Page 1

PR E S E N C E solo - 8. revisited, July 2011, still free



Pickachunes - Miles McDougall Photography Alex Mcvinnie


Project 1001 Photogaphy Ab Watson

All Project 1001 photos featured in this issue of PRESENCE are by Ab Waston

We claim no rights to the photos, artwork and articles given by contributors.

Š 2011 PRESENCE magazine all rights reserved.

Welcome to PRESENCE 8. revisited, A heartfelt thank you to all the people involved in the making of this issue: Miles McDougall, Alex Mcvinnie-Maidment, Matt Monk, Luke Rowell, Deborah Pathak, Sophie Pollak, Hollie Fullbrook, Georgie Craw, Olivia Young, Joseph Harper, Dedee Wirjapranata, Ab Watson, Anna Schlotjes, Andrew Tidball, Steven Lyons, David Vaassen, Matthew Ravenhall, Matthew Crawley, friends and family especailly my parents Judith & Gary Gotlieb, for their ongoing support. You can also read, listen and interact with this issue online: If you would like to be involved with the next issue of Presence please email: Greta Gotlieb 3.


Pikachunes -Miles McDougell PEAKING TUNES - Article by Matt Monk - Photography by Alex Mcvinnie


Tiny Ruins -Hollie Fullbrook WRITES LITTLE NOTES WITH BIG PLANS - Article by Olivia Young - Photography by Georgie Craw


Disasteradio -Luke Rowell THE POWER OF THE INTERNET - Article by Deborah Pathak - Photography by Sophie Pollak


Joseph Harper DARK HORSES DON’T WIN - Article by DeeDee Wirjapranata - Photography by Greta Gotlieb


Ab Watson 1001 REASONS TO LOVE AB. WATSON - Article by Anna Schlotjes - Photography by Ab Watson


CD Reviews CHEESE ON TOAST CD REVIEWS - Articles by Andrew Tidball - Artwork by Steven Lyons -(Thisisrabbit) 4.

Article sponsored by


Article by Matt Monk Photography by Alex Mcvinnie


and working on a project which you can read up on at

MILES MCDOUGALL IS A COOL GUY WHO IS PRETTY HONEST AND UPFRONT. UNTIL THE DICTAPHONE GETS TURNED OFF. It’s a Saturday evening at Cassette. I’m running late to see Miles McDougall AKA Pikachunes. So technically, it’s not at Cassette just yet – it’s on High St, when I look up and see him sitting on the balcony. I’d feel bad about running late, except he forgot about our interview a couple of days earlier so it all evens out. Now it’s at Cassette. I say sorry, make up some excuse about being late, and turn on my Dictaphone. It’s working, which is cool. Miles seems quiet – it’s always a bit weird meeting someone new then they ask you all this shit that’s personal, or worse, impersonal. But Miles has a calm air about him, so I’m guessing it’s not his first beer that’s sitting on the table.

“Over thinking is the downfall of a lot of musicians.” Pikachunes only released his debut album last year in November via Lil’ Chief Records. It came about casually enough – after playing poker with Jonathan Brie, Miles gave him his demo tape for a professional opinion. That opinion was that he should join the Lil’ Chief gang. “He came back to me with a nice professional email saying this is great and we’d love to release your album.” You’ll already know it’s good, because you’ve heard his songs on the old FM radio or seen him live at Camp A Low Hum. He comes up with these 8.

post electro gems with what he describes as a regimented process. “I go by the idea that if I sit down to write a song, I give myself a six hour bracket and I stick to that to the tee. If I don’t have anything I’m happy with in that six hours I scrap it.” Being a drummer by trade, Miles usually starts this process with a drum beat. “Writing beats is what I know how to do best.”

“I do class my music as pop music. It’s catchy and that’s how I write it. I’m not one to say I want to keep my shit underground forever...” There’s no set topic in most of his songs – the lyrics will follow from and flow according to the rhythm section and layered’ synths and guitars. “I won’t really have a set topic or anything in mind when I start writing a song... I like to have the music and structure there first.” So, he’s not like Eminem in 8 Mile, writing lyrics when they come to mind? “Not particularly.” Miles says he doesn’t ever have an idea of a song before he sits down in front of his laptop (no serious studio shit here). “I write lyrics and appropriate melodies based on how the song is already sounding. If it’s a melancholy song from the chord progression, I’m not going to sing about rainbows and bunny rabbits.” This isn’t to say that rainbows and bunny rabbits aren’t cool – they’ll just be sung about if it’s a unicorn chord progression. Unichord. 9.

