Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Phylpcyde story

Phil Fuemana, photo by Greg Semu, Stamp, 1994.

I read this story on the Urban Pacifika website about two years ago. Sadly, that website has now gone, but I found this today from 2006, while digging round the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive. Some of this text appeared in Gareth Shute's book Hiphop Music in Aotearoa, published 2004. [UPDATE: I emailed Gareth to check if the writing below was from his book and he confirmed it was written by him, not Phil - he sent the text to Phil to read before it went into the book.]

Today marks 8 years since Phil Fuemana passed away. RIP.

The Phylpcyde story
The following are exerts taken from a book that Phil was writing about his life in Otara and the music industry, nothing has been added or taken away from what he wrote. For those who didn't know Phil, this will give you a little insight, into the way he thought. For those that did know him, you will recognise his touch.

The South Auckland Scene Breaks Through

If you looked at the early history of the Fuemana family, you would be unlikely to pick them as producing one of the most important forces in local hip hop. Father, Takiula Fuemana, arrived in Auckland from Niue during the 60s and began seeing a beautiful young Mäori woman , who was from Taranaki. The couple eventually had four children: Phil, Tony, Christina, and Paul. Phil Fuemana recalls: 'I was born in Otara but we shifted to … Parnell. All the coconuts used to work on the wharfs. Then our house was condemned to be knocked down. Now it's probably worth a million bucks - it's still standing …basically my mother left my dad and moved to Australia when I was five, which made Paul - the youngest - something like 18 months. So here’s this coconut guy who’s only 29 or 30 with four kids - one in a bassinet, one in a cot - living in the slum of Parnell, going to work and leaving us at home. Social Welfare wasn’t on the ball like it is now, so you’d have me - this five-year old looking after the other kids, all just waiting at home for Dad to come home. He’d shoot home every now and then, cos the wharfs were just down the road. Shoot home to check on us, go backwards and forwards.'

 A few years later, the family moved to Otara, which Fuemana remembers as a marked improvement: '…it was like paradise - a quarter acre, fences, a proper house, three bedrooms, clean and tidy.' Though as he grew up, there was a rapid increase in the amount of lowly-paid workers moving into the area and he came to see it as more of a slum than Parnell had been. Many of Fuemana's friends became unemployed once they left school, but he was not one to fit into the stereotype: 'I'm someone who’s probably been on the dole for the longest a week, my entire life. Cos I left school, got a job, and when I quit that job … I was only on the dole for a week and I got picked up for the first PEP scheme - instead of the dole, you had to go and work. They make you dig fields … when I got there, I wasn’t a Christian. But it was run by Christians and they gave me my first opportunity.

See me and another boy - we could play and sing. We’d entertain. Then this thing came up where we could audition for the Youth for Christ team ... I went there, blew them away. I was the first browny on that team. My mate was too chicken … but I went. And the whole church raised money for me - bought me clothes - I had nothing. Had no skills, nothing … that’s when I really picked up my musical chops. We went all around New Zealand probably six times. I’m probably was the most travelled browny around haha! ... But what it really did was - it laid the foundation for knowing that you could achieve something with music.'

Through this experience and his cultural background, the church became a major influence on Fuemana: 'When you talk about PIs [Pacific Islanders], you talk about church - they go hand-in-hand. Whether they live that life or not is another question. But as far as people, we’re god-fearing. We love the lord, as much as we love our family. Our lives don’t always reflect that, but our spirit does. Especially in those days - probably in the mid-Eighties - when Pentecostal … was going off. It was place you could go and really be accepted and not be on the list as one of the hopeless, because everyone else was propbably hopeless too in there ... it was somewhere to attain to be something better. Whether or not it arrived or not was another thing, ya know? So I did the church thing. But really I got into the church thing cos of the music … Whereas at home - different story. I was like the one dude amongst a gangsta clique that wasnt a thug. I’ve always been accepted as: "oh, Phil’s the music guy. He’s got nothing to do with the drugs, the drinking, the stealing." I was never into all that buzz, but a lot of my friends were.'

