Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Stevie doco

From 1981, a BBC documentary on Stevie Wonder. 55 minutes long. Dynamite. Hat tip to Bluevibestudio for the link.

Deepgrooves - Fuemana

Fuemana were another act on Deepgrooves with strong South Auckland connections (Like Ermehn, who lived in the Fuemena's garage for a while, with Pauly). Led by the late Phillip Fuemana, and featuring his family members Christina, Pauly, and Tony, along with Matty J Rhys, and they initially released a single called Dangerous Love on Murray Cammick's Southside label under the name House Party in 1991, before shifting to Deepgrooves.

They released their album New Urban Polynesian in 1994. The song Dangerous Love turned up on that album, as did In the deep of the night, off the first Deepgrooves compilation, which was originally credited to Love and Bass.

Phil went on to work with many of the acts on the hugely important compilation Proud, (put together by Tim Mahon and Alan Jansson) including OMC, Sisters Underground, Pasifikan Descendents, Semi MCs, and Radio Backstab and DJ Payback (featuring Ermehn in their lineup). He also took these acts on tour round New Zealand to promote the comp. He followed that up by starting his own label, Urban Pasifika Records (UPR), and putting out his own compilation, Pioneers of the Pasifikan Frontier.

Phil Fuemana: "I recorded a demo of eight tracks and that had: AKA Brown, Moizna, the Lost Tribe, Dei Hamo, a guy from down the line called Bobby Owen, and that was it. There were the tracks. And I went shopping - I shopped it, because Id just done the Proud thing. It had been like a year or two. And we were feeling like 'man, we gotta get into the game at the Alan [Jannson] end. Where we're making the calls. Instead of being called on.

"So, ya know, I was taken to dinner by these record companies ... They offered twenty-grand at the table. And I was gonna take it - twenty-grand! I aint got nothing. But I thought I'd just hold out and then it was Sir-vere, well i knew him as Phil Bell back in the day... that said  'hey, I heard you're shopping some music around, how come you're not coming to us?' I said - 'you guys are so busy.' Cos they had Tangata, they had Wildside - they had all the labels up there, it was packed. DLT, Che Fu and everything.

"But I was thinking - it's unusual I haven't come, I've always wanted to ... So I actually went up and for the first time met Kirk, but what blew me away was - I went in the room there. I saw guys in my age range or headspace range. I thought - hey, now we're talking! And Kirk was pretty stand-offish, but that's him, he's too cool. He puts a CD in, he listens and says - aw yeah! He goes - 'what do you want?' I said - 'I dunno, a deal.' And he said - 'nah, what do you really want?' I thought to myself- 'I want a jeep.' That same week, I had a jeep and a record deal ... No one else had done that. We did it....i had a Pajero jeep back when they were cool.... and music paid for it."
(Source: Hiphop Music in Aotearoa, by Gareth Shute, published 2004)

Phil Fuemana passed away 0n 28 February 2005, aged 41. His brother Pauly passed away almost a year ago, on January 31, 2010, at 40. For some background on the family's early life in a condemned house in Parnell, see this page on Urbanpasifika.com.

Closer by Fuemana was included on the CD compilation Pasifika: The Collection in 2010.  Five songs off the New Urban Polynesian album are available over at Amplifier.co.nz.

Fuemana - Rocket love / Seasons music videos
Phil Fuemana interview, from Stamp mag, 1994

Monday, January 24, 2011

BDO corporation

Great sign at BDO, spotted by Jane Yee...

Alphabethead mixtape (60s and 70s Vol II)

Cool mixtape from DJ Alphabethead (spotted over at Breakinwrekwordz blog). He says...

"I’ve been gathering old vinyl since long before I became a DJ. I got my leg up in record collecting through inheriting countless LP’s from relatives and family friends. In 2000 it seemed all the Baby Boomers I knew were spring cleaning, purging records and discovering the Compact Disc.

Recording my extended family’s LP’s onto CD was a small price to pay for getting to keep them! In digitising vinyl I was exposed to bands I normally wouldn’t touch (I was a strictly Hip Hop kid). Most of these records were vibrant mono recordings by 1960’s ‘British Invasion’ bands such as The Beatles, The Yardbirds, The Animals and The Zombies. Every so often a King Crimson, Tangerine Dream or Kraftwerk album would crop up and leave me forever changed. I can still remember the day Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ arrived on my turntable!

