Friday, December 24, 2010

Record Shop R.I.P

A thoughtful article from Gordon Campbell on, 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.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Feel Good Inc

The Gorillaz live extravaganza rolled into Auckland earlier this evening, and let rip for the final date of their world tour. Damon Albarn told us this was their last show ever, and later mentioned that it was a special night for them, as it might be the last time they would work together, although he didn't discount collaborating with that bunch of fine folk completely.

Absolute highlight for me was soul legend Bobby Womack. The sight of him crooning his heart out with two members of The Clash onstage was surreal, to say the least. And hats off to the girl next to me, who spent the entire duration of one of Mr Womack's songs studying Google Maps on her phone. I'm sure it was important, but seriously, THAT' S BOBBY WOMACK IN FRONT OF YOU, LADY! Hypnotic Brass rocked it too.

The sound wasn't great where I was sitting, and unlike previous visits to Vector, they hadn't put up any sound baffles on the perspex walls next to the stairs, so the bass was a booming mess mostly and overall it all sounded a  bit brittle.  But it was quite a spectacle. Wonder what Mr Albarn will do next?

ADDED Ok, so I did the classic old music reviewer's trick - forgot to mention the support bands.  Usually music reviewers either turn up too late to see the opening acts (or like this one, who missed Little Dragon), or that part of their review gets cut. No such excuses here, just it was bloody late when I wrote the first bit last night.

Little Dragon opened after Maseo from De La Soul spun a few old school classics and hollered at the crowd. Dude sure can yell. He provided  one of the highlights later in the evening, coming over to Damon Albarn at the end of one song and grabbing him, yelling  "You're the greatest, man, you're the fucken greatest!"

Little Dragon turned out to be a lot more clubby than I expected, less indie. Their drummer sounded like he was pounding away for a hard rock band, but that may have been the sound mix, which was poor all night.

My favourite quote on the sound issues was a mate who was standing by the mixing desk near the sound engineer - "At one point he threw his arms in the air and shouted 'aw for fucks sake - come on'." Little Dragon held the crowd's interest tho, especiallly the magnificent singing of Yukimi Nagano. They finished their all too brief set with the slow, moody ballad Twice. Would love to see em in a club. 

De La Soul ripped onstage next and promptly got the party started. They were in fine form - in fact, pretty much whenever they hit the stage during the Gorillaz set, energy levels shot straight up. They kinda put some of the younger rappers onstage with the Gorillaz to shame.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Dangerous game

A wee slice of NZ reggae history for you, from Diatribe, and Jules Issa.

Here's Auckland reggae singer Jules Issa's Diatribe cover, released on the Deepgrooves label in 1991 and featuring Joost Langeveld (Unitone Hifi, Subware) on bass. It also came out as a single, I believe (that's where the image with the video is from). There's images I found for two other singles from her around the same time, and a listing which mentions her album on Deepgrooves, though I have no memory of this actually coming out. Anyone else know? There were quite a few Deepgrooves album/EP releases that got finished but went unreleased, like the 2R2S (Riot Riddum Sound System) EP.

ADDED August 2012. Found In You was the mini album Jules Issa released on Deepgrooves, in 1995.

Diatribe were around in the early 1980s, and were on the same label as Herbs, Warrior Records, run by Hugh Lynn from his Mascot recording studio. Diatribe member Ross France wrote Azania  (Soon Come) for Herbs from their Whats’ Be Happen? EP (he's also listed as singing backing vocals on it), and John Berkley was in an early version of Herbs on bass.

France trained as a lawyer and his biography from his website for his current law practice in South Auckland says he "...established the Ponsonby Labour Co-operative in 1976 and played in a host of bands, including Storm, Herbs, Diatribe and Seven Deadly Sins. I still get royalties from writing "Soon Come Azania" for Herbs in 1981."

Dangerous Game is from their Too Lazy EP from 1983 - one of the songs off the EP (Gift of cruelty) also featured in the film Patu, Merata Mita's documentary about the Springbok tour protests of 1981. Diatribe member Rafer Rautjoki is Merata Mita's son. The band also featured on the compilations We'll Do Our Best, and Banana Dominion. Too Lazy EP was produced by Phil Yule and Diatribe, in June/July 1983.

Band members were...
John Berkley -Bass, Backing Vocals, Percussion; Chris Whyte - Drums, Percussion; Peter Kirkbride - Guitar, Vocals, Percussion; Ross France - Saxophone, Organ, Percussion, Backing Vocals;  Rafer Rautjoki - Saxophone, Vibes, Percussion.

The band later evolved into Seven Deadly Sins,  who also numbered Greg Johnson, Fiona McDonald (Headless Chickens/Strawpeople) and Justin Harwood (Chills, Luna) in their lineup. In the April/May issue of NZ Musician earlier this year, Greg Johnson talked about Seven Deadly Sins for Trevor Reekie's feature Moments Like These, where Reekie purloins an old photo (see below) of a muso and asks them to talk about that time...

