Interview Laura Lee of Khruangbin New Zealand Show

Interview by Ali Nicholls / C.C.
/ Tuesday 12th April, 2022 1:25PM


Genre-melting Texan superstars Khruangbin are heading our way in December for their first ever Aotearoa headline event, performing at Tāmaki Makaurau’s Spark Arena with special guest US jazz icon Kamasi Washington. Presently touring the UK and scooping up rave reviews, for both their latest album Mordechai and a pair of collaborative EPs with Leon Bridges, Khruangbin bassist Laura Lee aka Leezy kindly spared the time to get on the blower with Ali Nicholls for a wide-ranging chat. They spoke about the trio’s return to playing live shows following the pandemic pause on gigs, how Khruangbin balance a diversity of sounds and cultural influences in their music, Laura Lee’s melodic approach to playing bass, post-tour travel plans and more…

Undertheradar proudly presents…

with special guest Kamasi Washington
Tuesday 6th December – Spark Arena, Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland (all ages)
General public tickets available via Ticketmaster

Ali Nicholls: How are you doing Laura?

Laura Lee: I just got to England for the first time since before the world changed. It’s really weird!

Is it different?

No, but I used to live here and I haven’t been here in so long, or it feels like so long, and I just like… It’s all the little things I forgot about, and I felt emotional but in a good way walking around.

I guess it’s kind of like a blast from the past to another era of life.

Yeah! But it’s also this strange feeling because it’s not like I’ve chosen to not come, I couldn’t come you know? … the pandemic has changed everything.

It must be such an interesting time to be making music.

It’s been really interesting. We put out Mordechai in 2020, really just a few months after the pandemic set in, and that was weird. Cause we had no idea how the album was going! You could read the internet, but that kind of doesn’t do any good. Then we came back to playing shows last year and our shows had greatly increased in size cause the album had done well, but we just didn’t know.

Was it a surprise that there was so much more engagement from people?

It was amazing playing last year. I don’t necessarily wish the pandemic on any other time, but how many musicians get to experience what it’s like to play for people after they haven’t seen a show in two years? It was really euphoric.

And that’s kind of the stage that we’re at now with you guys coming over. Is it your first time coming to New Zealand?

It is. I’m so excited.

It’s gonna be really cool! And I think a similar experience here with that kind of euphoria of that release. I imagine when you’re performing live, that the energy of the crowd has such an influence on how you gauge the audience and how you get to express?

Oh yeah, it’s a conversation. We always talk about how soundcheck is so much more draining, because we’re putting out energy and it’s not being reflected back. Whereas the show goes by so fast cause there’s so much energy in the room. But I’m so excited to play in New Zealand! It was one of the first countries to show us love weirdly. I remember way back seeing an article in the New Zealand Herald, and it’s the very last stop on this giant tour. We literally will be on the other side of the planet, and we can say ‘We toured the whole world!’ [laughs].

It’s gonna be really cool, especially in a stadium setting. I’d only ever really imagined it to be quite like an intimate setting for a show because the music has such an intimacy about it. What kind of stuff are we expecting

The live show does not sound like our albums. I think it’s somehow way more energy.

I’ve had a look online at some of the images from your shows and the looks are so powerful, and there’s so much visual emphasis and I feel like the energy would be so sexy and groovy.

There’s a time and a place for the intimate, slower songs. And because that’s how we got started, that’s our bread and butter. But I think those songs are really introspective in a way. So we tend to play bigger crowd pleasers. It’s not to say that we don’t dip into those! But I think it’d be a little weird if I wore shiny knee high boots and a tutu playing a really slow [laughs].

Do you feel like now that you’re getting more of a traction in terms of the scale of the live performances and the shows you’re able to put on, do you think that’s gonna have an influence on your music in the future?

I do. It had an impact on this last record cause I think there was an intention for these songs to be a little more uptempo than albums prior, cause we knew that we would eventually be playing them live and we wanted to have that feeling. It’s, in the three of us, it’s in our DNA. It’s not hard for us to pump out a more downtempo number, that’s sort of easy. It’s harder to write music in a barn with cows walking around, thinking about playing it at a festival. You know, I think that’s why the slower songs come so easy, cause we’re out there.

Do you think the creative process you guys have worked with for the past few albums is going to evolve as well?

No [laughs]. I mean, maybe. It’s just funny. Every record I’ve thought it was gonna be different, and you kind of get there and actually each of us is exactly who we are. This is where we intersect. And this is what works, I think. The thing that evolves is us as humans.

Even though that’s more of a gentle evolution, there definitely is kind of a trajectory with your music whether you’re leaning more into the psychedelia or the funk or the downtempo stuff but it all seems to have this fluidity. Where it’s never, ‘Oh this is gonna be our disco record’. It’s always seamlessly the Khruangbin sound. Do you think that just comes from experience?

I think it’s actually just letting go a little bit. There’s definitely no intention in that sense… if we ever come out and say ‘This is our blah record’, I think we’ll need to check ourselves. It’s always been that each of us writes organically and they take shape. I mean the only thing we’ve tried to do is cross pollinate different countries in a way. I wrote a bass line over a rhythm that was very Ethiopian, but we wanted to make sure that it didn’t sound like an ‘Ethiopian’ song, so then we kind of took this French approach on top of it and it created something that feels new. And then we did a dub Indian song… I remember there was an intention to see if we could mix traditions, to create more of a sense of it being global rather than reminiscent of one place.

Our first record was written about us as being a Thai record, and the second record was written up as being Middle Eastern. We wanted to make sure that this one wasn’t written up as… ‘inspired’ by one particular place, because that didn’t feel true to who we are.

You seem like people who get your references from so many different mediums and so many different places, that it would kind of be a disservice to all of the influences that you’re taking on board.

Exactly. 100%. That was exactly how we felt. With the first record it was like ‘You’re a Thai funk band’, but we’re not Thai. There’s really great Thai bands and we were feeling like, if you were in a Thai funk band in Thailand that you might hear that and feel something negative, which we would have never wanted.

My mate teaches music, and he always recommends his students listen to Khruangbin. Because it doesn’t matter what music you’re into, you can find something in there to follow and inspire you because of that kind of blend of flavours. It’s like a really delicious dish!

Yeah, agreed! We talk about food a lot when we make. Like with a curry. It’s delicious and savoury and you know, creamy and spicy or however you’ve made it. But when you put lime, or fish sauce, or something, then all of a sudden everything comes alive! So sometimes we’ll have a song and be like, ‘Where’s the fish sauce! We need the fish sauce!’ [laughs].

The music you play is complex, but the foundation is a pretty simple mix of drums, bass, guitar and now a little bit of vocals. And your way of playing the bass is so expressive, kind of wandering around the bass and exploring all of the tones you can get from it. What is it about the bass that’s particular to you? Because you don’t play it like many bassists I’ve encountered.

I like melodic basslines. I really like humming! And it feels like I’m humming, because it’s just one note at a time, and so I think you can really dig into the melody of something, because it’s just one note. Which is also, I remember when I first started playing bass and I had my first show with Khruangbin, somebody said ‘Bass is great cause it’s one note at a time, but if you play the wrong note then it sounds really wrong.’

It’s a lot of responsibility!

Yeah! I think, yeah when I hear my basslines I can hear a sense of melody in them that allows you to kind of attach yourself to the bassline if you wanted. Obviously you can zoom out and listen to the whole song and that’s the complete thing, but if you wanted to zoom in on the bass, it should give you enough meat to kind of have just in the bassline. I think because we’re just three instruments, the success of the songs is based on the interplay between Mark (Speer) and me.

I’m so excited that you guys are coming to New Zealand and also playing with Kamasi! Wow, huge.

Oh my god I know! We were like, ‘We follow Kamasi?! Have you seen him play?!’ It’s gonna be amazing. I’m definitely staying in New Zealand for a while after.

You gonna kick it here for a bit?

Yeah I think I might rent an RV and just drive around.

You really do get to see some places where it feels like it’s just you and the rest of the earth.

I think after touring that feels like what I’ll need!

UTRs 2021 Favourite Music Moments

UTR Team + Friends and Contributors
/ Friday 24th December, 2021 12:05PM


We’ve made it to the end of 2021, a year infamous for mass gig restrictions due to Delta, Tāmaki Makaurau’s longest Level 4 lockdown and no international touring in Aotearoa. While there’s certainly been tonnes of weirdness for future scholars to unpack (for example: who remembers Ariel Pink being interviewed by Tucker Carlson?), let’s not forget our live music community had a mostly clear run for the first half of the year and is thriving again this summer, and it’s been a strong one for local releases the whole way through. Check out our UTR 2021 End Of Year Playlist HERE for definitive proof.

As per festive season tradition, we’ve invited contributors and friends of the site this year to share five of their personal favourite and most notable memories from the past twelve months, plus a few red hot takes thrown in the mix for extra spice. Congratulations to everyone for powering through — a huge thank you to all the artists, event organisers, contributors, readers and everyone who supported UTR over the past twelve months. See you in 2022!




The Inaugural Student Radio Network Awards

God, these could have been so dull. I was gearing myself up for a ‘high school production of Grease: The Musical’ level of begrudging support, but ten minutes in and it was impossible not to be overcome by the wholesomeness, community spirit, and sheer grubby, homemade charm of the thing. Special shoutouts to Sports Team’s Minority Report inspired nomination video, the beautiful speeches from Reuben Winter’s mum and gran, Iona and Kaye, and also it was nice to get an award myself (cheers).

bb gurl live at Loud and Proud 2021

It’s hard to explain just how gratifying it is to see a fellow trans girl step out from behind their pirated copy of FL Studio and fully and unabashedly dominate the stage. There’s not many with as sharp a tongue as bb gurl, and none of them have Che’s ear for a hook. Stream TTYL <3 and don’t miss a chance to catch them live. Big things for this one in 2022!

deepState – MMXXI

The first time I heard deepState was through some pretty sketchy in-ears on the 22 bus going down New North Road and I was like “oh chill”. The second time I heard deepState was at midnight in the Wine Cellar on the big speakers after everyone had gone home and I was like “woah shit”. Now it’s gotta be about the hundredth time I’ve heard deepState and I’m still like… “hell yeah”.

Northcote Intermediate Choir and The Society Jazzmen – Creation Jazz

So this totally didn’t come out this year but I found the 7” on Trademe right, and it’s a 1972 soul-jazz interpretation of the biblical creation story, featuring a children’s choir from right around the corner from when I grew up. Why aren’t people doing this anymore? Nathan Haines get your shit together.

Milk III Album Release

Grief can be a totally overwhelming emotion, and I’m extremely grateful to have been able to channel it into this beautiful community event with so many people Reuben loved, and who loved Reuben. I keep trying to write something profound for this next bit about how “music at its core is about community and communication” but I think really the point would be better made if you just stop reading, and go and listen to Reuben’s music.



Merk ‘Deep Dive’ Shoot

One completely unsustainable step in the Sports Team music video-making process involves myself and co-creative directer Callum Devlin playing a game of Idea Chicken. No concept is too hard, no location too impractical. That’s how we end up with Mark Perkins and twenty extras on a Karangahape Road rooftop without a single pair of hands not sticky from maple-flavoured syrup. I’d like this to also serve as my official apology to all the volunteers who were promised bottomless pancakes and left with pancakeless tums. And my official thank you to Jed Parsons, James Penwarden, Kalyani Nagarajan and Chelsea Prastiti for the raw batter you collectively consumed.

Patea Māori Club

I’ve been super lucky the last couple of years to be invited to attend the Taite Music Award ceremony, an evening of recognising Aotearoa songwriting excellence and squeezing every last drop from an open bar. Besides the delightful sight of The Beths all dressed in beekeeping attire, I was also deeply moved by Patea Māori Club performing their 1983 te reo single ‘Poi E’, which was deservingly recognised with the IMNZ Classic Record Award. The experience caught me totally off guard and tears were shed.

The Chills Trash Recital

Another Sports Team-adjacent 2021 highlight was the entirety of Trash Recital — everything from hand-selecting the perfect broken bike pump at the dump, to sharing The Beths finale episode to wrap up the season. But the moment that always gets me happened during our afternoon with The Chills, when longtime band member Erica Scally realised the lyric in ‘Kaleidoscope World’ was in fact "If we were floating in a space capsule" and not "If we were going to a space camp school".

Vera Ellen – It’s Your Birthday

Vera Ellen’s music was fairly new to me this year, somehow slipping past my periphery all this time, save for her highly emotional Songs No​-​One Should Hear EP from July last year. It wasn’t until I helped video-makers Gussie Larkin and Ezra Simons on the video for ‘Public Bodies’ by Girl Friday that I cottoned on to her talent, meaning I was properly paying attention when she started dropping singles from all killer album It’s Your Birthday. Who else is writing music so catchy, so earnest and so badass, while maintaining that level of punk rock aesthetic? No one. Only Vera.

Fuzzy Dress-Up

Earlier this year Sports Team were asked to be roving reporters at Flying Nun’s 40th anniversary show at the Auckland Town Hall, capturing moments back stage and filming between acts. Naturally, I spent the better part of a week constructing a Fuzzy costume, bringing to life the nightmare-fuel Flying Nun mascot that had once only existed as a magnet on my parents’ fridge. Thankfully Fuzzy was a hit! An overnight sensation! So much so that I was flown down for the Pōneke anniversary show to take on another night of embodying a horrifying, faceless celebrity and making nightmares come true.



MVP: Ruby Walsh sound engineering Trash Recital

There were no guarantees that our “make musicians play their songs with rubbish” webshow would actually work, but it would have been an absolute sore mess without Ruby producing the tracks. Ruby is a talented and (extremely) patient producer, presenting a calm front for the artists to follow from. We’d ask “how does it sound, Ruby?” and she’d say “It sounds like someone hitting a glass bottle with a stick” and yet… somehow, it would end up as music. Thank you Trash MVP Ruby Walsh.

Mermgrown Wellington + Mergrown Auckland

Inspired in part by the Australian festival GIZZFEST, Mermgrown is a one day music festival curated (and headlined) by Pōneke indie superstars Mermaidens. The two shows almost felt as opposites; Auckland’s being an underground indie-christmas at Whammy-Backroom and Wine Cellar, while the Wellington show took place on a glorious sunny afternoon at a bowls green in Newtown. They were united by their absurdly great lineup, world class design and an overall feeling of warmth and excitement. I feel strongly that Mermaidens, through their combined forces as a high-functioning indie band, are capable of anything they set their minds to and we should all be deeply afraid. These shows fucking ruled, and I can’t wait for next year.

The Beths – Auckland, New Zealand, 2020

2020 was the year I saw The Beths live maybe 20 times, this set of songs in particular. They’re my friends and I love them, but it was watching The Beths play live that made them my favourite band, and getting to follow them on their October tour last year made me obsessed with each song and band-member in turn. I’m so incredibly proud of the film Sports Team made from this concert, and will always have a deep fondness for this recording. Favourite track: bird talk – Live

Planet Merk (Playlist)

A sonic expansion of musical influences for Merk’s dynamite 2021 album Infinite Youth, Planet Merk sits right on the boundary of groovy and heartbreaking, becoming a kind of “show your working” type experience when paired with the album. Fitting any occasion really, from dinner parties to plane trips, I returned to these songs again and again this year, cementing my love for the curated artist playlist. Highlights include the one two punch of Susumu Yokota’s dazzling ‘blue sky and yellow sunflower’ followed by Oneohtrix Point Never and Alex G’s ‘Babylon’ — listen HERE.

Princess Chelsea – Chabs at Milky Livestream Tāmaki

In May of this year, VHS livestream troubadours Chabs and Milky took their cameras on the road with a wildly ambitious national tour. I loved these shows, and attending in Pōneke got to see the true terror in the James’ eyes as they ran around juggling the needs of hardly functioning AV equipment and top tier NZ Musicians. I was out of town for the Tāmaki show, and tuned in late on my phone to catch Princess Chelsea (and band) absolutely tearing the room apart at Whammy Bar, leaving me stunned in tears when they finished their last song and the stream clicked off. It’s a memory that feels distinctly 2021 to me, so I’ve included it here. It’s on YouTube, just go watch it and we can discuss after.



To The Front Tāmaki Makaurau Fundraiser

Girls Rock Aotearoa’s To The Front Tāmaki Makaurau Fundraiser at the Hollywood Avondale was the first gig we got to see after that very lengthy lockdown, and it felt like a holy experience to be at a gig after all that time being starved of live music. Hearing Hollie Fullbrook’s (Tiny Ruins) shimmering voice and rolling finger style guitar while she played her perfect songs gave me full body goosebumps for literally the entire set. Anna Coddington played 2nd and her songs were so beautiful and personal and relatable and I was just pulled into her world. PolyHill and Samara Alofa did a fantastic set with Half Queen on the beats. Also Rachel from bFM did the best MC’ing of all time hands down. Go donate to Girls Rock!

Phoebe Rings

Phoebe Rings released their debut EP and MAN, I was hanging out for that one! Every time I went to Crystal Choi’s gigs and heard these incredible songs and that beautiful band vibe I just wanted to take it home with me and NOW WE ALL CAN ?
The ‘Spissky’ track is just the dreamiest thing in the whole woooorrld!

Wellington Jazz Festival

I got to play Wellington Jazz Fest in June with Bonita and Leda’s Dream, and it was my birthday that week, and the whole festival felt like a big party and everyone was so happy listening to/playing music with their friends! There were no international acts and whilst I know it’s awesome to have them, tbh it was just magical to be able to celebrate with our Pōneke and Tāmaki Makaurau Jazz scenes together! Watching GRG67 at Rogue and Vagabond just made me sail up to the clouds, it’s just the BEST BAND and our Rog (Roger Manins, the best Tenor player in the southern hemisphere) is the best Rog ;3
Their tune “Crab Empathy” is a literal Auckland jazz scene original standard
AND they just released some new music to boot!!!! EVIL GRG!

Opposite Sex – High Drama

One of me and Callum (Passells)’s fave releases this year has been the High Drama album by Dunedin band Opposite Sex; the track ‘Combine Harvester’ in particular is one of the most fantastically weird catchy and unique rock songs I have ever heard. The stutter lyric in the chorus is INSPIRED. I cannot name a single song like it and the whole album is pure genius — they have a sound that you just CANNOT get anywhere else and I cannot wait to see them play MY GOODNESS TOUCH WOOD FINGERS CROSSED.

Hans Pucket – ‘I Don’t Know What To Get You For Christmas (Do I Really Love You​?​)’

When Callum laid down his horn parts for Hans Pucket over the last stretch of lockdown, I got a sneak preview of their latest release “I don’t know what to get you for Christmas (do I really love you?)” and we’ve been singing it around the house for the last month, just being so excited for everyone to have their Christmas anxieties completely validated in song (upon its very recent release) by the genius that is Oliver Devlin. No one can write about the real ennui shit like this man. He is a TRUE MASTER of songwriting and always manages to turn those that distressing situations and social anxiety into hilarious and heartfelt hooks that you can sing mantra like to yourself when you’re stressing out about the same shit — he is my hero and Hans Pucket are the best goddamn band! Also LOOK AT THAT VIDEO.



Strangelove Music

Responsible for last year’s Kiwi Animals: Future/ Primitive Aotearoa compilation, Pōneke’s Strangelove Music had a productive 2021 with superb archival releases from Australia’s Scribble and Sweden’s Sjunne Ferger’s Exit, along with brand new drops from contemporary international artists Psychedelic Digestion Therapy, t-woc and by CCCVVV. Serving up time-defying collections of elegant dream-pop bliss, balearic beatscapes, experimental songcraft and more, compiled with an inquisitive and trustworthy curatorial ear, Strangelove Music vinyl LP releases have been "buy on sight" material for this fan.

Sports Team – UTR Trash Recital

It’s been a total pleasure to work with Sports Team — Annabel Kean (Assistant Editor of this site), Callum Devlin (Hans Pucket, Dateline) with sound engineer / mixer Ruby Walsh (Dateline / Misty & The Slug) — as they created our eleven episode UTR Trash Recital series, which from my 100% unbiased perspective is some of the best local music content produced in 2021. Trash Recital is made by artists with artists, a too rare showcase of the fun conversations that can spark while actually making, as well as a testament to the inventiveness of our musical community. Special thanks to all the amazing guests on the show and bring on Season Two!

Cathode TV

Not directly music related, but I spent much of Tāmaki’s endless lockdown months exploring the cinematic delights of Cathode TV, rewiring my brain with an expertly curated selection of underground trash / arthouse / action / horror / documentary / psychedelia / you name it beamed out almost daily online. Which is a bit of a long-winded way of saying I’m now an Oingo Boingo fan after finally being exposed to their 1982 new wave musical opus Forbidden Zone, so it was a thrill to feature Luke Rowell’s (Eyeliner) in-depth interview with legendary band leader and Simpsons theme tune composer Danny Elfman this year on UTR.