After the leaving the Youth for Christ team, Fuemana started a group with singer Matty J - called "White Boy Black." This was followed by Fuemana's second group, which included his three siblings - Christina sung, Paul was a dancer, while Tony played bass: 'We started a crew called "Houseparty", only because of the Houseparty movie. We didn’t know anything about House Music really … so here’s us doing early English-style rap and R’n’B at this House gig at the Powerstation. They were all just standing looking at us thinking - "what tha…?" But we did a single - "Dangerous Love." We recorded it in Australia. Me and Matty J were still working together then … but I wasn’t really feeling what it was. So I hooked up with Stuart Pierce and JB and some people like that. The influence I wanted was more like my first taste of America … I wanted a sound like 'Ghetto Heaven' by Family Stand. So we bit a loop out of there and that was our first movement to the States and it came out. It set the pace.'

Fuemana began to be well-known in the local music scene and took on the name, Phylcyde. In late 1993, someone at the local Arts Centre suggested that they he send in some demos to a new project, which was being set-up by a local record producer. Fuemana recorded six tracks at the Christian City Church in Manakau (which has since closed down). He did not end up using all the material he had recorded: 'I submitted four tracks. The Ermehn track [DJ Payback and Radio Backstab]. Another guy - Hayden - which didn’t make it. Instead he joined Semi-MCs, as one of the two lead singers with Sam. And … I forget the other track - it didn’t get on there either. Just two of them did: Radio Backstab and OMC [Otara Millionaire's Club]. The OMC track I submitted was an instrumental. And I went to the studio and sold the instrumental to them as an Otara thing. Cos they were feeling the music like - "wow!" … Ermehn and Paul were both living with us in the garage along with the other two boys. So I said: "Get the hell up man! Just write anything." I had the hook down, I just needed the raps. I would’ve done the whole … thing if I was feeling it. I knew this was an opportunity, but I didn’t know where it was really heading. There was no such thing as the tour - there was only the record. We went into Alan’s studio - Jansson - which was an awesome experience, because that man’s a hit maker, ya know?'

Alan Jansson was looking for more new rappers who were able to fit within a popular music style, following his success with the Chain Gang (see Ch 2). He had seen the talent which existed in South Auckland and had organised for different artists to be recorded for an album - Proud: An Urban Streetsoul compilation - which was distributed through Australia's Volition Records. Originally the plan was to release tracks by the long-standing outfits, such as the Semi-MCs, but eventually Jansson decided on a number of newer groups as well - including female MC pair: Sister's Underground. Their track, 'In the Neighbourhood,' was also released as a single and it sold moderately well, both at home and in Australia.

The instrumental OMC track which Fuemana had submitted, eventually became: 'We R the OMC.' the other group on the album Fuemana produced - DJ Payback and Radio Backstab - also included Jerry To'omata who had previously been in Double J and Twice the T. Fuemana found Jansson took over the musical direction of the tracks: 'Some of the tracks changed and we werent feeling the way they were changed, but in hindsight I’ve done the same as a producer, in my own career. There are things you’ve gotta do to fit into the market you’re trying to create.'...

Another hip hop crew that was on the Proud compilation was Pacifikan Descendents. Sane Sagala from Enemy Productions (see Ch 2) formed the group: 'Me and my friend, Fatu Su’a, entered a talent quest at my school and won. It was just the two of us then my brother joined. We got DJ Jimmy. We had two dancers - Ali Cowely and Willie Bowata - and another guy from UCD: Mark A'ava.' The new group soon hooked up with the Proud crew, through an old connection: 'During the enemy production years we were managed by DJ Andy Vann, who knew Alan Jansson - they did Second Nature records together. And it was Alan's studio we were using - Uptown Studios.'

The Pacifikan Descendents tracks on the album added a Pacifican vibe to the usual hip hop sound. For example, the first few bars of 'Tuesday blues' kicked in with solo ukelele, then live drums come in, followed by programmed beats and the rapping begins; and 'Pass it Over' - begins with a groove of Cook Island drums. Sagala saw this approach as a sign of the times rather than a long-term goal: 'In the mid-90's, the rapping style back then - we were trying to be pro-Islanders so we incorporated island drums and stuff into the music and the live show as well. But, I’ve done the back-pack style. I’ve done the island style. And all the underground type styles … and whatever I do, I’m doing as a Samoan, I don’t need to be waving a flag around or anything.'

Fuemana on the Pacifikan Descendents:

'…now they were ground-breaking to me. They were doing things that we didn’t recognise really, back in the day. To me … I don’t think they got their dues. If you listen to "Pass It Over," it’s … deadly man. I mean, its execution, its delivery. It was tight. And it’s original. There was nothing to imitate - there wasn’t a heritage of artists to imitate, it was just them!'

