Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Since we last spoke
I'd just like to say 'Exotic talk' off the new album from RJD2 is the coolest thing I've heard in freaking ages. That is all.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Aunty Helen points the finger
I went to the Qantas Media Awards (print) on friday night, at the flash new Sky City convention centre. You enter it thru Sky City, and walk across a glass walled walkway three stories over Federal St, which is pretty freaky. The main entry hall has a floor to ceiling mural of flowers painted like on a tapa, cept they're purple and beige, which is all wrong. The carpet is random wavy stripes, black and cream - someone commented the whole theme looked a bit Lion King.

Anyways, Helen Clarke bowled up and made the introductory speech, noting that in her role as Minister of Arts she was responsible for Creative NZ, who had sponsored the arts journalism section of the Qantas Awards for 8 years now. She was pleased to see that in those 8 years, arts journalism had grown to become strongly represented in the daily papers across the nation. After patting herself on the back (and deservedly so - remember suffering 9 years of National government with zero investment growth in the arts sector?), she went on to have a go at critics, suggesting that they needed to be more supportive, as a negative review could kill off some arts companies and take away from the value of their funding.

This is one hell of a slippery slope. Simon Prast tried this one on at the Auckland Theatre Company a few years ago, and it got him nowhere. It did stimulate discussion on the role of critics in the arts and also went some way to raising the standards of arts criticism locally, which were/are sketchy at times, but blaming bad art on the critics is short sighted. Yet there's aunty Helen trotting it out, but it's still well dodgy, even if it is coming from our nation's leader.

So, hats off to Matt Nippert of Fighting Talk for winning some awards for his work on Salient.

Walking in light
National Anthem - Great show, some good music, but Jackie freaking Clarke? No, wrong wrong wrong. She may have been in vogue with tv moguls sometime back in the early 90s when Wacky was popular for some godforsaken reason, but not now! She should never be allowed on television ever again. Lifetime ban. She introduced excellent Raglan outfit Cornerstone Roots, using the work 'skanking' in her intro, and made it sound like an insult from your drunk uncle. Fiona Rae in granny Herald said no more Red Bull for Jackie Clarke, but stopped short of slagging 4 Man Bob. They are a zany ska band of not so young rockers dressed in army camouflage pants and tshirts, who jumped around a lot to compensate for a general lack of originality. They also suffered under a bad sound mix. Still, they impressed Simon Barnett. Gee. Patrick Crewdson was there, read what he thought... "On stage, a roadie made us all uncomfortable by wearing a NZ Idol t-shirt. Looking at the size of the audience – which it would be a stretch to refer to as ‘the crowd’ – I wondered aloud if the event had been adequately publicised..."

UPDATE. I have just discovered via Mister Hugh Sundae, that Southland TV had a 12 hour telethon at the weekend to raise funds for an MRI scanner, and raised $675,000 - the organisers were hoping to raise $100,000. TV2's National Anthem, collected $147,626 for 24 hours effort. National Anthem also recieved $500,000 from NZ On Air.

Friday, May 28, 2004

The Joys of Wacky Press Releases
Ant Timpson is rejigging the Incredible Film Festival as part of the International Film Festival in July ...
Timpson exclaims “What can I say? They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse and I do mean couldn’t (have you seen Bill angry!). Actually this pairing is the natural evolution of the Incredible Film Festival’s life cycle.... This is a fantastic opportunity to be part of Telecom New Zealand Intentional Film Festivals, a vital medium that continues to showcase the very best of International Cinema”.
Intentional Film Festival???

The Insiders Guide to Happiness is wonderfully obtuse, shot thru with dark humour, and its really top notch local drama -watch it! Thursday nights TV2 930pm. Great cast too. And just when you thought TVNZ had killed off local drama, canning Mercy Peak. Aint life grand?

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Thanks to everyone who came down to the Dub Asylum EP launch on Tuesday night (check the cool photos over here). It was a great night, sold lots of EPs.
Dub Asylum feature on National Radio this Saturday 6pm on the Music Mix, and on C4 next Wednesday night on Soundlab with Nick D. There's an interview and the new video, plus some footage of Dan and DLT painting the EP covers. Niceness.