SRN Awards

A necessary balance to a local musical conversation ruled by Spotify playlist-compatible blandness and radio-friendly tune-smithery for the past few years, the inaugural SRN Awards celebrated the wildly diverse musical energy that fills our student radio airwaves and compels crowds to pack out Aotearoa’s venues every weekend. It feels right that the bulk of this year’s awards went to hugely missed sonic innovator Reuben Samuel Winter aka Milk for his world class album Milk III.

Foodman – Yasuragi Land

I listened to Japanese electronic producer Foodman aka Takahide Higuchi’s 2021 Hyperdub album Yasuragi Land a LOT during Tāmaki’s lockdown and continue to do so. Inspired by "eating at Michinoeki, Japanese motorway service stations and the simple pleasures of regularly visiting the local Sento (Japanese public baths)," the crystalline beat abstractions of Yasuragi Land helped me imagine the ambience of such enticing destinations, heard from the perspective of my tiny little apartment.



Limp Bizkit live at Lollapalooza 2021

When this dropped on YouTube I was hooked immediately, watched it way too many times, tried to make all my friends watch it — with the timing of the HBO Woodstock 99 documentary that came out around the same time, it sent me deep into a Limp Bizkit phase that I was way too young to have in the early 2000s. The band is absolutely killing it musically, somehow these 20 year old songs feel fresh as hell, and not only did Fred Durst debut his iconic new look, but he’s hilarious all the way through and has completely maxxed out his rock frontman skills stat at this point — watch HERE.

The violin version of ‘Wildest Dreams’ from the Bridgerton sex montage

I watched the first 20 minutes of the first episode of Bridgerton with my girlfriend before I stormed off like a dorky sexist sitcom dad, yelling that I couldn’t get into this hacky tv show for girls. Three days later, I was composing DARTZ’s 2023 hit ‘Earn the Thirst’ in the other room when she yells at me to get back in front of the TV right now, and when I did I witnessed what I can only describe — completely earnestly — as the most powerful music moment of the year. The montage of Daphne Bridgerton and the Duke of Hastings banging in numerous different positions and locations around their countryside manor, set to an impeccably performed instrumental violin cover of Taylor Swift’s best song, overwhelmed me with all kinds of emotion, like it was so funny and surprising but also conveyed so much passion.

The SIX60 discourse from Jan-April

It was pretty crackup how everyone got so swept up talking about Six60, especially in the lead up to their Eden Park show. Absolutely no one was immune, I know I was completely caught up in it. Its very funny to me that a lot of people aren’t very comfortable with them being such an institution for normie NZers, and that you can get some kind of reaction from absolutely everyone by even mentioning them. I ended up actually listening to a fair bit of Six60 in that early part of the year (they got some bangers IMO) so maybe I’m just nostalgic for those simple summery pre-Delta times. Let’s do it again when they tour in March and April lol.

All the NZ musicians who are grinding on TikTok

Not at all joking, very honestly shoutouts to anyone from NZ who’s on TikTok trying to promo music, seems like it requires a fuckload of drive and work ethic — and even after that you’re still at the mercy of the algorithm – but if you’re doing it you should be proud of yourself for trying and for knowing that you’re hustling in the right place at least. It does make me worry about musical minds getting burnt out, because the world is demanding an entirely different set of skills from them. I know my brain’s far too scrambled as is to even consider making TikTok content regularly, where else are you gonna blow up in 2021? So good on yas, keep it up and TAKE CARE of yourself mentally.

Bo Burnham – Inside

The songs from Inside are my album of the year by far not even kidding, I fucking thrashed this album from the moment it came out. I was gonna say the “I’m a special kind of white guy” drop in ‘Comedy’ was my favourite moment, but after listening again the bit that takes the absolute cake for me is the bridge on ‘White Woman’s Instagram’, I love how he lures you in with the goofy Instagram bop then gets you to feel so much in such a short time.

Bo Burnham · White Woman’s Instagram




Flying Nun 40th Anniversary at Auckland Town Hall – Solid Gold Hell

Flying Nun 40th Anniversary at Auckland Town Hall – Subliminals

Surf Friends – Good Thing

BEASTWARS – 10th Anniversary Tour

Night Lunch – House Full of Shit



SRN Awards

The first SRN awards happened this month, and it honestly made my year. It was always an idea that we floated around at the SRN meetings during my time at Radio One, but never thought it would happen. It’s so cool seeing the legacy of the bNets live on through an awards ceremony that celebrates all the insane talent Aotearoa has to offer, because they absolutely deserve it. I cannot give enough praise to the SRN stations and Naked PR for all the hard work in general and for creating the event, and I hope that it can last long into the future.

Adelaide Cara – How Does This Sound?

One of Otepoti’s finest, Adelaide Cara is a force to be reckoned with. They released their debut album How Does This Sound? earlier this year, and if you haven’t listened to it yet then you’re missing out. Adelaide explores so many different genres from alt rock to baroque pop, and it all just works together so well. The track ‘Eden’ pays homage to my hometown of Dirty Dudz, and actually makes me miss it for once which is incredible. Adelaide is an absolute powerhouse, and I cannot wait to see where they go next.

Leaping Tiger – ‘Gooey’

When Leaping Tiger first released Gooey as a single, it was all that I listened to for a week straight. The beat always fucks me up, and works so well with the vocals on the tracks. There’s so many good lines from the song that it’s hard to pick a stand out lyric, but the line of “I can’t fake it, I think I gotta say he’s just a fucking d-grade version of me” just always hit’s me so hard and I can’t explain why. Soulsleep is an incredible album all together, but I guess my minds soaked up in goo.

Amamelia – WOW! The 2021 Remixes

When you start off an album with a 160 bpm footwork remix by the King of Redwood himself Liam K. Swiggs, you know you’re in for a treat. Amamelia’s debut album WOW! was one of my personal highlights of last year, filled with some insane tracks that make me want to shred up the dance floor. I didn’t think it could get better until WOW! The 2021 Remixes was released earlier this year, featuring a stacked line-up of Imugi 이무기, Eyeliner, DBLDBL x Trapjaw Kelpie and others, that bring their own unique flavour to each track. There’s no other way to describe it other than it just SLAPS.

DARTZ at Newtown Fest

Newtown Fest was fucking sick. After a day of hitting those craft beers hard, Earth Tongue were meant to take the stage until postponed by a power outage. This led to Poneke rascals DARTZ taking the floor (literally), for probably one of their best performances yet. The boys were on point, the crowd was absolutely pumping, and the energy was unbeatable. I mean what more could you want for a Sunday than a whole group of sweaty people screaming about how you can’t beat Wellington on a good day?



Footmahi 2021

Always holding a place close to my heart is The Big Fresh Collective’s crown jewel — the annual 160BPM themed Footmahi compilation which is dropped during NZ Music Month. This year’s 2021 entry might have been the best yet with a decentralised bank of hot tracks crafted by some of the finest producers Aotearoa wide featuring some yummy mahi from; Amamelia, TOYOTA, Paploco, DJ Simon Dallow, Jay Knight, Bomb Dylan, Keanu Raves Young Gho$t & more. If you love your local electronic music and haven’t heard this compilation yet then like what the fuck, you gotta check this shit out! NOW!

BFC One Night Stand Gig in Wellington @ Valhalla

Imagine pro wrestling meets breakbeats meets unlimited boxes of Haagens meets a bloody ripping Valhalla crowd and you’ve got yourself what we like to call a Big Fresh Collective One Night Stand. It was an exclusive night of high-intensity Footwork, Juke, Jungle and Techno stylings with a line up consisting of a mixture of 03 heavyweights and Welly legends & to top it all off with some of that classic BFC flavour. The DJs had their own personalised entrances & theme songs as they made their way to the RING through the crowd like an authentic WWF house show in the 90’s! What an absolute ripper of a night for The Big Fresh Collective’s first ever out of town/redwood experience! Seriously, get the tables and chairs ready, put the Haagens in the chiller and look the fuck out for the BFC nationwide One Night Stand tour in 2022 – you’ve heard it here first on UTR!

deepState – MMXXI

We made an amazing new friend here this year @ The Big Fresh in the amazingly talented deepState who took the country by storm with her frothy as debut 7 track EP MMXXI. Out via the good homies @ Sunreturn; Deepstate knocked the country for a tasteful yet powerful six runs back straight back over the bowlers head with her lush, earthy, heartwarming tech/rave vibes found across the seven tracks of MMXXI. My personal favourite release of 2021. Yummy!

Amamelia Release Party In Auckland @ Whammy

Few things: Amamelia is a national treasure — we must protect her at all costs, Sunreturn sure know how to put together a fucking good remix album and on top of that Sunreturn also know how to put on a fucking ripper party! That’s right c**ts it was an absolute night for the ages and I was counting my lucky stars that a humble bedroom DJ from his Mum’s sleepout in Redwood was gracing such a bill! A bloody star studded line up across two rooms; Amamelia, bb gurl, Big Fat Raro, Citacsy, Dbldbl, Go Nuclear, Imugi 이무기, Jack Russell, Tei., Trapjaw Kelpie, Alexa Casino as DJ Snakelegs, Eyeliner beamed live and direct from Hong Kong & yours truly Liam K. Swiggs on the decks too. You couldn’t ask for much more I wouldn’t let ya — NRL First grade level performances by all it was such an amazing night enjoyed by everyone who came along celebrating what was a fucking yummy remix album in itself. Huge highlight for me. Also big love going out to my Warriors behind the bar Taylor & Lucy for sliding me a few extra Red Bull voddies to keep me on my toes like RTS.


Was kinda hoping I’d get in trouble for this one so I could do the 7 O’clock weeknight circuit rounds and talk with Hillary and Kanoa about the shortfalls of living on Studylink also at the same time getting the booster shot up the ass that my music career really needs… Yeah that’s right I dropped an edgy as fuck translucent 7′ Inch EP this year called Shittylink. The songs are called; “Food, Rent, Expenses, Piss” and let me tell you — the struggle is fucking REAL! Please buy my shit LOL <3



Me releasing an OK second album!

Okay I’ll get myself out of the way first so I can talk about other people! I released my sophomore record Cosmonaut! Bandcamp Daily & Stereogum dug it which was cool, I did my first tour, got a song on the news during the weather, charted in the top 40 at #40! Okay done boasting about my achievements.

Skirts – ‘Great Big Wild Oak’

A bunch of my favourite artists released beautiful records this year, favourites being the new Elbow, Katy Kirby, Another Michael, Wurld Series, Cindy records (and others ofc), but I want to highlight this record in particular! I’ve been such a big fan of Skirts since her first EP ‘Almost Touching’ in 2018 (and her first lathe cut ‘night walks/in love’ in 2017), and I think her new album was worth the wait! The most beautiful DIY folk-tinged record of the year, released on Double Double Whammy, I listened to it when I was feeling sad on tour and it made the long road trips really lovely. Beautiful cover too!! I feel incredibly proud she was on my first album lol.

The May Day 2021 / International Workers Day concert

Maybe a weird local addition to this list but it was a personal highlight! It was a night of music (put on by the Canterbury Socialist Society) and in particular I loved hearing Petit Poisson (Rachael from the band Model Home) play! From memory they played a cover of a Tom Frampton song, which introduced me to his music and sent me down a rabbit hole!

ecotone – all the spaces inbetween vol. 1

A beautiful compilation from a new label that I’ve been following! I always get excited when a new label pops up, and this comp is great! 7 songs, they only made like 25 CDs or something (I got one!) and there is a beautiful song on it called ‘downfall’ by witchbaby which is stunning.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s first official rap verse

And on a Tech N9ne track lol. Wild stuff. I think the funniest thing about it is that for first two lines it’s genuinely great. The “It’s about drive, it’s about power” bit fucking rocks. As a whole it gives me the same feeling as the that classic Celebrity Rehab exit where the guy quotes Rocky and then screams like King Kong. Memeable but also embarrassingly powerful, you’re just like *feeling it*. I love it so much and I love Dwayne Johnson.



Jenniva – Soul Searchin’

The accidental collab with Eyeliner’s “Pinot Noir” being sampled into Jenniva’s “Soul Searchin’” – via a third-party DJ selling the sample uncleared in a beat without disclosing it:

Jenniva · Soul Searchin’


Clear Licorice – American Crew

Clear Licorice aka Wywy Brix releasing a new collection of wonky-donk puzzle music on the full-length cassette album American Crew.

FM Skyline – Illuminations

Fave album of the year: FM Skyline’s Utopian Virtual / Impressionist Vaporwave opus Illuminations with a perfect richness and bittersweet edge to match the spirit of our age:

Power Nap – Out Of The Pit

Power Nap (aka Chris Cudby) asking us all the perennial question for 2021 — what will we find crawling out of the pit? In Out Of The Pit, resulting in a well-deserved #1 spot in the Aotearoa Student Radio Network:

Erika De Casier – ‘Polite’

The impeccably served delicate RnB by new 4AD signing Erika De Casier, especially with the hardcore televisual pastiche in the video for ‘Polite’:



Arooj Aftab – Vulture Prince (New Amsterdam Records)

Meditations on places, people, relationships, and friendships from days past, set against jazz, Hindustani classical music, folk and even reggae. Vulture Prince is the Pakistan-born, Brooklyn-based composer Arooj Aftab’s third album and it’s one of the most remarkably moving and immersive records of the year. Check out the harp on ‘Inayaat’, like a portal into another realm.

Noa Records’ Te Whanganui-a-Tara Pyramid Club Residency

Although covid restrictions dialed these nights down to an intimate twenty person capacity, they couldn’t dull the intensity of the performances and collaborations. Over several nights, they were a compelling reminder of why Tāmaki Makaurau’s Noa Records are one of the most important and vital music collectives currently operating in Aotearoa. A rare treat for an often challenging year.

Cassandra Jenkins — ‘Hard Drive’ (Ba Da Bing Records)

For me, this was one of the songs of the year. Affecting prose and an elegiac arrangement that encapsulates so much about 2020 and 2021, but hopefully not 2022 (haha). It’s been a hard drive for a lot of us, and while there are common threads, the challenges are often subtly different.

Radio Alhara راديو الحارة

Radio Alhara is a Palestinian internet radio station that broadcasts from Bethlehem and Ramallah. I started listening to them in 2020 and ended up hosting the odd show for the station. It’s such a wellspring of incredible music, meaningful culture and inspirational storytelling from across the Middle East, North Africa and nowadays, even further afield.

AP & Kamahumble – ‘HEKAHORCY’ (YKK)

Were any other Aotearoa music videos more joyful than ‘HEKAHORCY’ this year? The visual styling of this clip was unforgettable, much like AP’s singalong drink-up chorus and Kamahumble’s confidence. It’s always great to see artists from the North and South Island linking up; that’s where the magic happens.




I would like to congratulate Joe Locke and myself for doing absolutely nothing this year.
No singles, no albums, no videos and total lack of interest.
Just two little old clown lady’s with a Focusrite interface and a box of some kind of pre-mixed, self loathing, ethanol based, clown drink hell.

Blink 182 ‘Jumper’ tee

I ordered this official merch a couple of months back.

My best friend said:
“you’re really ordering more Blink-182 merch?”

My girlfriend said:
“This is terrible”

It reminded me of the time when I was 11 and wore a South Park t-shirt to school and talked in a Cartman voice and got beaten up.

Blarf – Cease & Desist

Stones Throw records did a limited reissue of this album and I didn’t buy it and then it sold out.
The album artwork is really good, it has a clown on it, a McDonald’s logo on the cover, a Pepsi logo on the back and a Burger King logo on the centre label.
It also has a photo of Michael Jackson with his hair on fire.
My favourite track is “Badass Bullshit Benjamin Buttons Butthole Assassin”.

Milk – Milk III

I don’t know what to say other than I think this album is a flawless one and I’m so thankful that it was able to be shared with everybody.
In my opinion ‘Maple’ is one of the greatest pop / rock songs ever made.
We all miss you all the time, Reuben X

Joe Taylor Sutkowski – Of Wisdom & Folly

My friend Joe Sutkowski looks like Ronald McDonald but if Ronald McDonald was hot and had a fat ass.
This album is really beautiful and heartbreaking.
It’s just amazing that this music came out of a person who talks about nothing but pee pee and poo and often gets diarrhoea by eating candy from France.
I love you Joe you little clown.


Jordan Rakei – ‘Family’

This song is sooo good. I love everything about this guy. New Zealand’s finest!

Slightly narcissistic number two, but, releasing ‘six-out-of-ten friend’ and hitting the SRN number one was awesome. Finishing off my debut album has been such a struggle financially and mentally. One thing I’ve learnt is when I get uber negative on music ie sunk-cost fallacy, what’s the point, payola etc is to catch myself and reframe it ie It’s good to be making music again and I’m stoked with all the awesome people who’ve helped me make the best album I’ve ever made. It really is all a learning curve and I can’t wait to kick my social anxiety to the curb and start playing live again and then make album two. I’ve missed playing live, it really is the best part.

Wolf Alice Blue Weekend was my favourite album of 2021:

Number four is tie. I’m stoked that two of my favourite artists are making music again. Kelly, my long time friend, who I grew up with, just put out an album, Proteins of Magic. And, I’m also stoked there is a new Fazerdaze record on the way.

Easy Life – ‘Have A Great Day’

I love everything about this song. The video is cool too:



REI Compact – Breadbath

Breadbath is a haunting and cathartic journey through incredibly beautiful electroacoustic soundscapes. I was bathing in buckets of sounds along the crywank / experimental / ambient music spectrum in 2021 but this album in particular really struck me as for its sensitivity to the times which it has been created in, and I feel that music with this kind of specificity is so valuable and culturally essential. There’s really confronting tracks on this album between comforting and melancholy arrangements — like a call to not avert your eyes or ears to the bleak, muddled times we’re living in, but with a hand on your shoulder to remind you you’re not alone.

Trans artists dominating

Where were our local trans artists in 2021? Fighting their way to the front of the music scene, top of SRN charts, experimenting hard and sounding damn hot doing it. I sent my crush a VSB track then took them to a gig as my girlfriend, I planned out queer rave outfits for BB Gurl merch, cried my eyes out to Charlie OPI and bathed in starlight with Votiv, remixed Amamelia and was transported into medieval fantasy with Gayblade, explored urban forests with Jenny Cauldron and stuck Brown Boy Magik on repeat all day when the spring sun turned up, listened to L V J when I wanted to feel cute, and ripped up my bedroom dancefloor to club-burning tracks by Synthetic Children, Current Bias, Nightmare Honey, Sequentia and Fern. The drop at four minutes in this Synthetic Children track drives me insane.

Listening to Mad Frank’s Summoning EP and cooking breakfast

Listening to this EP almost every day while I cooked all lockdown in Tāmaki Makaurau was one of the sweetest music moments for me this year. This EP strongly reminds me of the kind of Kiwi music that my dad used to play on road trips when I was a kid.

Drug Testing was legalised!

Fr! That happened! Aotearoa became the first country in the world to legalise drug testing. Music festivals and other fun stuff just got a whole lot safer for drug users and their friends, and I’m damn thankful for that! KnowyourstuffNZ are absolute heroes for pushing this law, and risking their livelihoods to thread needles through drug testing loopholes at festivals for years before it was legal. It’s time to start treating drug testing like a condom and catch those cathinones before they’re inside your cavities.

Kraus live at A.R.T.E Festival

Back in July in the depths of the Parisian Tie Factory in Myers Park, a single spotlight shone on Pat Kraus sitting at a desk in the centre of The Audio Foundation gig room, encircled by rows of chairs & frozen spectators barely visible in the darkness. Between the four speakers in each corner of the room the sound began to move, sweeping and surrounding, in a quadraphonic demonstration of synthesizer mastery… We actually had a video of this at work so I uploaded it yesterday just 4 u all xoxo Wear headphones.

Traffic Light Settings Announced For Aotearoa

Chris Cudby / Traffic Light photo + drink by Sports Team / Monday 29th November, 2021 4:20PM


More details on the forthcoming traffic light system were revealed by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern this afternoon. From 11:59pm, Thursday 2nd December, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland along with a number of North Island districts will transition from alert Level 3 to Red, while the rest of NZ will shift to Orange, these settings will be in place for the next two weeks. This is excellent news for many upcoming gigs, as venues using vaccine passes at Orange can run live shows without audience restrictions [fistpump] under the new COVID-19 Protection Framework, just in time for the forthcoming weekend. Here’s what each traffic light setting means for our live music community, according to the site:

Red — Auckland, 
Northland, Taupō and Rotorua Lakes Districts, Kawerau, Whakatāne, Ōpōtiki Districts, Gisborne District, Wairoa District, Rangitikei, Whanganui and Ruapehu Districts

Record keeping and scanning are required.