Proud eventually reached the top of the compilation charts and was also accompanied by a tour, which took place in February and March 1994 and included eight bands: OMC, Vocal Five, Di Na Ve, 3 B Chill, Sisters Underground, Pacifican Descendents, Matisa, and Fuemana. The last of these was a group that featured both Phil and Christina Fuemana - they released an album through Deepgrooves. Musical backing was provided by a DAT tape which had been previously recorded with Chris Sinclair at the Lab studio in Auckland. Fuemana was given the job of being the Musical Director (MD) on the tour, since he had previously had some experience in this role through his work MDing the Nationwide tour of his church group (which included young singer, Carly Binding).

Fuemana had difficulties keeping all 40 of the performers focused on the task at hand: 'Here's me managing a busload of 40 big Island boys, who’d never been out of … South Auckland. And here they are shoplifting all over Christchurch … getting chased down the street in Dunedin. It was shell-shock for the towns, which the boys just treated like one big Disneyland. Being in South Auckland you’ve got to behave yourself or you get clipped or somebody else beats you up or you get taken in. But who the hell’s gonna touch you in Queenstown? And here they are with new jackets and shoes . Every now and then the cops would turn up and we'd be like: "oh yeah, rah rah rah, here’s the gear back, sorry!" And there were things about the money … we all underestimated the eating power of 40 big guys. Come on man - all those months we were on tour, eating three times a day. Now they can truck it back. You can’t feed them on a couple of pies - that won’t work ... So instead of living off the money we had, we were living off the money we were making … And every motel something would be busted and we’d have to pay for it. And that’s not counting the gas, paying the driver, the whole thing, ya know. How the hell we made it, I don’t know!'

The tour organisers were also disappointed by the lack of support that the tour received in the South Island, especially from the small community of PIs who lived in the towns where they played. However, the welcome was far more positive in the North island, where locals appreciated seeing Polynesian music that was performed in a modern style rather than being the purely cultural acts which they were used to, as Fuemana remembers: '…the Mäori kids, they’re into hop hop hardcore and so the north side was easy - real easy. It wasn’t always packed, ya know, but it was always there - the support was always there.'

Unfortunately, the South Island leg of the Proud tour was also marred by the death of Eniasi Tokelau, who was dancing for the Packifkan Descendents. After the tour finished many of the groups broke up, as Fuemana puts it: 'The ones that had the skill are still here today. The ones that had nothing, their careers ended on that tour. I guess, a lot of them tried to put the blame on us.'

In fact, Fuemana felt that the influence of the Proud project was overestimated, overblown : '…if you look at Proud for what it was - it was something that Alan and whatever label he was shopping with, was working. For us, Proud wasn’t something that was like our big inspiration to achieve. It didn’t set the benchmark for where our music was going. It was just something that came along - all of us were already on that journey anyway. Really, it was a free-ride for us. We were taking this journey with or without Proud.

The music industry wants to attribute everything to Proud. come on now we were on that journey already.  And to have some other people think that they can take from us. Hell no! Sane and them were already going. We already doing our thing. Ermehn was already rapping...Proud didnt make us, we made Proud,to be straight, it took some white cat to come along and save the day for us. The power of one again, ya know ... And that’s been the truth for every culture. That no matter how hard we work, it’s always gonna take some white cat to come in and give us that 'defining moment', so. No matter how hard we work, it’s gonna be some nice Pakeha kid who’s gonna decide whether or not we get released, ya know. It doesn’t mean just because Nesian Mystik got big that there aren’t some other cool kids like that with the same talent. Mystic probably just had the breaks - bumped into the right white guy…hahah'

The Proud tour almost saw the end of OMC - by the time they returned to Auckland, things were coming to a head within the group and it seemed they were doomed to collapse. Alan Jansson encouraged Paul to keep OMC going as a solo project. By this time Phil Fuemana had moved on to other projects and he was quick to distance himself from the eventual success of the OMC album: '…that Jansson had the eye to see a star in Paul, was all owed to him. That’s his thing. He saw Paul’s stardom, not us. He was the one that took Paul and did "How Bizarre." Ya know, that was all their thing.'

So, despite the odds, OMC continued and Jansson worked alongside Paul (now widely known as "Pauly") to create a new sound for the group. The influence of Pauly's Niuen background came into the fore and he began writing songs with a Pacific Island guitar style. Jansson was quick to see the potential of fusing this uniquely Polynesian sound with the current feel of hip hop. However, it was a chance comment of Pauly's - that both his girlfriend and Jansson kept calling everything 'bizarre' - which produced the song that they were looking for. Jansson prompted Pauly to put down a vocal track straight away and the track 'How Bizarre' was born.