“Over thinking is the downfall of a lot of musicians.” He says. “Then it just gets too complicated. I just like to sit down and start producing.” I ask him what he thinks is his biggest single so far. He answers ‘Nervous’, saying it defined his sound after moving up to Auckland from Christchurch and was a stepping stone into the industry. “It was my first taste in terms of charts... it was the biggest one that really put my name out there.” Does he think his sound would suit the top 40 charts? “I do class my music as pop music. It’s catchy and that’s how I write it. I’m not one to say I want to keep my shit underground forever... to have the opportunity to play as far and wide as possible is what I’m going for. I would love to hear my music on any radio station.” I tell him that’s refreshingly honest, before I tell him that it feels like there’s an instilled feel of take-the-pissery in some of his music. I figure he won’t get offended, but it occurs to me I don’t know how many beers he’s had. He doesn’t answer for a few seconds, so I clarify and say that I wasn’t calling them “joke songs... but they’re kind of... like... you don’t take them too seriously in terms of emotion and meaning, right?” I suddenly feel like a total dick. “I’m working towards my second album which is a lot more serious and all of the songs are about my life personally. The first album, I agree... it’s kind of satirical and there are songs about taking drugs and getting drunk” I feel like I’m in the clear.

“It was a direct reflection about living and Auckland and it was poking fun at the things that I find quite hilarious about this city. That’s a hard question to answer. I guess there is an element of joke in it.”

“It’s happened to me a hell of a lot, stage invading,” he laughs. I start talking about a video I saw of his performance at the last Camp A Low Hum when a crowd of people rushed to the stage to start dancing where Miles was playing. He says that he probably has an onstage persona, but at the same time he plays music because he enjoys it and people enjoy watching him having a good time. “It’s happened to me a hell of a lot, stage invading,” he laughs, “But at the same time, I’m a party dude like all of them and I like everyone else to have a party.” He’s such a nice guy and is so honest, I figure I’ll try and catch him when his guard is down. I ask what he doesn’t like about performing, and that I was not going to accept that it’s all good. I want dirt, damn it. Let’s get this shit in the gossip pages, right? He very hesitantly says that some bars are shit at paying. That’s fair enough. “That’s a biggie in this country.” He adds. The previous night, a party-going drunkard at Juice Bar got onstage and kicked a beer into Miles’ electronics. As he tells me this, he’s still trying to be polite, which I admire him for. He does concede that some drunk 13.

people can get frustrating, and even though he understands that his music is party music and drunk people love to party, they can get stupid and “...feel the need to get up there and give you a hug.” Speaking of audiences, I ask him if he thinks he has a typical listener. “I thought I did.” he answers. “The majority of people that come to my gigs are 18-25 year olds, but I’ve had quite a few older males in their 40s and 50s that grew up in the ‘80s listening to all of that pop stuff.” He likes that there is a broad audience that is into his music, but notes that it always tends to be girls at the front of the crowd. “With girls up there it means that the male audience is getting into it as well, because... well, they want to get some or whatever.” Refreshingly honest. So now I decide to ask another question that some might not want to hear, or may completely disagree with. I talk about the seeming four to five year lifespan that some New Zealand bands have. I know, there are arguments against it and it’s not the most solid theory, but it’s a point nonetheless. “I’m lucky enough that Pikachunes is a solo act and essentially I’m a producer. I perform as a producer live, so I get to collaborate with a lot of people a lot of the time.” He talks about remixes he’s done for other bands even though he’s only really been around for a year. “I’m happy to collaborate with people for the rest of my life...

I don’t believe that coming from New Zealand and being a musician is a negative thing. It might be if you’re bogged down with the fact that you’re in New Zealand and I think a lot of people fall into this trap of saying ‘I want to conquer the music scene’, and I think some of these bands trail off.”

“I don’t want to be big in New Zealand – I want to be internationally recognised.” So what does he want to do then? “My goal is not to take over New Zealand,” he says, not giving me the dramatic pause that I want, “it’s to take over the world. I don’t want to be big in New Zealand – I want to be internationally recognised. I think if you keep that goal in mind and strive for more notoriety and push really hard to get your music all over the world, there shouldn’t be any sort of hindrance internationally. I don’t think coming from New Zealand is a negative thing in terms of having a musical career... people love Kiwis all over the world. And if you’re turning up and playing some really cool music, they’re going to love it even more.” Good answer, Miles. Ten points. Top marks. So what’s in store for him next? Lil’ Chief is releasing Pikachunes first album on 12 inch to send out to college radio stations internationally, which is apparently the only way they like it. As mentioned before, there’s another album in the works which will probably come out in November. He’ll be

sticking around to play Rhythm and Vines next year, before heading to Europe to play gigs while basing himself in Paris. He has played internationally, though only in Australia, and he’s keen to make the jump to Europe and the States. He talks of some buddies of his that are doing well in the French music scene, which coincidentally leads me to ask my next question about buddy bands. Every band has some buddy bands, but surely they want to be buddies with another band as well. Make sense? Well, he got it, so sharpen up. His buddy Leno Lovecraft is making waves overseas, and is one of his favourite local bands as well. He likes his buddies from Rackets, and speaks very highly of Princess Chelsea, The Ruby Suns, The Brunettes, and others that join him in the Lil’ Chief brood. But who does he want to be buddies with? Who locally does he want to work with? “I’m lucky enough that a lot of my friends are in really cool bands in New Zealand. But I’ve played a couple of shows with Computers Want Me Dead, those guys are really nice, and purely for that reason I’d love to perform with them again. I wouldn’t mind playing with The Naked And Famous when they come back, but then again I’ve already played with those bands before.”

I’m going to go over to Australia pretty soon and play some shows with Cut Copy at some point.” 16.

Then, intentionally or not, Miles gives me a wonderful summarising spiel about his music, New Zealand music, and his take on the music scene. “The reason I moved up here is that this is the New Zealand music up in Auckland, and being a full time musician and gigging so often you get to meet these people anyway. It’s cool that I get to hang out with people that I look up to as musicians and I get to play with a lot of bands that I respect. I’m going to go over to Australia pretty soon and play some shows with Cut Copy at some point.” The future Cut Copy show came about when the band saw Pikachunes play a set while they were in town in May and invited Miles to play with them back in Australia. We talk about other bands he’d like to play with, most of which reside under the DFA label. It starts to turn all fanboyish – on both of our parts – so I decide to turn off the Dictaphone. I’m impressed with Miles, and find his sincerity and honesty very refreshing and humbling. When out of nowhere, a friend of Miles sees us talking comes up to say hello. Miles tells her about the fight he got into the other night, and shows a cut on his finger from a tooth. “Was that the one with...” the girl asks, mentioning someone’s name who I can’t remember, to which Miles answers “No, I just got knocked clean out that time.” He looks over, and says he’s glad that I turned the Dictaphone off. Pikaboo. Gotcha. 17.


Article sponsored by

TINY RUINS -WRITES LITTLE NOTES WITH BIG PLANSArticle by Olivia Young Photography by Georgie Craw


Bar and Café St. Kevins Arcade

Song-writing season used to begin in May for Tiny Ruins. This soulful talent is now busy with her national tour, an Australasian album release and ongoing work; song writing season is now full time and the four full seasons. The humble beginnings of a law degree she doubted and songwriting for theatre, has led her to producing songs such as Little Notes that simply make time disappear. She leaves a lasting impression of autumnal colours and philosophical ponderings.

Tiny Ruins has created songs that are far from wallowing in self-pity. The childhood ferry journeys to and from Dover gave her nightmares, and the industrial port in Bristol was her playground. Tiny Ruins speaks of her love/hate relationship with the sea, it resonates well with her songwriting to date and she often finds herself going back to lyrics suggestive of this topic. Her latest LP “Some Were Meant For Sea” (produced by J Walker and released on Australian label Spunk) draws on her love for exploration both over sea and nearby. Such associations also connect to the notion of travel, personal adventures and poignant memories invoked by a particular environment. In Old as the Hills she sings of someone losing their love to a man “losing their love to the sea - he left the shore all alone to travel the world around”, we are left with bleak imagery of a lost lover. 22.