Perusing ones records can give such an insight into the psyche of a person. I was consistently surprised in seeing who listened to what. The most straight-edged investment banker could be rocking out to Captain Beefheart (true story)! An uncle of mine was a devout hunter, rugby player, gardener, and ‘good old’ kiwi bloke. When he passed on I was gifted his modest stack of 25 records, all of which were tender female folk singers; Joan Baez, Melanie, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Joni Mitchell et al. What a guy!

This is my second mix of 1960’s and 70’s music. It’s assembled from vinyl, in various conditions, all of which I inherited – the fuzz, crackle and other spurious record noise are all included! Once again it’s mostly pop and psych although this time a little more hard rocking due to the inclusion of Led Zeppelin, Hendrix and May Blitz, a monstrous band on Vertigo records.

"I made sure I included some Kiwi groups from the era; The Underdog Blues Band, Human Instinct and The Fourmyula’s quintessential Sixties tune ‘Nature’ all make an appearance. Other tracks of special interest are The Beach Boys lesser known ‘Feel Flows’ which is in my opinion their most psychedelic tune and Spirit’s ‘The Other Song’ which Gonjasufi used as a rhythmic canvas last year. It’s mixed in a Hip Hop style with scratches, drum-breaks and cut-up sample segues! Please give it a spin – I hope you enjoy."

DOWNLOAD: “Music From The 1960’s & 70’s (Volume II)”

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Land of the good groove

Been listening to Nile Rodgers' solo album Adventures in the land of the good groove recently. Rodgers has recently disclosed on his website that he is battling cancer. I hope he makes a full recovery.

Rodgers is currently recovering from surgery and taking daily walks around NYC - he's been posting cool photos of old personal landmarks on his Facebook page, with tales like  this one... "Early Morning Walk Today: Me and Joey Ramone were passed out in this apt bldg in '80s - I was found by Jed Lieber and went to rehab".

I looked up this album, and I came across a blog dedicated to maps called Strange Maps, written by Frank Jacobs. His bio says he "...loves maps, but finds most atlases too predictable. He collects and comments on all kinds of intriguing maps—real, fictional, and what-if ones..."

"A while back, I found a record album in a thrift store here in NYC, and I just had to buy it,” writes Adam King [a reader of Frank's blog]. As a mapophile, I understand the categoric cartographic imperative at work here. The map in question is the front cover of Nile Rodgers’ 1983 solo album ‘Adventures in the Land of the Good Groove’. The name Nile Rodgers sounded vaguely familiar, but a little research turned up that this was due to my lack of musical knowledge, not Mr Rodgers’ lack of notoriety. He is influential in his own right as well as instrumental in the careers of many other world-class artists..."

"For this Nile Rodgers solo album, the native New Yorker chose to have lower Manhattan represent the ‘Land of the Good Groove’. The map is made to look like an antique map of the 17th century or thereabouts, down to the ornamental ships and ‘monsters’ in the water. The use of (pig) Latin amplifies the old feel of the map, and is used to some humorous effect — Brooklyn is labelled Terra Incognita and New Jersey is Nova Joisea.

"Lower Manhattan’s streets and avenues also get the fake Latin treatment, and are rendered as Twenty-Thirdium, Houstanus, Canalus and Via Broadicus. Other locales include Tribeccium, Terra Financicus and Villagius Easticus. Over on the West Side is the intriguing Mysterium. Is anybody familiar enough with Mr Rodgers’ oeuvre to know why?"

One of the commenters on Frank's blog has the answer... Mysterium "...was largely derelict waterfront that served as the underbelly of the West Village. Great place to find heroin and transvestite hookers."

Of course this album will be remembered by many Auckland folk as the one that gave the name and theme tune to Murray Cammick's fantastic radio show on Radio 95BFM, Land of the good groove, on Monday nights. Murray hosted that show from 1983 to 1993. Listen to his interview with BFM reminiscing about that time, recorded for their 40th Anniversary.

Adventures in the land of the good groove was reissued on CD in 2009, with a few bonus tracks, including an extended version of the title track.

Bonus - just found this song by Carly Simon, produced by Chic. Check the great photo of Nile and Carly both looking a bit spaced. As sampled by Tribe called Quest on Bonita Applebum.

