Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Deepgrooves - Ermehn

South Aucklander Ermehn arrived at the Deepgrooves stable with some serious credentials in hiphop - he'd been in Radio Backstab and DJ Payback (who featured on the landmark "Proud" compilation)  and was also part of the early lineup of the Otara Millionaires Club. His debut solo album dropped in 1998, and included some great tunes and killer singles, like Walls of Steel, featuring the Khaz the Field Style Operator (now known as The Feelstyle).

He recorded the album with Andy 'Submariner' Morton on mixing and production at Andy's studio, the Hut. Guests on the album included DJ Manuel Bundy, DJ Subzero, Francis Harawira, and Ermehn's cousin Marie Va'a.

Grant Smithies says in his book Soundtrack: 1118 Great NZ albums that Ermehn "...sees South Auckland primarily as a place of poverty, violence and crime, so that's what he raps about. His street soldier stories are bleak but skilfully told, and give insight into the hard life many rappers invent for themselves but this man seems to have actually lived. Contains the strong singles Walls of Steel, Don't be late, and Stranded in the city".

"Herman 'Ermehn' Loto was notorious for playing live dressed in a lava lava and waving a machete over his head ... Ermehn's Samoan heritage was represented not only by the track content but also by the cover which showed Mau leader Tupua Tamasese Lealofi III. The tracks also focused on South Auckland and 'Who holds the knife' talked about the devastating effect of the notorious South Auckland rapist who was operating at the time." (Source, originally published in the book Hiphop Music in Aotearoa by Gareth Shute).

Ermehn also had a fierce reputation, built on his gang affiliations with the King Cobras.  "I'm an ex King Cobra patch member. I've had the Chinese TRIADS put a hit out [on] me! I've had the Head-Hunters hunting me down. F#ck, I've even had my own King Cobras put a lifetime hit out on me and I still roll hard. I've made more money than any muthaf#cker I know! More money more dramas!" (Source)

"As Herman Loto in the mid '90s he was part of the Otara Millionaires Club, sharing writing credits for We r the O.M.C along with the Fuemana brothers, also involved in the 'Proud' album and touring party with Radio Back Stab. His own debut album 'Samoans Part II' was released during this time (1998) on Deepgrooves, and distributed by Festival. But not long after Ermehn's gangsta life took over.

"In Otara basically when you've got nothing, the only thing on the table at the time is either going out and hustling, selling drugs and joining a gang - or joining a rugby club and becoming a great rugby league star. I fell into the pitfalls of the hood and ended up hustling and put my music aside and just embraced the darkness.

"I came out of it a few years later and I thought I'd do an album. I had the money at the time and I thought, well NZ On Air aren't going to give me the money, so I funded the album on gangsta money - so it is a pure gangsta album.... With this album, if I was to perform it, it would probably be at a nice dodgy club - I don't think I'll be getting asked to perform at Pasifika any time soon." From NZ Musician interview, 2005.

In that interview Ermehn is talking about his second album Path Of Blood (Sony BMG, 2005) which featured the singles Bankjob and Silver and gold (videos for both songs were made by Oscar Kightly). Currently he runs a security company based on the Hibiscus Coast called Pride Security, and is involved in martial arts.

His most recent recording is a single with Chong Nee, called I Love The Way (from 2008). Watch the video here, shot at the Pasifika Festival in 2008, and watch out for Ermehn onstage performing. Looks like he DID get asked to perform at Pasifika.

ADDED (19/1/2011) Sean popped up in the comments to mention that Ermehn had released an album in 2006, called Drug House Raps, via itunes. Ermehn also got a video grant from NZ On Air for a song with PNC in late 2009, called Stare and Whisper. Thanks for the info.

CORRECTED: Ermehn joined in the comments below, saying "DRUG house raps' was just me guesting on tracks or ruff demos that got out - not really my album. i haven't even heard the trks. I guest on a lot of MR SICCS album trks, cos he from otara. mr sicc is pretty much the new and Better Me! he my favit rapper! and has my full respect!"

ADDED Ermehn's third album Trained To Kill is due for release October 4 2012. More info here.

Above images from the CD for Samoans Pt II

Monday, January 17, 2011

Deepgrooves - New Loungehead

New Loungehead were a splendidly jazzy combo, who dropped their debut album, Came A Weird Way, in 1997. It featured guest vocals from Sulata, and Mark James (Slave) on a song a piece, and won Best Jazz Album at the NZ Music Awards the following year.

The group's lineup at the time of recording was Dan Sperber (guitar), Isaac Tucker (drums), Godfrey De Grut (sax, keys), Chip Matthews (bass), and Matthias Sudholter (percussion).  The album was recorded at Okura, with Kaiun Digital Mobile in December 1996 by Chris Sinclair, and overdubs done at Kaiun Digital (Deepgrooves inhouse studio) in Central Auckland with Dave Rhodes in Jan - March of 97. Vocal overdubs were recorded by Simon Holloway. The band were managed by Frances Chan.

New Loungehead, from Rip It Up, August 1998

I got to know Chip Matthews several years back, when he and Buttafingers (Harlan) started doing the radio show after me on BaseFM on Saturdays - they both play in the Opensouls. I've got a lot of time for Chip, he's a very talented musician and knowledgable DJ. I asked him what he remembers of that time working with Deepgrooves. Here is his response. Thanks, Chip!

Chip Matthews: "Deepgrooves was quite a special time for me personally cause it was by and large my first consistent dealings with a label, recording on a label and being around a bunch of musicians who were all trying to do their projects. Around the time I was there, as well as being part of the New Loungehead's album, there were albums being completed by Breaks Co-op and shortly after, Sulata's album, an album I still say is one of the most under-rated NZ albums of the 90's.

"The studio then was on Victoria St. We were recording to ADAT (oh the days prior Pro Tools et al!) and would be crammed in the studio listening to take after take being done, the whirling of the ADAT machine as it cued up again, overseen by the big tapa cloth on the wall. For a freshy, it really was like being shown an exciting new musicial world.

Chip describes Ermehn's album Samoans Pt II as "an album still under-rated. I remember in about 97 or 98, Kane took a few of us to Australia to do a bit of a showcase. There was us [New Loungehead] and Erhmen with the mighty Submariner.

"That was a first for me in seeing people desperate about not missing out on some record digging (Submariner), [and] visiting some of the more salubrious bars up Oxford St whilst tripping out courtesy of some of the local whanau wanting to pull a fasty on us. And the trip for me and perhaps as a metaphor for Deepgrooves around that time, we had to share one room at a hotel down by Hyde Park. One room for about 8 or so of us! Luckily I spent a couple of the nights there hanging out until sunrise, so the need for me wasn't so pressing, but trying to find room for all those people to sleep was pretty funny.

In terms of the day to day running of the label, Chip says "I was largely unaware of any problems with the Deepgrooves label and Kane's running of the thing as I was so new to the townie side of being a muso. But I do remember that when it came to the more financial side of things, Kane was a little less forthcoming than the moments where money wasn't an issue. Again, with me being not so clued up, I was largely meh about it all. But I do know that we made some money off our album which we are still awaiting!!

For Chip, "the legacy of Deepgrooves is the main thing though. To me it was a label of opportunity when opportunities seemed harder to come by. This was before the halcyon days of the early 2000's where Che's Navigator album [which Chip played bass on] and King Kapisi's Savage Thoughts really changed the game in regards to "urban" music and how it was viewed as a local product in a market-driven almost exclusively from overseas.

"The albums that came through from my time there were just some of the best that have been created for mine, and in that regards, Kane invested so much into our community. It was still very much a no 8 wire mentality and in that regards, for me, he did a great job.

He says overall it was "a positive experience. Sure there were some downers, but it was a great learning experience for me personally. Being around watching Zane Lowe freeing up the studio for The New Loungehead by taking his keyboard into the kitchen area - I was a big fan since they were pre-Urban Disturbance, Leaders of Style - for me it was the very encapsulation of how I imagined a studio to be. It was a fun time cause there seemed to be less riding on it in terms of material - the thought of making a job out of music was just way too far fetched -  but [it] was so meaningful when you actually produced an album. Amazing times for me."

