Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Pause: 1998

A mate of mine recently uncovered an old CD burn he had, labelled "Pause album" and shared it with me (thanks, Kelly!). Pause were a group on the Deepgrooves label in the late 90s, at the tail end of the label's existence, and featured Justyn Pilbrow (later of Elemeno P, these days a NYC-based studio producer) and vocalists Anna Copley and Jo Currie. There's 14 tracks on this disc, including their sole official release (on Deepgrooves), the single Only.

I emailed Justyn to find out what happened to this album - did they finish it, and whether this CD burn is their long-lost debut. He told me that no, it wasn't the album -  "Anna and Jo put the stuff we had together, but it was never finished or mastered."

Below is an interview Pause did in 1998 about the single and album.

Good cause
Still wet behind the ears, new Auckland three-piece Pause are drowning in record company bureaucracy. By Bianca Zander, photo by Anthony O'Dwyer, Pavement, Dec 1998/Jan 1999.

Despite boasting two spunky girls and a production wizard you never see in their publicity photos, new Auckland dance band Pause are struggling to climb their way up the greasy pole of the New Zealand music industry. Although they have talent, good looks and an impressive debut single to their credit, there seems to be no one around willing to help them sharpen their claws and further their cause.

An immensely catchy tune that’s both soulful and atmospheric, Pause's debut single Only, released on Deepgrooves and distribution by Festival Records, should have had the band surfing a wave of commercial and critical popularity. Unfortunately it's one of dozens of local singles that young hopeful labels release with or without major label support, only to sink without a trace.

Despite the fact their song is just as haunting and accomplished as any of Bic Runga's chart-topping tunes, Pause are caught between a rock and a hard place. With an album's worth of material waiting in the wings, they've found themselves caught up in record company politics, leaving them unlikely to get the promotion they deserve. At least, for now.

The trio behind Pause are Justyn Pilbrow (instruments, production), and the two joint vocalists and lyric writers, Jo Currie and Anna Copley. Unlike most bands in this country, these kids met at church, of all place: one of those trendy, new inner city churches in Auckland that encourage drum n bass instead of choir music, in an effort to stay relevant to young people.

“Music is a big thing in our church,” insists Currie. “I've never really been a stage person but you just have to get up and do stuff all the time at church and you soon get used to it."

Pilbrow is the only member of Pause involved in music full-time, working at The Lab recording studio in Mt Eden, where a lot of Flying Nun bands recorded in the 1980s. Pilbrow is appalled that a lot of New Zealanders don't like music from their own country, though he's also realistic about the limited prospects in the local music industry. "A lot of people do things as favours here or for a tray of beer. When the album comes out, we'd like to do a live tour but getting 10 people around the country... We just can't afford it."

Of the three tracks on Pause's debut single, Pilbrow feels more musically aligned to the harder beats of Bionik, although he argues that the whole drum & bass genre seems to be going round in circles. “In New Zealand, we tend to see what happens overseas and then latch onto it,”he explains, citing English artists such as Lamb, Archive and Dom & Roland as his own major influences. “Drum n bass is a relatively small scene in the UK and I've spoken to DJs who're surprised by how much we know about it down here.”

When Pavement caught up with Pause to talk about their arrival on the local music scene, the three members were feeling palpably disillusioned, despite having their first single out in record shops. There is so little money available for record companies to sign and promote local bands, and with Festival not exactly happy with their working relationship with the perpetually unpredictable Deepgrooves, Pause have been left to ponder their commitment to both the label and the band itself.

“We feel like it's out of our control,”sighs Currie. “We know there's no money to promote us but we could do with some more guidance. We're an unknown band but we don't know how to go about getting known."

''If your record label has money and they want you to do well, you'll do well," asserts the admittedly cynical and world-weary Pilbrow. "We started off all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed but we've had a hard run and setbacks can lead to a lack of enthusiasm."

Incredibly the band had no idea Only had been released until they happened upon a copy in a local record shop.

Further complicating matters, the video for the song wasn't even ready when the single went to retail. With communication between Deepgrooves and Festival virtually non-existent, Pause seem to have fallen through the cracks, leaving them dangling in limbo not of their own creation.

With Pause's debut album already recorded but in a continual state of suspension, rumour has it that it may be released in March 1999. However, with the band still waiting to hear from Deepgrooves boss Kane Massey about its release date, Liz Bethell, marketing manager at Festival, confirms that the company won't be releasing the album next year, though she denies the rumours of a permanent severing of ties between Festival and Deepgrooves. Bethell also asked me to get Massey to call her if I managed to track the elusive man down.

Obviously the last word should be left to him.


The revived Deepgrooves website noted back in June this year that there are plans afoot to release the Pause album... "Out of all the groups, bands, artists, musicians (people needing somewhere to sleep after a hard night in the city) that utilised Kaiun Digital, PAUSE probably used the studio more than anyone else, in fact it felt like Mr. Pilbrow actually lived there at times .... and we were more than happy with that, it was clear the kid had talent. 

"We have slowing been working through the mountain of PAUSE work DATs we have with a view to releasing an album compliled on Mr. Pilbrow's original album mastering notes. We also have a couple of videos to go with the release. In fact we shot their ONLY (song title) video on black and white film (damn expensive) in and around Auckland and it still looks amazing, even after all these years. From memory we broke into the old Rail Station down town just after it had been decomissioned and spent an afternoon shooting inside." The album apparently had the title of Amplified Heart, according to Deepgrooves..

No comments: