Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Deepgrooves - Mighty Asterix

Mighty Asterix had been on the reggae scene in Auckland for a while, performing regularly at Twelve Tribes of Israel gigs, alongside his DJ partner, Oblex Brown, and with various Twelve Tribes bands, before linking up with Deepgrooves.

Asterix began singing in Palmerston North in 1977, moving to Auckland in 1982. He became a member of the Rastafarian faith, and played in various bands associated with the Twelve Tribes of Israel in Auckland. He also performed regularly with DJ's Stinky Jim and DLT. He joined up with Oblex Brown in 1985. (Source: Biography, Asterix's Myspace)

This tune came out on Deepgrooves in 1992, covering the Scritti Politti song Sweetest Girl. There were four versions on the single. I've uploaded the very mellow Radio Dub and the magnificent Toughest Dub, which showcases Asterix's mean ragga vocals. The song was programmed, arranged, mixed and produced by Rhythm and Business (Daniel Barnes and George Hubbard) at Lab Studio, with Victor Grbic engineering, and edited at 601 Digital by Jon Cooper. Backing vocals from Leeza Corban and Matty J.

In 1996 Asterix featured on DLT's groundbreaking album The True School, still one of the greatest albums to ever come out of this country (and notable for Chains, the number one song for 6 weeks at a time when NZ hiphop was still way underground). Asterix was also part of the touring crew for the album's release. There's some great jungle tunes on that album with his vocals front and centre.

In 1999 he relocated to Wellington, working with the reggae selectors in that city, such as Sounds Almighty, Dancehall Dons, Roots Foundation, Vital Sounds, Newtown Sound and others. Asterix is currently based in Australia (he moved there a few years back), but has worked regularly with Stinky Jim and Unitone Hifi, and with Salmonella Dub on their latest release. Oblex still plays around AK, and on KFM. Read his bio on JahLoveSounz.

Coming up next... Dubhead lays down a sound foundation with Danny D from Dam Native....

Monday, January 10, 2011

Little Dragon go steel

Little Dragon remixed by DJ Craze - buncha steel drums in there too. Very tasty. Hat tip to Caffeine headache.

Little Dragon - Runabout (DJ CRAZE CARIBBEAN REFIX) by loudat

PLUS from a wee while back, the winner of Filter's remix contest, very jazzy, funky take on Little Dragon's song Blinking Pigs from 1-O.A.K, who is Oakland’s Brandon McFarland. Listen over here

Genius of love

Tom-Tom Cub's Genius of Love remixed by the wonderful Senor Coconut, the man behind clever electro-latino reworkings of Kraftwerk and YMO. Spotted at LA Times Pop N Hiss. For download here.

Tom Tom Club- Genius Of Love (Senor Coconut Remix) by Nacional Records

ADDED while we're talking old school 80s dance grooves, grab a free download from ESG here. Listen below.

Deepgrooves - Three the hard way

Three the Hard Way were another hiphop crew on Deepgrooves, and the most successful act on the  label. Consisting of Mighty Boy C (Chris Ma'ia'i),  DJ Mike Mixx (Mike Paton) and DJ Damage (Lance Manuel), the group signed to Deepgrooves on a single by single basis. The first single they delivered to the label was Hiphop Holiday, a very clever flip of 10CC's hit Dreadlock Holiday, with a cool reggae breakdown mid-song, featuring Bobbylon guesting - he was everywhere on Deepgrooves. The song was produced by the band and Angus McNaughton.

The initial pressing by Deepgrooves ran to 500 copies, which suggests they didn't have much confidence in Three the Hard Way (or much money, maybe). The song hit number one in New Zealand and stayed there for several weeks (selling something like 25,000 copies in total), and made it to number 5 on the Australian pop charts, selling over 35,000 copies there.

The sudden success of the single led to the band being sent on a 40 day Australian tour with only seven days notice from their label. "In the six days between then and when we left", said Boy C, "we had to record our album.... and because we'd only been signed up on single deals, we only had two or three other songs that we'd even really played around with. So we were writing and making mistakes as we went." It wasn't the ideal studio experience for a first album.

The Australian tour was very successful - "We were headlining gigs.... and playing to between 3,000 and 5,000 people. We did 50 gigs in 40 days ... it was quite mad, a definite eye opener".

As I mentioned earlier, Bobbylon (Hallelujah Picassos, Riot Riddum) guested on the Hiphop Holiday single (watch the video below - "I'm a white man chatting in 93...  Three the Hard Way, a different category, mixing raggamuffin music intelligently... "), and the crew took him on the Australian dates along with Sulata (ex Colony) who featured on their second single, Many Rivers to Cross, reworking the Jimmy Cliff reggae tune. Urban Disturbance also went along as tour openers for some of the dates.

Bobbylon remembers that tour well. There was one night they did a show at some pub, and Three the Hard Way were fond of a beer or two. At the end of the night, the bar manager came up to them and said in an amazed voice, "You guys drink more beer than Jimmy Barnes!" He remembers Sulata took a while to come out of her shell, and he took on training her to face the audience when she was onstage singing, instead of facing the back of the stage.

The single's success should have been a huge payday for the group, but their label let them down.  Boy C tells the story: "We didn't actually sample it in the end. We replayed it in a different key, but at the time we said to Kane [Massey, Deepgrooves label boss]  that he should still clear it with 10CC's publishers. But because Kane didn't think the song would do very well anyway, he didn't want to. Intially they only produced 500 copies ... and what did it sell in New Zealand? Ten thousand copies! And something like 35,000 in Australia. And he hadn't approached their publishers at all, which was a fairly shocking oversight.

"They challenged the song soon after hearing it  and put an injunction on all earnings, which gave our record label six months to reply and put through an offer or state the case or whatever. So we were saying to Kane just to make sure we got some part of it, ya know? Maybe we'd go 50-50 because it was replayed and it was in a different key, but he failed to answer within six months so they ended up taking 100 percent. So we got nothing off the whole thing, which was a real shame". [Above quotes from Boy C: From the excellent book Hiphop Music In Aotearoa, by Gareth Shute, published 2004. Well worth checking out.]

Three The Hard Way released their debut album Old Skool Prankstas in 94, which went platinum in 95. They took an extended break, reuniting in 2001 to work on a new album with Alan Jansson (OMC writer/producer), called Eye on the Prize, which came out in 2003.

In an interview in NZ Musician in 2003, the group reveal the reason for the extended break was due to hassles with Deepgrooves. "We sat out the last four or five years of our recording contract with Deepgrooves," states Ma'ia'i. "We weren't too happy. There were a few things that happened over that time and we decided that the only satisfactory way we could go about it was to sit out the rest of the contract and not release anything." The article says that at that time (2003) the group had only recently regained the rights to their first LP. I've heard they had planned to reissue it, but no one had a copy!

Coming tomorrow... the Mighty Asterix vs Scritti Politti

... and here's a photo of me with Lance and Chris from Three the Hard Way, backstage at the 1995 Big Day Out,  the year the Hallelujah Picassos played at it, after being left off the bill for the first year, 94.

Urban Disturbance - lost second album?

Urban Disturbance interviewed by Ian Hughes (later known as Hugh Sundae) on TV show Music Nation, in 1996 (Ian hosted it alongside Bic Runga). They are seen in the studio working with engineer Chris Sinclair on their second album which they say is slated for a 97 release. The studio looks like it was set up in the old 1YA/TVNZ studio in Shortland St. The album never saw the light of day. Wonder what happened to it? Maybe it ended up getting consumed into Zane's next project, Breaks Co-op, who released their first album in 1997.