Dan went on to play in Slacker, the Relaxomatic Project, and currently plays as the Dan Sperber Complex. Chip and Godfrey ended up playing in Che Fu's band The Crates, and Chip currently plays in the Opensouls, and with Anika Moa. He's also the delightful breakfast radio host on BaseFM. Isaac went on to play with UK dance act Spektrum. Godfrey has done various session work, from Brooke Fraser to Nesian Mystik to Kanye West (read about that last one here, it's pretty funny).

Deepgrooves - Free Bass live

Deepgrooves was also home to a few jazzy acts, like The New Loungehead (featuring Dan Sperber, Godfrey de Grut, Chip Matthews, Isaac Tucker and Mathias Sudholter), and Free Bass.

This is from Simon Grigg's blog. He posted this with a track for download back in May 2009 (still there too), to coincide with the Box/Celebre reunion night, Take Me Back.

Cause Celebre, 1994. Photo: Simon Grigg

"Freebass were important for a number of reasons, but not least because it was one of the early vehicles for the Haines brothers, Joel and Nathan. Nathan’s next band was The Enforcers, who went on to record the globally released Shift Left ..the only NZ recorded album ever to appear on Verve.

I remember the night fairly well. Chris Sinclair had miked up the room and he and Mark Tierney taped it struggling against all sorts of adversity. They had to battle with odd acoustics, inebriated folks repeatedly tripping over cables and staff who really didn’t care who or what they were, they had to get that case of Mac’s Gold to the back bar without delay.

But it worked out pretty well, it was a landmark album at the time and, as I recall, sold pretty well. Released on Mark Tierney and Kane Massey’s quite crucial Deepgrooves label, it’s long been unavailable and quite sought after. My (signed) copy had walked somewhere in the past 19 years so I was forced to buy a new copy this week. I sourced it on EBay, from Sydney."

Deepgrooves, 1993

The reason this Deepgrooves release stands out from nearly all the others I've profiled, is it's back in circulation (since Simon wrote that post, I assume). You can buy the MP3s here from Amplifier.co.nz.

Coming next - more jazzy bizznizz

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Just discovered there's a music video for this great soul scorcher from the Flirtations. Ace. Got reissued on one of Norman Jay's Good Times compilations a while back - you need this tune. "Filmed in colour at Tintern Abbey at Monmouthshire, south Wales."

But wait, there's more!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Internet is way more punk than punk rock

Dave Allen (ex Gang of four, Shriekback, also eMusic and Intel) interviewed by Rick Moody. Excerpt...

"I cre­ated a stir with this essay last year, The End of the Record­ing Album as the Orga­niz­ing Prin­ci­ple, a stir that was fueled by the teeth gnash­ing and howl­ing of musi­cians, pro­duc­ers and stu­dio engi­neers. So I fol­lowed it up with this—Dear Musi­cians, Please Be Bril­liant or Get Out of The Way, and the musi­cians’ response was even angrier. As I said: my job is not work, it’s fun.

In those two essays I was basi­cally attempt­ing to get musi­cians to under­stand that tech­nol­o­gists cre­ated the “con­tain­ers.” One exam­ple was that those tech­no­log­i­cal “con­tain­ers” were man­i­fested as vinyl albums, orig­i­nally spin­ning at 78rpm and then 33rpm. They were fol­lowed by the com­pact disc, which iron­i­cally is the tech­no­log­i­cal “con­tainer” of all those ones and zeroes, thebĂȘte noire of the record­ing indus­try.

My point was, the tech­nol­o­gists never con­sulted with us cre­atives, we musi­cians, they just foisted it upon us. The Inter­net today is an amaz­ing tech­no­log­i­cal mar­vel that unshack­les the cre­ative musi­cian from those tech­no­log­i­cal “con­tain­ers” of the past, yet most musi­cians really can’t get their heads around that sim­ple fact. It’s the first time in his­tory that record­ing musi­cians can release their music with­out it being “contained.”

To wrap this one up I would say that the Inter­net is way more punk than punk rock."

Full interview here. Well worth a read. His concept about containers is spot on.

