Monday, September 28, 2020

Big Sideways, Miltown Stowaways , Ivan Zagni and more

Unsung Music was a record label listed on their releases as based at 54 High St in central Auckland. Active in the early 1980s, they were home to some very cool leftfield music happening around Auckland at the time.

Their releases came from a few collectives like Big Sideways, 3 Voices, Avant Garage or bands like Miltown Stowaways (featuring ex members of the Newmatics) and Peking Man.

I'm not sure how they did it, but the Miltown Stowaways managed to release 3 records in 1983, all on three different labels (Unsung, Propeller, Hit Singles).

Big Sideways kicked off in mid 1982, and grew out of a Labour Dept (now WINZ)-funded work scheme for unemployed musicians called the PEP scheme, which ran for 6 month stints. This collective served up a self-titled album followed by a 12" single on Unsung Music.  

Another track off the Big Sideways album, Conversation with a machine (written and sung by Blam Blam Blams' Mark Bell), featured on 'Unexplored – A Compilation Of New Zealand Recordings 1982–86' released on US label Strange Weekend Records in 1986.

 Guava is a wonderfully jaunty track by Ivan Zagni, who was also musical director for Big Sideways. Other members included Kelly Rogers and Sid Pasley (Newmatics), Jacqui Brooks (Freudian Slips), Paul Hewitt (Coconut Rough) and John Quigley and Phil Steele (The Bongos). Rogers and Pasley were in the Miltown Stowaways, along with Benny Staples, also ex Newmatics.

Zagni was born in Norwich, England in 1942, and sang as a boy chorister at Norwich St John the Baptist Catholic Cathedral.

He started playing guitar at age 12 and later  moved to London in 1964, working as a freelance session musician.

Zagni's Wikipedia entry says "In 1970 he returned to Norwich to study piano and composition. From 1971 to 1977 he was Choir Master at St John the Baptist Cathedral in Norwich where he composed a number of works for the Cathedral. He then returned to London, becoming increasingly involved in the European improvisation scene and spending six months in Amsterdam."

He moved to Auckland NZ in 1980 with his NZ-born wife and has worked as a freelance musician, teacher and composer. One of his first musical releases here was an EP in 1982 for Propeller called Standards, collaborating with Don McGlashan (Blam Blam Blam/Muttonbirds). He also played guitar on the track Call for help on Blam Blam Blam's album Luxury Length.

Wikipedia on Big Sideways: "They toured nationally with assistance from NZ Rail. Big Sideways continued without Zagni and released the 3-song 12" Let It Out with new members including Graeme Gash and Tom Ludvigson (Low Profile/Bluespeak). Justin Harwood (Coconut Rough/The Chills/Luna) also spent time in Big Sideways. They supported Split Enz on their 1983 New Zealand tour and were one of the last groups to play Mainstreet in Auckland.

"Big Sideways evolved into the more advanced Avant Garage. Zagni's work with Steve Garden (Low Profile) on the Avant Garage album and their subsequent collaboration 'A Selection of Trouble Spots' (1984) recorded in Basement Tapes, Garden's basement studio, set the scene for what would become Garden's label Rattle Records."

William Dart noted in 2005 that "In New Zealand, 20 years ago, he helmed Avant Garage, the hippest ensemble imaginable. The classical set knew cellist Amanda Hollins and bassoonist Mark McEwan, rock'n'rollers had grooved to drummer Ben Staples and guitarist Mark Bell, and cellist Pam Gray was a prominent Pramazon and well-known in politico-performance art circles."

Avant Garage started in early 1983 and was the second band put together by Zagni under the PEP scheme, after his time with Big Sideways. Members included Peter Scholes, Pam Gray, Benny Staples, Prasada, Mike Caen (ex Blind Date), Tim Mahon ( ex Blam Blam Blam) and Wayne Laird.

Zagni has also composed music for orchestra, film, tv, and dance performance for the likes of Limbs Dance Company.

Unsung Music at Discogs

Ivan Zagni - Musical Chairs with Andrew Clifford, RNZ, 2003

Ivan Zagni interviewed by William Dart, NZ Herald - 2005

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Ring The Alarm playlist, 26 September

Isaac Hayes -Walk on by 
Sir Isaac and the Doodads - Big dipper
Carla and Rufus Thomas - We're tight
Lynda Lyndell - Here am I
Dorothy Williams - Watchdog
The Emotions - From toys to boys
Sons of Slum - Right on
Jean Knight - Carry on
Staple Singers  -Respect
TSU Tornados - Play the music Tornados
Keni Burke - Rising to the top (AliOOFT edit)
Family Tree - Family tree (Norman Cook edit)
Quantic - Creation (Reflex edit)
Overproof Sound System - Watch what you put inna (G Corp version)
Adrian Sherwood - Stepping crowd
Toots and the Maytals - 54 46 was my number
Toots and the Maytals - Marching on
The Ethiopians - I'm gonna take over now
Skatalites - Coconut rock
Newmatics - Riot squad
Sound Foundation - Ram dancehall
Rhythm and Business - Deep groove (love theme)
Jules Issa - Dangerous game (descent into the bass mix)
Sola Rosa - Shine on
Recloose -Time is on your side
Jr Walker - Hip city pt1
Four Tops - You keep running away
Martha and the Vandellas - One way out
Little Stevie Wonder - Workout, Stevie, workout
The Originals - Goodnight, Irene
Marvin Gaye - Can I get a witness

Friday, September 25, 2020

New album 'Chasing The Sun' out from Sola Rosa

Out today on CD/LP/digital, from the mighty Sola Rosa: "The next musical chapter of Andrew Spraggon, aka Sola Rosa, has arrived with the release of new long player, Chasing The Sun, out now.

Five years in the making, and honed to perfection, the project was written and recorded between Auckland, London and Sydney and includes a heavy hitting line-up of vocalists and session musicians alongside the core Sola Rosa band. 

This sophisticated 12 track collection is bursting with classics in the making and features long-time Rosa associate and Streets singer, Kevin Mark Trail, Basement Jaxx’ long-term collaborator Sharlene Hector, UK reggae star Kiko Bun, London’s singer/songwriter Josh Barry, eclectic Neo-Soul singer Jerome Thomas, British reggae and dub MC vocalist Eva Lazarus, up and coming Australian artist Thandi Phoenix, plus Aotearoa’s own ex-pat vocalist Wallace and maverick Troy Kingi."