ADDED Mon 12.22pm; Zane Lowe popped up on Twitter and added some thoughts… cheers, fella!

" Wow. Just got lost in your blog. 'Relay'...it has been a minute since I heard that. The guitar is way too low in the mix, lol. Wish we had mixed some of the music on LP2. Some nice ideas on there...Rob left that band. It wasn't the same. We wrapped it up."

I asked Zane if any of that music from the abandoned 2nd UD album ended up being used for Breaks Co-op? "Not from memory. That was pretty much made over 3 weeks with Hame just before I left NZ. Maybe a few loose samples here and there." Zane also told me that Oli lives round the corner from him these days.

Chris Sinclair worked as engineer at The Lab, and shifted over to working in the inhouse studio Deepgrooves set up in its Victoria St offices, called Kaiun Digital. Deepgrooves also splashed out and bought a video editing suite, so they were able to produce clips inhouse also.

These large purchases happened to coincide with a 6 month period where Deepgrooves scored 12 NZ On Air video grants. There was speculation at the time that Deepgrooves might have used their NZOA funding for equipment purchases, which is forbidden under the grant scheme. This led to NZ On Air conducting audits of some video grants for the first time, to account for how the money was spent and to see it was being spent appropriately. In the case of Deepgrooves, they were able to produce the appropriate receipts for all the videos, which satisfied NZ On Air.

NZ On Air's site search shows up video grants going to the following Deepgrooves artists: 3 The Hard Way, Breaks Co-op, Cinema, DNE, Ermehn, Freaker, Fuemana, Funhouse, Grace,  Jordan Reyne, Jules Issa, Lole, New Loungehead, Pause, Sulata, Mighty Asterix, Urban Disturbance, and Unitone Hifi.

By my count that totals 53 video grants between February 1992 and October 2000 (and in 1999 and 2000 Deepgrooves only got  two grants, both for videos for DNE), assuming the information on NZ On Air's site is accurate. During 1994 Deepgrooves got 12 video grants, and the following year got 13. It's also worth noting that NZ On Air's site doesn't list if the videos were produced or not.

UPDATED August 16, 2011: I just checked back on NZOA's site with their listing of all funding decisions, and it appears the data has been amended, and now shows a total of 40 music video grants going to Deepgrooves from 1992 - 2000. Deepgrooves got 12 video grants in 1994, and 13 in 1995, according NZOA's current data.

Deepgrooves - Urban disturbance

Carrying on digging in the Deepgrooves catalogue... some local hiphop from the mid 90s. Above is a tune off the Deepgrooves compilation Deep in the Pacific of Bass from 1992 by Leaders of Style, before they changed their name to Urban Disturbance. The song was produced by the group, with an executive producer credit for Andrew Dubber as "Daddy" Dubber. Andrew was involved with recording some of their early demos at the radio station Andrew worked for, alongside Zane's Dad (read about that here). This tune also appeared on the debut release from Urban Disturbance, the EP No Flint No Flame, released later in 92.

From Amplifier's site: "Urban Disturbance were an Auckland hiphop crew progressing from earlier outfit Leaders of Style. They released an album in November '94 on Deepgrooves called '37 Degrees Lattitude' as well as several singles (Robert Jane, Figure this kids, Impressions).

Their vibe was definitely jazzy and benefited from the beatmaking of member (and now MTV VJ and XFM radio presenter) Zane Lowe (although he favoured 'Zhayne' at the time). Zane also contributed production to records by Dam Native (formerlyNative Bass) and Breaks Co-Op. Zane just won a radio award in England and here's an interview on the xfm website [Zane is now on BBC Radio One and has been since 2003. He's a hugely successful radio DJ in the UK.].

MC Oli Green was subsequently swallowed and spat out by the enticing bright lights of the advertising world and was at last stocktake wandering the red sands of Australia. DJ Rob Salmon has ditched the moniker 'DJ Fade' and has been thrilling crowds in NYC from his base in Brooklyn with selections and mixing skills and recently tunes of his own in a house vein. Rob's bio on Giant Steps". Check out some of Rob's productions on his Soundcloud page.

Urban Disturbance supported the likes of Ice T, Public Enemy, and Del tha Funkee Homosapien. They also toured successfully, including one jaunt they did with my old band, Hallelujah Picassos. We took them and Loves Ugly Children, a noisy punk pop Flying Nun outfit, on tour with us. It was just Oli and Zane with a DAT tape as backing, Rob didn't come along. I remember Oli sitting in the van with his head in his notebook for hours on end, writing lyrics. That was a fun tour, but that lineup confused the hell outta some folk.

The tune below is called Relay, featuring Danny D (Dam Native) and Hame (Hamish Clark, ex Christchurch outfit Beats N Pieces), with Joel Haines on guitar. Off the 37 Degrees Latitude album, from 1994, on Deepgrooves.

Figure this kids (featuring Sane Sagala, aka Dei Hamo), with cover photography by Oli Green, off the 37 Degrees Latitude album, also released as a single. I discovered after reading this thread over at Hophopnz.com that the little girl holding a mic in the bottom right corner is Manuel Bundy's daughter!

Robert Jane, Relay, Custom made thoughts, Try your weight by Urban Disturbance - available to buy from Amplifier.co.nz.

Zane was later in Breaks Co-op alongside Hamish Clark aka Hame, who released their debut album, Roofers, on Deepgrooves in 1997. It got reissued several years back when the second Breaks Co-op album saw the light of day, in 2005.

Urban Disturbance interview from music show Frenzy IceTV, 1995.

Thanks to Substance for cover scans, via hiphopnz.com.

Coming soon... doing things the hard way...

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Screaming Blam-matic

Following on from this ongoing Deepgrooves historical dig (coming tomorrow  - Urban Disturbance's lost 2nd album, Three the Hard Way and how NOT to clear a sample), Simon Grigg has a fascinating post over at his blog on the Screaming Blam-matic Roadshow, a tour he was involved organising in 1981 with the Screaming Meemees, Blam Blam Blam and the Newmatics.  Saw it described as "The other epic 1981 tour" on Twitter by Sacha D. Nice.

"... the idea to take the three Propeller bands on the road together was mine, Paul Rose and Dave Merritt’s (the original Screaming Meemees manager) in March or April 1981.

Paul, who was also The Newmatics manager, and my partner in the label, and I put it to Tim Mahon, the Blam Blam Blam bassist (and defacto manager) in their shared flat in Brighton Road.
Tim came up with the name on the spot.

It was broadly accepted as a concept but remained just that until the Blams took it to the next level. It was their idea to tie the concept to the New Zealand Students Arts Council and utilize the network first set up in the 1970s by Bruce Kirkland (later US manager of the legendary Stiff Records and a mentor of the equally legendary Trevor Reekie). Don, as I recall, made the approach...

...Initially nobody clicked that the tour seemed to coincide, in fact in places precisely both in time and location, with the event that was to tear New Zealand to pieces in 1981 – the justifiably infamous Springbok Tour..."

For the rest of the story, including a bunch of previously unpublished Blam Blam Blam shots by Jenny Pullar, head over here.

Dancing for the Cabana Code

New album from the man who gave us Me No Pop I, and was a member of Kid Creole and the Coconuts, amongst others. Delightful title too - Dancing for the Cabana Code in the Land of Boo-Hoo.

"Coati Mundi was a founding member of the Grammy-nominated Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band, best known for their #1 Billboard Dance hit “Cherchez La Femme” as well as “Sunshower,” a favorite of hip hop producers, sampled by A Tribe Called Quest, M.I.A., Ghostface Killah, De La Soul, and Doug E. Fresh."(Source)

You can download a free tune from RCRDLBL. Or listen below...