Last weekend, Centro nightclub in Wyndham St was shut down by noise control officers at 3am - there is a new apartment block just opened in Wyndham St, and the poor residents have discovered that inner city life is a bit livelier than the dull old suburbs.
Centro had their turntables and mixers confiscated, but don't know who was complaining. Its pretty hard to address these problems when you can't even have some form of dialogue with the complainants. The Kings Arms had the same problems last year, until they built their huge wall outside their bar.
George FM want to do something about the noise control situation...

"Help George FM make a stand this Saturday - we want to change noise control regulations in our city to protect musicians, entertainers, music festivals, loud conversations and clubs.
Meet our crew outside Britomart from 11.15am this Saturday and walk up Queen Street with us - we want a massive show of support - so spread the word..."

Eminem wants the kids to get out and exercise their right to vote, cos he can't...
"On Saturday Eminem gave the keynote address at the Detroit Hip-Hop Summit, with hopes of encouraging young people of the hip-hop generation to register to vote. In doing so, Eminem told the media and audience of 4,000 that he'd had his right to vote taken away, presumably referencing a felony conviction in 2001 in which he was given two years' probation.

However, the star should be eligible and need only to register.

In several states, convicted felons are denied the right to vote. But according to the longstanding election laws of Michigan, the state in which Eminem resides, a convicted felon has only a temporary suspension of the privilege to vote while they are incarcerated. Those under probation do not lose the privilege, according to a spokesperson for Michigan's Bureau of Elections." Em's lawyers are looking into it, and say he will probably register. From MTV.com

Friday, May 21, 2004

A consumer writes... Part 2
A few weeks ago I wrote a whiny entry about feeling ripped off by Wrigleys with their new 'improved' Juicyfruit Gum. It used to be 17g in weight, now its 'longer lasting', but is smaller (14g), for the same price. I emailed Wrigleys.com (their nz branch doesn't have a website or contact details) and my email was forwarded from their Chicago head office to the NZ office, where the managing director took the time to reply, which I thought was pretty impressive. What he had to say was less impressive, however...

"Your question is about the "apparent unfairness" in charging the same price for the new, reformulated version released in New Zealand recently, despite the reduction in piece weight.

I should mention in passing that the Wrigley Company does not determine the retail price, as that is ultimately the perogative of the retailer. However, that is not the issue you raise, and you are correct in saying that we have not reduced the price at which we supply the new product.

The key factor is that the new versions of Juicy Fruit - in both the
original flavour and the new Strappleberry - embody significant new technology and performance improvement. Flavours and textures are
improved, and in particular the flavour duration is extended very

Consumer research and feedback consistently tells us that flavour duration is the most sought-after product improvement, and this we have achieved. However, I'm sure you will appreciate that improving an already-great product means higher ingredient costs, and this was the case here. We are glad to have been able to deliver this improvement without an absolute price increase, but we were not able to do it and reduce the price per piece as well."

Hang on, it's still 70c, but its smaller - you are paying the same as the price for the old size (17g) but getting less. Missing the point, me thinks.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

I had the pleasure of attending the Inaugural Flying Nun Pub Quiz last night at the Kings Arms, which was highly entertaining, and free. Found a good spot down the back, with Andrew Dubber (which is why I'm writing this as fast as I can, so I get to blog it before he does).
Two teams of highly skilled geeks fielded question from quizmaster Hat, and MC was Oliver Driver. The first team was the Oddities; Russell Brown (former music hack) Grant Fell (bass player Childrens Hour, Headless Chickens) and Alan Holt (ex FNun employee, did 9 years hard labour). The other team were The Sally Army - Chris Knox (living legend) Russell Baillie (Herald journo and ex keyboard player for JPSE) and Lesley Paris (ex Look Blue Go Purple, Olla).

Oliver introduced the teams, then noted that the evenings competition was being recorded for broadcast on National Radio (this Saturday May 22, at 1.06PM). Russell Brown chipped in, saying that Oliver might want to stop swearing, as he was making extra work for National Radio's Lissa Mcmillan, who would have to go thru and edit it all out. Oliver replied that he would f*cking stop swearing when National Radio started funding some more local drama. Nice.

One of the early questions was about the first album from the Gordons. Was it recorded in A 2 days, B 22 hours, C 20 hours, or D, 10 hours. One team said 20, no, wrong, the question goes to the other team, they said 20, no, wrong - it was done in 22 hours, of course. the question goes to the audience, I shout out the answer, and I win a prize - a copy of Very Short Films, the new FNun dvd. How choice! And I know that they recorded it at Harlequin studios. What a bastion of useless information.