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, Sat Jan 15

Beverly Rd allstars - Murder she wrote
Colm K and the freestyle mellowship - Dancing skulls - main mix
Jahdan Blakkamore - General - Ticklah remix
Noiseshaper - Only redeemer
Lord Echo - Thinking of you
Kalbata and mixmonster feat Little John - Sugar plum plum
Footise - High grade no bush dub
Primal scream - Higher than the sun
Caribou - Odessa
Mayer Hawthorne - Maybe so, maybe no (Caribou and Mayer H both here next month for Splore City, Feb 11 and 12)
Pepperpots - Real tru love
Emotions - Blind alley
Black Moon - The way Inst
Ultramagnetic MC - Poppa large - West coast mix
The creators  -Make in impact Inst
Guilty Simpson - Man's world
Mountain - Long red
El da Sensei - Summertime bluez
Mad lion - Girlzzz
Herbs - French letter dub
Don Carlos - Favorite cup
Stephen and Damian Marley - Jah army
Resonators - Sweet love affair - Cyentific remix
RSD - Forward youth
Darryl Jennifer - Black Judas
Jackie Mittoo - Darker shade of black
Gregory Isaacs - Mr know it all
Revolutionaries - Kunta Kinte dub
Frankie Paul - Pass the tu sheng peng

Friday, January 14, 2011

Dead stock

Andrew Dubber (on Twitter) posted this question: "Ever owned a now-defunct record label? What did you do with the old, unsold & unwanted stock? I have hundreds of discs to dispose of..."

Andrew is back in town briefly (the former Aucklander is a radio lecturer at a UK university these days), and has uncovered hundreds of CDs from a jazz label he ran here in the late 90s.

Callum August at Dirty Records responded to Andrew: "label still going but some times you need to cut your losses." And Callum posted the grim picture above of dumping Dirty Records vinyl at the tip. That photo makes me sad.

Deepgrooves - Unitone Hifi

Unitone Hifi was/is Joost Langeveld, Stinky Jim and Angus McNaughton. Sitting by the phone came out as a single in 1992 and also featured on the compilation Deep in the Pacific of Bass. The song was also called Sitting by the telephone on the CD itself. It featured Teremoana Rapley, Bobbylon (Hallelujah Picassos, Riot Riddum), and Just One (Sole). From memory, it was aimed at getting commercial radio airplay, and is probably the one time Unitone Hifi ever even attempted to get themselves on that particular format with a poppy offering.

I asked Stinky Jim recently about the history behind this tune. He says his memory of this is a bit hazy and it was a long time ago, but he kindly attempted to fill in a few gaps.

Jim remembers that "Tere had submitted a single for Deepgrooves that was adjudged too political or such like. I can't remember quite how we [Unitone Hifi] got involved, but I do remember there being an attitude of going to the other extreme of excessive popiness in response.

"The beat/song was knocked off in an afternoon, and was an homage to the minimal swingy rhythms of the day that were being ridden by Chaka Demus and Pliers etc, it was hammered on Iwi Radio, bless 'em.  It's unlikely to feature in any of our most cherished musical moments but it was a bit of humour, and to this day I get miniscule APRA payments for 'Shining By The Telephone' (sic) which somehow sounds like a more interesting song!"

It was recorded at The Lab by Mark Tierney and produced by Unitone Hifi, with keyboards from Kev Rangihuna (who later worked with DLT on the Trueschool album). There was a video made for the song as well.

Posted are the Ansaphone mix, plus Bobbylon's version, Turn yourself around. The tune sounds to me like it is loosely based on My Love by UK reggae act New Age Steppers from Adrian Sherwood's On-U-Sound label, which was a hugely influential label on many of the Deepgrooves acts.

Unitone Hifi's later work (including their two albums) came out on European label Incoming!, like the track below. They took a 12 year tea break in 1996 (as you do), returning in 2008 with the excellent vinyl single Up To Eleven, followed up by Sneeze Off. Their remix of Overproof Sound System is also worth a listen.

You can listen and buy Unitone Hifi's extensive back-catalogue from Bandcamp.Go have a listen, there's some great tunes over there. Unitone Hifi discography

Up next... things get jazzy with young Nathan H.

ADDED Nov 2012:  Sitting by the phone video....