Projector Mix - Principal dub

A tune written and recorded by Hallelujah Picassos with Mike Hodgson (aka the Projector) at his studio, which he called Pitch Black (of course this later became the moniker for his musical project with Paddy Free, formed in 97). This tune came out on Mike's first Projector Mix album on Deep Grooves in 1992, and also appeared on the Deep Grooves compilation Instrumental Killers. The Picassos also recorded and released two other tunes with Mike - Sister Stacy, and Marshall Law Dub, both on the album Hateman In Love. Mike has told me there's an unreleased second Projector Mix album floating round in his archives somewhere, which I'd love to hear.

The tune below is off the Nemesis Dub Systems debut album A Multitrack Situation - called The Began, the Projector Mix. More on NDS soon. 

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Neat rows of bottle caps

Great interview by Graham Reid in today's NZ Herald, with promoter Michael Chugg. He's got stories for days...

"Concert promoter Michael Chugg - the man behind forthcoming shows by Santana and the Doobie Brothers, plus the Laneway and Grassroots festivals among others - tells good stories. By the dozen.

It's the 1977 Fleetwood Mac tour and he's sitting alone at a medieval banquet table backstage, which is covered in whole cooked pigs, sides of beef, lamb, chickens and turkeys ... The band - nine months after the release of their 40 million-selling album Rumours - are on stage with cocaine in beer bottle caps laid out in neat rows on a card table.

"Yeah, the excess of the excess period," laughs the man who indulged along with everyone.
"An amazing tour. The night they played [in Auckland] we had the biggest cream pie and water fight I've ever been involved in."

Read the story in full here.
Chugg has recently published his autobiography, "Hey, you in the black t-shirt".

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, Sat Jan 8

Pepperpots - Real tru love
Cubalooba - Cubalooba
New age steppers - My love
Lee Perry and Adrian Sherwood  - Kingston tower
Barrington Levy - Fuss nor fight
Cornell Campbell and the Jays - Hell inna de yard
Top cat - Request the style
Ray Bryant - Up above the rock
Seductive souls - Dazz - Tom Moulton mix
Spyder D - Big apple rappin
Junkyard band - The word/sardines
Umod - Mash up
Cutty Ranks - The stopper - Richard Dorfmeister remix
Jefferson Belt - Skylurking
Lord Echo - Thinking of you
New Loungehead feat Sulata  - Cloth
Ariya astrobeat arkestra - African kings
The Soul Fantastics - Aint no sunshine
Mayer Hawthorne - The ills (coming to NZ for Splore, Feb 11-12, plus Welly show Feb 14)
Natural self - Laws of motion
Shriekback - All lined up - disco mix
Colman Bros - Another brother remix
Bill Withers - Green grass
Public Enemy - Can't do nuttin for ya man - full rub mix

Friday, January 07, 2011


Cosmo Baker's Top Ten Mix - January 2011. Hat tip to Jason for the link. Downloadable too.

Cosmo Baker's Top Ten Mix - January 2011 by cosmobaker

"Welcome to the Cosmo Baker Top Ten List Version 2.0! In the past I've always had a monthly list of ten records that I wanted to "chart" and share with my folks. These kind of run the line from older stuff that I've discovered to brand new stuff that I feel needs to get some shine. It's usually a mix of different sounds that encapsulate where I'm coming from as a DJ. I profile a lot of music on my site, but these ten records are the "official" joints pretty much."

1 - Teena Marie "Square Biz" (Secret Dub Mix)
2 - Ghostface Killah "Superstar" feat. Busta Rhymes
3 - Oliver "All Night"
4 - Son Of Bazerk "Turn Me Loose"
5 - Sugar Bear "Don't Scandalize Mine"
6 - Chic "I Feel Your Love Comin' On" (Dimitri From Paris Remix)
7 - Pretty Poison "Catch Me I'm Falling"
8 - Ilija Rudman "Against The Wall" (Killer Whale Remix)
9 - The Get Down Crew "Chante Vs. James Brown"
10 - Armand Van Helden & Steve Aoki "BRRRAT! (Eli Escobar Remix)
BONUS  11 - Daft Punk "Derezzed" (Cosmo Baker Dance Edit) 

Blowfly documentary

Blowfly appeared at the 2010 BDO and have heard reports from folk who saw him that he was the best thing all day. This is an interview with the film maker Johnathan Furmanski (director of Pixies doco loudQUIETloud) about his documentary on this legendary filthmonger.

"Blowfly gained a measure of underground celebrity into the early hip hop era, even charting with the 1980 album Blowfly’s Party, before fading into obscurity.

So filmmaker/photographer Jonathan Furmanski didn’t expect to find much when he aimlessly typed “Blowfly” into Google one day a few years back. That search – and the discovery that Blowfly, by then nearing 70, had never stopped recording and touring – led to The Weird World of Blowfly, which traces Reid’s career and his often fraught and frustrating attempts to keep it up.

Debuted at last year’s South by Southwest festival, it’s a suitably obscene yet intimate and surprising portrait of a singular performer, featuring testimonials from fans like Ice-T and German punk band Die Arzte and interviews with Reid’s ex-wife and semi-estranged children, who still seem somewhat befuddled as to where “Blowfly” ends and “Clarence” begins. Furmanski, who is now raising funds on Kickstarter to finance distribution (click on the widget below the article to contribute or learn more), chatted with MFW from his New York home about chronicling the original dirty rapper."

Read it here.  Trailer below (watch for his Clash cover).  Furmanski is raising funds via Kickstarter, help him out if you feel so inclined.

Blowfly Film Trailer from blowflyfilm on Vimeo.

Colourblind - The Auckland Dance Scene in 1993

Colourblind - The Auckland Dance Scene in 1993 was an article written by Andrew Schmidt for Metro magazine. He posted the full story on his excellent blog, Mysterex a few years back. At the time he wrote it, Schmidt was new to Auckland, and didn't know anything of the music scene he was tasked to write about, which, as he suggests in his intro, was probably a good thing, giving a fresh take on it. Read the full story here. [Edit - Schmidt deleted his blog in March 2011, so I have posted the full story on my blog]

"... Tapping the same market, but the musical vein, is Auckland dance music label Deepgrooves which recently set up a Sydney branch to break its roster of acts in Australia.

Label boss Kane Massey is one of a number of young Aucklanders revitalising local music by dipping into the city’s well of brown talent. He joins longtime black music fan Murray Cammick’s Southside Records, home to Maori chart act Moana And The Moahunters; newcomer Tangata Records which includes Emma Paki and Gifted And Brown among its acts; and Pagan Records which has dance mistress Merenia on board. Even Flying Nun Records, one of the last New Zealand bastions of three chord pop and white guitar noise rock, has the very danceable Headless Chickens.

Deepgrooves releases cover the whole dance music spectrum from the High Street hip hop of Urban Disturbance and old school rap of The Hard Way through the acid jazz of Cause Celebre regulars Freebass to the jaunty reggae of the Mighty Asterix and Jules Issa.

3 The Hard Way are a young street smart hip hop crew from Avondale. As their first release tells it, they’re “straight from the old school” of rap.

TTHW’s members have spent time in early Auckland rappers Total Effect, BB3 and Chaingang, but it’s 3 The Hard Way now and the sounds and name fit just so. They’re West Auckland homeboys, they grew up there, and that experience is in the music — the early chaotic days listening to older brothers’ reggae, George Clinton hard funk and early rap, cobbling together equipment from old Technics stereos, learning their sounds from DJ friends Nick Roy and John Petueli.