Ran into lots of old school Nun types, including Rachael King. She was disappointed they hadn't used the question about her, so here it is to challenge your brain (no googling allowed) - Name three Flying Nun bands that Rachael has been in. Answers posted in comments later. (UPDATE: all the nights questions are over here at the FNun site - you can win a copy too!)

It was a very amusing night, with much laughter. I now know that the man in the Verlaines video for Death and a Maiden doing the 'expressive' dancing was a young Shayne Carter. Looks like rock n roll saved him from a lifetime of interpretive dance. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

While I've got your attention I'd like to invite you to come along to this....


EP release exhibition/party -Tuesday May 25th at Rakinos cafe, 1st floor, 35 High St, Auckland, from 6pm. Free!
Art by Daniel Tippett, DLT, with DJs Dub Asylum, Rob Warner, Timmy Schumacher, Big Matt (Bassteppa).

Dub Asylum (aka Peter McLennan) are pleased as punch to announce the release of their brand new 12" remix ep, featuring some of the hottest DJ's/producers from Aotearoa - Timmy Schumacher vs Substax, Rob Warner and Josh Webb, The Audioslut, and Matt Scott at Woodcut Productions.

The EP launch will be celebrated with a very special event: Peter has hooked up with leading NZ graffiti artists Daniel Tippett and DLT, and they will be getting a bunch of the record covers, laying them down in a grid pattern, then doing a big graffiti art mural over them (prior to the night), so each individual cover is a limited edition artwork. It's going to look choice!

There will be a one-night-only art exhibition at Rakinos on Tuesday May 25, displaying the finished covers (for sale on the night), after which they will be split up and sold. About 50-60 covers will be painted by Daniel and DLT, the rest will have an art stencil design on them, so every copy of the EP is an original work of art. There will also be DJs on the night, including Dub Asylum. See you there.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Headline writer cops a beauty...

Says it all, really.

Tribute to Coxsone Dodd is an excellent site, put together by Rob Chapman, author of several extensive Studio One discographies. Have a look here.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Everyday people
Sly Stone on KSOL radio circa 1967, in real audio (8 mins) here, found this via Cocaine Blunts. Check the ad with Milt Jackson plugging malt liquor...

Christopher Porter's The Suburbs Are Killing Us MP3 blog has a cool tribute to reggae legend Coxsone Dodd, including Leroy Sibbles doing a reggae cover of Charles Wrights funk classic Express Yourself (Wrights original was also used by NWA). There's also a really sweet Charles Wright tune over at Music For Robots. Go lookee.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Hey Judith!
How much do you know about NZ music? More than your local MP? Here's your chance to find out. For the last four years, Associate Minister of Arts Judith Tizard has sent out a questionnaire to all MPs, challenging them on their knowledge of NZ music. Results in on May 19 - last year Trevor Mallard (Labour) and Pita Paraone (NZ First) came in tops.
Somehow it ended up coming my way, and so I pass it on to you, dear reader. Download it here - its in word.doc format. Print it out, challenge your flatmates/workmates, and see how much you know (its also over here). And overlook the horrible mispelling of Graham Brazier's name. Bonus question - what band sang Hey Judith?

I've been wondering who first published the photos of prisoners being abused in Iraq. Last night on Triangle TV, I caught Quadriga, DWTV's current affairs show featuring an interviewer and three journalists discussing "Torture in Iraq; losing the battle for hearts and minds". They noted that the photos were finally broken by the New Yorker, and that CBS had sat on the photos for two weeks, at the request ofthe Pentagon. The question came up of whether the US media had failed to do its duty, due to a misplaced sense of patriotism. Think back to post 9-11, when anyone in the US media who questioned events too critically after that event was labelled as unpatriotic.

Found this via the Underground Post,
The 10 Most Important Lessons Of The OC (WARNING: contains spoilers). It has just finished its first season in the US -we've got another 10 episodes to go here, assuming TV2 doesn't take it off mid-season - remember Joan of Arcadia?

Check this new documentary, just premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, called On The DL. It follows ?uestlove from the Roots and producer/DJ King Britt as they try to get a drivers licence...