Deepgrooves - Nemesis Dub Systems

 When you opened up the CD booklet for the 1992 debut album from Nemesis Dub Systems, you were greeted with the follwing message in large type...

"A Multitrack Situation was recorded between 1989 and 1992 on shit equipment with no fucking budget!"

Nemesis Dub Systems (NDS) were Eddie Chambers and Joost Langeveld. Both played as members of Flying Nun act NRA, and Joost also played in the Greg Johnson Set. They frequently collaborated as NDS with Stinky Jim (who also designed the cover montage for their debut album). They were widely known for their BFM top ten hit song A Young Boy's Tale, a delightfully grim song.

The above track features Jan Hellreigel on vocals, Anthony Ioasa on additional keys, and was mixed by Angus McNaughton at Incubator. Golden Dreams featured on the 2nd Deepgrooves compilation Deep in the Pacific of bass, and was also included on their album. NDS featured on the first Deepgrooves compilation (they were credited as "Nemesis Dub") , with How Bout That, which also appeared on their album, and featured Stinky Jim, credited as Sample Selector.

The following  blurbs are from Amplifier.co.nz, who have the NDS album available for sale as MP3s.

"NDS were Joost Langveld and Eddie Chambers, who released a 12" on Wildside and an album on Deepgrooves and were once featured on Eyewitness News, intro'd by Lindsay Perigo who announced them with barely concealed disgust, which I'd say is a badge of honour..."

"Released in 1992, this album was recorded and mixed at bFM studio 3 8-track facilities except 'Golden Dream - Nightmare on Symonds St', recorded and mixed at Incubator Studio, 'How about that' recorded and mixed at 'The Lab', and 'They Begin - Bonus Projector Mix' recorded and mixed at Pitch Black Studio'. Mastered at 'The Lab'. All tracks written and produced by N.D.S. (Langeveld/Chambers) except tracks 6 'Yeah Yeah' and 10 'How about that' (Chambers/Langeveld/Pinckney)."

Coming up... more from the stenchmiester and co...

Wgtn record store closes

Wellington record store Samurai is closing down.

"As you may or may not know, the Samurai Store is closing soon.

After 14 years in the dnb distribution business I have decided to call it a day and work harder on Samurai Music the label and a few other projects I have underway, and of course the store is part of my distribution business so it will be closing down also.

Thanks to everyone I have worked with or sold to or dealt with over the years. It's been a great era but as we can all probably see very evidently it is a different world in 2011 and it's time for a change for me personally.

I'll post more info on the wind down as we get this all sorted, and feel free to come say hi and have a chat before the store is gone.

Local vinyl buyers need not worry about too much, there is plans being made to ensure the regular flow of vinyl continues after I depart."
Source: http://bassdrop.co.nz/forum/viewtopic.php?t=27454
Hat tip to MikeE_NZ.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Deepgrooves - Colony

Colony were a very serious band. I remember hearing them on BFM, then seeing them play when they opened for my band Hallelujah Picassos at the release party for our "Lovers +"single, alongside Culture Stone and DJ Stinky Jim in 1992.

Colony mixed up hiphop beats and rapping with singing and rowdy guitar. They released a three song EP called  "R.I.P." on Deepgrooves (funded with a QEII Arts Council grant) in 1993 before splitting up.

Reviewing the EP in The NZ Herald (Oct 22, 1993), Russell Baillie says that "... while it may echo the left-ish political rap of Consolidated and Disposable Heroes, unfortunately the non-specific polemic gets a bit wearying. But their musical ideas are more convincing, as they add electric and acoustic guitars to tracks two and three and Suala Foai's floating vocals are a nice touch even when crooning 'destroy the state.' Yep, that old line"

Colony's lineup was Dominic Taylor (samples, programming, vocals), Gavin Downie (guitar, vocals), Sulata Foa'i, (vocals), and Dominic's brother, Simon Taylor (lyrics).

Gavin Downie went on to join Hallelujah Picassos in 1994, and later played in The Managers, Future Stupid and others. He's currently a well-respected guitar technician for hire, and has worked for a wide variety of NZ acts from Steriogram to Dave Dobbyn, and numerous international acts, which led to him working on the Warped Tour across the US a few years back.

