Friday, March 30, 2012

Purple Jose

Joes Feliciano blazes away on Jimi Hendrix's Purple Haze, from 1985. Dude even drops the riff from MJ's Beat It at the end. Hat tip to Alan Holt.

This is my fave jam from Jose Feliciano, very groovy take on Beatles tune. I saw Mr Feliciano last time he played in Auckland in the mid 90s, it was downtown at a venue called Trillos, now long gone. I remember seeing Mikey Havoc race into the venue several songs after Feliciano had started. He dashed over to me and said "has he played Chico and the Man yet?" I replied "Yeah, that was his first song." Poor Mikey looked gutted. He loved that song.

Dub Terminator vs JStar

Free download over here, check this... tasty nz dub styles, remixed by UK producer JStar. Wicked vocal from Ras Stone.

Sir-vere ITFs 99

Scratch that itch

NZ ITF DJ Championship. By Peter McLennan, Pavement June/July 1999.

If all that scratching is making you itch, scratch the itch at the New Zealand finals of the International Turntablists Federation champs for hip-hop DJs in July and August.

Who’s got the skills to pay the bills? Always a pressing question. And if you’re a DJ, it’s one that will be answered at the New Zealand finals of the International Turntablists Federation Championships in July, when our best Djs will square off against each other for turntable supremacy and a chance to compete at the international finals in the United States.

‘’The ITFs were originally set up by Alex Aquino from San Francisco” explains Pavement hip-hop columnist and organiser of the New Zealand ITF finals, DJ Sir-vere (aka Philip Bell). ‘’He used to be the manager of the Invisibl Scratch Pikls, one of the best DJ crews on the planet. What happened was, the DMC champs put in a ban that the Scratch Pikls couldn’t enter their competitions because they were too good. They just kept winning every year.

“It’s the Q-Bert rule, so they can’t enter! And the DMC champs is only six minutes each. You do a routine and the judges decide who wins and that’s it. So they decided they’d have a battle version of it – DJs on DJs – and that’s the most ruthless competition to win in the world.

“For ITF, you do a three minute routine and out of all of them, they choose eight to go to the semi- finale’s continues Sir-vere. “And they do 30 seconds each, back and forth between each DJ, so you can directly diss the other guy in your routine, almost like a mini boxing match. You do two rounds, then two more, then the finals is three rounds. It’s way more dynamic. It’s super exciting to be there, it’s really hardcore, man! When we did it last year at [inner city Auckland bar)] Control Room, the crowd just went bananas, We’ve found that the standard of competition has got better each year.

“This year, I think they’ve finally got a grasp on it. In Wellington, they run them monthly, as a semi-battle, to get them into the form of them,

"This is the year we break through because, in the past, our winner would go to Australia and battle for the Australasian title, whereas we don’t do that now. We go straight to the world final because we’re to strong. Like in the final last year in Australia, there were three New Zealander’s and one Australian and the Australian won it. So I said to the guy in Aussie, ‘This is stupid, man! We’re obviously way stronger than you guys are.’ They wouldn’t want to hear that but that’s the truth, So I ended up doing a deal with the organisers and this year we’ll send the winner directly to the world final.”

Sir-vere has been to the world finals himself, travelling with NZ ITF champ DJ Raw from Wellington to San Francisco in 1997.

‘’It was pretty wicked, man!’’ exclaims Sir-vere, ‘’It’s exactly the same format but he was battling the world’s best. At the time, Raw was probably just slightly below the top four, whereas now he’s by far the best New Zealand DJ But he’s retired from battling now. It’s a real pity. He’d waste everybody easily, he’s so good. He got into the final 16 in the world. That’s awesome!

“The Wellington crew are so united and there’s such a huge DJ scene down there. Auckland is getting there but we’re two years behind them in organising ourselves. And I’m not saying two years behind them skillwise. But in organising a unified DJ crowd, Wellington is by far the best. They get together regularly. We have a unity problem in Auckland. And Wellington is so easy too, so central. In Auckland though, you’ve got P-Money from Papakura and, say, a whole bunch of guys here in central and it’s a long way out.”

Geographic problems aside, Sir-vere, former co-host of the sadly defunct Wreckognise hip-hop show on MTV with DLT, rates the local DJ chews very highly.
“Hip-hop here at the moment is pretty awesome,” he waxes. “Like on the True School hip-hop show [on Auckland’s 95bFM every Thursday night], we get all these guys to come up and freestyle on the mic. That’s going off every week.”