'Yep, that's right, these two well-known producers weren't legal to drive a car -- until now. "The flick was shot in Philadelphia by filmmaker Andrew Gura and was the idea of King Britt. Gura says filming the two driving wild on the streets of Philly was an "ultra-nightmare."
"It's undeniably ironic that ?uest and King were so accomplished musically, yet unable to drive themselves around [Philly]," says Gura. The director was amazed that the two world-traveled musicians also was scared to take their road tests, as well. "We helped them conquer those fears," says Gura. The docudrama features interviews with legendary producer Larry Gold, soul man Vikter Duplaix and Dawn Thompson, ?uestlove's sister.' From BeatsnRants.

Still working out this new template, lost all my old comments, sorry bout dat.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Just quietly, Leto is back, over here.

Cop dem acting skills...
Local lass Melanie Lynskey has landed in one of the new season comedies in the US, Two and a Half Men. Here's some fun with accents for you...

"... Lynskey's American accent on the show belies her overseas roots, which are evident in regular conversation with her. She reveals Sheen didn't realize her background until they were making the show's second episode: "He turned around and said, 'What's this, uh, voice? What are you doing?' I said, 'I'm just talking.' Then he said, 'Hmmm. Is that some kind of actor-y thing?'" read the full interview here.

Pop Life
O-Dub addresses this pressing issue ...
"One question I frequently get asked by young writers is whether or not you have to be an expert in the subjects you write about. In other words, if you want to write reviews of hip-hop albums, should you be an expert in all things hip-hop from the days of "King Tim III" up to the latest Sage Francis MP3? Or, if you're going to write about food, do you need to have a culinary degree or memorize the collected works of MFK Fisher?" Read his answer here.

MP3blogs are damn fun - have a look at this one - scroll down to the Bill Cosby tune. Its his version of Sunny, backed by Watts 103rd St Rhythm Band, wickedly funky.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

This article appeared the Sunday Star Times, under the heading "Fortune awaits NZ Idol winner" (excerpt)...
The NZ Idol television talent quest has both finalists poised for pop stardom, but it remains to be seen whether their fame will translate into commercial success. The winner receives a guaranteed album deal with record label BMG and a management contract with Idol judge Paul Ellis.

Pop writers from Sweden, Australia, the UK and the US have already put forward songs to feature on the winner's 12-track album, to be released in June.

But music industry veteran Simon Grigg said the winning idol was unlikely to make any money from the album. Grigg, who released internationally acclaimed OMC single How Bizarre, said most artists made little money in New Zealand due to the small volume of album sales.

"To be perfectly honest, this will probably be a flash in the pan thing. The winner will have lots of fun for a while but they won't make an awful lot, if anything," Grigg said.

But the record company behind the search-for-a-star show is promising financial rewards to the winning finalist.

BMG marketing manager Jake Shand said: "For them not to make any money is not a reality. I'd be astounded if they didn't."

Now lets take a look at that last statement. Based on the True Bliss/Pop Stars model, the outcomes for Ben may look like this.
One. The songs are being written for him - so no ongoing songwriting royalties, like True Bliss.
Two. The record company will be paying for the recording, videos, and a major promotional budget. Any income Ben will get from CD sales will come after the record company have recouped all their expenses. It's unlikely Ben will get rich off it, as Simon Grigg notes, due to the scale of the local market. He aint gonna be like Scribe and go and pay cash for a brand new car.

Ultimately, NZ Idol is about creating a television spectacle, not a long-term music career - that is basically what members of True Bliss said in the tv doco on The Pop Stars phenomenon that was on tv last year.

Jake Shand, prepare to be astounded.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Thanks to some extensive magazine browsing at the weekend, I now know that RJD2's new album Since We Last Spoke is out May 17, and he lists 'watching the OC ' as one of his top ten favorite things, labelling it his guilty pleasure (mine too). There's a sound sample of his new album over at Def Jux (scroll down). Sounds like he's gone all indie rock on it.

And what's naughty ol Courtney Love been up to, then? Behaving like a rock star? Shocking.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Getting Rawkus
The rise and fall of hiphop record label Rawkus is covered in a fascinating article in the Village Voice (tip of the hat to O-Dub - he's got some extra questions on Rawkus over here).

Rawkus came up in the mid 90s with Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Pharoahe Monch and Company Flow - El P from the latter outfit eventually left Rawkus and started Def Jux, home to RJD2 (new album out May 18), Mr Lif, Aesop Rock, Cannibal Ox, and more.