Chasing The Sun tracklist:

1. For The Mighty Dollar ft. Kevin Mark Trail & Sharlene Hector
2. Runnin’ ft. Shach Seven & Sharlene Hector
3. Something Good ft. Thandi Phoenix
4. You Don’t Know ft. Josh Barry
5. Chasing The Sun ft. Wallace & Kevin Mark Trail
6. Star to Star ft. Troy Kingi
7. Searching For Love ft. Kiko Bun
8. Shine On ft. Thandi Phoenix
9. No Idea ft. Jerome Thomas
10. So Many Times ft. Kevin Mark Trail
11. My Love ft. Eva Lazarus
12. Closing Statement ft. Wallace

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

DJ Raw interview (2009)

DJ Raw by DJ Sir-Vere, Back2Basics, vol 3 issue 18 Apr-Jun 2009

Wellington's DJ Raw is a pioneer. One of New Zealand's most experienced DJ's, his name comes up in any conversation about Aotearoa’s finest DJ talents of all-time. From his DJ titles, tutoring at the Whitireia DJ school, to his involvement with the Footsouljahs, Raw has always maintained lofty standards in all facets of his art, setting benchmarks for all that follow to aspire to.

When did you first start DJ?

I guess I started to buy music when I was at Intermediate, tapes mostly. [I] started messing around with records & stereo systems at 14, but got a proper setup - SL-1200 turntables and a BVL mixer - when I was 18.

What inspired you to start DJing?

Lots of things. I was into breaking but wasn't very good. I liked the vibe and feel of the music, but when I was 15 me and some college mates - Kosta RIP - used to go try our luck at trying to get into nightclubs. I had been to a few clubs and seen a few DJ's, then I came across a DJ called Tee Pee, and I have to say he was one of my biggest influences. He was the full package as an entertainer - with perfect beat mixing, scratching, rapping, and he could pop too. Plus he was full of information about artists, music and DJ techniques.

What was your first battle and how does it go?

1989 Numark PPD Wellington heat. I was shaking with nerves, and it was all over in a flash, but the encouragement that I got from people there was really good and I managed to make it through to the NZ finals. The biggest learning curve was trying to handle a pressure of being in the spotlight and remember the routine, because usually all you remember when you're finished is the parts that went wrong.

You won the Australasian title in 1997 - how difficult was it to win in Australia?

I can't say it was hard, and I can't say it was easy either. In competition you try to prepare the best you can, and it was probably the most time I’ve ever had to prepare. I knew to make the finals I would need 7 battle sets and I had about 12, all with the same amount of difficulty, so I had the luxury of being able to save some of what were my better sets for the semis and final. One thing I remember was that the guy that was looking after me in Sydney - Leo Tanio - said ‘these Aussie judges are corrupt - if you are going to win, you're going to have to blow them away’, which gave me the feeling [of what] I was up against from the start, and ended up being really good motivation.

Which title are you the most proud of?

Probably the 1997 Australasian ITF Champs, because it was an international title, and it was the one that took me to the ITF world finals, which was the first real world championships in a battle format. The 2000 New Zealand DMC Champs was also special too. Although I didn't enter every battle that I could of, [it] marked a run of 10 years undefeated in New Zealand for me.

What are your thoughts on the battle scene now? 

DJs need to get involved if they want to keep it going. A lot of DJs practice and say they're going to enter comps and then drop nuts when it comes down to it. I think a lot of guys don't want to enter until they are good enough to win, and when they don't win they don't enter anymore. Nobody is going to win their first time out, but just going in and trying your best is an experience that will set you up for better performances. All you have to do is look at the track record of all New Zealand champions - myself, Sub-Zero, P-Money, DJ CXL, Manchoo, Alphabet, Abbott and Impact - we have all had losses before going on to represent overseas.

What are your thoughts on Serato Scratch Live? 

You got to have it for you will be left in the dust by guys that couldn't even normally mix records and now do it all with visual aids. I was judging at the DMC NZ finals last year, and at the end they got Ned Roy to present first place and he grabbed the mic and the first thing he said was ‘F*** Serato, they are killing off vinyl!’ First thing I thought was ‘what a d***’ cause Serato was the main sponsor of the competition, and a lot of these competitions wouldn't happen without sponsor’s involvement - and second, for me it's almost the opposite. [Serato is] what’s keeping me on the turntables.

Before Serato I would do gigs with turntables and CDJs, and about 60% of the music I was using was on CD. Because if you wanted the latest tracks you could get them, burn them to disc and be playing them about three or four weeks before the vinyl even [hit] the stores. If anyone is killing vinyl it's the record labels. The price to manufacture and distribute vinyl around the world, compared to making and distributing an audio file to the ‘net and iTunes is a no-brainer. So, for me Serato is keeping turntables alive. For a working DJ it's the best - it makes life easy, and Serato just keeps getting better every update.

Most DJs I speak to cite you as a major influence, how does that make you feel? 

It's always nice to be recognised for your achievements, and humbling to think people have enjoyed what I do. I have always thought that you can see DJs on videos or on the ‘net but when you see a DJ doing their thing right in front of you with your own eyes, it's a different feeling of inspiration. I guess having been around for a long time, and played a lot of places [laughs]. Most of my biggest influences come from NZ.

Name your favourite DJs of all time

Internationally - Qbert, Roc Raida, Aladdin, Jazzy Jeff, Cash Money, Craze, Noise, J-Rocc, Total Eclipse. Locally - Manuel Bundy, Sub-Zero, DJ CXL, Manchoo, Alphabethead, DJ Manny (Sydney).

How much are you DJing nowadays?

Nowadays the DJ school is my full time gig, and it’s time consuming. I still like to play out as much as possible, but it’s more like a nice release rather than a financial need. I do a monthly show called Infamous Fridays, and Super Club is always a big gig. Recently I did some cool shows, like NZ Red Hot - that was a huge expo in the Philippines put on by the NZ Embassy and NZ Trade and Enterprise - that was awesome. [I] opened for Chris Brown and Rihanna in Wellington, did the closing ceremony of the Rugby Sevens in front of 38,000, and just finished DJing a play called Who’s Poppin with and actor friend Sopa Enari, and that won Pick of the Fringe Festival and will run again later this year.

How have you stayed relevant after so many years DJing?

I know you never stop learning when it comes to DJing. There is always a new scratch or juggle, so I like to try and understand the technique behind them and, although I don't practice routines any more, I still jam most days, even if it's just 10 minutes. I have also tried to stay proactive in the scene whether it's [by] setting up gigs or competitions [and] trying to make things happen for younger DJs. I think, after 22 years of spinning, music and DJing is just part of me.

What’s the future of DJing?

[It's] hard to say. Music is so easily available and technology changing the game, the future is pretty much down to how you connect the two creatively and technically. Video DJing seems the next step, but at the moment requires a lot of work and high specs on your hardware. Also, I don't think anybody [goes] to the club to watch TV all night.