What is the attraction of the ITFs for Djs and crowds? “People like competitions, especially DJs,” insists Sir-vere. “I can’t think of how many times I’ve been to a gig and someone says, ‘Man, I can do better than that.’ With people who can scratch and mix, there’s an element of competition that will never go away. I just like the fact that we can represent Aotearoa New Zealand by sending somebody to the world champs.

“Initially, the reason I did it was because they had DJ Rockraida and he’s one of my favourite DJs I said I definitely want to get involved in that. I just wanted to do the gig with him, And then I realised that Rockraida was secondary to the fact that this was another way of advancing our local hip-hop scene, Look at it now. It’s awesome!”

The NZ ITF DJ heats take place in Auckland and Wellington in the first week of July. Guest DJ is Shortkut of the Invisibl Scratch Piklz. The New Zealand finals are held the first week ofAugust in Wellington, with a guest DJ to be announced shortly

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Half naked or infamous?

TV3 News is reporting that NZ band The Naked and Famous have been having words via Twitter with Cleveland rapper Machine Gun Kelly, saying he stole a sample of their song Young Blood. Unfortunately for TNAF, the rapper has written permission to use it from the band. Or maybe their management forgot to tell them?

"[TNAF posted] “This guy… – This ‘artist’ has never once thanked, acknowledged or even asked our permission to use ‘Young Blood’,” the band wrote on their Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr accounts.

The band has since deleted all online posts referencing the scandal, but not before MGK responded with a series of tweets.

“The band The Naked and Famous are the ones who cleared the song I sampled. I was paying hommage [sic] to them, not stealing, u f**kin idiots,” Machine Gun Kelly stated on his Twitter account.

@TNAF first and foremost, YOUR the ones who cleared the song in the first place. 2ndly I was referring to writing MY verses in that quote. I was actually a huge fan of yours and was paying hommage [sic] to yall by making a play off the name to describe my situation.

@TNAF yall deleted your tweet? Someone mustve showed u the paperwork of yall APPROVING that sample. Now apologize for ur bitchassness.”

ADDED Machine Gun Kelly also posted on Twitter :"I can't believe that weak ass group I was a fan of publically tried to make me seem like I stole their song last night... I have documents of The Naked and Famous giving us permission to SAMPLE their song, hence my version: Half Naked and Almost Famous."

UPDATED: Thom Powers of Naked and Famous has posted a clarification on their website: "When the Machine Gun Kelly work which samples our song and recording “Young Blood” first appeared online, it hadn’t been cleared by us. In fact we hadn’t even been approached about it. That was what I was referring to in my initial tweet. But, yes, our representatives did then work out a deal that permitted the use.

I do apologize for any confusion I might have caused. What I should have tweeted was:

“This artist has never personally thanked or acknowledged us for the use of Young Blood. He states he wrote this song -

ADDED: A commenter on TV3's story notes: "As found on the back of the Half Naked and Almost Famous EP [by Machine Gun Kelly]: “Half Naked and Almost Famous -(R. Colson Baker, B. Allen, A. Fitts, T. Powers, A. Xayalith, A. Short) -Contains elements of “Young Blood” written by T. Powers, A. Short, A. Xayalith and published by Sprit Two Music, Inc. (ASCAP), Sony/ATV Music Publishing. Used by permission. -This track contains a sample of the recording “Young Blood” as performed by The Naked and Famous. Courtesy of Universal Records under license from Universal Music Enterprises. Used by permission”.


Picasso Core Jukebox reviewed by's Graham Reid

Hallelujah Picassos: Perfect (1995)

"Thanks to the enthusiasm of former member Peter McLennan, Auckland band Hallelujah Picassos -- once a fixture on the New Zealand music scene in the late Eighties to mid Nineties -- are being given their dues through a series of reissues.

First out of the blocks was the compilation disc Rewind The Hateman (reviewed here) and now there is an 11 track collection of their covers entitled Picasso Core Jukebox (which is available digitally here).

As mentioned previously, the HPicassos were pleasingly uncategorisable and often sounded like a collision between someone's classy reggae and ska collection and bus driven by a funkmaster containing a metal band. In fact when you think their peers were Supergroove, Head Like a Hole, Salmonella Dub and various hair-metal bands playing the "five bands for five bucks" nights at the Powerstation it all makes sense. Sort of.

They were like all of those (without the poodle hair) but sometimes hopped up on anger and most likely other things.