Simon Grigg, who was head of the 'Huh!' label that had distributed Proud compilation in Aotearoa, quickly recognised the track as a potential hit and worked hard to give it was wide release - not only locally, but also in Australia. The track went on to spend three weeks at number one on the NZ charts, gained two awards at the APRA (Australasian Performing Rights Association) Silver Scroll Awards, and received four trophies at the 1996 Clear Music and Entertainment awards of New Zealand (including: 'Most Promising Vocalist,' 'Most Promising Group,' and 'Best Single.' This was just the beginning of the track's success. Worldwide, it eventually sold over a million copies and went to Number one in the hit charts of Australia, Ireland, South Africa, and Austria. It reached the top five in the UK, Canada, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, and Israel. It also made the top 10 in Denmark, Holland, Portugal, and Singapore - truly an International success!

The album, which Pauly had recorded at the same time as the single, was released in April 1996 and received four stars in the English magazine Q. Sales of the album did not match the single, but were still considerable and Pauly Fuemana had achieved his dream, becoming a millionaire from Otara! But, things were not all smooth sailing: Pauly had an altercation with one of the men from the US record company. Suddenly the record company got cold feet about their planned mass distribution of the album. The second single, a cover of Randy Newman's 'I Love L.A.' went over badly and OMC began to fade from view. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, rifts were appearing between Alan Jansson and Pauly - eventually they went to arbitration to settle their differences. This effectively ended OMC and the group disappeared as quickly as it had appeared.

Phil Fuemana reflects on the success of 'How Bizarre':

'…people probably still talk about How Bizarre and … in the end, that came from us, ya know? There'd be no How Bizarre if we didn’t wake up in the morning. It just took some Pakeha producer to turn up with the clout and the contacts and boom - it was away. It was always there, it was living in our garage … I'm not surprised "How Bizarre" went off, because it’s probably one of the few times in the entire musical history of New Zealand that a record company believed in someone to take him outside of the country. How come, K'Lee had five top ten hits and wasn't released outside our country? What the hell's with that? And now she's been dropped from Universal … Why isn’t Che released in Aussie or England or Europe? Ya know, why aren’t they? … How many hits do you have to have before you're released somewhere else? Do they really believe that we'll never make it outside this country. You could name how many people have made it outside this country probably on one finger ... What's it gonna have to take for us to be another Ireland, where we can have the big huge hits? Are they waiting for the group? Does that mean we don’t have the talent? We don't the group to do it? I'm sure we have, ya know? … But that's the industry - our industry needs to change.'

Another act that rose out of the Proud crew was solo artist, Herman 'Ermehn' Loto - who was notorious for playing live dressed in a lava lava and waving a machete over his head. He began his rap career as an early member of OMC, before joining Radio Backstab and DJ Payback, who also had a track on the Proud compilation. After leaving the group, Ermehn recorded his track 'Walls of Steel' with the Feelstyle (see Ch 5). This track was featured on Aotearoa Hip Hop Vol 1 (see Ch 4). Ermehn followed this with an album, Samoans: Part 2, which was recorded by Andy Morton (the Submariner) at Hutt Studios and released through Deepgrooves in October 1997. Contributors on the album included: Manuel Bundy, DJ Subzero, Teremoana Rapley, Phatmospheric, and Ermehn's cousin Marie Vaa. 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.

Phil Fuemana on Ermehn:

'Ermehn is our angry young man ... He lived with us and, I mean, he probably hated everyone on the planet except our family. We showed him love when he needed it. But he’s probably the most under-rated MC in our country. And, like Brotha D, he’s what we would call a real gangsta - they’re from the streets, they had the fights, they were in the cliques, they were leading crews. And it shows in their music … anyone who perceives to try and think they’re something tough, let them meet up with Danny or Ermehn on a bad day.'