Titles won by DJ Raw

1990 Wellington DMC Champion
1991 Wellington DMC Champion
1991 New Zealand DMC Champion
1993 MaiFM - Ruff House Battle for Supremacy Champion
1994 New Zealand Disco Mix Competition Champion
1997 New Zealand ITF Champion
1997 Australasian DMC Champion
2000 Central Region ITF Champion
2000 New Zealand DMC Champion

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Ring The Alarm playlist, 19 September

Opensouls - Rise up (Lewis McCallum remix)
Myele Manzanza feta Mara TK - 7 bar thing
Combinations - Freddy Fender
Moodswingers - Receed to flourish
Mala - Como Como (Theo Parrish remix)
Troy Kingi - Chronophobic disco
Harold Barrage - Things aint what they used to be
Lou Courtney - Skate now
Honeydrippers - Impeach the president
Barbara Acklin - Just aint no love
The Impressions - Fool for you
The Altons - When you go
Brenda and the Tabulations - California soul
Ray Barretto - Pastime paradise
Bobby Valentin - Yo
Roberto Roena - Ponte duro
Pigalle Connection - Church and casino
The Pro-teens - You gotta love this city
Troy Kingi - Through my venetians
Kahil El'Zabar - How can we mend a broken heart
Harry Beckett - Like you didn't know
Richie Phoe - Bumpy's lament
Reggie Stepper - Modelling
Marvin Gaye - Checking out (double clutch)
Nicole Willis and the Soul Investigators - Together we climb
The Clash - Overpowered by funk

Thursday, September 17, 2020

2000s sounds from Coco Solid, Emcee Lucia...

From the archives... early 2000s AK rap from Coco Solid, Emcee Lucia and others... hat tip to Martyn P for the link

"WWC was a short-lived collaboration between two musicians with experience in New Zealand’s alternative rock scene, Robert Lundon (guitarist, songwriter with Celine, Pit Viper), and Dale Cotton (drummer, producer for Dimmer, HDU and The Bats, among many others), and equally experimental visual artist Daniel Malone. In the early 2000’s they built a studio, wrote some music, and recorded a handful of tracks apiece with rappers Coco Solid and Emcee Lucia, and a couple with singers Hayley Hansell and Morgan. 

A few singles put out on their own label "Aoatearoa Records" got some radio airplay, and an album was anticipated but didn’t eventuate before WWC dissolved. Lundon went on to work with the legendary Dam Native and gangster rapper Erhmen, Cotton was part of the phenomenal success of Beastwars, and the two emcees went on to record great albums of their own (Coco Solid: Denim & Leather; Emcee Lucia: On The Cusp…).

Thanks to Covid-19-induced introspection and Cotton’s careful archiving, these early WWC tracks have recently re-surfaced, revealing an uncompromising and still remarkably fresh approach. Here collected together and available with some of the vintage artwork for the first time—Unreleased!"

New Sharon Jones covers collection coming

A few of these gems have been released as bonus tracks or the odd 45, like the fantastic title track, covering Kenny Rogers via Betty Lavette - scored that back when it came out in 2004.

But the one to check is the incredibly funky Prince cover, done for a tribute album (youtube clip below). The Shuggie Otis cover is sweet too. They used to do an amazing live version of Bobby Bland's Road of broken hearted men, wish that was here. Wonder if they ever recorded it?

From Daptone: "Often, in an effort to save the expense of licensing an original master from a major label, a music supervisor may request a song be re-created as closely as possible. Such was the case when a well-known bank asked the band to cut Stevie Wonder’s classic, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” for a TV commercial, or when Hank Shockley asked for a perfect replay of Bad Medicine’s funky instrumental, “Trespasser” for the American Gangster soundtrack.

Both “Rescue Me” and “In the Bush” were among the outtakes on the cutting room floor of The Wolf of Wall Street motion picture soundtrack, for which the band recorded several unused sides. “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” was not just a remake of the Kenny Rogers’ First Edition hit, but more specifically a near re-play of Bettye Lavette’s 1968 version, and was notably the very first recording done at the Daptone House of Soul studio in 2002. Likewise, the band’s replay of Gladys Knight’s “Giving Up” was specifically requested but unused by a producer who was confident he needed it to sample for a beat on a Dr. Dre album.

“Little by Little,” “Inspiration Information,” “Here I Am Baby,” and “Take Me with U” were cut for tribute projects to Dusty Springfield, Shuggie Otis, The Marvelettes, and Prince, respectively. The latter of which is a perfect example of the way the band was able to take a familiar tune and completely flip it on it’s head.

Of course, there were also many non-contracted covers over the years that the band cut of their own volition, starting with the complete re-invention of Janet Jackson’s “What Have You Done for Me Lately” on the their 2001 debut LP, Dap-Dippin’ with..., which convinced more than a few fans that Sharon’s version was in fact the original after a counterfeit news article surfaced claiming that Jones was suing Jackson for copyright infringement. Sharon’s heart-wrenching take on Bob Marley’s early Wailers ballad “It Hurts to be Alone” is a tender nod to the soul that Jamaica borrowed from the States in the early sixties.

Though the band has mostly built their career on a prolific catalog of originals, these forays into other artists’ compositions lay bare their gift for arrangement and the unmatched studio prowess that earned them their reputation as The Baddest Band in the Land."

Out Oct 23 on Daptone, digital.

I found this great 9 min intervew with Gabe Roth of Daptone from 2018 talking about the label's plans, a few years after Sharon had passed away. Check the wicked uptempo cover of 'Heard it thru the grapevine' 2 mins in...

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Dawn Raid interview by Kerry Buchanan, 2001

A Southside story.

Dawn Raid by Kerry Buchanan, Real Groove, May 2001

“Who can you compare Brotha D and me to?” says Andy Murnane (aka Y.D.N.A.), co-CEO of South Auckland hiphop label Dawn Raid Entertainment. “Can you compare us to Che and Kapisi, can you compare us to Master P and Russell Simmons, because they are two who built an empire? We aren’t just trying to build rap.”

Staunch words, but Y.D.N.A. and Danny Leaosavaii (aka Brotha D) can back it up. Similar to that old movie about a two-headed transplant, but in this case with one brain; the duo think and do the same. One’s Irish, the other Samoan, but that hasn’t got much to do with it - it’s more about community, pride and respect to the culture that nurtured them.

The seeds of Dawn Raid began in 1996, at Manukau Polytech in Otara, where the two met while studying for a business degree. “Brotha D sort of took me under his wing,“ explains Y.D.N.A., “he was already in Lost Tribe, and took me on tour with UPR [Phil Fuemana’s Urban Pacifika Records]. I was only 16, I'm only 22 now, we started evolving from there.”