Face coverings are mandatory on public venues, and encouraged elsewhere.

There can be up to 100 people, based on 1-metre distancing, in a single defined space at the venue at any time [where My Vaccine Passes are used]
More details on Red HERE

Orange — the rest of New Zealand

Record keeping and scanning are required.

Face coverings are mandatory in public venues, and encouraged elsewhere.

There are no limits on the number of people who can be at the venue. You do not have to be seated to be served [where My Vaccine Passes are used].
More details on Orange HERE

Promotors can update their gigs with the new “Covid Pass Required” check box HERE

Request your My Vaccine Pass HERE

Full official info available on My Vaccine Pass HERE

My Vaccine Pass Launched In Aotearoa New Zealand

Chris Cudby / Photo and traffic light drink: Sports Team
/ Wednesday 17th November, 2021 10:01AM


As confirmed by the government in late October, the My Vaccine Pass (formerly referred to as vaccine certificates) has launched in Aotearoa today, to be used with the forthcoming traffic light level system as part of the COVID-19 Protection Framework. Described as "an official record of your COVID-19 vaccination status for use within Aotearoa New Zealand," the pass can be requested by "anyone aged 12 and over who has had two COVID-19 vaccinations administered in New Zealand, or who has been given a medical exemption." Notably the passes have a 6 month expiry date and cannot be used for international travel (once borders reopen again), those heading overseas will need to request a seperate International Travel Vaccination Certificate.

A My Vaccine Pass will guarantee you unrestricted entry to live music events this summer. Under the new traffic light system (red, orange, green), there will be no limits on indoor / outdoor events if passes are required upon entry by organisers — restrictions will be in place where passes are not required. The pass will include your name, date of birth and a QR code which can be saved on your phone and / or printed out and scanned at events. We encourage you to apply for yours as soon as possible, although you might want to hold off until later today as the website is currently moving slow due to high demand.

"Requesting your pass only takes a few minutes and will be emailed to you within 24 hours. The quickest way to get your pass is through your My Covid Record, but if you cannot access this service you can call 0800 222 478 — have your NHI number ready."

Request your My Vaccine Pass HERE

Full official info available on My Vaccine Pass HERE

Our team welcomes the use of vaccination passes in Aotearoa, as they will allow live events to happen under the safest conditions possible for those in our community most at risk from Covid-19. We encourage you to help protect yourself, friends and family by getting vaccinated if you haven’t done so already (our team is now all double vaccinated) — you can get the ball rolling by booking HERE.

The Beths Unveil Live Album Film Auckland New Zealand 2020

Chris Cudby
/ Friday 17th September, 2021 8:02AM


Arising from humble beginnings playing Tāmaki Makaurau subterranean dive bars to achieving fame on a global scale, The Beths share today a new album and concert film documenting a key moment in their already fabled career. The team of Elizabeth Stokes, Jonathan Pearce, Benjamin Sinclair and Tristan Deck‘s live record Auckland, New Zealand, 2020 captures the energy of The Beths’ landmark headline event at Auckland Town Hall last November, triumphing over last year’s lockdown dramas to treat local fans to one heck of a show in the iconic venue. You can feel the emotion in the air as Stokes sings big-hearted anthem after anthem and hear the crowd squealing with delight as Pearce lets rip with Thin Lizzy-esque guitar shreds — like a career-spanning, sixteen track retrospective from a veteran band that are somehow only two albums deep.

You can enjoy the stream of the live album right now, then scoot along to the band’s YouTube channel or Vimeo from 4PM NZT today to enjoy the concert film of Auckland, New Zealand, 2020, created by longtime collaborators Sports Team — who also worked with The Beths in making this week’s magical seasonal finale of UTR Trash Recital. The Beths are hosting a Watch Party on their Patreon this Saturday 18th September from 11AM NZT, giving supporters the neat opportunity to watch the film in real time with the band.

The new release comes along with the happy / unhappy news The Beths’ forthcoming multi-night residency at Tāmaki’s Whammy Bar is still going ahead, but has been postponed with new dates to be announced. Now unable to journey to Aotearoa for the shows, Australian songwriter Stella Donnelly says: "I’m very sorry that I can no longer take part in these amazing shows with The Beths, and my own show at Meow. It was something I was very much looking forward to and hope we get to make it happen sometime in the future.” New dates and support info will be revealed by the organisers soon — ticket holders will be emailed direct from UTR [check your promotions, spam and junk folders].

‘Auckland, New Zealand, 2020’ is out now digitally via Carpark Records, the release of the vinyl LP edition has been postponed until Friday 1st October due to Level 4 restrictions.

The Beths Perform Im Not Getting Excited UTR Trash Recital Episode 11

Sports Team / A.K. / Wednesday 15th September, 2021 12:05PM


We’re stoked to share the eleventh episode and season finale of our new web series, created in collaboration with the talented gang at Sports Team: UTR Trash Recital!

For each episode of Trash Recital we’ve invited some of our favourite Aotearoa artists into the UTR studios to perform one of their signature songs, re-created using everyday items selected from a treasure trove of literal trash, collected by Sports Team from Tāmaki Makaurau’s finest op shops / second hand stores. Trash Recital not only provides a launchpad for stunning reimaginings of recent classic tunes, but also the perfect opportunity for a chinwag with our local musical heroes.

Aotearoa’s The Beths are the final stars / victims of Trash Recital season one, and the loveable, huggable crew of Elizabeth Stokes, Jonathan Pearce, Benjamin Sinclair and Tristan Deck hit it for six. It’s the start of a massive seven or so months for the multi-award winning Tāmaki four piece, who are launching their Auckland, New Zealand, 2020 live album this Friday, have a bunch of local shows up their sleeves and a North America / EU tour in their sights for January onwards. Before they were too swept up with all of that, Sports Team dragged them onto the Trash Recital set for a one-of-a-kind recreation of their ripper track ‘I’m Not Getting Excited’ from their latest album Jump Rope Gazers. Watch as The Beths build makeshift instruments and fart machines in the final episode of Trash Recital season one…

A thank you

The process of building Trash Recital from a humble dust bunny to a big, stinking pile, eleven episodes high, has been an absolute joy. Thank you to Undertheradar for giving Sports Team this opportunity and trusting us with this project. Chris Cudby and Daryl Fincham gave us total creative freedom to make a video series from scratch, and have gone full tilt to support Trash Recital, giving it so much time and nurturing to fulfil its potential. I’d also like to thank the mega talented Ruby Walsh for taking on her role as audio engineer with excitement and a much needed open mind. Ruby has been our Trash Recital secret weapon, and is the person who actually proved it could be done and that we hadn’t just thought up some total dud. Ruby is the Sports Team 2021 MVP. Thanks to NZ On Air for all your support and for being our number one fans. Thank you to all the artists that let us film them enduring this special new type of torture specifically catered to musicians. Thank you to those who watched, shared and enjoyed.

Much love,

Sports Team

DOP: Callum Devlin

Editor: Callum Devlin

Title Animator: Annabel Kean

Sound Engineer: Ruby Walsh

Sound Mix: Ruby Walsh

Theme Tune: Callum Devlin

Project Manager: Annabel Kean

Production Team: Sports Team

UTR Production Team: Daryl Fincham & Chris Cudby

Special thanks to Bob Frisbee

Made with support from NZ On Air

The Beths Announce Wellington Shows New Live Album and Film

Chris Cudby / Photo credit: Amanda Cheng
/ Wednesday 11th August, 2021 9:00AM


Taking time out from the ever-expanding rollout of their Whammy Bar residency, The Beths are sending a whole lotta love in Wellington’s direction, announcing today two headline events in the windswept capital this October, including an all-ages show. The globally celebrated gang of Elizabeth Stokes, Jonathan Pearce, Benjamin Sinclair and Tristan Deck of have also thrilled fans with the announcement a new live album and concert film documenting their landmark 2020 Auckland Town Hall headline event — releasing on 17th September via US imprint Carpark Records and adeptly filmed by Sports Team (who also do amazing work creating UTR Trash Recital). Revving up for live appearances at Tauranga Arts Festival, Labour of Love, Nelson Arts Festival and Outerfields, The Beths now have a full scale tour of Te Ika a Maui on their hands. Stokes enthused about the flood of memories prompted by the Auckland, New Zealand, 2020 concert film…

"Watching the film for the first time brought back all the emotions of 2020 for us. Sports Team have done such an amazing job of capturing the mix of anxiety and simple joy that was touring music in NZ at the time. We are so grateful that it happened and grateful to have it documented with so much love and care.”

The Beths

Friday 17th September – The Others Way 2021, Auckland*
Tuesday 28th September – Whammy Bar, Auckland w/ Stella Donnelly∞
Wednesday 29th September 29, 2021 – Whammy Bar, Auckland w/ Stella Donnelly [sold out]

Thursday 30th Septempber 30, 2021 – Whammy Bar, Auckland w/ Stella Donnelly [sold out]

Friday 1st October – Whammy Bar, Auckland w/ Stella Donnelly [sold out]

Saturday 2nd Oct. 2, 2021 – Whammy Bar, Auckland w/ Stella Donnelly [sold out]

Friday 22nd October – Tauranga Arts Festival, Carrus Crystal Palace, Tauranga○
Saturday 23rd October – Labour of Love, Black Barn, Hawke’s Bay○
Friday 29th October – San Fran, Wellington
Saturday 30th October – CoCA Massey, Wellington [all ages – afternoon show]
Sunday 31st October – Nelson Arts Festival, Neudorf Vineyards, Nelson○
Saturday 4th December – Outerfields 2021, Auckland○

Wellington tickets available HERE via UTR 
∞Auckland Whammy Bar tickets available HERE via UTR 
*The Others Way 2021 tickets available HERE via UTR 
○More ticket info + full tour schedule available via 

Experience the trailer for Auckland, New Zealand, 2020…

Check out a majestic live footage from the film of The Beths performing ‘Future Me Hates Me’…

Pre-orders for ‘Auckland, New Zealand, 2020’ are now available — Live Album here and Film here.

Interview Ocean Alley Spring Tour of Aotearoa with Hockey Dad

Interview by Clark Mathews / C.C. / Photo credit: The Sauce
/ Tuesday 3rd August, 2021 11:14AM


Massively popular with gig-goers in Aotearoa and their Australian homeland, surf-psych heroes Ocean Alley have an epic-scale tour of our shores lined up for September — headlining Auckland’s Spark Arena, Town Halls in Dunedin and Christchurch as well as Wellington’s cavernous Michael Fowler Centre. Selling out back-to-back shows at The Powerstation, high profile supports for Six60 at their landmark Western Springs Stadium and Forsyth Barr Stadium events, and veterans of our summer festival circuit including Rhythm & Vines and Rhythm & Alps, Ocean Alley will be joined on their spring musical travels by fellow New South Wales wave-lovers Hockey Dad. In the top 20 shortlist for the prestigious 2021 APRA Silver Scroll Award, DARTZ bassist and co-songwriter Clark Mathews stepped up to the plate and quizzed Ocean Alley’s Mitch Galbraith on how they’ve achieved their devoted local fanbase, the inevitable challenges of thinking big as a band plus more…

NOTE: While the travel situation between Australia and Aotearoa certainly isn’t as rosy as it was a month ago (when this interview took place), Ocean Alley’s NZ dates are set to happen two weeks after the travel bubble suspension period — reopening 11th September at the earliest. The tour is currently still good to go with the originally announced dates, but you can bet we’ll keep you informed about any breaking developments.


With special guests Hockey Dad

Wednesday 22nd September – Town Hall, Dunedin

Thursday 23rd September – Town Hall, Christchurch*

Saturday 25th September – Spark Arena, Auckland

Sunday 26th September – Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington

Tickets available via
 *Tickets available via

UTR Roving Reporter Clark Mathews: I interviewed Oli from Lime Cordiale the other week and he mentioned you guys — said that you boys were really instrumental in encouraging them initially to get over to NZ and start touring and building a fanbase here. Is that a lesson that you guys learnt early on?

Mitch Galbraith: Yeah, we actually back as far as like 2015, I think, had spent so much time touring Australia and were looking for greener pastures to play. People don’t realise this but Auckland is closer than flying to Perth from Sydney. That first time we went over we hired two wicked campers and drove those around playing shows, had a really spectacular couple of weeks, and ever since we’ve pretty much been telling people to get their asses over. Can’t speak highly enough about how much fun we’ve had over there as well as the shows.

I can imagine — you guys have played a lot of festies over here…

Yeah and interestingly they’re pretty different to the festivals we do in Australia. The people are just different, I don’t really know how to explain it — maybe because the festivals are a bit smaller in New Zealand they attract these great communities, feel a lot friendlier as well. Maybe we just got lucky with the ones we’ve done, but yeah those experiences have been so refreshing.

Back pre-Covid in 2020 you were over here playing with Six60 who are New Zealand’s biggest and probably best band, doing a couple of huge stadium shows. What was that experience like?

That was a crazy time for us, we’d done some big stages before but that was definitely our biggest ever stage and crowd in New Zealand. We were just in awe of how much the whole country loved Six60 and how they seemed to have such insanely dedicated fans. Their stage show was really impressive too and to see that go off without a hitch was really cool, it was a wonderful time.

Are there any other NZ bands that you guys are friends with or are into?

The Tunes Of I [aka TOI] gentlemen — I was listening to their latest release this morning actually. Such talented musicians and pleasures to hang out with, we’ve played heaps of shows with those boys.

You guys are doing some pretty big venues this time to be fair — I don’t think there’s too many New Zealand artists who would book Spark Arena. How do things change for you guys for those bigger shows versus smaller ones?

Haha — I remember playing gigs back in Central Sydney bars, saying to each other that we’d never be the kind of band who printed setlists out, we’d always write them just before we went on stage so we could focus on having fun. But that didn’t really last for very much longer — a show like this, everything’s very pre-planned, both the setlist and the production has to be sorted out in advance, to make sure everything looks and sounds as cool as possible for the audience. We’re actually going to go do some extra rehearsals and go over some of the older stuff from our repertoire again for these shows, to make sure we can do it all perfectly.

True. How do you approach fitting all the stuff from the new album last year into the setlist alongside the old stuff as well?

Gotta start with the majority of Lonely Diamond — sorting out which songs need to be included and which don’t. Then after that, we try to make sure we play at least a song or two from every record and EP that we’ve done. It can be hard trying to make it all fit, there’s definitely songs that sometimes you question if they can fit but you know people wanna hear em. It’s been a lot of deliberation trying to figure all that out.

You probably haven’t played those Lonely Diamond songs much live yet, right?

Exactly, so we’re not at all over em yet, basically. It’s still fresh for us — that being said though, we have been writing heaps of new music recently so once we’ve started that process, it’s become a mix of Lonely Diamond feeling old but also new. It’s an interesting one.

Stoked as that you guys are bringing Hockey Dad over — do you guys go very far back with them?

Yeah same — those guys are from a surf town just south of Sydney, we’re from a surf town just north of Sydney, so we’ve crossed paths many times. We’ve played a bunch of festivals with em over the years and really love their music, so that’s a real cherry on top for us this time, being able to share this tour with them.

I saw them a couple years ago in a smaller venue when they were over here and energy-wise it was one of the most wild shows I’ve been to, I’m interested to see how that energy carries over to those huge venues…

Yeah. For being a smaller band, those guys do a huge stage more than enough justice. Billy’s got so much energy on the drums — he’s a sweaty mess when he comes off stage after a set, slips and skids off everything in the green room.

Yo before I let you go, what’s your favourite Eric Clapton song?

Wow. I gotta go ‘Layla’.

That’s a classy choice man. Acoustic or electric?

Definitely the acoustic, that’s speaking on behalf of our other guitarist Angus as well, he loves acoustic ‘Layla’.

Damn, very classy. All the best mate, enjoy your day.
See ya.

Listen To Eyeliners Free Buy Now Remixes Album

Chris Cudby / Image by Luke Rowell / Thursday 27th May, 2021 2:22PM


One of Aotearoa’s foremost computer musicians, Luke Rowell is revered by music lovers across the globe as the visionary creative force behind Eyeliner and Disasteradio, while his (hors d’) oeuvre also includes such scintillating side projects as Super Doobie Bros. Rowell has teamed up with The National Library of New Zealand to cut the ribbon on The Luke Rowell Digital Music Collection, announced today along with the release of Eyeliner’s Free — Buy Now: Remixes album. Featuring reworks of tunes from his 2015 vaporwave / MIDI pop classic Buy Now, the new collection showcases contributions from electronic artists Amamelia, Liam K. Swiggs, Eventual Infinity and many more to enjoy immediately, all downloadable for the magical price of nothing at all.

The product of more than a year’s work, The Luke Rowell Digital Music Collection (ATL-Group-00554) currently "comprises a comprehensive array of digital production and master files relating to" Buy Now, and it set to be expanded to encompass even more of Rowell’s back catalogue in the near future. There’s plenty of tasty technical details to tuck into relating to the huge archival project, full info is available over on the National Library website HERE. The crib notes are: "Buy Now is FREE for noncommercial reuse with stems, MIDI and in-depth making-of screencasts," and Rowell "has generously granted a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA licence, so you can download the music for remixing and other creative reuse." Check out a video starring Rowell explaining his exciting new project, and prepare to spend the rest of the week bopping along to Free — Buy Now: Remixes below…

The Luke Rowell Digital Music Collection is fully accessible over on The National Library of New Zealand website HERE, with detailed explanatory info available HERE.

Interview Vanessa Worm and Eden Burns

Chris Cudby
/ Tuesday 11th May, 2021 1:40PM


Attracting an ever-expanding global fanbase for both her electrifying live performances and excellent 2020 debut album VANESSA 77, electronic dance innovator Vanessa Worm (the nom de plume of Tessa Forde) is playing a special double-headline show with partner in crime, DJ and producer Eden Burns this week at Tāmaki Makaurau’s Phoenix Cabaret. Standouts at Friendly Potential‘s Catacombs and Beacon festivals, the latter of which was beamed out internationally for Boiler Room, the duo recently relocated back to Aotearoa from Melbourne and are currently getting amongst Pōneke’s fertile artistic community. I had the opportunity to chat with both artists late last week as they were blowing up balloons for a Club 121 event. Delve into our conversation below and don’t dare miss Vanessa Worm and Eden Burns bringing the party with special guests "post-empire themed dungeon power techno" three-piece Grecco Romank on Friday…

Undertheradar proudly presents…

Vanessa Worm (Live) & Eden Burns

Friday 14th May – Phoenix Cabaret, Auckland w/ Grecco Romank

Tickets available HERE via UTR

Chris Cudby: Could you please chat about your journey over the past year to living back in New Zealand, from living in Melbourne?

Eden Burns: We’ve been living in Wellington for about three months now, and really loving it.

Vanessa Worm: We came back from Melbourne in July, so obviously Covid happened and all of our housemates left back to New Zealand. We stuck out in Melbourne for a little bit until it started to expand a bit more… and then came back end of July. And then we were in Invercargill with my parents, then to Wellington.

What kind of Wellington communities are you currently participating in?

VW: Eden went on tour with the 121 guys in January. Through that, the room that we’re living in now became available, so we’re quite closely tight knit with them. But for me personally there’s still so much much more I want to get involved in, I just haven’t been here long enough.

EB: And it’s not necessarily just 121 or DJs and things, there’s a lot of people around that are making music and all seem to support each other and be friends. Bands or DJs or rappers or whatever. Everyone’s just very friendly and supportive.

You do a radio show together as well?

VW: We’re hosting RadioActive’s Monday Flow show. That’s a combination of some of their playlist songs and the music that we like to play as well. That’s really great fun and the RadioActive people they’re so amazing. That’s another community that is very strong.

How would you describe your collaborative relationship with each other?

EB: We’ve just finished an EP of sort of weird, post-punky sort of stuff. But I don’t know, we don’t actually make a hell of a lot of music together.

VW: It’s something that we both want to do, just a matter of time and when we’re both ready for it. I think we’ve just been putting a focus on our own work. But we’re collaborating through Head Rush, throwing parties, and we’re DJing together tonight… we’ve been talking about making music and stuff, so that’s in the works.

Are you both originally from Invercargill?

VW: I went to boarding school in Dunedin, at high school. Eden grew up in Christchurch and then went to Dunedin. I was born in Invercargill but I grew up in Winton, which is like 30 minutes from Invercargill on a small lifestyle farm / block thing.

You moved away from Dunedin after high school — did you get a chance to see any of Dunedin’s live music scene back then?