These reflections are captured simply, but are shared in a way so that the listener is invited into some personal moment. The melody of Death of a Russian almost hangs in the air, whilst drawing the listener into the woven narrative. Despite the tenderness and occasional melancholy in her songs, Tiny Ruins has created songs that are far from wallowing in self-pity. Through her quirky, somewhat folk-like songs, her personality shines through as strong, open-minded and full of heart. Her narrative subtly unwinds as she shows her music, as opposed to stating the obvious or apparent. Her somewhat brave tour of Northern Spain in 2010 with Lieven Scheerlinck, aka “A Singer of Songs” a Barcelona-based musician left her with fresh inspirations and ideas for future albums. This was productive time spent learning about herself, the narrative behind her songwriting and the soul of her music. The road kept her creative mind ticking, she says, with the busy lifestyle on the road and as a traveler. This travel was a positive step forward for her songwriting resulting in the recording of an EP (Little Notes) and an album (Some Were Meant For Sea) in quick succession - the former being produced in an apartment in Barcelona. Tiny Ruins is environmentally dependent, she warms to the opinions of others and likes the flow of noise around her, unlike some artists. “The only songs are the ones you sit down to write.” 23.

As an evening owl, recording her latest album late at night worked best for Tiny Ruins. She laughs as she describes the nesting birds, in the historic school they recorded in, being too loud to record with. The atmosphere was somewhat mysterious, she describes, with her vocals and guitar producing natural reverberations. The support of cello, violin, piano, accordion, backing vocals and percussion give the music further body, without overriding the simple harmonies. She both slept and collated her recordings in an old reconstructed bakery, which she refers to as a unique experience. She enjoyed the rustic recording location, and would consider using other unique settings. Tiny Ruins describes the Auckland music scene as one that has developed significantly over the past ten years, whilst finding a niche within it and the freedom to produce what she wants. She enjoys the ‘cross-pollination’ between bands and the sense of community. There are no concrete plans to cross the ditch to join her record label at this stage. However, she has already spent a time in Australia at the beginning of 2011 supporting Joanna Newsom, Beach House, Holly Throsby & The Hello Tigers and The Middle East. As she sings “keep writing your little notes for me, from your very own hand”, future singles and LPs by the beautiful Tiny Ruins will come with great anticipation and expectation, as this four season singer sets the standards high.



Article by Deborah Pathak Photography by Sophie Pollak

TO PAY, OR NOT TO PAY, THAT IS THE QUESTION: DISASTERADIO AND THE POWER OF THE INTERNET Pay-what-you-want for music online – from zero to a million dollars, it is literally listener’s choice – I’m sure many of you would have heard about it. Many of you have probably done it. Some of you may even have paid money for it. But the question remains: Why would anyone allow their music to be available for download online for any price they choose? It may seem a strange choice for a musician, especially already successful bands, to choose such an avenue to distribute their music. What with laws such as the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill coming into place, it would seem that the financial gain from record sales is still of paramount importance. While this may be true for a lot of successful bands and record labels, it cannot be said for all musicians. For well-known bands such as Radiohead, who released their album “In Rainbows” over their own site with a pay-what-you-want option, such an act was a symbol of their freedom from the shackles imposed by the big record label they had been contractually bound to for years. While on the other hand, websites like,, and allow a vehicle for lesser known musicians to distribute their work through. The musicians simply rely on the power of the internet and its users to disseminate, listen and (hopefully) buy their music. It may seem like wishful thinking that artists will make any money or gain any kind of tangible benefit from making their music available like this, but the power of the internet is undeniable. Celebrities are made and destroyed with it. Unknown, semi-talented, 14 year olds become overnight 30.

sensations for posting videos of themselves singing in their rooms, singing about Friday, or their jeans, or some other inane topic that teenagers worry themselves about. For those seeking a career, fame, fortune, or those who just want people to enjoy their music, the internet presents them with a limitless playground where anything is possible. While he did not become an overnight teen sensation, the internet has been the perfect platform for Wellington-based DJ, Luke Rowell a.k.a. Disasteradio. He has not only benefited from a pay-what-you-want music website, but has also experienced the power of the internet when the video for his song “Gravy Rainbow” went viral this year. Made in front of a green screen in his living room, and featuring what I like to call “Muppets on crack”, the video is like a mushroom trip gone bad. Like the song or not, it is easy to see why it has garnered so much attention – good and not so good. This hasn’t fazed him though, sticking to the old adage, “Any publicity is good publicity”. This is particularly true for him as his online following has allowed him to work his craft all over the world – from frat parties in the US to gigs in the Czech Republic. He has released eight albums, is currently on tour in Europe and the US. Having done ten tours of New Zealand, several other tours of Europe and one of the US, he is nearly as well-travelled as Justin Beiber. As you can see, he’s not exactly a newbie when it comes to this music stuff. He’s been performing live since 2002, was signed to (the now defunct label) Capital Recordings, and has headlined 31.