That tour and the subsequent interest in Lost Tribe contained certain lessons, recalls Brotha D. “ The trip with UPR taught us heaps about the industry and the bullshit... lots of cats took it for the one side and didn't actually see the full picture of it all. We evolved from that tour, because we saw it and knew we could further it, we started to look at it like a business straight away. I saw that with Lost Tribe, so many only had so much power. Here's me coming from a background of where I don't let anybody step to me and control my shit... and yet I'm in this music thing and these people are fucking stopping me.”

Control and ownership in all areas, be it music or business, was the key concept learnt by the duo. Around this time, several entrepreneurial opportunities presented themselves,and Brotha D and Y.D.N.A. were quick to capitalise. Firstly, there was a discount phone card deal, referred to as “Island Life.” The arrangement offered cheap calls to the ISlands with the ability to bypass the toll bar. Then came the clothing business, an idea of Y.D.N.A.’s.

“We had talented people like Johnny Sagala who had made the original Lost Tribe t-shirt. What happened was that me and my friends said ‘I can make those shirts, let’s do it.’ We all just had a dab at it all.”

At that stage it was just that, dabbling. To pay the rent, Brotha D was running a bar in South Auckland while Y.D.N.A. was working at Auckland Airport, pumping bags. Both were keen for a concept to work on, something to mold, something to build on. Y.D.N.A. went looking in Australia, but missed all the acton his homeboys were enjoying in Aotearoa.

“These guys are getting famous,” he remembers. “I’m ringing up and they’re like ‘you missed that and this.’ I cut my trip very short, knocked on the garage door in Otara… I’m back.”

And not just to hang out. Y.D.N.A. returned with a new idea to put into reality. “That next week I came to Brotha D and said ‘bro, I got a new company called Dawn Raid.’ That was the one.” Other names were considered, says Brotha D, but with the political and emotional resonance of the name , in relation to the notorious dawn raids carried out by the Government on Polynesian families in the 1970s, the name stuck. “It meant a lot to me, because it actually happened to my family. I explained to Andy all about that, and when I used to write my rhymes and shit, he knew it off by heart and he knew what those rhymes meant to me.”

By 1998, although UPR remained a going concern at the time, Dawn Raid was the duo’s first priority. Initially they planned to do a mixtape with other established acts, but decided instead to focus on the fledgling rappers around the local neighbourhood. ‘Why not use them and bring up some raw and unknown talent’ was the general idea.

Y.D.N.A. picks up the flow; “We started to apply for grants, but we didn’t get any. I said to D ‘fuck it, let’s go in the paper and say we’re doing this shit. So we said we were going to make an album… we used the Lost Tribe name, had a photo of him and me - Lost Tribe looking for talent.”

After Brotha D and Y.D.N.A. conducted a bunch of interviews in their garage and unearthed some skilled performers, they secured a mere $2000 from Manukau City Council to start the ball rolling. Soon both realised the only way to see the proposed album through to fruition was if they hooked up with a recording studio sympathetic to the logistical and financial problems they faced, and believed in what they were attempting to do.
The duo approached Kev Rangihuna, owner of One Luv Studios in Grey Lynn. “We said to him, ‘Kev, we aint got shit…’ he helped and we owe him a lot. Nothing but love there.”

Dawn Raid purchased a truck to transport the kids from out south to the central city to record, and the end result was a great album made with little money and a lot of hard work. Even more than that, Southside Story made a statement. From the map of Otara on the front to the homeboys on the back, it was infused with geographical pride.

“The thing about the South,” says Brotha D, “for so long they just be bagging our shit. So why can’t we come out and say ‘well we’re quite good too… we’re good at our music, our clothing, we’re good at this and that.’ It’s been a massive learning curve for my people, for those who stay there.”

Since the release of Southside Story in 1999, Dawn Raid has consolidated and grown. Nowadays there’s the successful Cocoland clothing label, a clothing store, a hair salon and a new recording studio, all based in Papatoetoe. Although the Dawn Raid crew maintain control over every aspect of their business, the hustle continues. Brotha D and Y.D.N.A. are only two papers away from securing business diplomas, and there’s at least one more company in the pipeline (look forward to Infamous Jewellery for a little bling bling in your life).

In the meantime, the release of Southside Story II is imminent, a compilation that will feature local artists like the Deceptikonz, Ill Semantics, 275 and Kaos, plus several independent American hiphop acts that Y.D.N.A. met on a trip to the US last year. “It was a case of, I’ll distribute it in my hood, you distribute it in your hood,” he says. Dawn Raid also did the mad hookup with acts like Boo-Ya Tribe, JT Tha Bigger Figure, and Daz Dillinger, to arrange distribution of their recordings in New Zealand.

Brotha D and Y.D.N.A. both agree that the sense of pride in their success harks back to the hard work they invested in the early stages of Dawn Raid. Both are hardcore and socially motivated on this score. “We’re ruthless in business, ruthless and respectful,” says Y.D.N.A. “You’re in our house, motherfucker… people ask us ‘how did you fund this shit?’ We fucking broke our arse.”

Brotha D: “We're not saying we want all the money and the Mercs and shit. We’re saying, get your brother involved, get your cousin involved, we gave you this piece… do you know what that means? That’s a piece I could have kept to myself, but I gave it to you so that we can build together. We are just trying to get ours, like everybody else… but with what we love doing.”

Which is of course, hiphop. Not just part of it, but the whole matrix of cultural concerns. Dawn Raid represent the importance and influence of the culture. Having met and played alongside Bone Thugs N-Harmony, Naughty By Nature, and Snoop Dogg in Auckland, and taken trips to Compton in south central LA, Brotha D and Y.D.N.A. know that the links between Black America and themselves are stronger than their relationship to white New Zealanders. Dawn Raid live the life and know the truths.

“If you look at the hiphop coming from the States,” says Y.D.N.A., “they accept it as a way of life. And you get a kid like me, who from the moment I was born, all I heard was rap, I was brought up in it. I would say that Dawn Raid, the way we are, are the only people in New Zealand who live like hiphop, and we go out and say that’s what we do every day. My kids know it.

“We can say we got the shops, did the clothing, made our own label to wear, and be proud that it is hiphop to us - that we made our own company that evolved around hiphop. We look at it as a hiphop business and life. We don’t go out and say ‘it’s hiphop, we want two turntables and breakdancing.’ Fuck that! We say ‘hip hop and life.’and that’s the life we live. It’s the Polynesian life, me and D say we are all Polynesians, we’re all ‘nesians.”

This is hiphop 2001, Polynesian style. Beautiful.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Ring The Alarm playlist, 12 September

Recloose - Aint changin'
DNA and Suzanne Vega - Tom's diner remix
Patrice Rushen - What's the story
Funk Inc - Sister Janie
Eru Dangerspiel - The holdup
Dur-Dur Band - Jaceyl Mirahiis
Christoph El Truento - Liquid sunshine
Issa Bagayogo - Filaw (Senor Oz remix)
Smith and Mighty - B line fi blow
Gregory Issacs - Mr know it all
Unitone Hifi - Guiding star (MPLA burial)
Boozoo Bajou - Camioux (melodica cut)
Ray Barretto - Acid
Pharaohs - The Pharaohs  love y'all
Marvin Gaye - Got to give it up
Dele Sosimi & Medlar - Gudu gudu kan (radio edit)
William Onyeabor - Atomic bomb
George Clinton - Do fries go with that shake?
Darondo - Get up off your butt
War - Good good feeling
Jimmy Castor Bunch - King Kong pt1

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

The Kingites interviewed (2008)

The Kingites - photo by Chris Hoult/Back2Basics magazine

Following on from the Dam Native interview from 1997, here's some interviews with The Kingites, a group active in the 2000s in AK - their co-leader was Hone Manukau aka H-ONE, formerly of Dam Native. Few sound clips too, check their wicked tune Polynesians Panthers...

Long live the King

By Martyn Pepperell, photo by Chris Hoult. Back2Basics, Apr - Jun 2009

It's fitting that Hone Manukau aka MC H-ONE chose to call his hip hop reggae rock band The Kingites, given his iwi’s connection to the concept of Kingitanga - a figurative yet powerful ideology that was initially birthed to restore kingship and unity to all Maori in the wake of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. Also called the Maori King Movement, the idea of Kingitanga continues almost two centuries later as a symbolic monarchy that is today vested in Tainui iwi.

Guided by Tino Rangatira, a philosophy he describes as “self-determination, which [for me] is just [the whole] general get on with life, stay strong, be positive, and all those good things [approach].”

H-ONE had his start in the music game with local hip-hop Pioneers Ruaumoko in the early 90s. Stints with ‘horrified’ hip-hop architects Dam Native and the legendary DLT, with them H-ONE played support for the likes of the Fugees and Public Enemy on their early visits to New Zealand. The singer/rapper/guitarist still cites PE’s Chuck D as a major influence on his lyrical content, style and approach as an MC.

Next, Hone found himself living in various cities overseas, as well as touring Europe with one of Maoridom’s most internationally respected artists, Moana Maniapoto, and her backing group, The Tribe. These experiences led him to understand Aotearoa’s musical point of difference from a global perspective.

“Maori culture is what we’re known for. Like it or not, it's a unique identity to the world,” H-ONE states. “If you go to New York City and say you're Kiwi, Maori, they love you. We don't have war, we don't have guns... I went with Moana, and it was probably ‘just another Maori group’ [in New Zealand]. Over there it's fresh, and they want it to escape from their European doldrums. Dreams of the Pacific Paradise [laughs]! I'm proud of it! Mana, integrity, it's a gift, and we've got special things in this country - and it's home.”

Today H-ONE is one of several co-leaders of The Kingites. He’s seen the act survive multiple line ups since its inception, as well as the odd hiatus. Currently based out of Auckland, today's Kingites are Tony ‘Rahx’ Rako (vocals), MC Ren (vocals), Mike Forbes (bass), Steve Forbes (guitar), Jason Maze (percussion), Junior ‘JR’ Paea (keyboards) and Ben Stockwell (drums). It's a line up that has proven rock solid through regular nationwide tours and festival appearances over the last few years.

Soon after releasing their self-titled debut ep in 2005, The Kingites found themselves in discussions with Dave Allan, the man behind the well-loved local roots reggae compilation series, Conscious Roots.

“[Allan] came to us and said ‘are you guys keen to put a song on Conscious Roots 2?’,” Kingites guitarist Steve Forbes recalls. “Then he paid for us to do a track at York Street [Studios]. So we did a song for Conscious Roots 3, ‘Kingites Sound System’. Then he said to us ‘if we can [continue to] work together, I'll pay for you to do an album’. Out of that... we ended up doing our album through Allan's label, A Moving Production.”

Musically, the first obvious themes that emerge on ‘Kingites Sound System’ are reggae and hip-hop. However, as Forbes explains, a lot more is going on in the mix. “Me and my brother [Mike Forbes], we're real [old school] rockers,” he tells. “We come from metal and rock and all that. Jay, the keyboard player, he comes from jazz and R&B. [We come from] all these different f*****g [musical] schools of thought. We've never actually sat down and said this is what we're going to do. It's always been the case of, f*** that sounds cool, that's a song!”

Lyrically, The Kingites have a political/social bent - unsurprising for a band of Public Enemy aficionados, and especially considering the rich tradition of protest music H-ONE has come out of.

“The overriding theme [in the Kingites’ music] is consciousness... political situations and stuff like that,” he reflects. “It's not exactly love songs, it's the times that we're living in. [Barack] Obama, how conscious is that? You've got a black president! It's a massive turning point in history of the world... so what's hip? Do you know what I'm saying? You can't get more f*****g hip than that bro. That s*** is real, it's happening. This is relevant.”

Crafting the Feathers of Peace

By Andrew Hughes, NZ Musician, December 2008/January 2009 (Vol:14, No:7)

Having come to the attention of the dub/reggae/roots community with the release of a self-titled EP in 2005, and then on the Conscious Roots compilations in recent years, The Kingites are finally releasing their first full length album. Guitarist Stephen Forbes talks to Andrew Hughes about 'Feathers of Peace', where they came from, trying to provoke awareness with their conscious lyrics and defying genre conventions.

 It seems, these days, that when describing the general sound of a band, one must assign their sound to a box, or compare the group to famous historical counterparts. Groups with a diverse sound and range of influences can pose a problem when one endeavours to achieve this basic descriptive task. This is one category The Kingites and their new album 'Feathers Of Peace' fit neatly into.

You can't really label the eight/nine-piece as reggae, rock, hip hop, dub or soul. They derive their sound from each of those genres while creating a musical plethora of experience and good taste.
"We've been loved by that whole reggae scene because of the Conscious Roots compilations that we've been on," Steve explains when we sit down for a chat at K' Rd's Thirsty Dog. "With The Kingites we've never sat down and said, 'This is what we play', we all come from these different backgrounds and if we play something and think it sounds phat then it becomes a track."

Hone 'H1' Manukau created the band in the late 1990s, initially seeing it more as a social activity. As a pick up band, the group featured many musicians coming and going, as Steve elaborates.

"I met Hone in 2001 and just played half a dozen gigs with the band at the time. We bumped into each other about two years later in 2003 at Galatos, and we were watching this band and thinking, 'Why aren't we up there doing this?' So Hone said, 'Well why don't you get the band going again?' So it's really been since 2003 that we've been together."