EB: When we were younger. When I first met Tessa, she took me to some house parties that had live bands. We’d go to The Crown quite often and watch our friends’ bands and stuff like that. We were fairly involved… We used to spend a lot of time with The Attic, which was a bit of an institution in Dunedin.

VW: I was at boarding school and I was super into music, but there was only two other girls at my school that were into it. So, I must have 16 or 17, I decided to go to Chicks Hotel. That just introduced me to like all of this underground music that was going on, in Dunedin, I made friends there. From there I got quite amongst it really. But I was still really young. Me and my friends we used to do this thing called The Dungeon, and it’s this underground, warehouse sort of space in the Octagon of Dunedin. We would throw gigs, use it as a studio, we got people in to do art exhibitions and stuff. There’s an article about it on Vice from ages ago.

I’m quite interested in the relationship between your recordings Tessa and how you interpret them live. When I see your shows they feel both inclusive and kind of confronting as well — I feel moved to dance. What is important to you in live performance?

VW: I think what carries me through my live performances is holding a level of acceptance, for myself and the energy that is coming through me. Whether it feels good or doesn’t feel good, if it’s confronting for me or… whatever it is, it’s just holding a level of acceptance. I’ve had a lot of people mention that they watched my performances and that helps them feel more accepted. So I guess that’s a big one. In regards to the music side of it, I mostly choose to perform and sing on the songs… the music gives me a way to share energy with people. Do you understand what I mean?

I can think of it as like sharing a feeling that you have, sharing that feeling with the audience.

VW: Yeah. When I’m pretty much opening myself up completely. Singing and performing in front of people, I generally find really scary, so it brings up a lot of emotion in me. The music is a platform for me to discover a lot of those feelings, move through a lot of these feelings in a way that I can share it with other people. I don’t know why my life performance is that way, it just is. Sometimes I tried to do something different, more musical in nature, in the sense of doing more things on Ableton or whatever. But generally it comes back to me being on a microphone, using my voice as a way to move through different feelings.

Both times I saw you play [at Catacombs and Newtown Festival], I wasn’t sure whether the audiences that you’re playing to were super familiar with your music, but it seemed like people were into it immediately. How much of your live approach is improvised?

VW: Heaps [laughs]. There’s lyrics to my songs. But I don’t practice the singing before I play. I just get up and do it. ‘Tiny Revolutions’ I’ve got the lyrics there, but I generally tend to bounce off and do something different. Maybe 30% of the songs don’t have any lyrical content, so it’s just whatever happens, happens.

Speaking of lyrical content, to my ears there seem to be some elemental themes running through songs on VANESSA 77, like ‘Bones and Blood’ and ‘Heaven to Hell’. What informs your lyrical process… how do the words take shape?

VW: It’s coming up two years ago that I made a lot of those songs, so it’s hard for me to remember exactly the process. But again, when I recorded the lyrics, pretty much one take, and whatever comes out of my mouth, so pretty much improvised. I think ‘Bones and Blood’, I had written a poem and then I sung those lyrics. But every other song has been just literally one take, chuck the lyrics on, pretty much improvise those lyrics and they came out like that. I don’t really know where they come from… At the time those were the ways that I could describe this make believe kind of reality. To make sense of basically the process of growth, I’d say, in the process of overcoming certain burdens or emotions.

Eden, can you please tell me what is the idea behind your Big Beat Manifesto series?

EB: Pretty much after I released my first record with Public Possession, I was sending them about five new tracks a week. Very quickly, they ended up having quite a big collection of all these little demos that I’ve made. That was an idea that we both came up with. To start this small series of these little, I guess, goofy conventional club tracks, and put out quite a lot of records in small runs. I’s a way for me to get all the little jams and silly club songs out.

I wish I’d managed to grab a copy of the latest one on vinyl.

EB: I’m actually still waiting for my personal copies to come. They’ve been stuck in Frankfurt for about three or four months.

You’ll both be playing with Grecco Romank in Auckland. Have you heard or seen Grecco Romank before? They’re quite a sensational live experience.

EB: I haven’t seen them live, but last time we were in Auckland Sam [Harmony] was showing me and Tessa the music in the car when he picked us up from the airport. We both really, really love it. Really looking forward to seeing them play live.

Just to wrap everything up and let you guys do your tasks — what releases do you both have coming up in the pipeline soon?

EB: I’ve got another Big Beat Manifesto record coming out in June. So that’ll be volume three. And then I believe volume one and two are actually getting repressed as well, in June. And then me and Tessa, we have a EP together, which is under a different name. That will be coming out towards the end of the year.

VW: I’ve got a few collaborations in the works.

Courtney Barnett Announces Solo Tour of New Zealand

Chris Cudby / Photo credit: Kitty Callaghan

/ Thursday 22nd April, 2021 8:00AM


Did somebody say "Trans-Tasman bubble"? We’re thrilled to share the news Melbourne icon Courtney Barnett has leapt at the opportunity to cross the ditch and treat Aotearoa fans to extensive solo tour in July, playing her first live shows in over 12 months. Beloved for her incisive and poetic lyrical prowess, evident on such classic albums as 2015’s Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit, 2018’s Tell Me How You Really Feel and her collaborative album with Kurt Vile Lotta Sea Lice, the globally acclaimed Australian artist will play songs from throughout her back catalogue in intimate settings armed only with her guitar, ahead of the launch of a brand new record later in 2021. Super city readers frantically scanning the dates below will note that no central Tāmaki Makaurau dates have been announced — time to try out the new train line to Hamilton? 

Courtney Barnett

Thursday 8th July – Cabana, Napier*

Friday 9th July – San Fran, Wellington

Wednesday 14th July – The Boathouse, Nelson

Friday 16th July – Blue Smoke, Christchurch

Saturday 17th July – Glenroy Auditorium, Dunedin**

Sunday 18th July – Sherwood Hotel, Queenstown

Wednesday 21st July – Leigh Sawmill, Leigh

Thursday 22nd July – Totara St, Tauranga

Friday 23rd July – Clarence St. Theatre, Hamilton**

*16+ with parent or legal guardian

**All ages

Tickets on sale from 12pm, Friday 23rd April via

There are memorable lines aplenty in Barnett’s day tripping ‘Depreston’, from Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit…

Experience 2019 footage of Barnett performing Seeker Lover Keeper’s ‘Not Only I’ with Marlon Williams for MTV Unplugged Live In Melbourne…

Press release:

Courtney Barnett announces she will be undertaking a solo tour around Aotearoa this July, in her first live shows in over 12 months. Tickets go on sale this Friday.

Having been grounded in 2020 care of the global pandemic, Barnett made the best of a bad situation and wrote and recorded a new record. That drops later this year, but before it does the maestro is touring her solo show to all corners of Aotearoa – a country she’s adored touring in the past and a place she considers herself lucky to have the opportunity to return to.

With nine dates at some of New Zealand’s favourite venues, local audiences are in for a treat as Barnett dials things right down and prepares to deliver gems from her catalogue in an intimate setting. After years of touring with her thunderous band around the globe, the performer recently found herself craving the simplicity of her early days as a straight up singer-songwriter.

Armed with just a guitar, her renowned banter and some of the best indie folk songs of the past decade, she toured North America throughout the pre-pandemic months of 2020 like she had never done before.

Those shows saw Courtney at both her most raw and personal. She played town halls, barns, churches, dive bars, haunted hotels, ski-lodges, theatres and studios, all to enraptured audiences, who couldn’t quite believe they were watching the artist in this mode.

For Courtney, the simplicity and honesty of performing solo was an inspirational salve; a way to fall back in love with the art and craft of song. This is the Courtney Barnett New Zealand gets to witness in July, on what will be an unmissable tour.

Premiere Interview Theia x Vayne Share Video For CREEP

Annabel Kean / Thursday 8th April, 2021 9:10AM


Sparked by a serendipitous Songhubs collision in 2020, Tāmaki pop / rap queens Theia (Waikato-Tainui, Ngāti Tiipaa) and Vayne (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Porou) have been riding the wave of their fiery debut collaborative single ‘CREEP’. With their Te Ika a Māui CREEP tour less than a month away, Theia and Vayne have unleashed the full noise visuals for the track, shot at Karangahape Road’s G.A.Y. by hot shot clipmaker Connor Pritchard, which we’re proud to premiere here. The pair hung up their songwriting hats for a moment to unpack the energy behind ‘CREEP’ and reflect on the Aotearoa music industry’s problem with racism and sexism. Read their full conversation below the tour details, but be sure to stop by the stomach-dropping visuals for ‘CREEP’ on your way…

Theia x Vayne Te Ika a Māui ‘CREEP’ Tour

Friday 7th May – Nivara Lounge, Hamilton

Saturday 15th May – Whammy Bar, Auckland

Friday 21st May – Moon, Wellington

Friday 28th May – Boiler Room, Whakatāne

Saturday 29th May – Smash Palace, Gisborne

Tickets available HERE via UTR

Theia: So we just made a song together, a video together, and now we’re going on tour together. What else should we do together?

Vayne: I dunno eh, seriously. A world tour!

A world tour yeah. A fashion show. Oh my gosh. But seriously how good does it feel that after one chance meeting at song hubs we’ve done so many cool things these last few months, it’s kind of been nuts.

It feels dope. I feel like everything happens for a reason. The universe aligns things on its own and I feel like ‘CREEP’ was a song that was just waiting to be made. How do you feel the song’s being received? What feeling do you get from the crowd when you perform it?

Like, I know we’re so passionate and we wrote this out of our Māoritanga and passion for wanting to fuse that into our genres. I know that we’re so into it, doing our pūkana in the studio and everything, but I didn’t quite know — I hoped it would be successful live but it’s kind of been next level. The responses from our Māori whānau and kids that come and watch are just brimming, the ihi and the wehi is pouring out of them and they don’t know what to do with the energy. And with Pākehā they’re really feeling it and it’s this whole experience. It just proves, if anyone ever is uneducated enough to think there’s no respect or hunger for our culture, there’s no way you could argue that if someone was to come along and see the response when we perform.

Yeah I’ve definitely seen a lot of the faces in the crowd, especially from Māori to Māori while I’m performing it, they look at each other like ‘wait a minute, is this real?’ and they all run up to the stage and it’s so cool. I feel like they feel that someone sees them and they see a bit of themselves up on the stage. It’s a cool feeling.

Hard out, I feel the same. The energy’s unmatched. It’s more of a spiritual thing aye? You couldn’t necessarily get that from singing in English. It’s amazing. This might be the perfect opportunity to raise something that recently popped up on Instagram about the difference between celebrating Māori culture and mocking it. Do you want to, sister, enlighten those who don’t know the difference? And some of the tikanga around that?

Recently I posted a group photo on Instagram of all of the people that were at our video shoot, sort of just to wrap things up. A celebratory photo (shout out to Connor Pritchard for doing this video), us Māori did a pūkana and some non-Māori joined in as well doing their pūkana and I got a comment from an account saying the photo gave them ‘post World Cup on a yacht’ vibes. That really annoyed me because first off, anyone with a brain can look at both situations and be able to tell which one is mocking Māori culture and which one is celebrating and paying their respects to two wahine who have created a space for them. I don’t know why you’d even compare the two.

And which one is some privileged non-Māori people on a boat with no context whatsoever, and which one is a Māori-run event in a brown space where people are encouraged to support the kaupapa and how to do it appropriately.

What do you see as one of the biggest challenges to getting mainstream media, particularly radio and TV, to play more content with Te Reo Māori?

The whole dialogue about ‘there needs to be more Māori music’ and all of that, well I think that’s bullshit because we have been making music. I mean for one we’re a musical people, but in terms of contributing to the New Zealand music scene Māori have been making music for so so so long. And it’s really good too, and across all different genres, hip hop, pop, alt, folk, traditional. The fact is we’re struggling to have our music played because the people who are in these positions of power are mostly, or probably pretty much all non-Māori and men who just for whatever reason — well I guess that’s institutionalised racism — are not able to give those opportunities to waiata reo Māori or Māori music.

I feel like if our music from our people was given the same respect and space as what non-Māori music is then I we would have number one hits on New Zealand radio on our hands. Genuinely the biggest challenge is that we’re making the music but people aren’t allowing us the space or the platform or just pushing it as they would non-Māori music. I reckon half of the issue in NZ is the racism, because if people aren’t being exposed to diversity how are their thoughts and whakaaro ever gonna change? How are they ever gonna be open to new world views?

I feel like with the music that we both make, we definitely are creating lanes for ourselves in this country, so yeah, I completely agree. And this shit’s fire. I don’t know anyone on the radio like that.

Oh my gosh I feel the same. All that kōrero around playing more wahine. Well, there’s no shortage of us making really dope music so, ya know, hello? And if you want to tick the queer box, the Māori box, the tangata whenua box, the wahine box, the urban diversity box, then play our music.

Straight up.

We wrote ‘CREEP’ to expose creeps, and as it happens around the time we released it a lot of stuff emerged about the music industry and the struggles female and non-binary artists face. How have you found the industry starting out? Lol.

I’ve definitely had my experiences with men and women actually.There was this one time where I messaged this guy asking for some artwork to be done and he replied ‘three pictures of your ass and I’ll do it’.

Shut up!

I’ve dealt with a lot of stuff like that. Like going to studios and turning up and the guys are like ‘oh you’re actually here to make music, I thought you just wanted to hook up with me’. You know, that shit ain’t fun. It’s gotten a lot better for me, but I hear a lot of stories that come from my friends and people in the community and it’s a big problem. Things actually need to be done. It’s more than just a post on Instagram. We all know what a social media activist is and it’s much more than that. It’s what you say, it’s what you do, you have to be politically active in your everyday life.

It’s so munted that we’re expected to take the lead in these situations and it’s not just a mutual respect aye. In the beginning when I started my journey I’d legit never performed before apart from kapa haka. I came into it feeling like such a lost little bubba and I wasn’t strong enough like I am now, like I’m so firmly strong and opinionated about what’s appropriate and what’s not. You have to work so hard to establish those boundaries that should be there in the first place just to try and get some basic respect and headway.

You know, I have a very hard head, just from over the years dealing with things. It’s like what Nicki Minaj says "If a woman is assertive she’s a bitch, well if that’s what being assertive makes me that’s what I am".

Hard. Good kōrero, honestly good kōrero.

What’s one of the biggest lessons that you’ve learned in the time that you’ve been making music?

I think the most important thing for me is to stand firm and know myself, and just believe that what I’m making is dope. At the beginning, even though I sort of really knew what I liked I was with a major label and all that stuff, I didn’t think I was making music that I genuinely wanted to make. So then when I left the label and went indie it was kind of transformative. I felt this freedom, with no one on my back I could just be as experimental as I wanted, as angry as I wanted. That’s pretty much the biggest lesson I’ve learned. I don’t feel like I’m compromising who I am anymore, I feel like I’m just doing it. Plus I reckon that people that don’t follow rules or copy exactly what everyone else is doing, that’s the most interesting and cool kind of art that you can make anyway cos people want refreshing and weird stuff.

Yeah I fully get you. Being able to make music is my biggest blessing, but it’s a curse a lot of the time. Like making something really amazing and then fully overanalysing it to the death. I’m really proud of you though. I’m really excited for you and what you do next.

Okay so I know we’ve got tour coming up in May, holla everyone, but what else are you working on and what are you most excited about for 2021?

Definitely the tour man, I’m so excited. I’ve got a couple of tracks dropping this year, I’m working on a project, I’ve got some videos I’m working on. 2021 for me is definitely a collaboration type of year. My last EP that I made was real independent, I sort of just did all the songs on my own. I only had one collab on there, but all I’ve really been doing this year is just meeting new people… I think it was the Songhubs that did it for me, I came out of Songhubs just really wanting to work with more people. That’s what I’m excited about, can’t wait.

That’s cool, that’s so dope. Yeah you’ve been on fire with the collabs, I’ve been loving it. I’m so pumped. And I can’t wait for everyone to see… um it’s probably like top secret, but the video and the treatments that you’re working on. You told me yesterday you’ve been working on it since last year. Top secret, but excited about it, it sounds amazing.

So I don’t wanna say too much, but I will say that it’s got a really cool feature in the song, everyone knows who she is and she’s been rapping for a long time. The video’s gonna be done by women, it’s a director duo from Auckland, they’re really dope. If I could say anything without giving it away I’d just say… every woman’s utopia. Have you got new music too? What does it sound like?

Oh yuss. I do, I’ve been stacking up my demos, pushing even more into weirdo territory, it’s been cool. That’s for Theia, then obviously I’ve got my reo Māori side project called TE KAAHU which is like very different music, but more about my influence from my nanny and stuff. I’ve got music from both projects on the way which will be really fun and I’m super excited to get the visuals done for them and I feel like this will definitely be my most um… contentious work yet.

For real. Mood.

Okay, quick fire questions. First one, classic, iconic. Tupac, Biggie or Dr. Dre?

Ohhh. I’m sorry but, Tupac. And I’m really sorry to everyone who’s a fan of Biggie but — Tupac. Causing a bit of controversy here.

Rihanna, Keri Hilson or Destiny’s Child?

Destiny’s Child, no brainer.

Okay, love. Next one: Gucci, Yeezy or Off-White by Virgil?

Hmmmm. Off-White.

I thought so. Love it, love it. Final one: Fenty, Huda Beauty or Milk?

Fenti. Easy. Okay, what’s your dream collab?

Oh shivers. You sister. I’m kidding, we’ve already done it. Okay okay. So I suppose Ri Ri is my girl and I’ve just always adored her, that would be really really sick. But also one of my fave artists ever that I just can’t get enough of is Britney Spears. So maybe I’m just gonna go for Britney.

That would actually sound dope. Like that could be done and really sound good. I’m gonna email her team and see what I can do okay.

I’m picturing something that’s sort of like ‘Toxic’ maybe, or like ‘Womanizer’, I think that kind of vibe would be really sexy.

Maybe when she gets out of her conservatorship. Pray for Britney man.

Free Britney bitch!

If you could have dinner with anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be?

Aww okay I’m just gonna say my kuia. I miss her so much. I know I could pick anyone but the love I have for her, I just want my kuia back and have dinner with her because she died before I released my first song and I wish I could tell her about everything that has happened because she always had my back more than literally anyone. So yeah, I want my kui kui back.

Aw. Much love sis. What is your favourite empowering song?

Okay I’m tied. The things that came immediately to mind is ‘Birthday Cake’ — Rihanna, and then I reckon just to go back to our queen Britney, I think probably ‘Womanizer’ was pretty next level. Like for the time it was actually pretty nuts. I’m gonna go for Britney and then Ri Ri. Any wahine pretty much that owns her sexuality, her strength, her anger, is just next level for me I just love that. I think that all women no matter how demure are screaming on the inside, we’re all like ‘eff the system’. Far out you’ve got such beautiful questions.

I’m gonna answer my own question. For me it was ‘Can’t Hold Us Down’, Christina and Lil Kim. Or ‘Lady Marmalade’.

If you are a music worker in Aotearoa and you need crisis or counselling support, the MusicHelps Wellbeing Service is available 24/7 online here, on the phone (toll free 0508MUSICHELPS) and in-person for free, fully funded by MusicHelps.

Interview Terrible Sons Lauren Barus Chats With Brooke Singer

Annabel Kean / Interview by Brooke Singer / Wednesday 7th April, 2021 10:20AM


With Terrible Sons‘ tour on the horizon and French For Rabbits‘ Auckland Arts Festival and Cuba Dupa shows wrapped up, the dreamy Aotearoa pop-folk pairing cross paths this Thursday at Nelson’s Fairfield House. Ōtautahi-based husband and wife duo Terrible Sons are Lauren and Matthew Barus, of bands including Fly My Pretties and The Dukes, and have seen their sparkling guitar songs spread far and wide from international streaming success. Earlier this year the Barus’ released their EP Mass on Canadian label Nettwerk, and this April they’re taking their sound down South Island paths and then all the way up to Tāmaki for a show with Rodney Fisher. Mutual fans, folk friends and vocalists Brooke Singer (driving force behind French For Rabbits) and Lauren Barus got to talking about stage fright, the countryside and more ahead of their joint shows. Tour details are all here, scroll down for the chats…

Terrible Sons

Saturday 17th April – Freida Margolis, Auckland w/ Rodney Fisher

Friday 23rd April – The Piano, Christchurch

Tickets available HERE via UTR

French For Rabbits + Terrible Sons
Thursday 8th April – Fairfield House, Nelson*

Friday 9th April – The Plant, Blenheim*

Saturday 10th April – Mussel Inn, Onekaka*

Thursday 18th April – Festival of Colour, Wanaka (FFR trio only / no Terrible Sons)

Tickets available HERE via UTR*

Brooke Singer (French For Rabbits): Hi Lauren, how’s your Easter weekend been?