“The words are about what we’ve been through,” says rapper Boy C (Chris Maiai). “About how hard it was to get into the music. ‘When we first started we didn’t know anyone,” adds DJ Mike Mix (Mike Patton).

First up from 3 The Hard Way is “Hip Hop Holiday”, a song based around a sample of 1OCC’s “Dreadlock Holiday”. The sounds are hard, thanks to some assured DJing from Mike Mix and DJ Damage (Lance Manuel), but not so hard that a chart hit is out of the question. That’s fine with the band, they haven’t compromised the music they want to make, and they want as many people to hear the music as possible. Next up is a hip hop version of Jimmy Cliff’s “Many Rivers To Cross”, to be followed by a song for their kids — Boy C and DJ Damage both have young sons.

It’s taken 3 The Hard Way a while to get into the studio, so now they’re not wasting any time. New Zealand On Air has proved that its ears aren’t too far from the street and has stumped up two recording grants and a video grant. And what 3 The Hard Way learn about recording, playing live and putting out records will stay in West Auckland. Part of the plan is to record and encourage other local outfits still struggling away in garages, moulding their sounds.

Talking to these three it’s easy to know why dance music is the street buzz of the moment. Like the best new movements it’s grown out of an underground scene and is propelled by young people jacked up on the sounds, but singing and rapping about their environments to an audience that can relate directly to those concerns and experiences. To borrow a phrase from black soul label Motown, it’s the sound of young brown Auckland, and it’s a new voice that’s seldom been heard here. With the swelling young Maori and Polynesian population rising in the city, there’ll be plenty of ears keen to hear songs that reflect their worlds..."

The story goes on to look at the scene in High St at night, and talks with Simon Grigg about that scene. Fascinating read.

2R2s - Take you home dub

Another tune from 2R2S (Riot Riddim Sound System)  - Take you home dub, taken from the Deepgrooves compilation Instrumental Killers, from 1994, I believe. The CD has no date listed on it, handy that.

I  had previously thought this was a dub version of a song that was intended for inclusion on the ill-fated 2R2S EP that was in production at the time, but a recent conversation with Roland from 2R2S suggests I had it all wrong.

Roland says this song was not a dub version at all but an instrumental they'd recorded with the intention of writing lyrics for one of their crew, Paulette Edwards (ex Strawpeople), to sing over it. They had been performing a version of it live with Paulette using the lyrics and melody of a song by Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam, I Wonder If I Take You Home (video).

The plan was to write some original lyrics for her to sing, but Roland says they found it difficult getting studio time, as Deepgrooves engineers Mark Tierney and Chris Sinclair were basically working for free, donating their time, so they (2R2S) had to wait until the engineers had some spare time between paying gigs.

Also, Roland told me this instrumental was included on the compilation without their knowledge or permission.

Other acts on this compilation included Sound Foundation, Unitone Hifi, NDS (Nemesis Dub Systems), Nag, Urban Disturbance, Projector, and Babel (Andy "Submariner" Morton and Kieran Cooney). Babel released an EP on Deepgrooves in 1994, called A is for Atom (more info here). Most of the tunes on this compilation had been on other Deepgrooves releases.

Coming up next... the Picassos get dubbed by Mike Hodgson (pre-Pitch Black)

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Riot Riddum part 2

Riot Riddum Sound System (2R2S) was my old mates Bobbylon and Roland from Hallelujah Picassos and a few assorted folk. Riot Riddum Sound System started out as a side project for them with both DJing and taking turns on the mike, Roland in his gruff style,  and Bobbylon with his melodious 'singjay' style. I posted their first release earlier.

Everybody To Deir Own is a way more aggressive tune than Home girl, switching between Bobbylon's smooth crooning and Roland's shouting. It's a great tune, and featured on the second Deepgrooves compilation in 1992, Deep in the Pacific of bass, the follow up to the earlier Deepgrooves comp from the previous year.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Riot Riddum part 1

Roland (L), Bobbylon. Photo: Sonoma Message. Published in Planet, 1991

For the next few weeks, I'm going to be posting material from the Deep Grooves label, a crew of like-minded Aucklanders dropping tunes in the early 1990s, many of whom  I knew back in the day. I want to share some of this great music with you - I'm not gonna try and write the definitive history, just share what I recall of that time, and rope in a few other folk too.

Riot Riddum Sound System (2R2S) was based around my old mates Bobbylon and Roland from Hallelujah Picassos, along with guests on the mic such as Termoana Rapley, Paulette Edwards (ex Strawpeople), Pip (Blue Marbles), Tosh (Semi Lemon Kola), Justin and Twitch. Riot Riddum Sound System started out as a side project for them with both DJing and taking turns on the mike, Roland in his gruff style,  and Bobbylon with his melodious 'singjay' style.

This song marks their recording debut, and was recorded and produced as part of a marathon nine days of recording sessions fronted by Mark Tierney at the desk (trivia - Halleujah Picassos recorded a version of this as a B side for a single, with actor Alan Brough taking lead vocals).

Eight songs ended up on the debut 'Deep Grooves' compilation release from the Deepgrooves label, which, when it started, was three partners - sound engineer Mark Tierney, Bill Latimer (owner of The Lab recording studio, where the sessions took place) and Kane Massey, who eventually took over the label when the other two partners left.

Other acts on the debut compilation were Sound Foundation, Straw People, Rhythm and business (Daniel Barnes and George Hubbard), Jules Issa (covering Dangerous Game, featured in a previous post), DLT meets the Projector (aka Mike Hodgson, later of Pitch Black), Nemesis Dub System, and Love and bass featuring Christine Fuemana.

The compilation is a landmark recording for capturing the incredible hiphop/reggae musical collisions going on in clubs and parties across central Auckland at the time, predating the Welly dub scene by at least a decade. It's vitally important music that for the most part hasn't dated in  the least. And it's sadly out of print.


"Aotearoa's foremost indie dance label, Deepgrooves is the musical cross pollination of cultures that comes from the world's largest Polynesian city, Auckland. Reggae, dub, ragga, club, and hard beats from the mind and soul of the fresh crew with the new view - Riot Riddum Sound System, Leaders of Style, The Sound Foundation, Jules Issa and the Mighty Asterix, The Projector."

This is how the Deepgrooves label described itself in  promotional material... (from an ad in Billboard Jan 1992, plugging various NZ labels).

It's a good insight into the minds of the folk behind the label, engineer Mark Tierney, Bill Latimer (owner of The Lab Studio) and Kane Massey, and captures something of the spirit in the music. Auckland central had a bubbling club scene that mixed and mashed styles every weekend - the hiphop and reggae heads all went to the same gigs, cos there was only about 200 people in central Auckland into those genres at that time. New Zealand hiphop was a long way from standing the eff up, it was still learning to walk.

Names like Stylee Crew, Native Bass (later Dam Native), DLT, Stinky Jim, Roger Perry, Teremoana, Slowdeck, Dubhead, Slave and Otis, Tuffy Culture and others, were all jumping on stage and having a good time at warehouse parties across the CBD, and in back yards like behind the Blue Tile Lounge on Symond St. That was the scene that gave rise to the Deepgrooves acts. It was a recorded representation of what was going on musically in the clubs in town.

Over the next few weeks I'm going to be profiling a bunch of Deepgrooves artists and posting up the music so you can hear it, starting today with Riot Riddum Sound System. Enjoy.

Monday, January 03, 2011


Just came across this clip of Caribou playing live. Tasty.

More lists

More best of 2010 musical selections - this time from the folk at Conch Records. See below.