Since then the band have gone on to release several singles along with an EP in 2005, and toured extensively throughout the country, involving themselves in festivals like Parihaka and Soundsplash among others.

The band members all have stand-out credentials. Vocalist Rahxx has worked with West Auckland-based hip hop label 833 Records. Drummer Daniel Harawira is a member of Unity Pacific while also working with Che Fu and 12 Tribes of Israel. The band's newest member MC Ren (aka The Infinite Rensta) is a solo hip hop artist in his own right.

H1 was also a founding member of Dam Native who played support for acts such as Ice-T, The Fugees and Ben Harper during the '90s. His musical experience and local knowledge is thorough and enlightening. Lyrically Hone handles much of the album's songwriting duties and incorporates strong messages, none resonating more than on Rampant, "… they're dying overseas, from friendly fire and blood money…". He makes references to the Polynesian Panthers, the global food shortage, the influence of the mass media on society and the continued struggle of day-to-day living. His lyrics are thought provoking, piercing and emotive.

David Allen, who runs A Moving Production, (the label to which The Kingites are signed), met the group while compiling tracks for the 'Conscious Roots' series of reggae compilation albums. Allen offered the group the opportunity to record an album at York St. in June 2007, as Steve Forbes remembers.

"The guys at York St, the assistant engineers, Simon Gooding and Ben Mayer were really good to work with. Nic Manders was the engineer, he's really professional, I couldn't top Nic at all, he certainly knows his stuff. He worked on Katchafire's last album, he did Unity Pacific 'Into The Dread' and 3 Houses Down 'Dreadtown'".

"It was all done in a week, and you lose a day setting up equipment… so basically we did it in about four days."

"Most of it was cut live and Hone and the other two vocalists did scratch vocal tracks with SM-58 mics. We cut all the rhythm tracks live, bass, drums, guitars and keys. Then all we went back and overdubbed was the vocals, guitars and keyboards really. I did all my guitar overdubs in 45 minutes; all the leads and everything are all cut live."

'Feathers Of Peace' was mastered at the world-renowned New York studio Masterdisk by Andy Van Dette.

"Dave had done Unity Pacific and 3 Houses Down and their albums had all been mastered at Masterdisk Studios and Dave was looking at the options over here and over there [in New York]. The difference was only a couple of hundred dollars so we got it mastered over there. Masterdisk have done everything from Deep Purple to Brooke Fraser," Steve continues, saying the mastering gave the album a "broader stereo sound" and it is "louder" than many other albums, giving it more definition.

Notify, the group's first single received solid airplay on Kiwi FM and made its way into their weekly Top 10. A video was created with no additional funding that features still photos and footage of the band on tour. Inspired by a video for The Roots, the band sought a cost-effective solution, and found one in mutual friend Gabor Kukucska's computer.

"I showed Gabor the video, so we uploaded 24 to 25 CDs of images onto his hard drive and totally overloaded it and then he set up this montage."

Another area of strength for The Kingites is their live performance, of which we will no doubt see more over this summer. Encompassing experienced musicians playing instruments of historical significance such as a "Gibson Les Paul double-cut running off a Vox AC30 and Marshall JMP50 head", and a Fender Rhodes, fellow musicians can't help but be intrigued. It's hard to deny the diversity the band can offer in a live setting.

"We've got more tack live than we have on the album," says Steve. "Some people come to see us as a reggae band, and we're not. There's all that hip hop on it, there's rock influences, so it's pretty electric. We always goes for a pretty cranking live sound."

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Listen to AK89 In Love With These Rhymes

Notes from Nick D'Angelo: "In 1989 Auckland University radio station ('college radio') 95bFM released a compilation rap cassette called "AK '89 - In Love With These Rhymes", made up entirely of unreleased local artists from Auckland, New Zealand (Aotearoa).

The title was a riff on the seminal NZ punk compilation "AK '79" (Ripper Records) and the classic NZ alt-music compilation "In Love With These Times" (Flying Nun Records)

Some of the tracks submitted were from unsigned artists, and others were neighbourhood rappers selected from the BFM Rap Contest, held to find a local support for Run DMC. The latter were recorded in BFM's production studio by Mark Tierney (Strawpeople) and Eddie Chambers (Nemesis Dub Systems and Unitone HiFi).

The BFM radio jingles included on the compilation feature Fiona MacDonald (Headless Chickens and Strawpeople), Otis Frizzell & Mark Williams (MC OJ & the Rhythm Slave), and the scratch talents of Pasene Faifua.

NB: these Soundcloud recordings were transferred from a 25 year old cassette tape so audio quality may vary! And whilst the influences on the rappers are obvious, we felt it was important to get them into the studio and allow them a chance to demo their talent.

All rights reserved by original artists/copyright holders © For commercial use enquiries please contact me, Nick D'Angelo.

Saturday, September 05, 2020

Techtones reissued

I saw RNZ Music pay tribute to Chris Knox on Instagram the other day in honour of his birthday. They highlighted some key moments, like the Enemy, Toy Love, and him getting a four track recorder and making records with the Clean and the Verlaines to name but a few of the FNun rabble.

It reminded me that the first album recorded with his four track wasn't a Dunedin band, but Auckland act the Techtones. Their one and only album 'TT23', from 1981, has just had a digital reissue.

Knox got his four track reel to reel (a Teac A3340s) in 1981, after getting a $2500 inheritance after his Nanna passed away. It was being sold off by Mandrill studio, where Toy Love had recorded, and he recalls it was a guy named Dave [Hurley] who played in bands in the 60s who owned it. Knox can't remember his surname tho.

He did a bunch of recording experiments to learn how to use it, which his flatmate Doug Hood iniststed he release as his first solo album, Songs for Cleaning Guppies (1983). He told that story to The Wire in 2008, here:

Audioculture's Gary Steel says "It’s hard to imagine in the 21st century, with every other musician working from their home studio, but in 1979 there was only one way to record an album [for Toy Love]: In the often oppressive environment of a "real" studio. It cost a bundle of cash, and an inexperienced group had to do everything the producer and engineer told them to do. It was an atrophied situation with the wrong hands holding all the power.

Knox – with the help of Doug Hood and a few others – changed all that, when he took a 4-track recorder down to the South Island [in 1981] to get their essence on the go. Roger Shepherd formed a record company around the results of those recordings, Flying Nun, and the rest is history."

A new profile of the Techtones has gone up on Audioculture: "Despite being offered a five-album recording deal by CBS who, earlier in 1981, released the single ‘State of Mind’, the group decided to go it alone. Most of TT23 was recorded by Doug Hood and the band on the legendary Teac 4-track tape recorder belonging to Toy Love’s Chris Knox. The “studios” included a dilapidated Auckland hall [on Bond St] where The Clean would later employ the same 4-track, and Hood, to record the revered Boodle Boodle Boodle EP."