our old favourite, Camp A Low Hum three times. He has managed to successfully use the online community to promote his music by getting his music out there and making connections with those who enjoy it. He released his latest album, “Charisma” on mp3 on in October 2010, and does not intend to change the way he releases his music. The freedom that it allows, and the ability to ensure that it is the quality he wants, is too appealing for him. Plus, he pointed out that inevitably someone would put it back online regardless. For artists like him, who have a following but are not Lady Gaga or Katy Perry, getting their music out there is the most important thing. Let’s be honest, who is going to buy a song that they haven’t heard before? The rate of dissemination on the internet is astounding so it is a very useful tool. If more people can send the music on, blog about it, or post it on their Facebook profile without fear of repercussion, then more people will see it and, thus, the higher the likelihood that someone will buy it. It seems that the answer is clear as to why artists would make their music available free of charge. The freedom it allows people – freedom from the confines of record labels, age, sex, or geography – is too appealing to many artists. This, coupled with the possibility of fame and fortune perpetuated by success stories like Justin Beiber, make it a very attractive option for many. The only question left is: would you pay?

It seems that the answer is clear as to why artists would make their music available free of charge.


Article sponsored by


Article by Deedee Wirjapranata Photography by Greta Gotlieb

The Golden Dawn Tavern of Power

When Joseph Harper left Christchurch and moved to Auckland three and a half years ago, he didn’t have any grand schemes to make it in the comedy scene. He came here to study for a Bachelor of Performing and Screen Arts at Unitec, his main focus being playwrighting. He’s the kind of performer, or stage actor, who likes to tell a story but sometimes uses his own odd sense of humour to pull out a few moves you wouldn’t expect. If you visit his blog, filled with amusing stories, top fives, poems, podcasts, show updates, and even some book reviews, you’ll find a hazy, idyllic picture of Charlie Brown sailing through the air on a backdrop of blue sky, a football floating serenely above him.

“Dark horses don’t win, they try, then they get turned into glue.” “Charlie Brown is the best character ever created in any medium. So relatable, that guy. And he’s so perfect. He sums up everything that is wrong but also really funny about the world,” he says. He once dressed as Charlie Brown, with the addition of a clown’s red nose, for the last part of a comedy show re-enacting a poignant break-up scene with two dolls dressed as Charlie Brown characters. It was strangely moving, and even made one girl in the audience cry. In 2010 he performed in a successful Comedy Festival show at Te Karanga gallery, which had him teaming up with comedic power couple Guy Williams and Rose Matafeo, he found himself nominated for a Billy T Award. 36.

He was seen as the dark horse in that race, and not surprisingly didn’t win. But it was exciting to see him in the running, even if he did say this about himself: “Dark horses don’t win, they try, then they get turned into glue.” On the bright side, he also said: “Danyon Loader was a dark horse. If I’m in the same league as Danyon Loader I’d be happy.”

“I find it hard to tell people I do stand-up comedy, cos I don’t think of it as stand-up comedy. It’s definitely a kind of theatre.” But even now he wouldn’t call himself a stand-up comedian. “I find it hard to tell people I do stand-up comedy, cos I don’t think of it as stand-up comedy. It’s definitely a kind of theatre.” His Comedy fest show this year was called Bikes I’ve Owned Vs Girls I’ve Fallen in Love With. Some inspirations for the show include Bruce Mason’s play The End of the Golden Weather, and Spalding Gray, an American actor, and playwright, who was most famous for his monologue Swimming to Cambodia. He also likes autobiographical graphic novels by Ariel Schrag. Watching his show at the Wine Cellar was an enlightening experience. He began by outlining the theme of the show 37.