Tokimonsta - Midnight Menu (Listen Up)
Erykah Badu - New Amerykah Pt. 2 (Motown)
Chico Mann - Analog Drift (Wax Poetics)
Billy Love - Melloghettomental (Sound Signature)
Gappy Ranks - Put the Stereo On (Greensleeves)
Lord Echo - Melodies (Economy)
Darkstar - North (Hyperdub)
Jose James - Blackmagic (Brownswood)
Mount Kimbie - Crooks & Lovers (Hotflush)
Oriol - Night & Day (Planet Mu)
The Roots - How I Got Over (Def Jam)
Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma (Warp)
Scuba - Triangulation (Hot Flush)
Gil Scott Heron - I’m New Here (XL)
Grooveman Spot - Change Situations (Planet Groove)

Also, Oliver Wang weighs in at Soulsides, with his musical faves, including mentioning Lord Echo (Mike Fabulous of Black Seeds/Fly My Pretties) in his list of favourite singles, for Thinking of you (Sister Sledge cover).

Grant Smithies in the Sunday Star Times dropped his best of list yesterday. His favourite albums from 2010 were the latest releases from Homebrew, Phoenix Foundation, Naked and Famous, Connan Mockasin, Ruby Suns, Street chant, Surf city, Grayson Gilmour, Die die die, Ali Farke Toure and Toumani Diabete, LCD soundsystem, The Fall, and Tame Impala. His local album of the year was from Robert Scott, which he called "warm, gentle and charming... and equal to anything he's done with his more celebrated bands The Bats and The Clean". Smithies named the latest from Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma - as his album of the year. It's an album that didn't grab me first time out and I need to return to it and spend more time with it.

Another album I enjoyed last year (that I forgot to add to my list - doh) was the latest from Caribou - Swim. I only discovered this outfit when I heard they were on the lineup for Splore City (happening in Aotea Square next month - Splore is back out at the beach for 2012). I asked on Twitter what Caribou songs to start with, and some very helpful folk pointed me in the right direction. It's kinda cool when you discover an act (that's new to you), and then find out they've got a bunch of back catalog to dig through.

Dub letters

I scored a copy of the Nuclear Waste 12-inch from Herbs at Real Groovy today. It's got a fantastic dub version that I've never heard of of French Letter (Letter to France), so here it is, freshly digitised for you folk. Google tells me that when French Letter came out as a single in 1982, the B side was this dub version. The radio announcer's credit is Sharon Graham.

Also got a copy of the compilation "We'll do our best", which features Herbs' labelmates Diatribe. Their tune on the compilation is Contamination Blues, listen below.

Also go have a listen to Dangerous Game by Diatribe - I posted it up here, along with the cover version from Deepgrooves artist Jules Issa. Got a ton more Deepgrooves posts coming soon, starting with Riot Riddim Sound System.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Dub Eno

On your last album, on Bowie’s last few albums, and on Kraftwerk’s last two albums, there’s danceable yet advanced music. Do you think about breaking through to the discos?

Oh yeah, I do. What I would really like to do, if I could have a sort of kingship for a short time and organize the group of my dreams - I would make one group which was a combination of, say, Parliament and Kraftwerk - put those two together and say “Make a record.” Something like that would be an extraordinary combination: the weird physical feeling of Parliament, with this strange, rigid, stiff stuff over the top of it ... What I like about the Parliament/ Funkadelic people is that they really go to extremes. There’s nothing moderate about what they do. It’s very extreme music, quite as extreme in some ways as Kraftwerk is. What I’m interested in doing is getting these two extremes and gluing them together, seeing what you have to do to make them work together.

The other thing I’m interested in doing now is robot reggae. I’d like to get together with some reggae musicians and deliberately try to subtract the feel from what they’re doing so that they play in a kind of really stiff white way.

Dub is a step in that direction. Some of it is quite abstract.

That’s right. Again there’s an incredibly extreme and interesting and sophisticated use of electronics that nobody seems to notice. They don’t notice that it’s electronic music. They always focus on people like me who use synthesizers, right, which are explicitly electronic and therefore obvious. “Ah yes, that’s electronic music.” But they don’t realize that so is this concept of actually taking a piece of extant music and literally re-collaging it, taking chunks out and changing the dynamics and creating new rhythmic structures with echo and all that. That’s real electronic music as far as I’m concerned. I’ve got plans to do a dub album actually..."

From "Eno at the edge of rock" by Glenn O'Brien, Interview magazine, June 1978. Full interview is available online here.

Al Green remixed

Gorgeous tune, spotted via Stink Inc. Go grab it.

George Lenton vs Al Green Simply beautiful by georgelenton

Nona Hendryx - Transformation live

Speaking of Nona... I know I've posted this tune before, but this is from an interview and live jam Nona Hendryx did not too many years ago - she plays Transformation on keys, with a bassist and guitarist to help her out. Still damn funky. She's 63 at the time of this clip.

Eno Eno Eno

I'm currently reading On Some Faraway Beach, a biography of Brian Eno by David Sheppard, and have been checking out various out takes from the sessions Eno did in 1980 with Talking Heads for Remain In Light. Eno had spent a lot of time in New York not long before that, getting involved with the No Wave scene and generally having a good time, which was probably pretty easy to find in late 70s NYC.

Anyways, a bunch of the out takes from Remain In Light turned up on the 2005 reissue of that album, with titles like Fela's Riff, and Double Groove, which features Eno singing with David Byrne and Nona Hendryx  - she'd been drafted in to help with vocals by Taking Heads member Jerry Harrison, who'd produced some demos for her. Harrison told Eno biographer Dave Bowman that he "heard a voice in Brian that I never heard beofre. Eno is very English on his solo records. But he was excited about African music. With Hendryx he was able to be careless - carefree, with a passion that would have been wonderful for him to explore".

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, Sat Jan 1

Mr Scruff - Get a move on
Sly n Robbie - Softcore surge Ashley Beedle remix
Specials - Message to you Bombs edit
Colm K and the freestyle mellowship - Dancing skulls main mix
Lord Echo - Thinking of you
Footsie - Cuss cuss footsie dub
Amadou and Mariam - La realitie
Ely Paperboy Reed and the trueloves - Ace of spades
Sharon Jones and the Dapkings - The reason
Whitefield bros - Safari strut
Junior Murvin - Bad weed
Viceroys - Walkie talkie
Big Youth - Jim screechy (Smith and Mighty mix)
Smith and Mighty - Bi line fi blow
Schoolly D and Joe Delia - The player - Ganja kru remix
LCD sound system - I can change
Liquid liquid - Cavern
Redds and the boys - Put your left hand in the air....
Harlequin fours - Set it off - Walter Gibbons mix
Casino music - The beat goes on
Patato and Totico - Dilo como yo - Antibalas remix
Ariyo astrobeat arkestra - Crosstown traffic
Belleruche - 56% proof
Luciano - Life - Da Lata remix
Fat Freddys Drop - Midnight marauders - Pylonz & Kinetix remix

Monday, December 27, 2010

R.I.P Teena Marie

From LA Times obit, Teena Marie was 54.

Teena Marie, the singer-songwriter known for such funk-infused 1980s hits as "I Need Your Lovin'" and "Lovergirl," and one of the few white musicians to achieve renown on the R&B charts, has died.

Born Mary Christine Brockert on March 5, 1956, in Santa Monica, Marie was raised in a predominantly black area of Venice and began singing professionally at age 8. Soon after graduating from Venice High School she signed with Motown Records, where she met funk music pioneer Rick James, who would become her mentor, musical collaborator and lover, a relationship she described as "fiery."

He produced her 1979 debut album, "Wild and Peaceful," which went gold and featured her first hit single, a duet with James called "I'm a Sucker for Your Love."