Lauren Barus (Terrible Sons): Actually pretty amazing, we took our kids to Purau Bay and spent the afternoon basking in the glorious and unseasonal warmth by the sea. How was your Easter?

I don’t know if we had unseasonal warmth where I was. But I went for my first (ever!!) overnight tramp to stay in Herepai Hut in the Tararua Forest park.

Stop it! That sounds idyllic and super serene.

It was nice to stay in a quintessential DOC hut — there was a warm fire, but it was rather windy outside so we didn’t go all the way to the top.

New Zealand is amazing, isn’t it. Such lushness all around. It is something I love and feel privileged to see when you’re on the road touring, right? I feel like not many Kiwi’s get to see the nooks and crannies of the New Zealand country side quite like musicians.

Have you ever played at The Mussel Inn, where we play this weekend before? It’s got to be one of the best places to see music in New Zealand. Even travelling overseas, I haven’t come across a place that has the same sort of vibe.

In our previous band — from way back in the day, Dukes, they played Mussel Inn, so it’s well known to Matthew, but I wasn’t in the band then — so I’m a Mussel Inn Virgin — can we say that? This will be my first experience there.

I understand this will be your first official tour as Terrible Sons? Tell me about that, and your plans for taking these new songs from your new EP on the road?

Yes, we have been hermits for the longest time, I’ve still been popping around playing with Fly My Pretties at times, but Terrible Sons has been a garage project, released world wide and not too connected to the local scene. We feel like playing to a real audience is still part of the magic of music, it is still a very important element in why we pursue music. Naturally, we are excited to be connecting with people again. It is just us, Matt and I travelling with our kids and being the troubadour’s we remember before we became parents.

That’s exciting — I was glad these three dates worked out together, especially as Blenheim will be a hometown show for you! Do you get nervous performing in front of people you know? I always get nervous for the first couple of songs, and then I can generally get more zen with it all!

I’m concerned that I will not remember people’s faces or names, ha! That gulp moment when they already know who you are, because you’re on stage, but I’m behind the eight ball and my brain is scanning for days to put the two things together.

Totally! I am very forgetful for names and faces — so if I ever run into someone who reads this in the street — please forgive me in advance if I look blank!

Oh Ditto! Please, just introduce yourself again — save us the shame. You guys had a release in December 2020? Do you have more releases planned this year?

Yes! A song called ‘The Dark Arts’ – which is on our next record – out later this year, fingers crossed!

I love your voice in that single, the articulations are wonderful. That’s my singing-tutor vibe creeping in.

Oh thanks Lauren! I am supremely nervous to sing in front of you for three nights in a row — but I’m also looking forward to it as I’ve long admired your singing and knowledge around how to do it so well!

Ah! Thank you, the admiration is mutual, I love your production savvy, the work you did with Flip Grater’s Lullabies record. Maybe we could exchange some master class methods on singing and production.

Sounds like a dream — we can nerd out together on this tour.

Oh, yes please. Early this year you came and filmed a music video in our house – can you tell us about the single and when we can expect to see the video, I was impressed by your story board.

Oh yes — I was so thrilled that you allowed us to film in your house — it’s honestly my dream home. Filled with lots of thoughtful and lovely treasures, and it felt very full of love. The video is for a song called ‘The Outsider’ and we actually have another three videos in the works which we’ll be releasing in the lead-up to the record. This one was particularly fun though… you let us throw a small party in your living room… and there may or may not have been a few ghostly activities caught on camera. I’ll keep that under wraps for now though…

Love it! Do you enjoy the video making process?

I do! It feels like an extension of that creative song process in a way — I feel like the best videos come in the same way as the best songs. They kind of come together as a strong image in my mind in one go…

Yes, I identify with that strong visual feeling, we’ve made a few videos recently too, that came with that same feeling, one for ‘What A Friend’ I knew immediately the location and the scenery, the environment — some of that natural barrenness of New Zealand landscapes, it has a lushness and a harshness at the same time. But so connected to expanding the emotion within the music. It is such a powerful combination.

I love that video — and I think that song and video showcase the way in which our two bands connect. We have that same affinity for our isolated landscapes – and I think our music is on a similar wavelength too.

For sure, there is a lightness and a darkness to your music, some similar polarities, we wrestle with broken-ness and hope, and I like that the lyrics are both about the subtleties, the tenderness of ourselves and our relationships with others. You have a great scope of sonic fullness going on — you’re bringing your whole band with you — is this what people can expect to hear?

Yes — the full band is on this tour which is always exciting. It’s nice to be able to present the songs with that dynamism – those super intimate moments and then the big expansive ones too. I think between your beautiful and intimate set and our sometimes intimate and probably also a bit silly (sometimes the banter gets away on me) set it’ll be a great show…! Anyway… I suppose we should wrap up for brevity’s sake!

And a good bit of banter is not to be snuffed at! Yes, let’s leave it there, enjoy your Easter Monday. See you in a few days in Nelson. Thanks Brooke.

See you soon! And thanks so much for catching up.

Press release:

French for Rabbits & Terrible Sons

Wellington’s ethereal dream-pop gems French for Rabbits are pairing up with Terrible Sons for a weekend away in the South Island. They will present their dreamy, perfectly-paired music to lucky audiences in Nelson, Blenheim and Onekaka, before French for Rabbits head off to perform at Wanaka’s Festival of Colour.

French for Rabbits released a handful of singles in 2020 – including the soaring chamber pop of ‘The Dark Arts’ in December which is the first single from their forthcoming album (due out later in 2021). Always writing new material, there will likely be a new song or two, alongside favourites from their collection of previous releases.

Terrible Sons released their much anticipated EP ‘Mass’ in February. Having racked up over 18 million streams on previous singles, it may come as a surprise that the Nettwerk-signed duo from Christchurch have never toured. The duo consists of LA Mitchell (Fly my Pretties) and Matt Barus (The Dukes).

Don’t miss these two understated and arguably underrated bands on this brief South Island sojourn.

Interview Marlon Williams Talks About His New Album With Kacy Clayton NZ Tour

Annabel Kean / Photo credit: Janelle Wallace / Friday 11th December, 2020 10:37AM


Wash the sleep from your eyes and pop the kettle on, Christmas has come early and you’ve got a brand new Marlon Williams album to listen to. Written and recorded in the wild Canadian tundra of Saskatoon, Plastic Bouquet is Williams’ first collaborative album with Saskatchewan locals, folk artists and second cousins Kacy & Clayton. Ten months on from releasing his multi-award winning sophomore album Make Way For Love in 2018, Williams flew thousands of kilometres from a dry Ōtautahi summer to a sprawling white, negative 25° C landscape. The three hunkered down and each brought their own half-formed, home-spun songs to the table, with Williams drawing from sketches begun as far back as 2016, and tying in “the Māori strum in a pretty big way” to songs like ‘I Wonder Why’. In between announcing *checks notes* twenty eight New Zealand shows for 2021, I managed to get the Lyttelton dreamboat on the line while he dipped in and out of reception, and he dished on his Spotify Wrapped, canine actors, and Sardinian dreams. Crack those eyes open as wide as they’ll go to get your lids around this mammoth tour, listen to the wistful folk of Plastic Bouquet, and please enjoy my conversation with Marlon Williams…

Undertheradar proudly presents…

An Evening With Marlon Williams

Thursday 25th February – James Hay Theatre, Christchurch*

Friday 26th February – James Hay Theatre, Christchurch* SOLD OUT

Saturday 27th February – James Hay Theatre, Christchurch* SOLD OUT

Tuesday 2nd March – Glenroy Auditorium, Dunedin∞

Wednesday 3rd March – Oamaru Opera House, Oamaru∞

Friday 5th March – Glenroy Auditorium, Dunedin∞ SOLD OUT

Saturday 6th March – Civic Theatre, Invercargill*

Sunday 7th March – Athenaeuem Hall, Arrowtown△

Monday 8th March – Athenaeuem Hall, Arrowtown△ SOLD OUT

Wednesday 10th March – Regent Theatre, Greymouth^

Thursday 11th March – Theatre Royal, Nelson△ SOLD OUT

Friday 12th March – Theatre Royal, Nelson△ SOLD OUT

Sunday 14th March – Opera House, Wellington∞ SOLD OUT

Monday 15th March – Whanganui Opera House, Whanganui*

Tuesday 16th March – TSB Theatre Royal, New Plymouth*

Thursday 18th March – Municipal Theatre, Napier* VENUE CHANGE

Friday 19th March – War Memorial Theatre, Gisborne*

Saturday 20th March – Baycourt Theatre, Tauranga*

Sunday 21st March – Leigh Sawmill, Leigh∞ SOLD OUT

Tuesday 23rd March – Concert Chamber at the Town Hall, Auckland∞ SOLD OUT

Wednesday 24th March – Concert Chamber at the Town Hall, Auckland∞ SOLD OUT

Thursday 25th March – The Hollywood Cinema, Auckland∞ SOLD OUT

Friday 26th March – The Hollywood Cinema, Auckland∞ SOLD OUT

Saturday 27th March – The Hollywood Cinema, Auckland∞ SOLD OUT

Sunday 28th March – The Hollywood Cinema, Auckland∞ SOLD OUT

Tuesday 30th March – The Hollywood Cinema, Auckland∞

Wednesday 31st March – The Hollywood Cinema, Auckland∞

Saturday 3rd April – Opera House, Wellington∞

All shows reserve seating, except for the new Leigh show which is standing GA. All shows all ages.

Tickets available via*

Tickets available via

Tickets available via

Greymouth tickets available at venue^

Annabel Kean: Hi Marlon!

Marlon Williams: Hey Annabel, how you going?

Good! How are you?

I’m pretty good. Just trying to find a not windy spot. I’m living in Diamond Harbour now and I have to go walking to find reception, but where there’s reception there’s a lot of wind. But I’m hiding behind a tree now.

How’s your day going?

Good. I only woke up half an hour ago, had a late night. Went to Wunderbar and had a jam at Al Park’s jam night. How are you?

I’m good. I’m highly caffeinated, I’ve had two coffees.

Same. I’ve had two too.

In half an hour?

Oh yeah, a double. Well I had to go chat to you so I have to wake up in a hurry.

Thank you. I actually made the enormous mistake of listening to your Kim Hill interview this morning, and now I feel like I have to do better than that.

[laughs] She didn’t come at me very hard, for a Kim Hill interview it was pretty gentle.

One thing I can’t believe she didn’t ask was, who’s your favourite: Kacy or Clayton?

I can’t believe she didn’t ask that either. If I’m at the end of the world and aliens come and they request a guitar player then I’m giving them Clayton. But if they’re requesting a wonderful singer then I’m giving them Kacy. That’s the most diplomatic answer I’m going to give you for that.

I think that’s totally fair. Great answer. Have you done your Spotify Wrap Up?

I have! Well, my number one artist is the Brothers Grimm, because I listen to fairy tales when I fall asleep. That was number one, and I think number two was St Joseph’s Māori Girls College. Bit random, but there you go. Then it might be Kanye third I think.

I watched your ‘Minds Walking Out’ video. Who’d you make that with?

It was Zac Beckett-Knight. I went to him and said we need to make a dog video. We’d been talking about it for a while, so I just wrote up a little Lady And The Tramp story. We didn’t have the budget to get proper acting dogs, so we just used his dogs. They did pretty well considering. But we shot about eight hours of footage for a two and a half minute video. So Zac did a lot of editing on that one. That’s where the work was.

It looks pretty magic. You watch it thinking ‘wow how’d they get the dog to do that!’ but actually you just filmed the dog for ages until it did something.

Exactly. Eventually. What do they say? If you leave a monkey alone for an eternity with a typewriter he’ll write all of Shakespeare. It’s the same vibe with the video.

I think someone actually tested that out. Left a typewriter in a monkey enclosure and they ended up doing just nothing at all, barely even touching it.

You gotta lead them to it, you gotta make them want to write.

Gotta inspire them.

Yeah. That’s a really tricky problem that we’re gonna have to sort out as the human race in the next wee while. How to get our monkeys properly making art.

Did you try to get the dogs to eat a spaghetti at the same time?

No! Na we didn’t go for that obvious a reference. We thought about it but — I think we just forgot and ran out of time.

How did you split up the songwriting with Kacy and Clayton?

We just sort of privately worked away and squirrelled away at songs, and then we’d throw them to each other, pretty much in a rough shape. Then normally the other person would be like ‘okay that’s done, that’s a cool song’, because they’re Canadian and I’m a Kiwi so we’re like ‘Yep that’s great! Yep’. We were just upping each other’s work. They had written a couple more songs than I had so I had to go into my back catalogue and find ‘Arahura’ and songs like that that I wrote a while ago to make up the numbers.

How long’s a while ago?

‘Anahura’ I wrote in early 2016 I think. Far out that’s four years ago. Jesus.

Did you just play guitar?

I did a little bit of guitar, I wanted to bring a bit of the Pacific vibes, like on our first single ‘I Wonder Why’ I locked into the Māori strum in a pretty big way. There were little moments where I wanted to put my imprint on it. But largely I wanted to explore what they were doing with their band and sort of go into their world. And just sing my bits.

What was it like there? In Saskatoon.

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Saskatoon’s the city and Saskatchewan’s the province. It was minus 25 degrees and like an empty tundra. It was one of the most shocking transformations of weather I’ve done. I’d come from super hot Christchurch in early December, it was about now actually two years ago I went over there, and it was just absolutely freezing. There was just so much space. Empty, white space.


Yeah, I used to be scared of those ads for the Antarctic Centre on television. I used to have to hide my eyes because I was scared of the emptiness. It reminded me of that.

Did you ever go to the Antarctic Centre? Did that prepare you?

Oh yeah, that sort of did. I loved the blizzard room, the blizzard room I was into. However, you know how there’s that awesome wind machine in the blizzard room? They didn’t have one of those. Well, they did, but it was just the wind. Just actual wind.

Did you get quite homesick?

Yeah sort of! It sort of just turned into a weird sort of dream state for me. I had to suspend belief, and live in that world to be able to be not too deranged by it. And when I got home it felt like I’d woken up from a really bizarre and lucid dream.

Have you been playing any of the Plastic Bouquet songs live?

Yeah, well, I’m pretty limited with what I can do without them, especially as I said, I didn’t do a lot of the instrumentation on the album. There’s a few moments. I’m trying to figure out different ways of presenting it, without just sounding like an idiot. When I go on tour in February / March there’ll be some moments for sure.

So what’s the deal with all of these shows? It’s just silly. Did you genuinely not think that they’d all sell out?

Well, we weren’t sure. These are bizarre times and because we’re doing little theatre shows, and we always wanted, if it got to that point, to be able to do a whole run of Auckland shows, and do like an old school residency type thing. The way the show is going to play out and the vibe we want, it just made sense to do smaller rooms. So it looks pretty silly on paper, but it’s not like I’m playing to thousands of people every night. They’ll be nice intimate shows.

It’s created such a buzz as well. People are like ‘Ah, I didn’t get tickets, maybe there’ll be another drop!’.

Yeah! Just the tension and release. It becomes a game. A capitalist game. Just another Black Friday.

Oh god. The Marlon Williams Black Friday sale.

Tickets here! Everything must go! General admission! Gold seats!

What’s the deal with the Leigh show? You doing something special?

The whole tour’s really going to be quite proper and choreographed, so the Leigh show is to have a show to cleanse the palette, and I’ll get some mates up to play and it’ll just be a far more relaxed affair.

Is it a secret who you’re gonna have playing?

It’s a secret to me still. Yeah, I haven’t jumped on that yet. I’ll find some mates and they’ll be awesome whoever they are.

Now, you’ve been working on a Te Reo album right?


Fuck that must be hard.

[laughs] Yeah, it is in some ways. And sort of refreshing in a lot of ways too. I mean, my Reo’s not much chop, but I’m working with an amazing co-writer in Kommi Tamati-Elliffe, who’s got the Reo down wonderfully and he just helps me, and we find our way there. It’s nice having a limited grasp of the language in a lot of ways, because it just simplifies my lyrics. Which is nice. You have to sort of make the metaphors work for you. It’s like a real nice refresh button to work in Māori.

So you’re not translating, you’re starting in Te Reo and finding the words that way?

Trying to as much as possible. Starting with a few key words or a couple of key concepts and then building up from there.

I imagine you could spend more time on the sounds of the words.

Exactly. When you’ve been speaking English your whole life you close off to the sounds of the word. You don’t have the naive, child-like idea of the language anymore. I think you lose something in that.

Okay, last question. Pretending there’s no pandemic, that doesn’t exist. If you could live anywhere in the world outside of New Zealand where would it be?

If I could live anywhere. No pandemic. Uhhhh. Okay, I’ve actually never been here, but I have a real fantasy about going here and learning how to sing the way these people sing, and I’d love to live on the island of Sardinia in Northern Italy. I only know a few people who’ve been there. They do this amazing singing, which is the best singing on the planet. So I would just go there and try to get them to help me learn how to do that.

Marlon Williams’ collaborative album with Kacy & Clayton ‘Plastic Bouquet’ is out now via New West Records.

Interview Emily Edrosa Speaks Out About New Album Another Wave Is Coming

Chris Cudby / Photo credit: Alea Balzer
/ Thursday 12th November, 2020 4:43PM


Back in Aotearoa following an extended stay in Los Angeles, Street Chant songwriter Emily Edrosa embraces a new era with the forthcoming release of her long-awaited debut solo album Another Wave Is Coming. Launching locally on 20th November via her own imprint PSL Sound, and in the US courtesy of Park The Van, the new record was written and recorded by Edrosa in her stateside HQ, with famed producer John Agnello (Kurt Vile, Sonic Youth, Waxahatchee) bringing his mixing skills to the table, and drums on selected tracks courtesy of Alex Freer (AC Freezy) with Liz Stokes (The Beths) handling drum recording / engineering duties. The 2017 Taite Music Prize winning artist generously sat down for an in-depth chat with Chris Cudby ahead of next week’s headline show at The Wine Cellar, alongside just announced supports Chewy Gum and Disciple Pati

Emily Edrosa supporting French For Rabbits

Friday 13th November – Nivara Lounge, Hamilton*

Tickets on sale HERE via UTR*

Emily Edrosa ‘Another Wave Is Coming’ Album Release

Friday 20th November – The Wine Cellar, Auckland w/ Chewy Gum & Disciple Pati

Tickets available HERE via UTR

Chris Cudby: How are you feeling following the elections in the US and in New Zealand, back to back?

Emily Edrosa: It’s funny because I moved to America, I think a week before Donald Trump got in. And then I moved back three weeks or a month before he got out. I love my timing. Not that it really affected me because I’m not exactly a minority. Frankly, I think Biden is a war criminal… but in terms of immediate effect for people who need it, it is good that Trump got out.

In the New Zealand election… it’s not John Key, it’s not National, so happy about that. I feel like the Greens are really the only reasonable option, so it does disappoint me when the majority goes to the smiling celebrity. But I don’t know — politics, I go too deep on it sometimes. The whole world’s kind of a mess. I am happy to be in New Zealand. I think that if National had been in charge and Covid hit, that would have been a pretty different story. So that is good.

Was it weird moving back from LA to New Zealand? Was that a planned move or was it something that was out of necessity?

I remember when Covid hit, Jacinda said "come back". I was like, oh my god what’s going on? Like everyone else, I never could have imagined what a global pandemic would look like. I thought about it for a long time. I lost my job from Covid because I was working in hospitality, the place I was working at closed down. Bernie Sanders, champion of the world, made them give everybody who was on the dole an extra $600 a week… because the dole there is really not enough to live on, it’s the same situation here. It was fine for a while… but then that ran out. It was a brain wave moment. I was like, oh my album’s coming out, and New Zealand doesn’t have Covid, of course I will move back.

I actually kind of missed it, because it does make your life a lot simpler. When you can’t leave your house and all you’re doing is going to the supermarket and thinking what’s for dinner. And then suddenly I’m back here and it’s people standing really close to me and breathing in my face, and it’s actually quite intense, when you are used to seeing other people as a threat.

I just spent the last six months, every time I leave my house I was just listening to James Ferraro. You’re walking down the street and you see somebody walking down the street on the sidewalk and you go [skrrrt!] how can I get away from this person? It’s so dystopian to see another person and immediately consider them a threat.

I’m interested in what it was like initially, moving to the States… What was it like getting reestablished in a different musical environment? Or was it even that different?

I am a bit of a self-sabotager, to be honest. I don’t think I really did (put) my best foot forward, but at the same time it was really difficult and humbling to move somewhere and have no cred or anything. Which was not what I was used to in New Zealand… People in LA, it’s like every show is a showcase, because that’s where the industry is. People there are quite picky about who they want to play with. No one wants to get somebody who doesn’t have hype or stuff like that.