by way of a wet dream (the only wet dream he ever had, he says) that combines his love of bicycles and women, by melding them both into one. The dream builds in tension up to a point where he’s naked, in a velodrome, riding on a bike with Sarah Ulmer who then melts into the bike, becoming part of it.. and he’s caning it round and round and round, riding this fantasy combination of girl and bike.. and then he wakes up. Terrified. Heading back to his theatre perfomance roots, he’s currently rehearsing a play for the Auckland Theatre Company’s Young and Hungry season (which runs from 23 July to 6 August). It’s called Tigerplay, and Joseph will be playing the lead, Russ, who’s broke, jobless, on edge and becoming obsessed with staring at the tiger at the zoo. The play was written by well-respected NZ playwright Gary Henderson, who was Joseph’s lecturer at Unitec. “I am probably going to do another night of Bikes I’ve Owned... in a little bit. Maybe midJuly. I’ll put up details on my blog when they arise. I have a better play though, which I’ll put on after TigerPlay’s finished. It’s also about bikes kind of. It’s pretty bleak. It’s more interesting than the other one though,” he says. And so the bike obsession continues. We can only wait and see, intrigued at what he might come up with next. Edgy, awkward at times, but honest stuff, with a few laughs thrown in to break the tension. Probably. ARTICLE BY DEDEE WIRJAPRANATA PHOTOGRAHY BY GRETA GOTLIEB

Article sponsored by

-1001 REASONS TO LOVE AB. WATSONArticle by Anna Schlotjes Photography Project 1001 by Ab Watson

Gary Gotlieb Barrister

1001 REASONS TO LOVE AB WATSON. AB Watson is a man on a mission. The mission, titled Project 1001, is not quite impossible, however, it does require commitment, creativity and 1001 photos. The brief is relatively straightforward - a photo a day for three years. Sounds easy enough? Not once we scratch the surface. Watson’s enthusiasm for the project is tangible, and within minutes I’m as immersed in his plans as he is. “I plan to have an exhibition at the end, but 1001 photos are a lot to display. I had originally thought I’d frame them all and stack them 10 x 10, but then I thought, that’s a lot of photos to frame and a lot of expense.” However, as he says this, Watson is already coming up with a solution. “So, now I’m thinking I’ll print them all and display them on magnets, I’ll still frame about 20 though, and people can buy those ones.”

“I did think about sponsors and funding, but decided I’m not interested. I don’t want someone telling me what to do” The great thing about Watson is his lack of fear of the impossible. Project 1001 is a huge undertaking, but Watson isn’t psyched out by it, and every time a problem arises, he solves it systematically and logically. Take the issue of funding; Watson has high hopes and big dreams for the exhibition that will take place at the conclusion of the project. He envisages quality prints, a brilliant CBD location and framed photography. All of this is pricey stuff, but Watson is a man with a plan, 41.

“I’d better start saving.” It seems overly simple, but other, more involved methods of raising funds have been mulled over, weighed up and discarded. “I did think about sponsors and funding, but decided I’m not interested. I don’t want someone telling me what to do, just because they’ve given me money, so I decided it’s just safer to fund it myself.”

“I like taking photos of strangers... It’s weird, because bystanders often get really upset… I’m kind of waiting for someone to punch me in the face.” Obviously, there is a story behind Watson taking on such an ambitious and enduring task, and to understand what that story is, one must understand his photographic roots. The story starts off well, “I’ve always been interested in cameras and as a kid, I just picked up Mum’s Canon A1 and started playing with it. Then I took photography in 6th and 7th form, and I was the kid that always hung out in the dark room during lunch.” This is where the story gets bumpy, “When I left school I got into a couple of crappy relationships and stopped taking photos. I also dropped out of Elim School of Fine Arts.” However, his relationship with photography began to get back on track when he started attending AUT, and was accepted straight into the advanced photography course, even though he was only second year. So basically, Project 1001 is Watson’s way to “force myself to take photos consistently for three years.”

Over the years, Watson has dabbled in many different art forms. “I used to do a lot of street art in the CBD, like aerosol and paste-ups. I tried painting, but I sucked, and I’ve done font design, animation, and I do graphic design.” However, it is his love for photography that has endured. So what is it about photography, and this project in particular, that holds his attention? “I like taking photos of strangers, they’re my favourite subject, I think it’s got something to do with the fact that, to take a photo of another person, a stranger, you have to push yourself into awkward situations. It’s weird, because bystanders often get really upset… I’m kind of waiting for someone to punch me in the face.”

“My mates are taking bets on when I’ll fail, but I won’t back down.” Watson’s intent is refreshing. This is not an over conceptualized project undertaken by a self-important artist. This is simply his way of forming and strengthening a bond with his chosen art form, a way to make sure he is making the most of his talent, and sharing it with the public as consistently as possible. Watson has made a commitment to Project 1001, and he will stick to his cause, “My mates are taking bets on when I’ll fail, but I won’t back down.”