Seven Deadly Sins. Photo: NZ Musician

Can you remember who took this photo and when?

"I can’t for the life of me remember who took the pic but it was near the Auckland railway station in Parnell on a Sunday afternoon in 1986. This was the last version of Diatribe I think, or possibly even Seven Deadly Sins…

Rafer and Ross France started the original band [Diatribe] and recorded a wonderful self-titled EP. Then I joined, followed soon after by Fiona McDonald. There were quite a few versions, which is why I’m a little vague. The music was essentially a blend of Pacific, ska, reggae and soul with Rafer and Ross doing most of the songwriting. We played everywhere from the Rumba Bar and Mainstreet Cabaret to the Black Power nightclub in South Auckland.

What was your relationship to the others in the photo and what are they up to these days?

I met James first at Auckland University when we were about 18 or so, both working at bFM. I’d played my first gig there as well three years earlier supporting the Instigators with a band called Compulsory Allies. The old Uni Café gigs were hard core in those days, very violent, with lots of punks and skinheads, luckily we were so young no-one bothered us.

At some point Rafer asked me to join Diatribe. He was tres mellow and also very charismatic. His mother was a pretty radical film-maker called Merita Mita. Auckland’s Polynesian world opened up to me at that point and I met many great people and players. Fiona and the others I met subsequently.

John Fraser and I were half each of a moody wee outfit called This Boy Rob that signed to Pagan Records in about 1989 for one EP. Hardly anyone made albums then, they were far too expensive and the government wasn’t dishing out money for music back then that’s for sure! John was also a film editor so he and his mates made a clip for us. I think he’s still working as an editor in NZ.

Sadly I really don’t know what the rest of the guys are doing now. I know Fiona married and has kids and I heard Bud Hooper has an African drum group. Daniel might be a lawyer in Auckland."

Watch Patu over at NZOnScreen.  Merata Mita's biography.

Little Dragon

Little Dragon are a band from Sweden who are part of the Gorillaz live extravaganza, playing here on Tuesday. They will also playing an opening set before the Gorillaz, as will De La Soul.

Try Little Dragon remixed by Floating Points, or this tribute mix to Little Dragon's singer Yukimi Nagano, born and raised in Gothenburg, Sweden to a Japanese father and Swedish-American mother. She's also sung on tracks from Koop, Geology and Swell Sessions.

One of my favourite tracks is from their 2007 debut album, it's called Constant Surprises, check the video below. If you're going to the Gorillaz, I suggest you get along early and catch Little Dragon. They're kinda special.

ADDED: Little Dragon are on about 730pm, De La Soul at 810pm, Gorillaz at 9pm.

ADDED: My review of the De La Soul/Little Dragon/Gorillaz concert at Vector Arena. 

ADDED: a more recent post with Little Dragon performing with PS22 Chorus, a group of school kids in  NYC

And then  there's Questlove's remix of Robert Glasper's cover of Little Dragon's Twice... featuring Solange Knowles....Heard this? Give it a spin.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Top ten

It's that time of year when list madness descends, along with Santa and all that shizz. This is my fave list so far - from local reggae site Nice Up, who regularly get folk to do their fave top ten tunes.

This one is slightly different. UK producer/DJ Wrongtom who did a wicked collab with Roots Manuva earlier this year, reworking a ton of Mister Manuva's acapellas into heavyweight dub reggae tunes, on the album Duppy Writer.

It's a top ten of Wrongtom's fave pieces of studio gear for making reggae, dub and dancehall. Check his list here. Happy to say I own at least 3 of these bits of kit.

Miss Sharon Jones! Miss Sharon Jones!

Last night Miss Sharon Jones and her Dapkings played in Auckland for the first time at the Powerstation and tore the roof off that sucker. A night of electrifying, satisfying soul and fantastic funk. My favourites included them playing their Chirstmas single Aint no chimneys in the projects, and one of the gospel tunes they've done on their last few albums - Mamma don't like my man, with just Miss Jones, her two female backing singers, and Binky Griptite on guitar. Watch below for a taste of the show...


Label love

Check this free goodness...

"Label Love is an eclectic yet unified bundle of unique sounds compiled simply for the love of sharing them with the universe - each track plucked and presented by label heads from Melting Pot, Ninja Tune, One-Handed , Plug Research, Tru Thoughts and Ubiquity.

Each label evokes its own signature swagger giving this collection a diversified and interesting flow of genres. Label Love consists of nostalgic classics, fresh unreleased gems and other dope, exclusive selections with the goal of expanding minds to new styles, vibrations and colours. "