"... Rawkus Records was founded on 10 g's in savings and a hazily idealistic notion about promoting progressive music. They tried drum'n'bass, electronica, and rock. They were not taken very seriously. But they could write a business plan, and they knew how to pull strings. So they tapped their old friend James Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch's kid. Pops agreed to invest in Rawkus even if it didn't have the gravitas. To get that, Brater and Myer would have to focus their vision a bit. They couldn't be all things to all genres. But they could be the only thing that mattered to you.

They got their first inkling from Company Flow. This was not true love—it was a marriage of convenience and opportunity. Orchestrated by abstract beatmaster-MC El-P, Co-Flo had little respect for Rawkus's business acumen or knowledge of hip-hop. But the Murdoch money was irresistible. Like almost every act that came to Rawkus, Co-Flo brought their own dream and asked the label to sell it: Funcrusher Plus. A few months later hordes of college geeks had an excuse for sitting sullenly in the back of the classroom: "Even when I say nothing it's a beautiful use of negative space."

Just prior to the label folding, after being bought by major label MCA (which was then swallowed by Geffen/Interscope, leading to the demise), they missed out on signing Kanye West. Bummer. If you want a local parallel, perhaps compare it to the shifting fortunes of Flying Nun, or more recently Kog Transmissions. NZ Musician did an excellent backgrounder on the Kog situation recently.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Legendary reggae producer Coxsone Dodd dies.

"FOUR days after the City of Kingston honoured him by naming a street for his famous Studio One recording label, Jamaican music pioneer Clement "Sir Coxsone" Dodd died suddenly yesterday.
He apparently suffered a heart attack at his offices at 13 Studio One Boulevard, which, until last Friday's big civic ceremony in honour of Dodd, was Brentford Road. Dodd was 72.
In a statement last night, Opposition leader, Edward Seaga, a contemporary of Dodd in the music business in the 1950s and 1960s, described him as "one of the fathers of Jamaican music". He said that Dodd was "an extraordinary talent". Read more here, here and here.

What time is it?
TV2 repeated the insightful documentary Hiphop NZ on Tuesday night after the Comedy Festival Gala (did you see Benjamin Crellin doing Paul Holmes as Gollum? Brilliant). This doco originally screened last year, and with a NZ Music Month logo tacked on the front gave TV2 the appearance of giving a damn about local music, so good on em. Directed by Sima Urale (King Kapisi's sister), the final word in the show went to DJ DLT, talking about what hiphop means to him;
"Remember, hiphop is the description that a journalist had to sort of encompass a feeling, and put it into a word so that Joe Coffeetable could go there and trip with this journalist. So we gotta be very careful with how we label things.
"Hiphop is about 'what are you thinking now?' - 'Show me!', and let's see if I understand what you're trying to portray - it's life itself".

School Principal suffers loss of irony, humour bypass.
"The headmaster of Nelson College today called for a boycott of Farmers stores over "man-bashing" products advertised in their Mother's Day catalogue.
Salvi Gargiulo said he had received three letters from people disturbed by slogans such as "Boys are stupid: throw rocks at them" and "Stupid factory: where boys are made" printed on slippers and bags in the catalogue. He said it was time for people to stop finding humour by putting people down. "I think a lot of bashing goes on under the heading of humour, but it's not humorous. If you joke like that you condone it."

A consumer writes...
I've long been a fan of Wrigleys Juicyfruit chewing gum. I bought a packet at the weekend, and it now comes in a new funky, hip packaging. Gone is the distinctive logo, replaced with some 'groovy' typeface, and a note saying "now longer lasting", but it felt like the packet has got smaller.
Then yesterday, I bought an old-style packet of Juicyfruit from a gas station that still had some of the old stock, and what do you know - the old packet weighed 17g and the new, longer lasting packet is 14g - for the same price as the old packet. So this new redesigned labelling comes with a catch - you are getting ripped off. How can gum be longer lasting? That's subjective. I'm never buying Juicyfruit ever again. If you happen to know anyone who works for Wrigleys, can you find out why they are screwing their customers like this? Thank you.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Why Aston Kutcher is a moron
From allhiphop.com... "A prank from the MTV show "Punk'd" has reportedly gone wrong when host Ashton Kutcher and crew attempted to trick Black Eyed Peas into a fake arrest. According to published reports, the BEP entourage began fighting with the shows fake cops after the attempted apprehension within a brothel."
They may be making them cheesy crossover hiphop/pop hits, but damn, don't mess with those Black Eyed Peas.