The Picasso Core Jukebox collection tosses out some very bent covers, among them Bo Diddley's Who Do You Love, Sixties garageband the Sonics' Psycho and Strychnine folded into one, Smokey Robinson's Tears of a Clown as reheard through Britain's The Beat, local singer-songwriter Greg Johnson's Talk in this Town . . .

In their own strange ways, they all made sense.

But this, a one-off previously unreleased run-through of The The's poised ennui of Perfect seems an unusual choice.

In the notes which accompany the collection, McLennan says they originally did it as a noisy grunge version as far back as '89 (that makes sense) but this version evolved over a day in the studio and what you hear is the first run-through with Bobbylon trying out a new drum pattern.

He thought they were just rehearsing it.

But folks, that was a take."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

That grates...

Australian band the Grates are fuming over Weetbix using a soundalike in their NZ tv ads. NZ Herald reports that " Kiwi fans of the group alerted them to the potential copyright breach after finding similarities to the 'Nothing Stops a Weet-Bix Kid' TV advert tune, which has been running for over 12 months.

Now, the cereal's manufacturers Sanitarium could face legal action over the dispute after the band's record label, Dew Process, confirmed to Australian media that they would look into it.

On the band's official Twitter account, The Grates, who consist of Patience Hodgson and John Patterson, wrote: "They asked us if they could record a version of this song for the ad. We said no. Can't believe they did it anyway, jerks.'' The tweet has since been deleted as they probe further."

FasterLouder note that "the Weet-Bix NZ Twitter account has been inactive since 2009 (yes, there really was a weetbixnz twitter account)."

According to the commenters in the Weetbix ad, the music was done by Franklin Rd Productions, composed by Jonathan Bree (of The Brunettes). Don't know if that's correct or not.

Compare the Weetbix ad with the Grates original and see what you think...


Brand new on Stonesthrow: 35 members, 41 tracks, 3 producers: Fuzzface (Geoff Barrow - Portishead), Katalyst, 7 Stu 7. Released on 2/LP, Digital and 2/CD with instrumentals.

Interview with Australian producer Katalyst about Quakers

MP3: Quakers "Smoke" featuring Jonwayne

MP3: Quakers "Fitta Happier" featuring Guilty Simpson & MED

Picassos - Groove Guide review

"I’ve always been a sucker for a good cover version, but suspicious of an entire album's worth. The willfully eclectic Hallelujah Picassos have cobbled together a range of favourites recorded over the last 20 years, and their dub/thrash remains incomparable, if somewhat of a mixed bag.

The James Brown, Bo Diddley and Smokey Robinson tributes are all dementedly worthy ...  the extensive e-booklet is jam-packed with behind the scenes insight into each songs genesis, and hearing them deliver an angry and evil take on ‘Air’ by Head Like A Hole (who have previously made the Picasso’s ‘Hitskin’ entirely their own) is worth the price of admission alone."

By Chris Pole, Groove Guide.

Available from Amplifier, iTunes and Bandcamp...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Breakers wax

Photo: Jono Rotman

Facts Of Wax.

Story by Anna Thomson. Published in Pavement magazine, June/July 2000.

Breakers wax, a label dedicated to bringing New Zealand electronics to both local and international audiences, is a Wellington-based record label catering for the New Zealand breakbeat genre, including hip-hop, trip-hop, ambient and drum&bass, The Breakers Wax label was officially launched in July 1999 by Jo Pewhairangi and Steven King.

By November, the pair had two artists signed - Overwash vs Megalon and 5OHz (AKA Jeremy Goer) - and by the end of the year, their debut release, the Overwash vs Megaton 12-inch vinyl single, was selling in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Not bad for a fledgling label with designs on the international music market.

The first few months of Breakers Wax were feverishly spent trying to build networks in New Zealand, finding vinyl-pressing plants and distribution networks in the UK. One of the labels greatest achievements is signing 5OHz, who will release a 12-inch vinyl single at the end of the month. Then Pewhairangi and King's goal is to release and support as many local producers as possible on a Breakers Wax compilation. Earlier in the year, they called for submissions for the compilation from breakbeat musicians and were flooded with demos.

Pewhairangi took a wine-tasting approach to the selection process by playing the demos (minus any identifying labels) to a panel of experts handpicked for their roles and wide interests in the music industry.

"We had the submissions white-labelled and got the panel to judge." says Pewhairangi. "We wanted to choose the tracks on the merits of the music."