Here's some great interview clips I came across with Rodgers from 2008, talking about the early days of Chic. In the first clip, he talks about the dramas of getting Dance Dance Dance, their first record, out. The only person at their record company that believed in them was the president of the company, who heard the record and said "Oh my god, it's a smash". And then Nile says what his musical partner Bernard's reaction to that was... I aint gonna give away the punchline, just watch it, it's funny.

Next clip... "We got turned down seven times for our first record, the eighth time is when we finally got signed... that I guess, was sort of a reflection of society. Record companies were racially divided..."

Rodgers talks about his early years...

Rodgers got introduced to hiphop by Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie, they took him to a hiphop as they called it, in the Bronx. He also talks about a gig Chic did with Blondie and The Clash at Bonds where Fab 5 Freddy jumped up onstage and rapped with them when they played Good Times.Which of course leads to Rappers Delight...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Music publisher sues Beck, Busta Rhymes, King Tee, The Heavy

Music publisher Drive-in Music Co is sueing Beck, Busta Rhymes, King Tee, Ninja Tunes and The Heavy to name but a few, over their use of a song by Dyke and the Blazers.From the Hollywood Reporter...

"In 1969, the funk band, Dyke & the Blazers, had its biggest hit, "Let a Woman Be a Woman And A Man Be A Man." The song was written by the band's front-man Arlester Christian. He assigned rights to the song to Drive-in Music Company. Two years later, Christian passed away.

"For forty years, Drive-in Music has enjoyed copyright title to the song, but hasn't taken much action. Until very recently. Soon after the commercial ran, Drive-in Music sued Kia, CBS, the NFL, ad agency David & Goliath, Ninja Tune Records and various other parties for copyright theft." Read more here.

The parties settled 3 months after the lawsuit was filed. The song by The Heavy has recently turned up in the movie soundtrack for The Fighter. Audio below of The Heavy and the original from Dyke and the Blazers.

Clearly this success gave Drive-In Music the idea to go after anyone who has ever lifted this tune, so some of the lawsuits they've filed relate to songs going back to 1990. Simple lesson - if you're going to sample something, get it cleared. Or it might come back to haunt you 20 years later.

Whosampled.com lists a bunch of hiphop artists who it says have sampled this tune, from Tupac to Stetsasonic to Public Enemy to DJ Shadow.

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, Sat Jan 22

Esther Phillips - Use me
Johnny Hammond - Higher ground
Lalo Schifrin - Macumba
Wood brass and steel  -Always there
Willie Bobo - LA descarga del Bobo
Camille Yarbrough  -Take yo praise
Mulatu Astatke - Yegelle Tezeta
Nas and Damian Marley - As we enter
Aim - Birchwood
Belleruche - Shudder and cry (playing at Splore City, on Feb 11-12 in Aotea Square)
Chico Mann - Harmonia
Project tempo - Tom tom dub
Dinosaur L - Go bang - Walter Gibbons mix
Adele - Rolling in the deep - Jamie XX remix
Resonators  -Sweet love affair - Cyentific remix
Roots manuva vs Wrongtom - Worl' a mine
Augustus Pablo - Cassava piece
Jah Batta - Informa (watch it)
Improvisators dub meets Iration steppas - Cornal dub
Funkmaster Flex and Ghetto celebs - Safe sex no freaks - Deep in Brooklyn mix
Supreme team - See Suite 
Treacherous Three - Heartbeat (have fun)
Diana Ross - upside down
Jean Jacques Perry - EVA
Nicola Conte and Gianluca Petrella - Tema per hifi
Lalo Schifrin - Black widow

Friday, January 21, 2011

R.I.P. Bobby Robinson

Robinson passed away late last week, aged 93. Oliver Wang at Soulsides remembers Robinson and his hiphop label Enjoy...

"I came to his hip-hop imprint, Enjoy, late in the game; in my “younger” days, I just assumed that anything released pre-Run DMC was old school schlock and then someone played me “Spoonin Rap” and my mind was blown.

Sugarhill, obviously, had the bigger rep and sales but while the Sugarhill sound in hip-hop’s formative years was loud, brash and fonky, the best singles I heard from Enjoy were the opposite: lean, sparse and funky. The secret was that Bobby had drummer Errol “Pumpkin” Bedward as his in-house producer, then still in this teens(!!!). Bedward and his band, Pumpkin and His Friends, produced the best of the early Enjoy singles including “Love Rap” b/w “New Rap Language,” one of the most potent A/B-sides I know from that era..."