Meanwhile, Phil Fuemana had spent the time since 1995 gathering together a new set of artists. He chose a new name for his label: Urban Pacifika Records (UPR). Once again, the focus was on South Auckland as a Polynesian centre. One of the first groups he brought together were the rap group, Lost Tribe: 'I met Danny [Leaosavaii], he pumped my gas in my car everyday and so I met him. I was already considered - in my hood - a producer … Danny just said "Hey man, I love what you did with Proud." And I invited him - “Hey do you wanna come to this thing, I’m trying to set-up this new record company for us.” And he said, “Yeah I’ll come along.” …

Lost Tribe was me and Danny first, meeting Danny or Brotha D to you, changed my life, basically he saved me, me and that are dude are tight, i love him like a brother, i knew when i 1st meet him that he was special, look at d-raid now...thats Danny all the way...then Johnny [Sagala] who i met and became friends with on the Proud tour joined. we then went looking for two guys. we were running like a thing in a club in town. So we ran auditions and that's when we met Son Tan [Jonathon Pale] and Sinbad. This was before Kendall [KD] - Sinbad did the original KD rap off 'Summer in the Winter.' Then he left - because of church ... and we met Kendall. Because we were running an Auckland hip hop summit at the Powerstation...back in the day when summits were unheard of. And it was cool - we had everyone in there, che fu, kapisi, dlt, every dj with a rep..we did that. It was all done from heart. And then from there, Kendall was ringing me all the time - "look I want to be in the next summit, I want to be in the next summit." I said - "bro, if you’ve got the skills then we need a rapper for Lost Tribe." He just turned up and blew us away!'...

Jonathon Pale (Son Tan) had only returned to Auckland in 1992. He had been sent to Tonga by his mother after being expelled from Mangere High School. Pale remembers: 'It was just like that King Kapisi song, ya know? "Take them back home to the motherland and teach / the ways of our elders, lifestyles, and the speech." Well that's exactly what happened to me in 89!' Pale's relations took him in and organised jobs for him - which often involved days of hard grueling work in the hot sun. When Pale returned to Aotearoa after three years in Tonga, he found that a number of his friends had been involved in the TCGs (Tongan Crip Gang) - many were in jail and others had become heavy drug users. Looking for something to occupy his time, Pale began getting seriously into writing raps and took the name, Son Tan to show he was proud of his Tongan heritage. In 1996, he entered a local freestyle competition and met Danny 'Brotha D' Leaosavaii, who invited him along to an audition the following week - Brotha D remembers: 'The plan was always to get a group together - there's more power in numbers, ya know?'

Lost Tribe was finally completed by the addition of a final member: Jim 'DJ Fingas' Makai (previously from Pacifikan Descendents). This addition meant that the group had members from many of the different Pacific Islands - DJ Fingas was Niuean, KD was Rarotongan, Son Tan was Tongan, and both Brotha D and Sagala were from Samoa. From the start, the group was focused on presenting their perspective on life in Aotearoa from a Polynesian point of view. The name 'Lost Tribe' was used to represent Pacific migrants who were unsure about where they fit into contemporary society in Aotearoa and the group saw themselves as representing for these people - promoting unity amongst them and expressing the new culture which they were developing.

The other rap act Fuemana recruited for the Urban Pacifika project was Dei Hamo - Sane Sagala's new working title. At the end of the Proud tour, Sagala had broken up the Pacifikan Descendents so that he could pursue a solo career. His first move was to find a regular performance slot: 'During 95/96, I had a residency down at the Box - Cause Celebre. And I played for two years with Nathan Haines down there - every Friday and Saturday night. We’d freestyle two one-hour sets - unrehearsed ... It gave me the opportunity to perform with a live band - just working with musicians. We did a lot of jazzy stuff for the first year. Then because Nathan started travelling, he left … Nathan’s brother Joel took over the band when Nathan left ... The rest of the band were mainly Chilean, so we started moving into South American styles and did a few gigs around town at dance-type festivals.'

During his time working with Nathan Haines, Sagala was also involved in recording an album - Shift-left - which incorporated all the members of the live band. This experience also meant that Sagala played many gigs that were out of the scope of a usual hip hop artist, including opening for Ronny Jordan at the Town hall. When the residency at Cause Celebre came to an end, Sagala hooked up with an old friend to form a new group: 'Dei Hamo was actually the name of a crew to start out with. The guy I started Pacifikan Descendents with, Fatu Su'a - that was the guy who I started Dei Hamo with. And "Dei Hamo" - "hamo" is short for "Samoan" and "dei" is short for "they" - so it translates "they are Samoan." But what happened was - the friend who I started the crew with went to varsity and I was stuck with the name.'