Ring The Alarm playlist, 5 September

Dream Warriors  -Ludi
Super Cat - Dolly my baby - (Bad Boy extended mix)
Mad Lion - Girlzz
James Brown - The Bose (Geisha Boys mix)
Bobby Byrd - If you don't work, you can't eat
Maceo and the Macks  Cross the tracks
Lyn Collins - Rock me again and again and again
Marva Whitney - I am what I am
The Gripsweats - Ziggy's walk
Jurassic 5 - Swing set
Guts - And the living is easy
Aronas - Culture tunnels
Architeq - Birds of dub (Architeq version)
African Head Charge - Heading to glory
Adrian Sherwood and Lee Scratch Perry - Kingston tower
Morwell Unlimited - Morpheus special (Kid Loco's block party mix)
Stinky Jim - Slim shrub
Dreadzone and Dubmatix - Dread lockdown
Bacao Rhythm and Steel Band - My Jamaican dub
Miltown Stowaways - Strong and true
Snooch Dodd and the Pro Teens - I flip my life every time I fly
The Altons - When you go (that's when you'll know)
Vicky Tafoya - Forever
Yandall Sisters - Watch out boy
Taka Boom - Middle of the night
Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam - Head to toe
Yellow Magic Orchestra - Computer games

Rick Bryant on Frank Sinatra (1998)

Sinatra and the final curtain - by Rick Bryant, Real Groove, January 1998

[As Real Groove went to press with its January 1998 edition, Frank Sinatra was near the end of his life, and the editor Chris Bourke put together a collection of memories of him by Clare Avery, Tom McWillaims, and this one, from the late Rick Bryant.]

No files on Frank

Until I was about 36 something, I deplored Sinatra. Not for his music, but because of what I thought he stood for, bogus American low-life loungism. It didn't matter that The Beatles thought he was a great entertainer, whatever that meant. Sinatra, or at least the tired, would-be enduring populist he had become, was a symbolic focus of the ridicule heaped on ‘old people's’ tastes. In the late 60s and during the 70s, his fans seemed to be a principal target of the hippest satirist of the time, Frank Zappa - whose Bizarre label, ironically, was with Reprise, the property of Frank Sinatra. If you can't beat them, own em.

But eventually life makes you confront your mindless prejudices, and so it came to pass that a friend - thinking, as friends sometimes do, that people should be forced to grow up whether they want to or not, and perhaps that my own music take a more adult, or viable, or more decorous direction – made me listen to what the knowledgeable consider Sinatra’s strongest material, the Nelson Riddle arrangements for Capitol from 1953 until he went to Reprise.

When my friend first lent me the record, I couldn't believe my eyes. Nelson Riddle? That name conjured up endless decades of 2ZB, Wellington's commercial radio in the 50s. Nelson bloody Riddle! Endless wet bloody afternoons, stuck inside watching Mum doing the ironing. Even then there was nothing to plumb the depths of ennui like mainstream commercial radio.

Changing my mind about Frank didn't take very long at all, in fact it was nearly instantaneous. Without impairing my enduring loyalty to Aretha, Bobby Bland, Wilson Pickett and the rest of the R&B pantheon, I had a brand new study

The first thing you have to notice, once you open your ears, is that Frank at his peak had soul, wherever it derived from, and the exact proportions of Sicily and Billie Holiday in the mix don't really matter. The point is his best singing is dynamic in every sense. Not a very big bloke, he had a disproportionately big musical presence, later matched by his cars, bodyguards, and legal bills for thumping the kind of innocent bystanders who just happened to be lurking near where and when Frank was feeling frisky.

So, Frank was not a wimp, or dull. How could he be? Even if he was not a lethal thug, as is widely believed, he was certainly the intimate associate of organised crime bosses. To survive in such a world, more is required than sharp reflexes. Even if you think that such a life is lived on a hyper super rodent level of cerebral function, you must concede that it is not an arena where the sluggish fare well.

So am I saying that underneath the uncompromising carapace there beats a soft but manly heart? Er, no. If you remember the look he shot Ray Charles - who may well have felt it - during Frank's 80th birthday TV special (I think it was, I'm not terribly keen on Showbiz birthdays), when Ray mentioned that Frank was a white man, in a white suit, on a white set, singing a black man’s song, you will not imagine that Frank is reduced to slippers and dribbles in the malice department.

So, putting bigness of heart aside for the moment, he had a big voice, very big. But he didn't just wave it round in public as if that was the sole point of the exercise. Not really noted as an actor, despite his Hollywood visibility, He had an actor's way with a strong lyric that made him the master rhetorician of the sophisticated, sometimes whitewashed, but not often mindless blues that comprises his core repertoire.

Anyone having doubts about his musicianship should listen to those recently released Frank-at-work tracks where he can be heard gently, firmly and expertly dealing with the complex arrangement details on the hoof. Whoever was producing on the day, Frank was on the case.

He has lead the kind of life about which misinformation abounds, and some of it is true. Possibly because of this, his musicianship and his unique instrument are now undervalued. 

 And he had another most valuable characteristic in a musician, which is humility. He had the good sense to realise that no matter how successful you are, in music there is the judgement of millions of manipulated consumers, and the judgement of your peers. Johnny Hartman, though not actually a household name, was one singer to whom he had to defer. When it came to seduction music, Frank apparently played Frank.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Ladi6 interview, 2008

Ladi6 interview, by Martyn Pepperell, images by Sole, Back2Basics Oct - Dec 2008, Vol 03 Issue 16

Since announcing her arrival on the local music scene with the now classic Sheelaroc ‘If I gave you the mic’, Ladi6 has slowly but surely developed her unique Pacific soul sound to the point where she is now considered one of New Zealand’s premier female vocalists. As with Scribe, Dallas Tamaira(Fat Freddys Drop) and Shapeshifter, her days as part of Christchurch based music and performing arts act Pacific Underground in the 90s set her up for success - from there to Sheelahroc to now Ladi has consistently built a devoted fan following across New Zealand, Australia - even as far afield as Europe.

Despite success despite success as part of all female hiphop crew Sheelaroc, it wasn't until Ladi’s live DJ, producer and partner Parks invited her to join hiphop soul band Verse Two that she really got her head around music. “ My family is hella musical like most Samoan and Maori families in New Zealand, but [I] only really got seriously interested in music when I joined Vese Two, which was after Sheelaroc.

“Sheelaroc was my ‘I found hiphop’ [moment]. It was like a kid finding Christianity, it was like that. I was a preacher, telling everyone they need to represent and girl power and all this crazy stuff. I hadn't even really realised I was doing music, it was just hiphop [to me].