Author Dan Charnas (The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop) remembers Bobby Robinson.

New York Times obituary here. Robinson was one of the first blacks to own a store on 125th Street in Harlem, a record store called Bobby's Happy House.

And here's Ego Trip's top ten Enjoy recordings, via Soulsides.

BigFM hit by big payout

Thane and Richard Kirby (Thane was involved launching GeorgeFM and ALT TV) announced plans last year to buy BigFM and were intending on launching BigtimeFM on May 1 2010. Never happened. Now a former employee has won $75,000 from them, after he worked for them as a radio manager for 5 months and never got paid.

Unpaid radio manager awarded $75,000 compensation

"A former radio manager fobbed off with false promises of pay has been awarded nearly $75,000 in compensation by the Employment Relations Authority.

David Gray was employed by Charity Works Trust in April last year and quit in August after not being paid at all during his employment.

Mr Gray was hired to manage the day-to-day business operations, and was preparing for the establishment of a new radio station, known as Big FM, his employer Richard Kirby was planning to buy through his company Winstone Investment Ltd (WIL).

Mr Gray approached Mr Kirby four times within a two month period requesting pay, and was turned back with a promise every single time.

Mr Kirby kept putting it off and requested Mr Gray's bank account information three times. In July, Mr Gray asked for payment for a fifth time and received no reply. Weeks later, Mr Kirby said he would pay Mr Gray the next day, but the money was never transferred.

During Mr Gray's employment, the purchase of the radio station was still pending. Mr Kirby told him the Trust and WIL was discussing funding possibilities with the Ministry of Social Development. In August, Mr Gray believed the purchase of the radio was unlikely, and with no payments made, he resigned."

Caddick report comment

There's been a sparsity of comment/reaction on the Caddick Report, an indepenedent look at the music operations of NZ On Air that was released just before Xmas. Timing of the release may have something to do with that, and it's also a lot to digest, at 158 pages. The NZ Herald's John Drinnan had a passing look at it, choosing to focus on the negative aspects, mostly.

NZ Musician's esteemed editor Richard Thorne weighs in with some thoughtful comments and analysis on the Caddick Report here. It's worth a read. A few excerpts below...

"... Most substantial among the first wave of changes will be the complete removal of album funding, the funding instead shifting to single tracks – in tandem with an allocation for music video making. Laxness of controls which favoured those already ‘in the system’ emerged as one of the greatest criticisms and eligibility criteria will be tightened across the board. Future funding will be weighted more towards emerging artists rather than established ones, and contractual aspects made more business-like.

"... A general dissatisfaction with the closed door approach of commercial radio to NZ music and the unbalanced influence of commercial radio PDs in deciding on what songs get funding is a recurring theme. Reallocated funding is sure to give greater consideration to a wider range of creative music which will inevitably benefit the bNet radio network.

"As Caddick observes, the slide of old media as a source of new music education is overstated by many, but irrespective a new and specific focus on gaining ‘broadcast’ results for Kiwi music online will need to be a future mandate for NZ On Air.

"This is a considerably better report than Caddick’s Phase Five review, with detailed backgrounding that includes the Broadcasting Act itself, explanation of intervention methods and costs, useful analysis of the music sector plus the author’s own observations. He includes direct quotes from each side of the spectrum, while frequently pointing out that large chunks of those interviewed didn’t know enough to comment. A glaring shortage of meaningful NZ industry-wide statistics is highlighted, while some of the statistical analysis of ‘Public Responses’ presented within the body of the report adds worthwhile insights to the abbreviated conclusions."

Deepgrooves - Sulata

Sulata had previously been in another outfit on Deepgrooves, called Colony. When that group imploded, she got picked up by Deepgrooves for a solo career. She appeared on several other Deepgrooves recordings for New Loungehead and Three the Hard Way (see earlier post).

Her debut album, Kia Koe, came out in 1996, and was produced by Simon Holloway, who also collaborated as songwriter with Sulata on most of the tracks. It's a laidback affair, not a million miles away from similar downtempo/acid jazz acts of the era, like Massive Attack or Incognito. It's also an album that didn't rely on samples, like most other Deepgrooves acts.

Musicians who played on the sessions include Nathan Haines, Dan Sperber (New Loungehead), Wayne Bell, Luke Casey, Rob Salmon (Urban Disturbance), Levani Vesasi, Gareth Price (Semi Lemon Kola, Slacker). It was recorded inhouse at Kaiun Digital by Chris Sinclair.

