to be very well researched” “Radio New Zealand keeps throwing new things at me – if they keep this up, at this rate I’ll become a lifer. I’ve just started presenting and co-producing ‘Music 101’. It’s our flagship music show on Saturday afternoons from 2 till 5. It’s scary being live on National, but I’m a bit of an adrenalin junkie, so I love doing it…” “I love what radio can do, it’s like painting pictures out of words and sounds. It’s all about my ears for me, that’s how I live … through my ears.” www.radionz.co.nz Interview by REDBIRD JNR