“When Parks asked me to join Verse Two, I actually said ‘no’ in my head, but I couldn't actually say no to him cos I'm that kind of person. So I said ‘Yeah, I’ll join the band Verse Two, whatever it is’, and slowly fell in love with the music, and realised that it’s its own thing. That was my first real intro to bands. I had no idea about bands, amps - all this stuff was new. I was just this girl in the corner with a book trying to write raps. I didn't even realise I could sing until I joined Verse Two.”

Ladi’s highly-anticipated, long awaited and slightly overdue debut album Time Is Not Much is out this October. Lead single ‘Walk right up’ boasts a booming hip hop reggae groove and touchingly jaded - yet optimistic - lyrics. “‘Walk right up’ was made on the road,” Ladi tells.

“We used to do it over a beat called ‘Rockers Galore’. I made the melody to that song and the guys just kind of took the styling from it. All the beats were made by Parks , who had the inclination to have more of a hiphop base [in it], not a bassline - a base. So he played all the drums live and we put them back through the MPC, and that's kind of how it started. I kind of think that, without trying to be cliche, ‘Walk right up’ was about hope, and we're gonna make it one day, and that's just something I wanted to put across at festivals to all these thousands of people who are getting down!”

Ostensibly, the critical factors in Ladi’s success have been regular live touring and frequent collaborations with a diverse talent pool of commercial and underground artists including local acts 50Hrtz, Scribe, Fat Freddy's Drop, Shapeshifter, Solaa, Opensouls, 4 Corners, Pacific Heights, as well as internationals like Freddie Cruger, DJ Vadim, the Remarkables, amd Sepalot. Ladi next featured on the classic Aotearoan anthem ‘Seek no more’, produced by Wellington’s 50Hrtz in 2002. 2003 rolled around and Ladi appeared alongside her cousin - iconic New Zealand MC Scribe - on the track ‘So nice’ from his debut album The Crusader.

“Malo [Scribe] blowing up was massive, massive for my family. He’s my New Zealand idol, from day squat,” enthuses Ladi. “He’s like, a year older than me, [and] we’re really close. [We were] brought up together, and to see him blow [so] big [was amazing].”

After enjoying the Scribe rollercoaster ride for a minute, come 2004 Ladi made an abrupt genre shift, guesting on crucial cuts ‘When I return’ and ‘Move with me’ from local drum n bass phenomena Shapeshifter’s sophomore album Riddim wise. Collaborating on the tracks with a major turning point for Ladi as an artist.

“The biggest thing ever for my musical development was doing a song with Shapeshifter, because I’d never heard drum n bass before. When I did ‘Move with me’, they gave me this cassette tape and were  like ‘can you make a song to that?’ I was like what the?! How the hell am I going to make anything out of this? It was the rhythm, everything. I was a hiphop girl, how could I work with that? It was good though, cos I had to work with that and I wanted to do it cos I’d known the boys for all my musical life and it made me open up and figure out how I was going to get around it.”

Ladi6 - Back2basics magazine Oct-Dec 2008, image by Sole

After collaborating and touring with Shapeshifter in 2005, Ladi ticked another dream collaboration of her list - working with Fat Freddy's Drop and Shapeshifter’s MC P-Diggs on the song ‘Roady. ‘Dream or not, this collaboration had been on the cards for a while, ever since she first performed live with Freddy’s in the early 2000s at the now defunct New Years Eve festival Alpine Unity. “Meeting Freddy’s was a huge turning point [for me],” Ladi recalls. “Dallas’ sister was in Sheelahroc with me.

“I saw them at Alpine Unity and they did ‘Midnight marauders’ and it changed the crowd from sitting playing with children, to up and dancing, just mesmerised - me included. I was right up the front [saying] ‘Dallas, please give me the mic’, and he was like ‘my sister’s little friend, okay’ - and that was massive.

“Meeting Freddy’s totally changed my life in terms of music. I started out in life as just a hiphop girl really, and it completely changed my life doing all these different songs with these fullas. Going on tour with Scribe, going on tour [to Europe] with Freddy's, seeing all the different people that they meet, and the audiences that come to the gigs; they introduced me to music, all those guys!

 “It’s been really good for me before I release my album to see all these different groups and how they do their thing. I've just been sitting there absorbing how they do it and thinking about what I want to do, and what I don't want to do.”

The album Ladi refers to is of course is the aforementioned Time Is Not Much, which may prove our first real opportunity to observe Ladi6 doing Ladi6 under her own direction and terms. Having said that, as Ladi explains, “I’m lucky that I did these songs early, because people know who I am without ever having released an album. In fact it’s funny, lots of people say to me, ‘haven’t you got an album out?’ because they’ve heard me so much. It’s given me the opportunity to perform heaps, because the connection I had with all these guys who blew [up] in their own way. I recommend every vocalist does it that way, just feature, feature, feature,and then once everyone knows you, release your album.”

Ladi describes the sound of Time Is Not Much as: “RnB - kind of soul - kind of, hiphop - kind of. It’s a real big, weird blend of all that. I don’t really know [what to call it]! Mu (Freddy’s) and Parks [and Julien Dyne of Opensouls] have handled the majority of the [production of] the instrumentals.” Inside the vocal booth, the only guest artist to feature on her album was Scribe. “The old cuzzy, he owes me favours, man,” laughs Ladi. “He was into it, cause I’m his cousin and also I think he was quite keen to do something a little bit different from what he’s doing [musically].”

Having worked within the full gamut of musical styles - from soul to drum n bass to downbeat - it’s important to remember Ladi never left hiphop behind. She has always been and probably always will be, a huge fan of the scene's local sound and culture.

“I got mates that only listen to hiphop and are hiphop purists to the death, and that's cool man. I'm proud of them. I'm proud that they started out in the late 70s when they were kids, and they saw the resurgence and they are still there, and they’ll still be there when it comes back around. I think, good on you, go hard. Me personally, I like to have more of an open scope on music, and art really, but I respect people that stick to one thing. I think that there is something to be said for someone who loves one thing and does that only, instead of being a jack of all trades, master of none - you know what I mean?”

Ladi sums up with some love for the local scene and her peers: “[I love the way our scene is so close knit.] If you get in there, you'll get to know everybody like I did. It was kind of instant. Once you represent - and it's a cliche to say represent - but once you actually get on the microphone, get on that floor, jump on those decks, you have the opportunity to meet every big shot Kiwi hiphop person that you've ever admired in your life, and I love that they're not out of your reach.

"It would probably be out of your reach if you were raised in America and wanted to meet Kanye, but there is a very good chance you will meet DLT or you will meet Che Fu. We’re still really down to earth, and people like Che Fu, if you meet him on a street corner and he's in the mood, you have a jam with you - that's how cool Kiwis are.”