Article by Andrew Tidball Courtesy of Cheese on Toast Illustrations by Steven Lyons Thisisrabbit - music lyric doodles



Tiny Ruins is the composing and performing moniker of West Auckland’s Hollie Fullbrook – and the release of her luscious and languid debut on Australia’s Spunk Records comes a after a year of collaborating and performing internationally. The story goes that, aged 11, her visiting Granddad encouraged her to pick up a guitar and from 14 years old on, she’s been writing songs. Listening to this collection, now, there’s a wisdom and worldliness that some would say beguiles her youth; you truly get the sense of a aged soul speaking to you through these songs – the timbre of Hollie’s voice sits on a knife edge of fragility and knowingness. Some Were Meant For The Sea is a total and complete collection of songs that sits, solidly as a body together; each song compliments the former and the next as a solid stream of warm glows and weary tales. By the time you reach You’ve Got The Kind Of Nerve I Like, you have already started to just be encompassed by the simple pleasure

of this record – but the melody there will truly melt the stoniest of hearts. Death Of A Russian and Adelphi Apartments are gentle brooks of gold as they trickle by enriching their environment. Little Notes is the lead single – it’s truly gorgeous as it winds into your brain and won’t leave, not that you ever want it to; there’s a sadness in Hollie’s voice here that speaks to every moment you’ve ever been sad and somehow empathizes and understands whatever has brought you to that space. While Cat In The Hallway and Running Through The Night are the brook continued, it flows into a deep and pristine pool that is Just Desserts; wondrous. Put your head under and drown in it, I say. Pigeon Knows drifts gently, knowing where it’s headed, but in no hurry to get there, before Bird in Thyme closes the record – Hollie’s voice breaks the most broken of hearts again and again. The record closes on a few moments of silence. Silence you need to absorb, just for a few seconds, where Tiny Ruins took you to. FIVE STARS 46.


This is Liam Finn’s sophomore solo album – and of course, unlike a bucket-load of other sophomores, Liam is well past that ‘difficult’ second album stage, miles past – a world away. Yet conversely, it’s a record, in many ways, that reflects a large concentration of experience into a relatively short period of time. The album was made over our New Zealand summer in Liam’s beach house, after a somewhat whirlwind few years of world travel. First single Cold Feet has pop classic written all over it. Led by a sixties guitar strum and a subject matter that is, somehow, hard-coded into the human condition – the finding of another who simultaneously thrills and calms us. The desire for comfort matched with thrill. The reason why there are a million love songs is because we all want to find the perfect one to sum up exactly how we feel / want to feel. There’s something eerily west coast and distant about the opening bars of the opening track, Neurotic World – you can practically hear the early morning mist over the calm sea parting as the sun rises through it. Piano-led, Liam’s voice fragile, exposed and honest. Reflective. I Don’t Even Know Your Name is about those immediate moments of spark we experience when we meet someone who connects on that chemical level – there’s a sense of urgency rhythmically here – a racing heartbeat perhaps; thoughts strike through the lyrics like bullets – but there’s a wonderful slur that works in juxtaposition to the tempo here – reflective, perhaps of a drunken mind trying to make sense of the velocity of the moments. 47.

Wlico’s Gleen Kotche helped create the drum loops on a couple of tracks here – on Real Late and on closer Jump Your Bones; on Real Late they create a locomotive drive that’s easily hypnotic – reminiscent of the sound that overhead street lights on a long late night road trip make in your imagination. While on closing track, Jump Your Bones they skittle-skattle and burst like a box of fireworks. What pleases me most about FOMO is that it doesn’t compromise – listening to it you get the sense that there was never a moment here where Liam though that something might be too difficult for the more broader audience to stomach. It’s a record of faith – in himself and in you to take the time to understand. FIVE STARS 48.