Fat Freddy's global profile grows

"Fat Freddy's global profile grows" is the headline from the NZ Herald's David Fisher, who wrote about the band , noting that their latest album, Dr Boondigga and the Big BW sold more copies overseas than here.

"Sales figures show Dr Boondigga & The Big BW has sold more than 60,000 albums overseas - and 39,000 in New Zealand. First album Based on a True Story has sold more than 130,000 albums here. It has not been released overseas." Unfortunately that last part is wrong  - Based on a true story gained release in Australia, UK, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Holland and Japan.

Fat Freddys have just been invited to play the Coachella music festival in the US, which is big news. They're currently on tour round NZ beaches, and plan to record a new album in the New Year.


Local label Round Trip Mars celebrates 10 years in existence with this wicked compilation. Go grab the whole album now. It's bloody marvellous. Tunes from Phelps and Monro, James Duncan. SJD, Unitone Hifi feat Coco Solid, Scratch 22, Stinky Jim and more.

El Chicano

I first discovered the tune Viva Tirado on an album of the same name by a Mexcian-American band from LA called El Chicano.

There were several reasons I picked up this album; the liner notes listed the nationalities of the band and recording team, including it being engineered by "...a cat who is half English and half Mexican, a New Zealander  and a Scotchman" [I wonder who that Kiwi was?]; they also noted the album was "recorded afterhours of the lounge of the Kabuki Sukiyaki Restaurant, 3840 Crenshaw Blvd  [pictured on the cover above], because that is what El Chicano wanted and because Moss is too good to be true" [what?], and it's got a charming version of Light my fire by the Doors that compresses all that is good about that song into 25 seconds.

Viva Tirado was originally written and performed by Gerald Wilson in the early 60s, and proved to be a big hit for El Chicano in 1970. Oliver Wang at Soulsides has written a recent piece on how he discovered the tune via Kid Frost sampling it in 1990. Read on...

Oliver Wang: "I discovered' “Viva Tirado” back around 1990, when Kid Frost sampled/interpolated parts of it for “La Raza” but I didn’t realize the greater genealogy of the song until later in the decade when one of my academic mentors, Josh Kun, put me up on how Frost was flipping an El Chicano song that, in turn, was based on a Gerald Wilson original.

The connection planted a tenacious seed in my head and for the dozen years after that, I slowly began to flesh out the story behind what I call the song’s “multiple iterations” and specifically, how “Viva Tirado” is at the center of a rather remarkable, multi-generational conversation between L.A.’s Black and Brown communities. After all, here’s a song, originally written by a Black composer in honor of a Mexican bullfighter, covered by a Chicano band steeped in Black R&B and jazz, then sampled by the first major Chicano rap artist. It seems no matter where the song goes, it’s always a bridge between cultures; this becomes even more true once “Viva Tirado” goes international and falls into the hands of everyone from Augustus Pablo to Nico Gomez to Los Mozambiques.

I finally had the chance a few years ago to collect these ideas into an academic essay that just came out in the Journal of Popular Music Studies. They actually use my essay as the “free” offering from this month’s issue and for the occasion, I prepared a mini-mega-mix of “Viva Tirado” versions to the site.

You can find it all here. It really is an astounding story for those who don’t know it and I feel like I wrote my essay with scholarly rigor but hopefully still accessible enough for the “lay person” to read. The mix of songs includes some of my personal favorite versions of “Viva Tirado” though there were many versions I could have included but didn’t."

Check out Oliver's Viva Tirado mix, he's also got a great reggae version in there by Augustus Pablo that I'm rather fond of.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Record Shop R.I.P

A thoughtful article from Gordon Campbell on werewolf.co.nz, subtitled "A few seasonal thoughts on the demise of ye olde record store".

Starts off with the usual grim declining dales figures for music sales (and falling sales for CD/DVD at both The Warehouse and JB Hifi), but then gets into some fascinating comments from some record store owners like Slowboat's Dennis O'Brien, and Mark Thomas, manager of Real Groovy Wellington.

"... These days, second hand sales form an increasing part of the store’s business and core identity. Which is? Well, Thomas explains… the niche identity of Real Groovy Wellington doesn’t strike him as deriving so much anymore from it being an alternative music store, though he sees that as still being the image that the Auckland store continues to project He sees his own operation primarily as a pop/rock record store with a strength in second hand sales, and offering with the full range of cultural products – t-shirts, flags, books, CDs, videogames, DVDs and Blu-Ray. Unit sales in DVDs and Blu-Ray are up, he says as an aside, but the profit margins are slimmer.

Going back to the shop’s re-positioning on the pop/rock centre ground ….that’s mainly because, he says people who like certain other subgenres these days – alternative music, hip hop and r'n'b – are mainly getting their music via downloads. Leaving him by default with pop/rock, jazz, country and world music."

Also interesting to see that one of the keys to Slowboat's survival is that 15 years ago, the owner bought the building, so is not paying rent. ”As things are right now, I couldn’t afford it if I was paying $2,000-3,000 a week in rent. We couldn’t survive. Pure and simple,” says O'Brien.

Read the full article here.

Bic and Kody interview

Photo: Sunday magazine/Fairfax

Last weekend, the Sunday Star Times 'Sunday' weekend magazine published a great story by Duncan Greive on Bic Runga and Kody Neilson collaborating on their new duo, Kody and Bic. Kody has produced Bic's new solo album, and now they're working on this new project - but Bic is unable to write any songs for it, as she's still under contract to Sony.

"The room is a mess. Kody Nielson and Bic Runga, respectively the most critically and commercially successful New Zealand artists of the last 15 years, have been putting in long hours. In a small, windowless room below Newmarket’s Nuffield Street, Nielson perches on an office chair that’s duct-taped to the floor, while Runga teeters precariously on an amplifier. The makeshift studio has been the pair’s workplace for months now, and they’ve made themselves at home. 

Initially, the visual cacophony is overwhelming. To your left a pair of vintage Hammond organs; straight ahead, past eight different effects pedals, lies a pared-down drum kit. In another corner is an eight-track recorder, and amps, bass guitars, microphones, keyboards and leads are strewn wherever they fall. This space, which began the year as the home of Sony Music’s archives, with Betamax tapes and promotional CDs lining the walls, has been entirely taken over by this oddest of musical pairings...."

Read the rest of it here

UPDATED have added rest of the interview below...

"...Despite Brooke Fraser overtly channeling Feist and Rick Rubin producing Neil Diamond, few could have predicted that these two would cross paths, let alone thrive to this extent. Runga is one of New Zealand music’s biggest stars – her three albums have averaged sales of over 100,000 copies each; she’s played sold-out tours with Dave Dobbyn and Tim Finn and had her music featured in smash films like American Pie. She’s collaborated with members of REM and participated in Neil Finn’s 7 Worlds Collide charity project alongside members of Wilco and Radiohead. She’s the epitome of our musical establishment.

Nielson is anything but. He’s the erstwhile singer of The Mint Chicks, an art-punk band that found a cult following and critical acclaim by fusing the aggression and energy of American independent music to melodic pop structures. But even within those notorious outsiders he was always the prickliest. His own brother, Mint Chicks guitarist Ruban, admits that “his unpredictable side has become the most predictable – I’m always more surprised when he does something normal”.

A brief sampling of some of Nielson’s more eccentric behaviour: kidnapping a journalist for music magazine Rip It Up in advance of their interview, open-mouth kissing his own brother in that magazine, failing to show up to a Mint Chicks gig, thus forcing the band to play without him while he watched from the audience in disguise. In the band’s final New Zealand show before an extended hiatus, Nielson took exception to their drummer starting a song before he was ready and destroyed much of the band’s equipment before having a fist fight with his brother backstage.