As I mentioned in the profile on Colony, following her solo work she was singing and performing  in Te Vaka led by her cousin Opetaia Foa'i. She's still involved in various musical activities, according to her bio on her employer's site.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Toy Love live

Simon Grigg has uncovered a 1980 live concert video of Toy Love and it's a wee beaut. Go see it on his blog here.

"Going through a bunch of old CD-Rs a couple of days back I discovered this 6 song live Toy Love set, which I worked out with the band was filmed at The Rock Theatre in Wellington in Feb, 1980. It’s a recording that was assumed lost but happily I seem to have had from some past trawl through TVNZ’s archives.

The recording was on an old UMatic I somehow had in a box and had dubbed onto disc a few years back. The sound and video may not be all that good but it’s still an amazing few minutes of live footage which leaves every other bit of footage I’ve seen to date in the dust."

Not many (facts), if any

There's a dubious piece of reporting on stuff.co.nz from Kirsty Johnston, with the headline "Scribe's music awards for sale". It's a woeful piece of reporting that basically says "Look, this famous Kiwi rapper is now on hard times! Lets poke fun at his fall from grace!" What a bunch of tall poppy CRAP.

So, are Scribe's music awards for sale? No. The story says a Christchurch pawnbroker, who refuses to use his full name (odd), is selling off five of Scribe's sales plaques, presented in recognition of sales of The Crusader album from 2003. Music awards get handed out at the NZ Music Awards, and sales plaques get handed out by record companies for sales. But hang on, he's only got four NOT FIVE plaques listed on Trade Me.

Johnston says she was unable to contact Scribe's management. How exactly she failed to reach any offical contact for one of the biggest selling NZ artists of the last ten years is beyond me. Last I heard, Scribe was managed by CRS Management, (headed by RIANZ boss Campbell Smith), the company responsible for the Big Day Out here. Not hard to find.

Johnston also appears to quote Scribe's Wikipedia entry, saying "Scribe, also known as Charles Gruar and Malo Luafutu..." That second name is correct, but quoting Wikipedia entries is never going to work out so good. He is NOT known as Charles Gruar. How many journos roll like this? Kirsty Johnston.

ADDED if you Google for Charles Gruar, you end up looking at this guy's Facebook page.

ADDED The wikipedia page for Scribe has been fixed (Charles Gruar ref is gone), but check this... "With the initial focus on the song "Stand Up", director Matua Murupaenga gave the video..." that should read director Chris Graham, not some kid from Gizzy.

UPDATED, Friday 20th - The Press has done a follow up story, interviewing the pawnbroker, who reveals his name as Shane Lilley. There's also a bit more detail there too behind the sale. Still no comment from Scribe or his management.

Here's TV3's news item on Scribe from last night's news.

Kirsty Johnston has posted a new story on this today - Strip club leads award bidding.
Also posted as Scribe's awards rocket up Trademe. Both repeat the error on Scribe's name, sourced from Wikipedia. This has been fixed.

EDIT - the headline on the first story has been changed from Strip club leads award bidding to match the 2nd story.


Wellington music site Musichype have just landed a $600,000 investment. They plan to use the money to open an office in Los Angeles, hoping to make inroads in North America. Musichype released the most recent recording from the Mint Chicks as a USB. From the Dominion Post...
"A Wellington-based website that connects bands with their fans is looking to take Kiwi music to North America after winning $600,000 in venture capital from the Rutherford Innovation Fund.

MusicHype is an internet platform that rewards music-lovers for promoting, talking about and spending money on their favourite bands and artists. The website has been operating for a year, and uses technology known as the 'Appreciation Engine' to track fans activity across social media and rewards them with merchandise, concert tickets and downloads.

"We can tell if a fan is tweeting about a band, becoming their friend on Facebook or watching them on YouTube and we can reward them for that," says MusicHype's Annabel Youens....

... Rutherford, a fund linked to Christchurch-based NZ Capital Strategies, says MusicHype's technology has the potential to be used in a wider sense. "We invested in MusicHype because the music industry has been disrupted by the internet and digital technologies," said NZ Capital Strategies director, and Rutherford Innovation Partner, Kenji Steven.

"Established business models are not providing adequate returns for record labels and artists, or satisfying experiences for fans," he said.