I actually don’t really care about commercial success… on this album I was living in America, of course I wanted to "get discovered". But I feel now I’m on the other side I’m like — I actually only care about creating music. It made me realise the reasons I’m doing it, if that makes sense.

The new album, it sounds like it’s all you, but it sounds quite open.

I moved there with my partner. I think as you get older, it actually becomes harder to make friends, and so we were really quite isolated. We didn’t really know that many people in LA and we were just there together in the house. And I got married. I feel like the album’s about feeling lonely and being married [laughs].

Yeah I did do everything myself. The way I did it was I would write the songs on the DAW, I was using ProTools at the time, and do the MIDI drums. And then write the whole song and record it all and then send it to two different drummers on the album. I play drums on one song. Then they would record the drums and I’d record everything all over again.

Just wondering, was there any like other material left on the cutting room floor from the album? 

There was, two or three songs that I just never finished. One of them John (Agnello) did mix, but didn’t suit the album. But I don’t really write like that. Often when people are saying, with songwriting, write out the bad ones, and no one ever has to hear them? I just don’t do that. I keep working on it until it is good, and then it gets released. I know that sounds like kind of arrogant to be like "well I don’t write a bad song", but if you just work on a song, until it’s good, then it’s good.

EmilyEdrosa · 2015 (demo)

I’m gonna ask about some new songs on the record. What’s ‘When Our Brains Betray Us’ about?

It’s about falling out of love with somebody. Your brain is betraying you by being like, I don’t want to be with this person anymore. I feel for me, I have emotion and then I build logic around it, to rationalise. I’m sure everyone does. Maybe it should be called ‘When Your Heart Betrays You’ [laughs]. It’s all about having episodes. The whole album.

What about ‘Lesbian Pope’? I’ve been listening to a lot of early Cure recently and it kind of reminds me a little bit of that.

Oh yeah, the baseline is pretty Cure-ish right. It’s about probably like the least emotional song of the album. That song’s just about how people are fucking idiots. Like walking up to somebody and just having a yarn… that song’s just about standing around.

‘A New Career’ definitely seems like a relatable one for musos, especially at the moment.

It’s about the artist mindset and how difficult it is. The reason why artists can create art, or good art and good artists, is that most of time they’re sensitive people. You know, if you’re sensitive you’re going to have mental illness problems, and the world doesn’t respect us. They want us to do a coding course. It is pretty hard. And also being in a relationship with somebody who’s going through that. Anybody who’s in a relationship with me will be going through that. Because you’re constantly having to go to barbecues with your cousins and they go "are you still doing that music thing?"

[groans] Ah fuck.

And you’re like, this is my soul. This is my life. Thank you for that. They look at you and they go "well you’re not living in a mansion with a pool and having groupies, so you’re a failure." It ain’t about that.

You just can’t stop, that’s the problem of being an artist. I mean if you’re true artist. I’m constantly like "well I’m going to quit music", but I never ever could. I like reading. It’s like somebody saying "do you want to stop reading?" I’m never going to stop reading.

Who’s playing in your live band at your shows over the next two weeks? What have you got planned for your album launch show at Wine Cellar?

I just got my friends like Dorian who’s my best friend and and incredible dummer and Nich, so it’s TOOMS. They’re just both so lovely and chill and do their homework.

You’ll be playing stuff from the new album?

It’ll be stuff from the new album and then a couple of songs like from my EP. Yeah, it’s just going to be all hits.

Digital as well as black and limited edition red 12" vinyl pre-sales for ‘Another Wave is Coming’ are available here.

Interview Future Islands Talk About Their New Album As Long As You Are

Chris Cudby
/ Tuesday 27th October, 2020 12:10PM


Launched earlier this month to significant global acclaim, Future Islands‘ new album As Long As You Are is as uplifting and endearing as we could have hoped from the Baltimore synth-pop heroes. Thrust into the public spotlight by frontman Samuel T. Herring‘s iconic 2014 performance on The Late Show With David Letterman, Future Islands celebrated the launch of their sixth studio opus with a dazzling A Stream of You And Me livestream event, the hard-gigging gang’s 1235th (!) live performance all up. We had the opportunity to chat with bandmates William Cashion, Gerrit Welmers and recent addition Michael Lowry just ahead of the launch of their first album in three years — who opened up about the frustrations and realities of not being able to tour in their Covid-imperilled homeland, the genesis of the record and more…

Chris Cudby: This is your first studio record in three years. With the current, political, everything going on this year, did you feel compelled to use the record as a way of commenting on what’s happening at the moment? Or do you feel that the songs on As Long As You Are come from a more personal place?

Gerrit Welmers: I think lyrically Sam touches on some subjects that are a little more political than he’s touched on in the past, for sure. ‘Born In A War’ for example. But I think we had this plan to release this record and we wanted to stick to the actual timeline as best we could. We didn’t want to hold off any longer, it’d been so long already. It’s a weird time, it’s strange for everyone. One cool thing about music is that it has a nice healing nature to it sometimes. I think if you can have some new music, it’s always good vibes.

Absolutely. Would you say that As Long As You Are is about any specific theme? How would you describe the ideas explored on the new album?

William Cashion: I was asked recently how I would sum up the album in one word, and I said "trust". Just the phrase As Long As You Are, it’s a title of a song that Gerrit brought to the band a while back We tried to work on it for The Far Field and we tried to work on it for this album, but it just didn’t end up making the cut. But the title of it came into the conversation, we were trying to figure out what we were gonna call the album. The title’s just about trust.

We want to be honest with our music and trust in each other in the process. This is the first time producing ourselves, so we alway put pressure on ourselves. It didn’t feel there was more pressure than normal, but maybe there was, because we were in charge of how the record would end up sounding. Just trusting each other and trusting our intuition with the whole process.

I’ve seen three videos from the new album so far, two of which are very lavish and visually very amazing. And then you’ve got the video for ‘Thrill’, which was shot in quarantine. I’m interested in the process that went into making that specific video, and the decision that was made to make that as well.

William Cashion: We had a video fall through for that song. The label wanted to release some kind of lyric video. We haven’t figured out how to do lyric videos really, in a way that is interesting. I’ve seen it done interestingly by other bands… We had the idea, it was a few days before the video came out. We were just like, what if Sam, what if you just filmed yourself singing it in front of a plain wall? I’d just recently discovered, I guess all iPhones you can have them film in 4K mode? I never realised that until recently. And I was like, why don’t you just use your iPhone and set it on 4K mode and we can do it? He did a couple of takes and our management helped us edit it, in a way. The only edit was the starting zoomed in and then zooming out. But I really love how it turned out, I love how simple it is. Sam gave a really great performance for that video.

Michael — you’ve been playing with Future Islands for a while, but this album is your first as an official member. Does this mean that you joined in on songwriting duties for this record? What was the songwriting process for the new album? Was that different to earlier records?

Michael Lowry: Yes. I think it was different from The Far Field, in that with The Far Field everything was written with the guys in the room together. With this record, we wrote some ideas in sound checks while on tour for The Far Field. We wrote some stuff in the studio. William and I came with an idea, Gerrit came with a couple of ideas. There’s a song that’s like an older idea that William had. We cast a really wide net and just wanted to make as open a process as possible, and not hamper each other.

Is the process that you guys come up with the music and then work with Sam in coming up with the lyrical content?

Michael Lowry: Yes… that was my experience with this record.

What’s the Covid situation like in Baltimore currently?

William Cashion: …I went to North Carolina, a few states south of here, and nobody was following the government protocol for Covid-19. When I came back to Baltimore it felt like everyone’s taking it pretty seriously I thought, but hen I talked to these guys and they have a different perception of it, I dunno.

Michael Lowry: It depends on where you are.

Gerrit Welmers: Baltimore City’s sort of not doing that great. I think we’re coming down the other side at the moment, but it’s still not great, given what the population of the city is, which is 600,000. I think 1 in 40 is positive.

That’s crazy. In New Zealand it’s pretty low, but we’re currently allowed live shows here but only seated events [this interview took place while Auckland was still at Alert Level 2] and quite separated events, with table service and stuff like that. Are you guys allowed to have any live shows in the States?

William Cashion: Not here. There’s a comedian I follow on social media. He’s been touring… it’s different state to state and even within each state. In Baltimore City you can’t have events. But in Maryland, outside of the city, I’m pretty sure you can start having shows. From what I understand, the venues are eager to start having shows, even if it’s at limited capacity, because it’s been such a rough year for everybody. I think there are places that are starting to allow shows.

In Baltimore City, there’s been some things where local bands have been going around, setting up in their front yard, posting on social media. And then friends or whatever will come to that address and see the band play. Ive seen that, or like they’ve set up on the porch. People watch from the street or the front yard, y’know DIY style. But I haven’t been to one of those events, I’ve just seen them posted about on Instagram. Evil Instagram.

As seasoned veterans of touring, is it a frustrating feeling not being able to currently play live?

William Cashion: Totally, yes. 100 percent. We all wish more than anything that we can be out on the road touring. Under normal circumstances… as of this January the plan was we were gonna be on tour right now, we would already be doing a North American tour. That got pushed back in March, but that was the plan. We were gonna be on tour solid until the end of the year, and probably beyond. Leading up to the release and then after the release. And now it looks like… the earliest that we’re going to be able to do shows is next summer, possibly. I think we have some stuff confirmed in August and there might be something in May. But we’re not even sure that’s going to happen. Is there a May thing that might happen?

Michael Lowry: I don’t know. I think there was like a festival or something?

William Cashion: I think that’s a Japanese festival, but we’re not sure if it’s going to happen.

When was the last (live) show that you played?

William Cashion: We did a short tour September of last year to road test the material for As Long As You Are. We’d already been in the studio working on the stuff. Based on certain things with playing it live, we went back and kind of tweaked things, or re-recorded certain things, depending on what we learned on that tour. And then last December we did a private show in Edinburgh, that was our last show. I don’t even know if we count private shows, it gets tricky.

New Zealand has always loved Future Islands. I know the future’s pretty hazy at the moment, but do you guys reckon you’ll be heading our way once things settle down a little bit, in the hopefully not too distant future?

William Cashion: I hope so.

Gerrit Welmers: I certainly hope so.

I’ve spoken to a few people who had a really good time during your guys’ DJ set one night in Auckland.

William Cashion: Oh yeah that was fun [laughs]. That was where we played, was it Shaggy, that got everybody dancing? That was us with Dan Deacon.

Well good stuff, thank you so much for chatting with me today.

‘As Long As You Are’ is out now on 4AD via Rhythmethod.

Bandcamp Friday This Weekend From 8pm 2nd October NZST

Annabel Kean / C.C. / Friday 2nd October, 2020 5:43PM


The Bandcamp angels have confirmed that their game-changing monthly Bandcamp Fridays initiative will continue for the rest of 2020 — with one today, another on 6th November, and the last of the year on 4th December (perfect for Christmas gifts!). If you didn’t get the memo: once a month since March this year, Bandcamp has dedicated a full 24 hours towards fee-free use of the site for artists, meaning 100% of the money you spend on music and / or merchandise goes directly to the artists and labels involved.

We’ve put together just a tiny selection of hot new local picks for you to peruse for purchase from 8pm tonight (NZST), until 8pm Saturday 3rd October — if you’re not sure if it’s happening, you can click here to double check. We strongly suggest you explore the mind-bogglingly diverse sounds of what Aotearoa has to offer over in the New Zealand tag section of Bandcamp here, these by no means comprehensive suggestions simply aim to help get you started when the whistle blows at 8pm this evening…

Na Noise are already one of the coolest musical duos in Auckland, and now they’ve gone and released the first vinyl 7" pressed in Aotearoa since 1987. We get it! You’re great!

The award winning Troy Kingi channels soul and funk on his latest album The Ghost Of Freddie Cesar, the fourth in his 10 albums in 10 years in 10 genres project. Collect ’em all!

Wax Chattels‘ sophomore album will empower and electrify you, with tracks on Clot to even suit the non-goths of the world. Featuring cover art from bassist Amanda Cheng that belongs in a gallery, and a gorgeous blue disc.

P.H.F.‘s excellent new album New Metal launched on streaming services today, but can be copped in a dazzling variety of forthcoming physical formats via preorder on Bandcamp.

Love top quality Aotearoa punk? Vinyl with gorgeous cover art? Cool stickers? Repairs‘ Repeat, Repeat is the Bandcamp Friday purchase for you!

Need some next level electronic dance sounds to get you grooving? Look no further than the brand new album from Tāmaki Makaurau’s Amamelia — there are swish totes available too!

One of our favourite Aotearoa imprints to emerge over the past year, Noa Records consistently gift listeners sublime sonics. Check out their latest release from Riki Gooch & Alistair Fraser Rangatira.

Ulcerate‘s intense Stare Into Death And Be Still is inarguably one of the most significant NZ metal releases of 2020.

Pōneke indie-dance crew Glass Vaults‘ LP will be out by the end of the month. For now, pre-order a super limited edited, sunny yellow vinyl, and listen to the groovy singles.

It’s no secret we’re hanging out for the debut solo album from Emily Edrosa (Street Chant) — vinyl LP and digital preorders are available now.

Dunedin dance innovator Vanessa Worm‘s debut album VANESSA 77 spans a thrillingly diverse range of underground sonics and styles.

To browse the full selection of New Zealand releases currently available on Bandcamp, head over HERE.

For an awesome rundown of significant recent local releases, check out the buyaotearoa wishlist HERE.

Covid 19 Restrictions Return For NZ Music Venues

Chris Cudby / Wednesday 12th August, 2020 10:13AM


In an emergency announcement at 9.15pm last night, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Dr Ashley Bloomfield revealed there were four cases of Covid-19 detected in Auckland’s community. They declared the super city region will shift to Alert Level 3, and the rest of the country will move to Alert Level 2, for a period of “at least three days” from noon today, while the scale of the community transmission is assessed. This development sadly brings to an end Aotearoa’s much-touted status of no cases of Covid-19 in our community (at 101 days), confirming last week’s statement from Bloomfield that we all need to be actively vigilant in preventing the spread of Covid-19.

What does this mean for Aotearoa’s music community?

Auckland: Live music venues are required to be closed from noon today (Wednesday 12th August) for at least three days. Gatherings of up to 10 people are only permitted for wedding services, funerals and tangihanga — more details on Alert Level 3 here.

New Zealand outside of the Auckland super city boundaries: Alert Level 2 alert restrictions are in effect from noon today. Venue capacities will be capped at 100 attendees / gatherings of up to 100 are permitted. All public venues are asked to keep records to enable contact tracing. Stores can continue to be open but social distancing is required — more details on Alert Level 2 here.

Frustratingly, this means Auckland live music events up to and including Friday 14th August will be required to be cancelled or postponed, and audience restrictions may impact ticket holders outside of the super city region. We’ll keep you updated as more information comes to hand, as we did the last time around — all ticket holders to UTR events will be contacted via email of the updated event info.

How to help support our music community:

– For those who have the means to do so, we encourage ticket holders to consider opting to hold onto tickets, opting out of refunds and opting out of booking fee refunds.

– If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to download the contact tracer app and use it — download it here.

Here are the health and hygiene guidelines to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. 

– You can keep supporting your local record stores by ordering online. 

One thing you can rely on is we will keep bringing you the very best local and international music news and more, during the latest curveball 2020’s thrown at us and beyond. We’re collectively crossing our fingers that restrictions won’t be required after this coming Friday — we’ll provide rolling updates for the above information as details become available.

Here’s the full announcement from last night…

UTR Interview Relay Amamelia Chats With Pickle Darling

C.C. / Interviewer: Amelia Berry / Tuesday 4th August, 2020 12:05PM


Part two of our bold new four-part UTR Interview Relay series of artist-driven interviews has arrived. Picking up the baton from previous interviewer Pat Kraus, Tāmaki Makaurau electronic artist, songwriter and 95bFM Top 10 host Amelia Berry (Amamelia, Fimo, Polyester, Old Chips, Babyteeth, Princess Worm Baby) hit up Ōtautahi bedroom pop sensation Pickle Darling aka Lukas Mayo, for an eye-opening chat about his creative practice and finding unexpected international success with 2019’s debut album Bigness.

Dive into their conversation below, listen to Amamelia’s brand new mix for Related Articles here, catch her performing at The Others Way 2020 on the Sunreturn Stage this September [tickets here], and keep your eyes peeled for the next instalment in a fortnight’s time – where Pickle Darling will interview a yet-to-be-revealed Aotearoa artist, and once again pass the interview baton onwards!

Amelia Berry / Amamelia: I’m going to start by being really nasty and ask you to describe the kind of music Pickle Darling makes. Nobody likes to answer this.

Pickle Darling: Hmmm. I guess it’s like, baby music lol.

Obsessed with that! So, you’ve been making baby music as Pickle Darling since 2016, but when Bigness came out last year that seemed like a big moment. Suddenly everyone was talking about you. How did you feel about the reaction to that album?

I was pretty surprised at the reaction, I don’t know if it felt like everyone was talking about me cause in the end it just ends up being more Twitter / Facebook / Bandcamp notifications lol. It got Bandcamp Album of the Day, sold a huge amount of records and tapes, and ended up charting in NZ and topping the Bandcamp charts! Which is wild cause I didn’t really release it ‘properly’, I don’t have distribution or PR and don’t really know how to do anything. I think it was nice hearing that it was some people’s favourite record, getting a lot of coverage is one thing, but receiving messages from people telling me how much they loved the record… That meant quite a lot. Especially as by the time it came out, I felt so disconnected from the album, so the response kind of made me love the album again.

Your voice and lyrics create such a sense of honesty and intimacy. Does that feel vulnerable? How much of your real life do you write into these songs?

I’m always writing notes on my phone, either real life observations, or stuff I’ve read or seen, or just nonsensical images, and when I write a song I’m just scrolling through notes and seeing what fits and then I kind of try and shape that into a narrative. So there are real experiences in there, but it’s in more of a dreamlike way, and I can’t even remember the real stories the songs came from because I’ve just turned them into fiction. I find it hard to write purely true stories from my life or just about my feelings, cause my life and my feelings are just kind of boring haha. I still feel embarrassed when people play my music in a room full of people though, my songs feel like nudes lol.

The other thing that really stands out for me about your songs is the mix of sonic textures. How do you approach arranging your songs? Is it something you think about early on in the writing process?

I don’t really separate the arranging from the songwriting, and often the songwriting happens last, which is kind of like trying to slip a foundation under a house. I sit there on my computer with my guitar and just kind of toy around with little melodic ideas, and then layer them and then eventually I have a whole bunch of catchy melodies, and I try getting things sounding as colourful and meticulous as possible, and then I have to try and fit a song into it. ‘Rinse Spin Cycle’ and ‘Mouthful’ were huge instrumental pieces and it took me months before I could fit a natural sounding melody into it.

New Zealand has a kind of running theme of bedroom experimentalists, I’m thinking The Tall Dwarfs, The Brunettes. Do you see Pickle Darling in relation to that history?

I didn’t really know a lot of Flying Nun stuff growing up, it was more Lil Chief Records that I was into. I think I’ve kind of accidentally slotted into the twee genre, I was mostly just trying to make big Brian Wilson-esque pop songs but only with instruments I knew how to play and recording gear I knew how to use. Weirdly, my biggest influences are probably like, Wilco and R.A.P. Ferreira (used to go under the name Milo). Sonically I guess my stuff is twee but in terms of chord progressions and melodies and phrasing, I’m drawing from country music and rap music a lot. I hope others see me as part of NZ music history though, that’d be cool haha.

I never would have guessed that, but now that you mention it there is a lot of hip hop in those floaty, cyclical chord progressions. What else have you been listening to recently? Do you have any shout-outs?

The stuff I have on rotation at the moment, I guess Pen Palindrome, Voom, Skirts, this emo-ish band called Frankie Valet that put out the best album of this year, Bedbug (I’m always listening to them), R.A.P Ferreira, Pink Navel, The Microphones, Drive-By Truckers, Gene Clark, Robyn, Stereolab, The Field album with the white cover, Vagabon, Ben Woods, and Charli XCX of course. Oh and the first Fontaines D.C. album! I always secretly wish I was making that sort of music.

That’s the philosophy of the world, huh? Now finally, tell me about your new album. What should we expect? Has the success of Bigness changed the way you’ve approached these songs?

My new album is probably coming out near the start of next year, I guess cause 2020 is a bit of a write off! It’s finished though!! I’ve tried not to let the success of Bigness influence the new album… I’m kind of trying to make the opposite album to Bigness. It’s tighter and shorter and more melodic and lyrical. There aren’t any throwaway moments, and it feels more like one piece of music. I was inspired by lot of sci-fi during this album. Like Stalker and Solaris and all those old ‘Journey to the…’ moves and this weird UFO cult in America that I’ve just been watching videos about lol. The album is about communication and long-distance relationships so the sci-fi thing just works with that.