But here they are, sitting alongside one another, and it doesn’t seem outlandish at all. The pair has a striking physical resemblance – Runga’s ancestry is Chinese-Malay and Maori, while Nielson’s is European and Hawaiian.

They share skin tones, lean frames and jet black hair. More than that, their mannerisms match: they both have a fidgety inability to sit still and are a strange combination of being very single-minded yet not wanting to be in any way obstructive. This leads to some amusing back-and-forth when I arrive. Runga leaps from her seat to introduce herself before saying, “Wanna hear us play?” Nielson begs off, but he doesn’t want to dismiss Runga’s enthusiasm
out of hand – they circle the idea for a spell before coming to an agreement: talk first, play later.

This compromise, a tiny speck of a larger collaboration that grows by the day, is something of a new experience for each of them. Nielson’s band built a career on being inscrutable and following their instincts unerringly.

Runga has a legendary capacity to spend years obsessing alone over an album. Here they’re forced to loosen up and experiment beyond where they’d grown comfortable, and they’re both finding it tremendously liberating.

“Having a solo career, you really paint yourself into a corner,” says Runga. “I think even just being in – would you call yourself a punk band? – you start pigeon-holing yourself.”

Nielson nods a slightly reticent assent to the question about whether the Mint Chicks are or were a punk band, a process that will become familiar as the day wears on. The pair flits between answering questions and interrogating one another. Despite their having worked together for months now, there clearly remains a lot for them to learn about each other.

As much as they have found in common, the worlds they’ve inhabited up till now are very different. This point is made obvious from time to time, such as in the contrast between Runga’s glowing report of their time recording at California’s legendary Ocean Way studio (“We did a great session there recently – we needed it”) versus Nielson’s more cynical take on their time in the room where “Good Vibrations” and countless other classics were recorded.

“It was quite fun to have them on it,” he says, referring to the session musicians they worked with. “I don’t actually think it was essential, but it was good to get a different perspective, and have somewhere different to work.

But it was kind of more an old-school way of working, and it did seem more of a dying way of doing things.

“It was a weird atmosphere in there, really. There were all these pictures on the wall of all these legends working in there and studios full of people, but there was only this ghostly skeleton staff left. Seemed a little bit hollow.”

Despite these occasional differences, it’s clear that their partnership has a real strength to it. The process began after Runga had spent a profoundly depressing period of time in LA meeting professional songwriters, “where you meet at 11 o’clock and you’re supposed to have a song by one”. She figured there was so much talent back in New Zealand that perhaps there was a more natural method awaiting her here.

She contacted her publisher, Mushroom Music’s Paul McLaney (himself a talented writer) about approaching potential collaborators, and he assembled a long list of local songwriters. Right at the top were the Nielson brothers. “I think that, fundamentally, they strive for the same classicism within their writing,” McLaney explains. “The difference is in the manner of presentation.”

Towards the end of 2009 the Nielson brothers and Runga got together, resulting in “Tiny Little Piece of My Heart”, a girl-group homage that will appear on Runga’s forthcoming album, tentatively titled Everything is Beautiful and New. After that session the Mint Chicks toured and released the Bad Buzz EP, before that thrillingly chaotic final show.

When Nielson returned to New Zealand from the band’s base in Portland, Oregon, he had no real fixed aim. There was talk of reuniting with band-mate Michael Logie for a new project, or perhaps getting the charmingly named Pussy Glitch back together. But when Runga called to suggest he produce her next album, he couldn’t refuse.

The resulting album is less of a departure from her earlier work than you might expect. The songs still have the trademark melodicism of “Drive” and “Sway”, along with the melancholic air that’s never too far from her sound. Nielson’s production is sympathetic to the material, with huge tracts of space and very minimal arrangements making it perhaps her sparsest record yet.

It’s a significant work for both of them, but in some ways it was merely the entrée for what flowed from it. Having completed the album, neither seemed content to walk away. For Runga in particular – who split in 2009 from her longtime partner Darryl Ward and is now nearing the end of her contract with Sony Music – the experience had been revelatory.

“I’m just happy to have a collaborator,” she says, “because I can spend years on a record, and disappear into a vacuum with it. Sometimes having too much time is more a hindrance than anything else. It was great to find someone to make my own record with, but then do all this other stuff that I’ve always wanted to do. Because my music’s so controlled.”

The “other stuff” is a band called Kody & Bic, and to spend any time with the pair is to realise that its potential is what most excites them right now. “I’ve wanted to be in a band for years,” says Runga. While Nielson has been in a band for years it’s always felt like his big brother’s creation, a ship which, s lead singer, he was the focal point of, but never quite steering. This time, they’re building it from the ground up.

Their first scheduled show as Kody & Bic is the Big Day Out in January, at the behest of Runga’s brother-in-law and ex-manager Campbell Smith.

The chance for two very established artists to shuck off their cloaks and assume a new identity has clearly had a huge impact on them, but Runga in particular seems to have been electrified by the situation. “What I like about Kody is he’s in my ear a lot of the time to not care too much. Which is quite good. Because you’re a punk, you know?” she says to him, laughing. “And all my favourite artists were actually punks in spirit. Like John Lennon, Yoko Ono, people like that. They’re non-conformists.

“It’s too easy to conform. It’s too easy to react out of fear. It’s quite good to have someone, especially your producer, just telling you to be bolder and bolder.”

After an hour or so, Runga’s wish to play is granted. She positions herself behind the drum kit, with Nielson on keyboard, and they play the first of a pair of striking, heavily psychedelic pop songs that feature Runga’s voice filtered and delayed until it’s entirely unrecognisable. During both songs her eyes are locked on Nielson, who just stares intently at the ground, plucking out strange, gripping melodies on the keys, then a bass guitar. The songs are very, very good.

With the Big Day Out gig a month away they’ve committed themselves to spending the summer locked in this room together in preparation for the event. While many artists might baulk at the prospect, they appear to relish it.

A clue as to why emerges as they wander the grounds of Newmarket’s Highwic House for the photo shoot. Runga lays her head on Nielson’s shoulder, while he stretches his arm around her. It doesn’t feel remotely posed, more unconscious, and while Runga will only admit that she “totally fancies” Nielson, it’s abundantly clear that their partnership, which began with writing before evolving into production and a band, has taken on another, more personal dimension too.

After the shoot we retreat to a café. Runga sips a glass of water in her airy summer dress while, despite the humidity, Nielson’s rugged up in a heavy wool coat. But neither seems to be feeling anything but immense anticipation about where this partnership might lead.

The only barrier still in place is Runga’s contract with Sony, which prevents her from writing for Kody & Bic just now – though it’s not stopping her from being as tickled as a teenager that their first song, the chilling psychedelic nugget “Darkness All Around Us”, has just made Auckland student radio’s top 10.

Once Runga’s album is out and toured it seems likely the pair will throw themselves into Kody & Bic with abandon, relishing both the freedom to construct a new identity and the consuming nature of this partnership.

“It’s really rare to find a collaborator, I think. In a lifetime,” says Runga wistfully.

“It’s quite free,” adds Nielson, attempting to decode what it is they love about making music together. “It seems completely open to do whatever we want.”

- Sunday Magazine

Sandringham bhangra business

Local label Round Trip Mars has been giving away some awesome tunes for the past few weeks from their new compilation INVADERISM, and the final tune dropped earlier and it's a stonker - from new signing to the label, Scratch 22. His debut album is out early 2011 but go grab this tune, it's a fun little jam.