Full story here, from the Dominion Post

Deepgrooves - Jules Issa

Jules Issa. Photo: Sonoma Message. Published in Planet, 1991
Jules Issa's Diatribe cover was released on the Deepgrooves label in 1991 and featured Joost Langeveld (Unitone Hifi, Subware) on bass. It also came out as a single (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 these releases 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.

UPDATED August 2012 - I've now got a copy of this release, it came out as a mini album in 1995, seven songs and three dubs under the title Found In You. See full listing at Discogs.

I posted some of this info late last year, including the Diatribe original, hear it over here. Diatribe were contemporaries of Herbs, and recorded on the same label as them.

ADDED November 2012: the video of Dangerous Game, shot in 1992, director William Roberts.... I digitised this from the TV3 show Frenzy, voiceover by Kate Stalker, animation by John Pain, screened May 94...

ADDED August 2012: the Single Remix version of Dangerous Game, released in 1992....

Jules Issa biography (source: Multilingual archive, based on Wikipedia entry)

Jules Issa is an album recorded by Julie Ann Huhana Ryland. This album was released by Deep Grooves Entertainment when Jules was 25 years old.

Recording History

Her career started back with the band from Porirua called 'Styx and Shanty' and was co-writer for their album "Honey" She left before she could record anything with them, however her sister Barbara Ryland recorded and remained with the band until this album was completed.
Deepgrooves Entertainment saw the potential of this singer-songwriter and through 1993 to 1995 Jules and Deepgrooves made the album Found In You [track listing below].

She was nominated 'Most Promising Female Artist' and was granted 3 videos. She toured many countries performing songs from this album.

Today, Sony Entertainment has Found In You and one can often hear it playing on the New Zealand television programme 'Shortland Street'.

1 Prologue
2 Discomfort in their eyes
3 Found In You
4 Sweet Child
5 Growing Pains
6 No Rain No Shine
7 Don't B 2 shy 2 Love
8 Dangerous Dub
9 Tuffys Dub
10 Don't B 2 Shy 2 Love Dub

Jules' family information

Jules is a Māori descendant of Josef' Manuel and Charlie Ryland, who married Māori wahine (women). She comes from the Maori tribes Ngati Porou and Kai Tahu. Her father is Daniel Kopua Ryland and her mother is Hine Rungarunga Ryland. She is the 4th youngest of 14 siblings. She now resides in Auckland and has two children, Joshua Key and Whenua Key. She is an active member of The Twelve Tribes of Israel NZ and works in the New Zealand music industry to this day.

RELATED: Audio - Jules Issa - Found in you
Audio: Discomfort in their eyes and Tuffy Culture dub
Audio: Sweet child

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Prince and Sharon get down

Prince is doing s series of shows at Madison Square Gardens. Opening act for tonight's show was Sharon Jones and the Dapkings. They joined Prince for the encore - then Maceo Parker drops a sax solo. Jawdroppingly good. Thank you, magical internets.

And Mos Def was there in the crowd too, rather than in Auckland where he was due to perform this evening, before his shows were postponed due to illness of a key band member. Well, wouldn't you?

Deepgrooves - Anthony Ioasa/Grace

Baby You Know (Pacific Round House remix) is off the Deepgrooves compilation Deep in the Pacific of bass. Anthony Ioasa sings and plays keys and it's produced by Joost Langeveld at The Lab.

Anthony Ioasa was also part of the band Grace (also on Deepgrooves), along with his brothers Jason and the late Paul. They released an album (below) on Deepgrooves in 1995.

Jason says in the Youtube comments for this video below... "Firstly on behalf of myself, my late brother Paul and eldest brother Anthony- thanks for putting this video up. Really appreciate it. Yeah - back in those days no-one had ever shot in the museum before and it took a lot of harassing the managers to let us do it. We had to pay for a special overnight security guard."

ADDED: Hat tip to Simon Grigg for pointing me to this video from Desert Moon, from 1995, looks like it was shot at the venue on Queen St now known as The White House. What was it called back then? Spot the cameo from Bic Runga on BVs. She joined the live band Grace put together, along with Earl Robinson (The Chills, Peter Stuyvesant Hitlist). BVs on the album were sung by Caitlin Smith.

Also, Simon mentions on his blog that "there was a second album partially recorded for PolyGram, under the wing of Mark Tierney, which was equally glorious but suffered from the management mess that was Universal takeover of that company in 1998 and remains unheard." 

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, thebête 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.