Interview Sit Down In Front Talk Jimmy Barnes Accessibility More

Annabel Kean
/ Thursday 30th July, 2020 11:57AM


Sit Down In Front are masters of the punk-rock sentiment, big on crunchy guitars and cheeky lyrics. Most recently the teen Gisborne force of four are celebrating a single sitting in the Official NZ Music Charts, and landing themselves NZ On Air funding for ‘Don’t Push The Button’, one of the standout tracks on their latest album Confessions Of A Pie Thief. Between high school, swimming lessons and earning St John Ambulance Cadets badges, singer and frontman Cory Newman is already busy writing new music with his band for a third album. Newman, who uses a wheelchair due to Cerebral Palsy, generously pulled himself away from a jam session the other day to have a yarn with UTR assistant editor Annabel Kean. They chat touring with Jimmy Barnes, favourite classic bands, and navigating the San Fran stairs with a wheelchair…

Annabel Kean: How was your day? Have you been at school?

Cory Newman: Good! Yeah I have, I came home about an hour ago. Wednesday is our band practice day and they’ve just thrown me out of the practice shed and locked me in another room.

Thank you for taking a break from practice to talk to me.

We were just getting started, but we’re a bit behind schedule anyway today so it doesn’t matter.

How’ve you been returning to playing after lockdown? Were you a bit rusty?

A little bit I guess. We hadn’t done much. Believe it or not, don’t want to sound like a douchebag here, but I’m one of those singers who does listen to his own music.

Haha, I think that’s a good practice!

Yeah, so I wasn’t that rusty because I’d listened to a lot of my own music over lockdown.

How do you balance all the band stuff, practices and writing songs with school? High school is a lot of work.

Yeah it is, it’s not easy. Particularly as I’m getting older it is getting more challenging, but I’ll manage. I’ve got a few other things on the side as well, you know, after school stuff like trips to the pool, St. Johns ambulance cadets in my case.

Oh cool, what do you do for that?

It’s on hold at the moment, but back in its heyday I used to go down to the local ambo base and hang out with some of the other young cadet guys and get badges and stuff. It’s almost like a scout thing.

Do you study music as a subject at school?

Yes I do, this year I have done at least. Last year I got my level one credits, well actually I got them two years ago, by doing it on Fridays during project time and in my lunch hour. I’m in the music room regularly, I’m wasting a lot of my free time in there.

Do you think you’ll study music after high school?

I might do a couple of elective papers, but I’ll probably go down the business degree track actually. But I’ll probably do a couple of music papers if I can fit them in, that might be fun.

Is the idea to learn how to run a successful band? And have the business knowledge for that?

More so I can run my own company you know, life after band, because, you know, it might not always be like this. Of course we’re gonna enjoy it like this while it lasts, but I’m too aware of young bands who never made it out of the pub circuit.

Who are some bands you’re listening to at the moment?

I’m a fairly mixed bag actually. Personal favourites include singers like Jimmy Barnes, who I’ve actually gone on the road with. Before I met him I loved his music. Airbourne, Hoodoo Gurus, The Cockroaches – who you’ve probably never heard of. A fairly mixed bag. I’m also into a lot of older stuff like The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, and I’ve been an AC/DC fan since I was about 12. I’ve always liked a lot of the older Kiwi performers, you know, we all grew up loving bands like Villainy and Shihad and Alien Weaponry. And I’ve discovered some of the older performers like Johnny Devlin and Max Merritt & The Meteors, both of whom I enjoy listening to.

I was gonna say, Sit Down In Front actually reminds me a bit of Stereogram. Are you a fan of them?

Yeah I like a few of their songs, they’ve got some good ones actually. ‘White Trash‘ is a really good one.

What’s the live music scene like in Gisborne for people under 18 like yourself?

It’s really good in the sense that we’ve got one local venue that’s really looked after us, Smash Palace. Daryl the owner is a really nice guy and he gives us heaps of opportunities and he’s been in our corner pretty much from day one. The only thing is that his license is a little bit limiting, we do have to be out by 10pm. Being under 18 does have its challenges, but it’s still pretty good. As good as you can get for a small town anyway.

That’s great! There are lots of towns where there’s barely the option. I’d be really interested to hear about your experiences with accessibility in New Zealand venues. You’ve toured a bit, what’s that like as someone who uses a wheelchair?

It depends on the venue. When we toured with Jimmy Barnes it was really good, a lot of the venues were really well set up. Spark Arena in Auckland was really well done with their accessibility. I haven’t toured a lot in the South Island so I can’t really speak for that, it was just that one trip to Dunedin and Christchurch with Jimmy Barnes.

Most of the North Island venues we visited had quite good accessibility.

How was it in Christchurch and Dunedin?

Pretty good for the most part, there were a couple of missing ramps but nothing too major. The odd lift up a set of stairs can be managed.

Do you think that the lack of accessibility in smaller venues is a bit of a hurdle for people with disabilities?

Yeah, I think it is. I can’t really speak for a lot of those venues, because we haven’t been to them yet, but a couple that stand out to me there are San Fran in Wellington, they have about three flights of stairs – that was an interesting one! We left the wheelchair at the bottom, a buddy walked me up the stairs and someone would have to follow behind with the chair, and then we had to do it all again at the end of the night. Nivara Lounge was quite similar. Definitely not easy. For some people it can be managed, but for others it can suck. I can imagine if you had a big power wheelchair, which weighs a few hundred kilos, I could see how that could be a real problem.

And not everyone would even feel comfortable being picked up.

The logistics of getting a 200kg piece of steel up the stairs, that too!

Do you have preferred language when talking about disability? For me to think about when I write this out? I know it varies from person to person.

Not really. There’s one thing that annoys me though, is when people try to be too politically correct and refer to it as ‘differently abled’ and stuff, just call it what it is! You don’t have to be too soft about it. But yeah, it’s pretty good with the accessibility, and I realise in a lot of ways we’ve been really lucky, and there’s a lot of places we haven’t visited yet that we don’t know about.

So what’s next for Sit Down In Front? What’s coming up?

Good question. We’ve got some various interviews coming up, radio and possibly TV. We’re going to keep trying to get more gigs and keep it all going, and get back into it after all the disruptions cause by Covid-19. And we’re going to write a few more songs. We’re working on a third album at the moment, just in the very early stages of development.

Will this album be the same kind of sound?

It will probably be very similar to the last two, no distinct style changes or anything.

Don’t fix what ain’t broke.

Too soon to tell, we’re still writing most of that one.

For people who haven’t listened to your band before, what song should they start with?

Ohhh that’s a tough one. I would strongly recommend starting with our song ‘Rain’ and also our song ‘How Mean Would It Be’ from our first album. Those are the songs from each album I’d recommend they start with. And then just go from there. It’s good old fashioned punk music and good old fashioned rock ’n’ roll. If you’re into that sort of stuff, you will love us.

Sit Down In Front’s ‘Confessions Of A Pie Thief’ is out now online.

The Dalai Lama Announces Debut Album With NZs Junelle Kunin

Chris Cudby / Wednesday 10th June, 2020 9:16AM


These days it seems like everyone’s got at least one mixtape up their sleeves. Joining the recent flood of international and local releases sparked by lockdowns across the globe, none other than The Dalai Lama has announced his debut album Inner World, a collaborative recording with New Zealand producer and practicing Buddhist Junelle Kunin (Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Pūkenga, Ngāti Tūwharetoa). Releasing on 6th July to honour the Tibetan Buddhism leader’s 85th birthday celebrations, the project was initiated by Kunin who wrote him a letter requesting his participation, to which he replied “This will benefit many people!” later stating "The very purpose of my life is to serve as much as I can… Music can help people in a way that I can’t”.

Described as "a unique album of mantras and teachings by The Dalai Lama set to music," the album was completed by Kunin and her husband, co-producer Abraham Kunin (Teeks, Home Brew) over a five year period, and will be released alongside a Inner World companion booklet, featuring artwork by Aotearoa visual artists Ella Brewer and Tiffany Singh. The Dalai Lama is is course no stranger to the contemporary music scene, having collaborated with the Beastie Boys for the Tibetan Freedom Concerts in the mid-90s. Experience The Dalai Lama’s first single from the record ‘Compassion’ here…

Net proceeds from the sales of INNER WORLD will go to The Gaden Phodrang Foundation of the Dalai Lama (Switzerland) chosen program: Social, Emotional and Ethical Learning (SEE Learning), an international K-12 education program and part of an academic collaboration between Emory University and His Holiness; and Mind and Life Institute, which brings science and contemplative wisdom together to better understand the mind & create positive change in the world.

Splore Festival Returning In February 2021

Chris Cudby / Photography credit: danescottcreative
/ Tuesday 9th June, 2020 2:13PM


Tāmaki Makaurau’s beloved Splore Festival have confirmed they’ll be back in action in early 2021, following Prime Minister Jacinda Arden’s announcement mass gatherings will no longer have strict limits imposed upon them under Level 1, with spacing out being entirely voluntary from now on. Splore returns to Tapapakanga Regional Park for three days of summery good times by the sea shore, promising an all-local bill of performers while uncertainty surrounding international travel remains. As much a community-oriented event as a music festival, Splore attendees can delve into a deliciously diverse selection of food and craft vendors, politically engaged events in the Listening Lounge, a wellness zone, kids-friendly entertainment options, art installations and even a dedicated marriage celebrant and wedding planner. Splore Festival Director John Minty shared his excitement for the return of Splore in our post-lockdown era…

"We are thrilled with the way our team of 5 million in Aotearoa has handled this global health crisis. Being Covid-19 free is the determining factor for our festival to go ahead and it has happened much faster than we anticipated.

There are so many small businesses that make up the fabric of Splore and I am really happy to engage our loyal crew and also support all our suppliers, sponsors, performers, artists, food and craft vendors.

We inspire a mindful community to celebrate inclusiveness, diversity, creativity, friendships and whanau and to connect to the wairua of Tapapakanga"

Splore Festival 2021

Lineup + programme to be announced – more details over at the Splore website here
Friday 26th February to Sunday 28th February – Tapapakanga Regional Park

Early-bird pre-sale tickets available from Friday 12th June
General release tickets available from Monday 15th June

Press release:

The lifting of restrictions on event numbers and loosening of social distancing means Splore fans can heave a sigh of relief. Organisers confirm the festival will take place at its home of Tapapakanga Regional Park (70km SE of Auckland’s CBD) next February 26-28. People can now register to gain priority for the much sought after early-bird tickets that will go on pre-sale Friday, 12 June with general release tickets available from Monday, 15 June.

New Zealand moving to Level 1 is delightful news to Splore Festival Director John Minty.

"We are thrilled with the way our team of 5 million in Aotearoa has handled this global health crisis. Being Covid-19 free is the determining factor for our festival to go ahead and it has happened much faster than we anticipated".

Splore is a microcosm within the larger event industry. High production values for the three-day festival plays a significant role in supporting the event industry economy.

"There are so many small businesses that make up the fabric of Splore and I am really happy to engage our loyal crew and also support all our suppliers, sponsors, performers, artists, food and craft vendors" says Minty.

Splore will take a ‘stay local’ approach for 2021. The global health crisis is still engulfing countries like USA and UK where Splore sources some of its music acts. The uncertainty makes it impossible to book international acts.

Minty says the Splore community will support the festival with a local focus because not only do we have a wealth of music and performance talent to draw on but the entire experience of Splore creates the magic. "Splore is irresistible for our core fans who return year after year for the unique experience".

Splore, he says, is more than a festival, it is a community of like-minded people that come together to get their fix of freedom, fun and dancing that sets them up for the rest of the year.

"Some people have experienced Splore at such a deep level, that they get married at Splore. We’ve had upwards of 15 weddings at Splore in the last decade that we have a dedicated celebrant and a wedding planner".

The festival is on the cutting edge of popular concerns; wellness, the environment and social justice. "We inspire a mindful community to celebrate inclusiveness, diversity, creativity, friendships and whanau and to connect to the wairua of Tapapakanga" says Minty.

The festival is about so much more than the fantastic music across multiple zones. Progressive social and political ideas are debated in the Listening Lounge on a Saturday morning with a panel discussion hosted by journalist Russell Brown.

The wellness zone with yoga and healing modalities is over-subscribed and grows bigger every
year. The festival is proud of its ecological reputation that is messaged in creative ways; from the call-out to Splorers to use upcycled costumes, to introducing new sustainable initiatives every year from carpooling, to reusable serve ware and enrolling the audience to help divert rubbish from landfill. There are no broken tents left behind at Splore and the festival has carbon zero in its sights.

It’s family friendly, with a Rumpus Room programmed with kids entertainment. The kids love Splore and reside in dedicated family camping areas for the weekend. The site is dotted with interactive art installations, light sculptures and live performances that pop up in the least expected places. The audience becomes part of the entertainment too, with 90% of the audience participating in the themed dress up on Saturday night. Splore is renowned as New Zealand’s greatest dress up party.

Entertainment updates will be announced over the following months.

Review Mirrors Debut Album Within An Endless Dream

Stevie Kaye
/ Thursday 4th June, 2020 10:38AM


Shanghainese psych-rockers Mirrors were set to tour New Zealand this February / March, a nine date tour much more ambitious than the two North Island shows that Beijing’s Birdstriking played in 2017, kin to the adventurous Chinese tours that the indomitable Kiwese has facilitated with lysergic local bands like Orchestra of Spheres, The All Seeing Hand and Womb + Strange Stains over the past five years. New Zealand closing its borders to all foreign travellers from China on the 2nd of February as its first anti-Covid 19 measure, however, put paid to that dream, and for now all we have is the music on their debut album, Within An Endless Dream (featuring re-recordings of their 2017 EP, Separate Reality). Within An Endless Dream leads one to reflect (sorry) on the bifurcation of krautrock influence in New Zealand and China. Here, you can call us Neu! Zealand, teasing a thread through Peter Gutteridge’s contributions to The Clean’s ‘Point That Thing Somewhere Else‘ and Snapper’s doomy engine-revving – chain-smoking minimalism. Chinese bands like Mirrors, Chui Wan and the industrial-tinged Stolen, however, conjure up the shaggier end of Can, or the psychedelic majesty of Amon Düül II (not to mention a thriving shoegaze scene); there’s a touch of dreamy mysticism that New Zealand music tends to be suspicious of outside of noise labels like Corpus Hermeticum and Celebrate Psi Phenomenon – we default to the quotidian or landscapes.

Opener ‘Le Duanle’s heavy groove constantly threatens to fly into chaos, Aming‘s arid surf guitar ducking and weaving out of a percussive maze laid down by Daniel Nagels, perhaps better known to locals from his time in dayglo math-rockers So So Modern, though he’s also put his time in Shanghai with the difficult-to-google Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes and psychedelic stalwarts Nonplus of Color. Despite the occasional interlude like the dreamy ‘Summer Night’, Within An Endless Dream builds a head of steam towards an amazing closing trifecta – the squealing riffage and mantra-like chanting of ‘Ka Ra Ya Sa Ta Ha La’, the title track’s methodical cosmic unfurling, and motorik closer ‘Ding 1Ding’s five and a half saxophone-punctuated minutes (courtesy of German maestro Klaus Bru) feeling like an excerpt from a much longer piece – I’m always disappointed when it cuts out. Here’s hoping Mirrors manage to reconstitute their tour when borders thaw, and we’ll get further within their endless dream.

Stevie Kaye is an Auckland-based music writer and DJ.

Listen To Sandy Mills Song The Color Of Your Skin

A.K. / Tuesday 2nd June, 2020 12:08PM


Aotearoa soul legend Sandy Mill (Ngati Porou), has shared heart-felt and quietly powerful new song ‘The Color Of Your Skin’. As thousands of people across New Zealand and the rest of the world join Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of a US policeman murdering George Floyd, Mill has used her unfaltering voice and songwriting talents to play her part, joining the likes of Terrace Martin, Denzel Curry and Kamasi Washington in using song to take a stand. Doubling as a contribution to a project run by New York label Big Crown Records, she’s written her own lyrics to the music of NY duo Lizette & Quevin. Pay close attention to Mill’s words in ‘The Color Of Your Skin’, and educate yourself on the meaning behind Black Lives Matter

Interview Giantess Talk About Debut Album Big Woman

Chris Cudby / Photo supplied / Thursday 14th May, 2020 9:57AM


Poneke’s Kiki Van Newtown and Jason Erskine arise from the ashes of their previous band Hex with today’s release of Big Woman, the debut album from the duo’s new project Giantess. Written by Van Newtown with production wizardry by Erskine and powerhouse drums courtesy of Lauren Ellis, Giantess’ songs sound absolutely vast throughout Big Woman, channeling pure rock energy with alternately furious and transcendent guitars, while knocking listeners off their feet with often emotionally devastating lyrics. Chris Cudby caught up with Van Newtown over the phone last weekend for an in-depth chat about the new record and the group’s life during Aotearoa’s lockdown – listen to Big Woman here and scroll downwards for their conversation…

Chris Cudby: It’s been just over two years since I was last talking with you about the release of Hex’s album The Hill Temple. To get a new project started and a debut album out, between that time and now, is a significant and rare achievement. Do you feel, having Giantess established and having the new album out now, that represents a place of stability?

Kiki Van Newtown: Starting Giantess was me vouching for myself really. I’ve watched all these incredible women around me go through hard times and come out of that process, and just absolutely fucking blossom… and be incredible, creative, powerful people. That’s what Giantess is. It’s a tribute to women going through something really difficult and then coming out even bigger and more powerful.

Also I didn’t realise that ‘Giantess’ is a kink thing, until after I decided that was going to be the band name. Now a lot of the messages I get are "do you have any photos of your feet?" And I’m like "No." But I didn’t realise, because I’m very innocent.

What motivated you and Jason to start afresh with Giantess? How do you feel from this vantage point, looking back at the last couple of years of change?

The answer to the first part would be trauma [laughs]. There have been a lot of things going on in my life, that have necessitated major ruptures and change. Hex was a thing that was in equal parts absolute magic and absolute devastation. I’m really proud of the music Hex produced and I’m really grateful for that time in Hex. So many things changed in my life and in my personal life, I really needed to draw very clear boundaries around many things. Part of that was moving on from Hex. This is the first album I have been involved in, where I have written everything on it. I just wanted (Giantess) to be a new beginning.

Have you been working on this record since The Hill Temple wrapped up? Who was involved in the creation of Big Woman?

I started writing the songs just before The Hill Temple came out. I had done some scratch demos and then after we had released The Hill Temple they just kept coming. It was this incredibly creative period for me… then I worked with Jason to pre-produce (the songs) into what they were going to look like on the album. Which to be honest, they just looked like better quality versions of the scratch demos. Then from probably the start of 2018, was when we started recording them.

We worked with Lauren Ellis, who’s this incredible drummer, she toured with us at the end of 2018 as Hex and she recorded all the drums for the album. Then over 2019, we basically did all the tracking over the top. That was done at my house in Lower Hutt. It was done after the kids went to bed, in the small pockets of time we got without loud yelling and screaming and chaos in the house. That was just me and Jason doing all of the tracking on top of Lauren’s drums. Jason did all the recording, mixing and engineering everything on the album.

Speaking of family life, how has your family life been during the lockdown period? You’ve talked about being relatively prepared for this kind of situation?

The two kids that I have, one of them has a primary immune deficiency syndrome, a bone marrow syndrome. We’ve had to be incredibly careful for the last seven and a half years about infection risks. So none of what’s going on, with people wearing masks and carrying hand sanitiser, none of that is new to us. None of the new protocols that people are finding they’re having to learn, none of that was new to us. I’m feeling very prepared in that way.

We’re very used to staying at home. We stayed at home for a couple of months last year when there was the measles outbreak. This for us is not that much of a deviation from our everyday lives. I also am very introverted, so for me staying at home is fine, it’s not that much of a challenge for me. But I can see other people have found this really challenging, because it’s massive y’know.

Probably my favourite line from the album is "It’s true that love is pain / but I want it all the same." Are you primarily drawing on your own experiences, as inspiration for the lyrics on Big Woman?

I find it interesting that’s your favourite line [laughs]. Because it’s the single most earnest line on the album… it’s so true and gross and painful and human. The album is entirely drawn from my experiences over the last couple of years. Just the sheer amount of mental processing of shitty situations that I’ve had to do. I know people say this all the time, but it was sort of like therapy writing the album.

Recording the album was so distressing, there were so many times when we were recording where I was literally lying on the floor balling my eyes out trying to sing the songs, because it felt so raw. Then Jason would give me this pep talk. The last song we recorded the lyrics for, I was like "I can’t even stand up to do this"… it was very full on. At the same time as I was writing the songs, I was writing lots of short stories. So each song comes with a little short story. They’re all slightly fictionalised autobiography as well.