With the 50 original tracks submitted now culled to just 16, Pewhairangi and King say that what has brought them the most pleasure putting the compilation together is that the bulk of the tracks are mostly from musicians who are unknown and unsigned, So what's coming up next for Breakers Wax? "The submissions for the compilation have allowed us to identify producers we'd like to do a 12-inch release of, which we find really exciting," says King.

"One great thing about what we do is that because we sell the majority of our releases overseas, it doesn't matter if you are 'world famous in New Zealand' or not. The worldwide market responds to it purely on the merits of the music. We hope this encourages people to keep producing and working on what they do."

Pewhairangi agrees. "Some people say, 'Why do you bother with the music industry?' But it's a multi-billion dollar industry and we want to be a part of it. We've already made inroads establishing our label overseas and we want to cater for a specialised market in New Zealand".

I've digitised the vinyl or both tracks and uploaded them to Youtube so you can check them out. Listen below. Apopo is a very cool tune, slightly bent breaks.  

The Lions x Stonesthrow

Dub version of the title track from their upcoming Stones Throw album. Their debut on Ubiquity was a tasty slice of dirty old reggae, and their cover of Think by Lynn Collins was dynamite. Looking forward to this newie. 

"All the guys in The Lions grew up on classic Jamaican records so since we began we have wanted to give our records that same edge and roughness that we grew up hearing on LPs by The Upsetters, Soul Syndicate, The Rockers Band and Roots Radics. The rhythm section was all recorded to tape, the Hammond buzzed a little, fuses blew and good mistakes were left in. We basically made the dusty reggae soul LP WE have been wanting to hear for years." – Dan Ubick (ex Breakestra,producer) 

Download MP3 – The Lions - This Generation (Dub)
Download free via iTunes – The Lions - This Generation (Dub)
Website – The Lions

Cian flashback

Photo: Glenn Hunt

By Stephen Jewell. Published in Pavement magazine, August/September, 1999.

When the second summer of love first exploded in Britain in 1988, many New Zealand musicians, from Benny Staples to Jed Town, chose to base themselves in London, the epicenter of the burgeoning dance music scene. Hereford-born Cian O'Donnell, however, chose to travel in the opposite direction, ending up in Wellington, where, ironically, he was first introduced to the art of Djing.

O'Donnell left England at age 18 on a world trip which took in the American west coast and Australia before he arrived in Wellington with only $17 in his pocket. Fortunately, within a day of his arrival, O'Donnell found himself a flat and a job in a record shop. ''The DJing side was just something I fell into," reflects O'Donnell.

''A friend of mine, who is basically my inspiration, a guy called Koa, he saw my record collection and said, 'Look, you've got to buy some turntables.' And I was like, 'Well, maybe. He then went out and found someone who was selling some second- hand Technics. He basically conned me into buying them and moving in with him so that he had decks at his house."

After forming the Funky Monks with Mu, Leon and Matt Morrell, O'Donnell became a fixture in the Wellington music scene before shifting to Auckland a couple of years ago to take up a residency at the Khuja Lounge.

''The big difference between Wellington and Auckland, because of Auckland's actual size and how it's structured, is that there is a lot more interaction between the actual DJs,'' he muses. ''People seem to be a bit precious about what they're doing. A lot of things in Auckland don't turn me on. A lot of people ask me why l don't do more gigs and why I stay at the Khuja Lounge but I can actually nurture something at Khuja.

Auckland is so dominated by house and drum & bass but I like to feel that, through Khuja, I've offered an alternative."

O'Donnell has made quite a name for himself with his Latin-tinged house sets but is quick to point out that there is a lot more to his music than Basement Jaxx-style beats. ''People think I've been playing Latin the whole time, which definitely isn't the case," he asserts.

''I'm totally open-minded. I'll spin the whole musical spectrum over the course of an evening if I'm given the chance. I especially like playing music which is a fusion of lots of different bits and pieces. You can't call it world music but there's a lot of music coming out with traditional rhythms or instruments internalised with beats. What I play is such a big melting pot of everything. One minute you can be listening to phat beats or Latin, then it could go into breakbeat. But I like to think that it always flows.''

O'Donnell recently left New Zealand on a world trip which will take him to London and the year 2000 carnival in Rio before returning to New Zealand next year. But first up for O'Donnell is San Francisco, where he will DJ with Tom Thump from Love, Haight and Ubiquity. ''San Fran' is my kind of town," declares O'Donnell, ''especially with its musical background. It's got its roots firmly stuck in black music which is something the Funky Monks and I have always tried to promote".