I found this article on Gavin from April 2010, where he talks about Colony... after his first high school band split, "I formed a punkrock hiphop band called Colony, we got a grant from NZ on Air, got a record deal, recorded an EP, had a fight, stopped talking, and broke up..." Go have a look, the pic at the top is Gavin and one of his mates, Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top.

Post-Colony, Dominic and Simon were involved in a weekly jam session every Thursday down at the Pelican Bar in Elliot st, with a group called Repeater, in 1994. They were later involved in various other cultural ventures, such as working at famous/infamous K Rd cafe Urbi et Orbi, also known as The Orb (the original name Uber Alles attracted some negative feedback, so was changed), and later opening up Brazil Cafe. More recently they have directed some stunning music videos for SJD - watch them at Round Trip Mars site.

Sulata got picked up by Deepgrooves for a solo career, which produced a very laidback, jazzy, cool album, Kia Koe, in 1996 (more on that in a future post). She guested on recordings with New Loungehead, and also Three The Hard Way, and toured Australia with the latter following their success there with Hiphop Holiday. Later she was also involved singing in Te Vaka led by her coiusin Opetaia Foa'i. She's still involved in various musical activities, according to her bio on her employer's site. (Correction: earlier version said Te Vaka was her father's band - have corrected this).

The songs on the EP were: Colony, State side of grace, and Siva come, and it was recorded at Reel Feel Studio in Parnell by Andreas Voight.

Up tomorrow.. it's getting stinky in here.....

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Vocalist, drummer, songwriter, Melvin Davis

From Detroit Metro Times. Northern soul legend, drummer for Smokey Robinson and the Miracles... awesome story. Hat tip to Trevor, cheers fellla.

"The song, pressed on the local Wheel City label, is one of the most obscure in the history of recorded Detroit soul music. Yet when the band breaks into its intro, the packed house of testifying dancers erupts, and when Melvin Davis sings that first line, they're right there with him. They know every word. It's uplifting. It's soulful. It's downright spiritual.

Thirty-seven years after its 500-copy run sank without a trace in 1965, 5,000 — yes, 5,000 — Melvin Davis fans are flipping Wales' Prestatyn Soul Weekender on its collective ear. To this throng of music fanatics, DJs and record collectors, the song in question, "Find a Quiet Place (and be Lonely)," is an anthem, and its rarity has only amplified its legend.

Davis turns in an electrifying set. Then he signs autographs, just as he does after other overseas shows (most recently this past June). Later, he presides over a panel discussion that gives fans a glimpse of what it was like to be a full-fledged participant in one of the most astounding music scenes of all time. His even-keeled outlook, lucid memory, outgoing nature and philosophical perspective make him a natural ambassador for both his city and its music.

It's no wonder that many of his fans can hardly believe that when Melvin Davis returns home to Detroit's west side in a few days, he'll be back to the grind at the post office..."

Read the full article here. Incredible soul music.

Deepgrooves - Sound Foundation

Sound Foundation marked the birth of DJ Dubhead's reggae leanings on record - previous recorded output from him had been in groups such as the Kiwi Animal, an acoustic alternative-folk outfit where he contributed cello. ADDED: He also was in a gothic band called Silent Decree, who released a few cassette recordings. 

Sound Foundation started as a collaboration between Dubhead (Patrick Waller), studio engineer Angus McNaughton (Tinnitus, Headless Chickens), and various MCs, mainly Tuffy Culture and Danny D from Dam Native. Ram Dancehall also came out as a white label 12 inch single.

Dubhead (L), Angus. Photo: Sonoma Message. Published in Planet, 1991

Ram Dancehall 12-inch label

Dubhead went on to put together the Dub Combinations series of compilations for Kog in the early 2000s (which featured tunes by Sound Foundation also, produced by Dubhead), and was also listed as one of the authors of a book on the history of reggae in Aotearoa, which was announced in 2007. He's a longstanding and well-respected BFM DJ, having started his radio show The Rhythm Selection, in 1990, and was Programme Director for BFM for 4 years in the early 2000s.

Up tomorrow.. get colonised.....

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.