Who did the artwork for Big Woman and why that image?

Mica Still did the art, she did the cover and I love her. I met her when we both had very small children, she is this incredible person who does incredible street art. She’s done cover art for other New Zealand musicians. Quite a while ago she did this exhibition of… all these quite saucy paintings. It had lots of rainbows and stripy stockings, it was a little bit like 1920s fashion meets punk. I just loved it and I asked her if she would create something like that… I played her the album and told her what it was about. That was what she came up with and I just love it. It’s so aggressive.

I feel like I’ve finally got myself to a place where I really like myself and I really like the other people who are in my life and I feel very positive about the future. I think that definitely comes across in the aesthetics and the visuals for the album.

The whole lockdown situation must have messed with tour plans for the album. Have you guys been tempted to do any livestream shows? Considering the circumstances, does Giantess have any tour ambitions for 2020?

Yeah we were meant to be in Australia. I’d started booking shows around New Zealand and then I cancelled them all, actually before lockdown happened. At the end of February I was like "we are going to have to go into isolation very soon." Mid-way through February I’d started bulk shopping and storing tubs of baked beans in the shed. We did try to do a livestream performance and actually, I think the internet in New Zealand is a bit shit generally. The sound (was) so terribly compressed that we were like "no sorry, we’re not going to do this. It sounds too bad, it’s not going to be any fun for anyone." I really am enjoying the livestream festivals and that sort of thing that are happening, but I do feel like we need better internet.

We’re stoked to be working with another excellent drummer Callum Gay, who also plays in Spook The Horses and a bunch of other bands. He’s stupidly talented, and just effortlessly understood what we needed, and he’s funny, so it’s a joy really, and we absolutely want to tour and play more shows if it’s at all possible.

We’re obviously at a unique moment, where we can all collectively pause and consider where to go next and hopefully get some things right, post-lockdown. It’s no exaggeration to say that along with the pandemic there’s some scary shit circulating around. Are there any specific issues you feel Aotearoa urgently needs to address?

There’s so much going on and I think a lot of it comes down to a lack of collective love. In terms of things that urgently need to be addressed in Aotearoa, I would say lots of these things can be solved or improved, basically if we decolonize. The urgent things there would be honouring Te Tiriti, abolishing prisons, challenging the police force on the use of armed response teams, making education accessible in the ways that people want and need it, and making sure that everyone has housing. There’s all these things that tie into the decolonization process that need to be happening.

There’s a huge distrust for government and there’s a huge distrust for corporations and I totally understand why, because they’ve never worked in the interests of the majority of people. I think now more than ever is the time when we have to be really critical thinkers and we need to be tracing things back to: who is benefiting from this? Who is going to be exploited and who is going to be harmed from this? It’s not just who’s being harmed by government policies, it’s who’s being harmed by the conspiracy theories and that sort of thing. I think we all just need to keep our wits about us, think critically, follow where the money is, figure out who’s holding power in any situation and focus on all those things that tie in to decolonization.

Are you keen to get back in the studio? By the way, your Miley Cyrus cover was awesome!

Thanks! We had so much fun doing that. It’s so fun doing covers because you don’t have to think up any of the bits, you just get to throw whatever you want on top of it. It’s exciting.

I am so keen to get recording again. We’ve already got a bunch of demos for the next album. I just want the next album to be even heavier [laughs]. I want the album to be like, you can’t even hear it, you just feel it and it just messes with your internals. I don’t know how to get there yet, but that’s the goal.

‘Big Woman’ is streamable now via Spotify.

Troy Kingi Awarded Taite Music Prize 2020

C.C. / Photo credit: Abe Mora / Wednesday 6th May, 2020 9:42AM


Required to shift to the online realm this year due to Covid-19, last night’s eleventh annual Taite Music Prize presentation maintained the glitz and the glamour we’ve come to expect from the prestigious event, in a necessarily more stripped back fashion than usual. Four awards were doled out at the streamed ceremony, which was originally scheduled to take place at Tāmaki Makaurau’s Q Theatre in April. Troy Kingi took away the coveted main prize for his album with the Upperclass Holy Colony Burning Acres, Repulsive Woman aka Millie Lovelock won the Auckland Live Best Independent Debut award for her breakout album Relief, industry legend Murray Cammick (RipItUp, Southside Records) was deservedly recognised for his trailblazing work with the Independent Spirit Award, and Shona Laing was presented the Independent Music NZ Classic Record award for her synth-soaked 1987 album South (Pagan Records).

Presented by MC’s Sarah Thomson (95bFM) and IMNZ Chairperson Mikee Tucker (Loop Recordings), the ceremony’s guest speakers included Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who announced the main prize winner, Russell Brown who paid tribute to Murray Cammick’s hugely impactful contributions as a journalist, label boss, photographer and more, and 2019 Taite Music Prize winner Tom Scott (Avantdale Bowling Club), who provided humble and hilarious words of wisdom for the finalists.

Named in tribute to legendary New Zealand music journalist Dylan Taite, the Taite Music Prize has long been considered to be a critics’ choice award that "recognises outstanding creativity for an entire collection of music contained on one recording," bestowing the winner with a cash prize of NZ$12,500 (to be spent as they wish), recording time at Red Bull Studios Auckland and a year’s supply of Red Bull product.

Troy Kingi’s record with the Upperclass was one of ten finalists for the award. The formidably talented lineup of artists in the running for 2020 included Aldous Harding, Beastwars, JessB, L.A.B., Lawrence Arabia, Louis Baker, Mermaidens, Miss June and Tiny Ruins.

Watch the entire event here…

Help Save New Zealands Venues SAVEOURVENUES

Chris Cudby / Photo of Wax Chattels at Whammy Bar by Connor Crawford / Monday 4th May, 2020 12:40PM


It’s clear now is a historically significant moment for Aotearoa, as we’ve finally emerged from the month long Level 4 lockdown, hovering at a slightly less restricted Level 3 status. While the future’s looking brighter and many have already hit up their favourite restaurants for an overdue takeaway / delivery fix, it’s critical to remember our live music scene is still effectively paralysed, until we get the green light to get back amongst it.

Venues are the lifeblood of Aotearoa’s music industry and they desperately need your support now more than ever. Without venues, local shows won’t happen, our rising stars won’t have stages on which to perform, grow and innovate (and sometimes work behind the bar), communities won’t have spaces to congregate and party, and New Zealand really would be an all around drab and boring place to call home.

Here’s an ever-expanding rundown of current Boosted / Givealittle campaigns and online initiatives in support of venues throughout Aotearoa, with handy hashtag details where relevant. We encourage you to show them all your love and please donate if you have the means to do so:

Whammy Bar / The Wine Cellar (Auckland, #welovewhammywinecellar) – donate here 

Neck Of The Woods (Auckland, #weloveneckofthewoods) – donate here 

Leigh Sawmill Cafe (Leigh) – contactless pickup / delivery food available here  

Navara Lounge (Hamilton) – donate via the No Sound: A Nivara Lounge Fundraiser compilation here

The Cabana (Napier, #welovethecabana) – donate here 

Valhalla (Wellington) – donate here, buy merch here, become a patron here and pay bar tabs forward here

San Fran (Wellington, #welovesanfran) – donate here  

Cassels Blue Smoke (Christchurch, #welovebluesmoke) – donate here, offering food and drinks delivery / click & collect here 

Darkroom (Christchurch, #welovedarkroom) – donate here 

Dog With No Tails (Dunedin, #welovedogwithnotails) – donate here 

Lucy Macrae of Karangahape Road’s Whammy Bar (and punk firecrackers Dick Move) is part of a team of artists and industry movers and shakers – including Reb Fountain and Banished Music’s Reuben Bonner – who today have launched a nationwide new Boosted Live initiative named Save Our Venues, with the aim of keeping Aotearoa’s live venues afloat during these turbulent times. Working together they’ve already achieved significant success, thanks to a massive outpouring of love from the community over the past fortnight, their Whammy / Wine Cellar campaign reached a target of $50,000 in eight hours, and has 11 days to meet a further stretch goal on $100,000.

The ambitious new fundraising initiative aims to raise over $500,000 for venues across NZ: "Dozens of campaigns over music month will go ahead, and each with a $1000 koha from Arts Foundation Future Fund, plus 5% of their Boosted campaign target, donated back to them. Starting with the campaigns from Whammy & Wine Cellar (Auckland), Darkroom (Christchurch) and San Fran (Wellington), each venue will nominate another venue to kick off their very own Boosted campaign, with their very own seed fund to get them started."

Lucy Macrae expanded on the aims of Save Our Venues and what we might look forward to with live shows in the near future: "Through the Boosted campaigns Save Our Venues are supporting. We are calling on everyone to help. Anyone can do it – artists, audience members, reviewers, techies, promoters – all of us. First up – if you can, please donate – chip in what you can to make a difference. Next – using the hashtag #saveourvenues post your own video or photo with your memory of the venue as a response and share this with your community along with the link to this page so that your friends can donate too.

If we can get back up and running at full capacity in the next few months, we think the local shows and the local touring circuit in Aotearoa could be really strong. We have such a great roster of talent, there won’t be a lack of shows. At this stage, we are trying to envisage what being open will look like in levels two and one…
Whammy / Wine Cellar has always been a nursery for bands – Marlon Williams, Nadia Reid, Tiny Ruins, Reb Fountain, The Beths, Soaked Oats, Wax Chattels… so envisage a lot more local talent of a high calibre emerging!

It all happened so fast, Whammy started having shows cancel on Monday and by Wednesday we had shut our doors. What we’ve seen from the government so far has largely been productive and supportive but we don’t know what we are dealing with or what the future is going to look like for live music just yet, so there are still a lot of unresolved issues.

People / the wider community are recognising the importance of music venues and are stepping in to help which is great – we don’t feel alone. We will need ongoing support to get through the levels – whatever they are going to look like."

The Wine Cellar owner / operator Rohan Evans speculated about the shape of NZ’s live shows post-lockdown: "My interpretation of the lockdown rules are that we will not be able to open the Wine Cellar for shows until we are down to Level 2 (presuming that means gatherings of 50 or 100 people will be allowed). We’d probably start with seated shows keeping to the lower of those two capacities. Under level 3 we might be able to do some recording or live streaming from the venue but it’s hard to capitalise on such things and I am of the opinion that things need to be worth it for the artists as well as for the venue."

Evans shared his thoughts on how the lockdown process was handled by the government: "I think the lockdown has been done quite well, I can’t help but think that there was an opportunity to front foot the targeting of the support to be a UBI and and a rent / mortgage moratorium."

Wellington’s heavy music stronghold and nationwide touring company Valhalla have unleashed an array of options for attendees to show their love, via a Givealittle campaign, a selection of killer merch, a subscription service for touring shows and even the option to pay drinks forward in advance of reopening.

Valhalla head honcho Val Knut gave us the lowdown: "It’s all about supporting the greater music community. No bands left, no shows! No techs still in the industry, no shows! Keep listening to your favourite bands and download their stuff on bandcamp. Keep up the enthusiastic vibe on social media that you can’t wait to see this band or this kind of event happen. To support Valhalla directly we finally got merch to buy, a subscription service for perks at Valhalla Touring shows and you now have the ability to purchase your drinks forward and redeem when we reopen."

He provided insight into how our live scene might adapt, while international artists are still barred from our shores: "It would be nice to see more mixed shows. Rather than is this a straight up slow chug stoner rock night, what about some up beat progressive stuff, some hipster black metal and depressive doom all on the one night? Doing something different is important too. Sunday matinee shows, two shows in one night, putting on shows at different locations, EG outside, in a rural community hall etc… I can imagine bigger kiwi bands will play more and more national tours, along with probably writing more material to get ready for 2021 and oversea touring again.

(The) government wage subsidy has been a huge relief. We are the lucky ones in the hospitality / live music as our fantastic fans are supporting us through Patreon / Givealittle / merch sales. Other business sectors and folks out there aren’t so lucky. The music community is tight, so I’m optimistic we can all come back stronger from this."

NZ Music Commission are calling for all landlords of music venues to give urgent rent relief to their live music tenants here.

Press release:

Boosted LIVE presents #saveourvenues

Dozens of campaigns over music month will go ahead, and each with a $1000 koha from Arts Foundation Future Fund, plus 5% of their Boosted campaign target, donated back to them. Starting with the campaigns from Whammy & Wine Cellar (Auckland), Darkroom (Christchurch) and San Fran (Wellington), each venue will nominate another venue to kick off their very own Boosted campaign, with their very own seed fund to get them started.

Pay it forward…

Starting on Monday, May 4th at 12pm:
Wine Cellar nominates Cassels Blue Smoke (Christchurch)

San Fran nominates The Cabana (Napier)

Darkroom nominates Dog With Two Tails (Dunedin)
Whammy nominates Neck Of The Woods (Auckland)

And on it goes… throughout music month we will see new daily nominations, with New Zealand’s crucial, small venues asking their communities, and the wider community of Aotearoa to help.

#saveourvenues alongside Boosted LIVE aim to help raise over $500,000 for venues across Aotearoa.

If planning her album release tour amidst a global pandemic wasn’t enough, all of a sudden the future looked even bleaker for musician Reb Fountain when she realised there might not be any venues for her to perform at once the lockdown was lifted. Spurred on by the desire to save her ‘second home’ and secure both audience entertainment and artist growth in Aotearoa, she gathered together a stalwart team to create a Boosted campaign to raise funds for, and showcase the plight of two iconic Auckland venues – Whammy Bar and The Wine Cellar.

Alongside Reb Fountain, artists such as Marlon Williams, Aldous Harding, Ladi6, Nadia Reid, Tiny Ruins, Tami Nielson, Soaked Oats and The Beths stepped up to support what would be the beginning of a movement. This was an artist-led project aimed at a viral response to support these community spaces to survive and thrive. And true to form; artists, reviewers, photographers and punters alike have been sharing their memories and support for these beloved venues, and the need for live music to survive the lockdown.

Within 8 hours the #welovewhammywinecellar Boosted campaign had surpassed its initial goal of $50,000.

“Our initial goal was somewhat reserved,” Reb says, “We knew that these venues weren’t going to make it with our funding alone – they needed a comprehensive national funding strategy – but $50,000 seemed like a good place to start. We never could have imagined the campaign would explode as it did, tripling the number of donors recorded for any one Boosted campaign .. and we’ve only just begun.”

With such an incredible start it was clear the community at large were invested in their ‘home away from homes’ and genuinely cared about the fate of our local music scene.

Reb and team stretched the goal to $100,000, but again were aware that this would only touch the sides of what is needed. “You run a music venue for the love of it; because you are passionate about live music and want to provide a space where your community can congregate to hear it .. not for the money."

Funds have continued to roll in as the #saveourvenues campaign shine a much-needed light on the plight of our nations venues, artists, and our creative industry as a whole. And others started: Darkroom in Christchurch hit their $10k target within two days; San Fran (in Wellington) kicked off with almost $20k support in 24 hours.

Excited that these campaigns could become a movement to support venues around the country, this blossoming & dedicated committee (including Reb, Matthew Crawley (Golden Dawn / Strange News), Lucy Macrae & Tom Anderson (Whammy Bar), Rohan Evans (The Wine Cellar) and Reuben Bonner (Banished Music)) started working behind the scenes. Under the banner of #saveourvenues the team seek to unite in support of Aotearoa’s live music venues and music scene, to raise awareness and funds, and trigger a national response strategy in support of a thriving musical culture in New Zealand.

#saveourvenues have been working to create a national Boosted fund-raising strategy to stand in solidarity with small, live music venues around the country who are on the brink. If the record-breaking Boosted campaign for Whammy Bar and The Wine Cellar has shown us anything, it’s how a cause can transcend the divide and unite music fans, artists, and industry professionals alike to create positive change.

#saveourvenues aim is to get to crucial, original, small live music venues right across New Zealand, in cities and towns. And we are calling on everyone to help. Anyone can do it – artists, audience members, reviewers, techies, promoters – all of us. First up – please donate now – chip in what you can to make a difference. Next – using the hashtags #saveourvenues and #welove(venuename), post your own video or photo with your memory of the venue as a response and share this with your community along with the link to this page, so that your friends can donate too.

Let’s build a movement.

#saveourvenues #saveourvenuesnz

Watch Jonathan Brees Video For In The Sunshine

C.C. / Tuesday 28th April, 2020 2:28PM


Masked musical maestro Jonathan Bree has lifted the veil on the poignant and alluring latest cut from his fourth solo album After the Curtains Close, slated for release in mid-July. Embellished with washes of woozy synths, the gorgeously orchestrated ‘In The Sunshine‘ was launched over the long weekend with a video directed by Chelsea Nikkel, aka longterm collaborator Princess Chelsea. Shot "on a small island off mainland New Zealand," the clip depicts Bree as a solitary figure on a fishing excursion, taking in the sublime splendour of Tāmaki Makaurau’s Hauraki Gulf, with occasional hints of danger detectable underneath the otherwise sparkling surface.

Pre-orders are available for ‘After The Curtains Close’, out on Friday 17th July via Lil’ Chief. For Jonathan Bree’s upcoming European tour dates, head along over here.

Sacred Reich Vio Lence New Zealand Shows Postponed

C.C. / Wednesday 22nd April, 2020 2:00PM


US thrash metal overlords Sacred Reich and Vio-Lence have broken the news their forthcoming Aotearoa shows with local champs Bulletbelt are currently being rescheduled, with potential new dates lined up for January 2021. Led by Phil Rind and exploding out of Phoenix, Arizona in the mid-eighties, Sacred Reich’s hugely influential, frenetic and socially conscious sonic outpourings delivered four studio albums during their first tour of duty as an active unit – they split in 2000, reunited in 2006, and last year unveiled their first long player in more than two decades Awakening. Forged in the furnace of the mid-80s Bay Area thrash metal scene, Vio-Lence have returned to stages to renew their furious live assault following 15 years downtime – their output encompasses a trio of ear-bleeding studio albums: Eternal Nightmare (1988), Oppressing the Masses (1990) and Nothing to Gain (1993). Both bands shared their excitement for making it down under in the near future…

"Vio-Lence is sorry to announce that the tour with Sacred Reich in Australia and New Zealand will be postponed until next year due to the Covid 19 virus. We look forward to playing some new music in these 2 great countries next year and until them be safe." Sean Killian & Vio-Lence

"We are sorry to say that our shows with Violence in Australia and New Zealand will have to be rescheduled.
We look forward to playing for you all when this pandemic blows over. Feel good. Be safe." Phil Rind & Sacred Reich

Sacred Reich + Vio-Lence w/ Bulletbelt

New date to be announced – Valhalla, Wellington
New date to be announced – Whammy, Auckland

All existing tickets remain valid with no action required.

Ticket purchasers can receive a refund via point of purchase until Friday the 8th of May or they can opt to hold onto tickets for the rescheduled shows.

Watch the vintage clip for the title track to Sacred Reich’s 1990 album The American Way…

Experience Vio-Lence’s ‘Serial Killer’ from their 1988 classic Eternal Nightmare…

Press release:

Due to the current situation with the Covid-19 pandemic and for the safety of the fans, bands and contractors, YCSS and Valhalla Touring wishes to advise
that the Scared Reich + Vio-Lence New Zealand Tour will be postponed and rescheduled for a later date . All existing tickets remain valid with no action required.

Ticket purchasers can receive a refund via point of purchase until Friday the 8th of May or they can op to hold onto tickets for the rescheduled shows.

We appreciate your patience during these difficult times and can’t wait to see you at the re-rescheduled Scared Reich + Vio-Lence shows

New Show Details to be announced soon

100 Gecs Drop Video For Gec 2 Remix Feat Dorian Electra

C.C. / Tuesday 21st April, 2020 1:52PM


Undeniably on the rise since the launch of their addicting 2019 album 1000 gecs, US electronic duo 100 gecs keep their ever-expanding fanbase buzzing with a fresh video for recent drop ‘gec 2 Ü (Remix)‘ featuring Dorian Electra. Packed with eyeball-searing visuals directed and edited by Weston Allen, the clip depicts the team of Laura Les and Dylan Brady going about their arcane daily rituals, while a frenzied Dorian Electra takes it to the next level and beyond. Ideal viewing for your lockdown addled dome, you can also catch 100 gecs hosting the Square Garden digital festival this weekend inside Minecraft (also on their YouTube channel and Twitch) to raise funds for Feeding America, featuring Charli XCX, Benny Blanco, Cashmere Cat, Kero Kero Bonito and more – streaming in New Zealand on Saturday 25th April from 10.00am to 2.00pm…