RTM says "From here the full Invaderism will be dropped on Xmas day on Bandcamp (we'll put up a note here directing you to that) as full quality wav files or whatever you desire…still for free!!"

Shivani Strut - Scratch 22 by Round Trip Mars

Thursday, December 23, 2010

2010 musical favourites

Aloe Blacc - Good things
Sharon Jones and the Dapkings - I learned the hard way
Gil Scott Heron – I’m New Here
Chico Mann - Analog drift
Quantic Presenta Flowering Inferno - Dog with a rope
Bonobo - Black sands
Whitefield Brothers - Earthology
Lord Echo - Melodies
Ricketts meets Fabulous at Maitland Rd - Wild Bill Ricketts and Mike Fabulous
Ladi 6 - Liberation of...
Shawn Lee and Bei Bei - Into the wind
Dokkebi Q -  Hardcore Cherry Bon Bon
RSD - Good Energy: A Singles Collection
Scientist + various - Scientist Launches Dubstep Into Outer Space (originals, Scientist mixes)

Bob Blank - The Blank Generation – Blank Tapes NYC 1975 - 1985
Walter Gibbons - Jungle Music
Danny Krivit - Edits by Mr K Vol 2
Doris Troy - Doris Troy
Billy Preston -  That's The Way God Planned It, Encouraging Words

and a handful of singles...
Colman Bros -She who dares
Eru Dangerspiel - Chilli moules
Mishkin vs Anna Mystic - Living trouble
Resonators - Sweet dub affair
Fat freddys drop  - The raft - Steppers dub/Jet Jaguar remix
Colman Bros - She who dares - Lounge mix
Fitz and the tantrums - Money grabber
Sunlightsquare Latin Combo - I believe in miracles
Pitchito - Frente cumbiero
Coldcut - A man called garage - King Jammy vocal
Unitone hifi - Hang On (Kinky Electric Noise Chicha Remix) 
Darryl Jennifer [of Bad Brains] - Black Judas
Birds Of Dub - Architeq (Architeq Version)
M.I.A. - It takes a muscle
LA Vampires & Zola Jesus - No no no
The simonsound - Tour de Mars
Seu Jorge and Almaz  - The model
Lee Scratch Perry - Used To Drive A Tractor In Negrille
Phase II Pan Groove - Can't Get Enough
Suizen - Cartesian space - 4D mix (download this killer local slice of dub here)
Mos dub - History town
Bonobo - Eyesdown feat. Andreya Triana (there's a bunch of nice tunes on Triana's debut solo album too, produced by Bonobo)

There's some stuff  that slips my mind right now, but this will do.  Probably the defining trend in my musical collecting this year is the ever-increasing importance of finding new music online. It's juts a no-brainer, especially for feeding new music into my radio shows.

Thanks for reading my blog during the past year, I appreciate you dropping by. I hope you have a good Christmas and a happy New Year. As the Specials sang, enjoy yourself - it's later than you think!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

beats n bleeps

Spotted this via Stink Inc, it's utterly bonkers Brazilian bizznizz.

" Brooklyn beat collective Astro Nautico’s latest effort ‘Quiet Nights EP’ is a kaleidoscopic journey from the heart of Brazilian jazz to the outer limits of experimental hip-hop and bass. Featuring tracks by all three Astro Nautico artists (Kuhn, Obey City, +weed) and guest spots from both sides of the Atlantic (Young Montana?, Termeric, InfinitiRock, Thirsty Jefferson), this compilation album is tied together by the common departing point for each artist’s version: Brazilian jazz classic ‘Corcovado’ as performed by Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto."  Free download.

But wait, there's more!

From Sweden's Magowl, check this mean beat tape. Free download too.

NZOA music funding report out

Following on from Chris Caddick's earlier report on NZ On Air's international music support programme, NZ On Air have just released Caddick's review of its music funding. Download it in full from NZ On Air's site, here.
ADDED: NZ Musician has more on report, incl summary, etc noting that "The agency expects to have the changes ready to implement by 1 July 2011." NZ On Airs press release on the report here.

I was half-expecting  them to pull that classic govt department trick of putting it out at 430pm on December 24th. Keep your eyes peeled and see which govt dept pulls that one this year. It's a goodie. Summary at the bottom, from the report.

"New media: the Interview Panel ideas:
Start a YouTube channel (16%)
Start a website for the public featuring archived material (9%)
Start a Facebook page (7%)"

NZ On Air don't have a Youtube channel? What the heck?

Under Other Suggestions...
"Two respondents specifically identified the need for a significant archiving project for New  Zealand music. While this is outside the terms of reference for this review I agree that this would be an extremely valuable project."

The recommendations will, I believe, realign NZ On Air’s music programme with its mandated aims, better reflect the reality of today’s music landscape, acknowledge the role of the internet in achieving broadcast outcomes, broaden the diversity of music experienced by listeners and viewers (surely the most important stakeholders here), address the concerns of stakeholders over procedural matters, and provide opportunities to increase the amount of wonderful music both made by our artists and enjoyed by our public.

Changes to the overall programme should be self-funding in that reductions in expenditure in some areas can be used to fund newer initiatives.

Funding Schemes (Section 7.1.4)
Replace the three existing schemes with one new scheme that provides assistance in the creation of songs and their accompanying videos.
Move to monthly funding rounds of up to 20 tracks per month.
Include a variety of guest panelists in the monthly selection meetings.
Broaden the diversity of track choices.
Establish qualification criteria that reduce the number of applicants.

Application & Audit Procedures (Section 7.3.4)
Increase the number and frequency of audit checks.
Introduce a more detailed application process for funding grants.

New Targets (Section 7.3.1)
Set a five-year goal to increase New Zealand music on radio to 25%, adding an extra 1% to the current base level guaranteed by the Code each year for five years.

Broaden Monitoring (Section 7.3.2)
Collate television exposure weekly and add to radio exposure to get a fuller picture of broadcast outcomes.
Develop a programme to monitor exposure for New Zealand music on the Internet and mobile platforms.

New Media (Section 7.3.3)
Establish a new role in NZ On Air’s NZ Music promotions team specifically dedicated to activities in new media.
Develop a promotional programme for New Zealand music using popular social media networks.

Production of Radio Shows (Section 7.2.1)
Reduce overall expenditure on this initiative.
Consider commercialising the relationship for mainstream radio programming.
Make the programmes exclusively for new artists with no previous track record at commercial radio.
Set targets for ‘crossover’from the programmes to the main playlist and monitor.
Negotiate rights issues to extend the usage of these programmes to new media platforms.
Continue student radio programme funding.

Television Programmes (Section 7.2.2)
Lobby mainstream TV channels for music programming.
Continue funding NZOwn and look at options for further music programming on Juice TV.
Negotiate rights issues to ensure funded programming is available for use on new media platforms.
Continue funding enabling the screening of the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards.

Pluggers (Section 7.2.3)
Retain the roles.
Clarify the ‘supplementary’ nature of the activity in communication with the industry.
Provide weekly written feedback to the rest of the NZ On Air team
Undertake artist showcases in other main centres.
Increase number of road trips if practical.

Kiwi Hit Disc (Section 7.2.4)
Introduce weekly digital distribution of tracks by genre.
Provide an option to request a physical copy.
Introduce more exciting artwork to physical version.
Monitor broadcast outcomes for both methods of distribution -digital and physical.

Future Reviews (Section 7.3.4)
Establish regular schedule for future reviews.
Undertake next review in two years time.

Industry Analysis (Section 3.2)
Encourage industry bodies and appropriate government agencies
to undertake regular industry ‘big picture’ economic analysis.