Let us, then, turn our attention to Princess Chelsea – mainstream media has dipped its toes into her metaphorical pool; it’s NZ Music Month, after all. And hey, she’s a bit freaky huh? But she’s also pretty. So we can palate her weirdness huh? She’s like Katy Perry. Except not shit. And, as least as far as I know, no one has stiletto’d another fan in the face at one of her shows. Yet. Bound to happen though, let’s be honest. In fact, my bet is that the heel will come from on-stage – I’m looking at you Jamie-Lee. What Princess Chelsea does so well, and captures here, on this long-timecoming debut album, is the juxtaposition between dark and sweet – her fairy-tale metaphor fits perfectly as she explores the sheen of social graces we awkwardly, and with mixed levels of success apply to our less than shiny lives. For most of, if not all my life, I’ve found the broader spectrum of classical music to be an empty thin veneer. Basically, my step dad thought it made him seem intellectual to like it and I thought he was a wanker. So there ya go. But, Chelsea has had a much different and, clearly richer experience of classical music – coming to it from a space of fantastical escapes but grounding it with things that are real. Utilizing the sweetness of sound to explore and discuss human conditions – from not understanding what someone sees in another, to brilliance not realized due to a lack of confidence; a bitterness expressed through aloofness; to the discussion between lovers about smoking. To realizing that travel is not always the answer to your woes; to finding someone, who isn’t perfect but is perfect for you; to a friend who has a drinking problem; to loving your laptop – because it’s a means to an end. 49.

Also, one cannot complete a review of this album without tipping a hat to the fantastic album artwork – illustrated by former Teen Wolf band mate Brad Fafejta – in a landscape where most people download albums, record companies and artists are so often reluctant to invest time, energy or money into album art, understandably so – but Lil Chief and Princess Chelsea have stood in the face of that adversity with this beautifully illustrated booklet that really is a valuable companion to the album. Holding this booklet, reading along and enjoying the subtleties of Brad’s illustrations double the appreciation of this record. Princess Chelsea doesn’t say she has the answers – she just has her perspective. It’s too easy to write Lil Golden Book off as something quaint and charming and a bit quirky – but it’s much more than that. It’s awesome. FOUR STARS


Friendly Fires return packing a tropical punch of an album for their sophomore. As winter creeps into our South Pacific lives once more, ready to stroke our rosy cheeks with its icy fingers, many of us will be dreaming of sojourns to more tropical climates. Palm trees, pristine blue pools of water, cocktails and parrots and other native beauties. If you’re a bit low on funds to make this dream a reality as you reach for your hot water bottle and hot chocolate as the ice-cold rain beats at your window, then might I suggest – mulled wine and Pala by Friendly Fires as a surrogate tropical break. We join them at the beginning of the party, naturally, as sun sets beaming its glorious red lights across the sky – the air still warm and Ed Macfarlane’s reprise “Don’t Hold Back” in the opening anthemic post-rave propelling Live Those Days Tonight is the perfect statement of intent for this record. It’s practically impossible to decline his proposal for a night of euphoric hedonism. Back-tracked reversed drum beats rewind into an intro for Blue Cassette – before we can truly move forward into the party, let us recall and remember a past love; a nagging melody from the most wonderful summers days of your adolescence – that summer romance. She / he sent you that mix-tape not long after returning home, but distance was a tyranny that young love was not strong enough to battle. Running Away captures that youthful frustration of love lost “If the Northern Lights were shining/You’d turn away”, it bitches. 51.

Hawaiian Air bubbles and Hurting lurches a nagging eighties recollection before centrepiece and title track is a slow paced swayer – fountains spray synth lines in beautiful slow motion – a dreamscape becomes a reflection upon the hedonism. A moment of introspection. We party, but why? Show Me Lights begs you back to the party, a bass kick that slowly kicks as a melody shimmers and shines. Tropical Trouble Funk is created / re-created in the opening bars of True Love; the funk-slapped bass-line is propelled and buoyed by Macfarlane’s falsetto – which continues into Pull Me Back To Earth as stars explode and hands raise to the tropical night sky, a sandy beach dance-floor underfoot. By the time the album closes you’ve been awake all night; probably fueled by something more than just the music; but if it’s wasn’t Friendly Fires’ Pala it would surely have been a bum trip. THREE-AND-A-HALF STARS


CD REVIEW ARTICLES BY ANDREW TIDBALL Courtesy of Cheese on Toast ILLUSTRATION BY STEVEN LYONS These illustrations are apart of Thisisrabbit’s - Doodle-a-day project.

Presence Magazine isssue 8.  

A free music magazine from New Zealand filled with alternative music interviews, photo shoots, art and culture. This issue includes, Pikachu...

Presence Magazine isssue 8.  

A free music magazine from New Zealand filled with alternative music interviews, photo shoots, art and culture. This issue includes, Pikachu...