Sagala had first met Fuemana during the Proud tour and was the last to be asked to join the Urban Pacifika crew: 'it was like finding a new family cos everyone who was in UPR shared the same dream, the same goal, and the same passion - it was just beautiful.' The project also gave Sagala the opportunity to have more control over his music than he had previously been able and they worked with a state of the art Akai MPC to program the backing tracks. Nonetheless he was entirely satisfied: 'as good as it was, it could’ve been better. I guess I wasn’t happy with my level of production back then - just due to my lack of experience I think.'

Phil Fuemana acted quickly to push the project through to completion and distribute it: 'I went for a grant from Creative New Zealand, got some money … other guys who were getting money from Creative New Zealand were just squandering it ... but 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 I’d 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 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 ain’t 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 Pajro jeep back when they were cool....and music paid for it'

UPR joined with BMG to release their debut compilation - Pioneers of a Pacifikan Frontier. Along with Lost Tribe and Dei Hamo, two R'n'B groups were featured - a.k.a Brown (which featured Sam Feo from Semi-MCs) and Moizna (a West Auckland all-female R'n'B group, who had some success with their singles: 'Keep on Moving' and 'Just Another Day'). All four groups came together to record a single, 'One.' This song took the chorus melody and bass line from a Split Enz song 'One Step Ahead,' appropriated with the permission of original writer Neil Finn. Once again it was a case of keeping the flavour on entirely local tip. The groups also came together to do a re-working of the Dave Dobbyn song 'Beside you.' Originally they worked this song for a special performance at the New Zealand APRA Awards, but they recorded it and the resulting track appeared not only on 'Pioneers' but also as a B-side on Dave Dobbyn's next single.

Fuemana wrote and produced most of the backing tracks on the album and played many of the instruments himself: 'Only because I was the one who was in it the longest and I could handle MIDI … that was it. Not because they didn't want to. They'd give their ideas and, I guess, as a producer if you have the concept or the dream, like Alan had … you have to drive it and you drive it musically too. Then you hope that the crews can find their individual voices on their next thing.'

Kirk Harding at BMG was particularly impressed by the Lost Tribe track, 'Summer in the Winter' - as Fuemana remembers: 'Kirk saw something - the beginning of something. He loved Lost Tribe - he heard the original Lost Tribe track that’s never been released - the original Summer in the Winter with a different rapper in there and a different, well, a less-sanitised music approach - it was pretty harsh. But I think, to our own detriment, we cleaned them up too much. But that was the times though…'

Kirk Harding convinced his company to help fund a music video for the song and they released it as a single and it eventually entered the Top 20 in 1997. Lost Tribe also had some success on student radio with their track 'Five B.U.N.G.A' - it spent months on bFM's Top 10....kirk has always been 100% supportive and he's still pulling favors for the d-raid clique today..u the man u dude!!1

Unfortunately, despite having a number of hit singles, the Pioneers album did not sell as much as Fuemana had originally hoped. He partly sees this as a failing of those involved in the marketing of the album: 'To me, I felt, like, Kirk sorta left at a crucial time - he had to do his thing - but I felt like, no blame to BMG or anything, but it was something I felt like they didn’t know how to market correctly. Saying it now is pretty easy. remember there was no big pacific music hype like today, But I was in the thick of it too. I probably didn't know how to market it. Probably if it was released now it'd be something totally different...something mad crazy.'

Once, Phil Fuemana had moved on to other things, Dei Hamo found that the Urban Pacifika group quickly fell apart: 'Phil got a job at BMG and … when he wasn’t at the helm of Urban Pacifika records, pushing all the artists, they kinda just folded, which proved that he was really the driving force behind most of the groups. But the people that branched off from Urban Pacifika records did well … like Brotha D - when all the bands had split up, he started Dawnraid with Andy [see Ch 9]. John Chong-Nee - he started producing. And I myself went off and did a business course and just took some time off from music for a couple of years.'

Despite the fact that Urban Pacifika failed to live up to his expectations, Fuemana remembers those days as enjoyable, hot: 'Back in the day, it was cool to just be … broke and have nothing. Have the electricity cut off, have your phone get cut off. You watch TV - "and at number six, AKA Brown." And tomorrow, the power's going off!' Though, once Fuemana had a family, he felt the needed to move into a more secure position - that of record producer rather than artist: 'I'm actually in a position, where Alan was and still is. So I've actually achieved what I wanted - when I saw Alan, I thought I want to be like him - own all the gear. He probably got the most money out of Proud, deservedly - we were in his studio.

So if you have a hundred grand budget, ya know? Who gets it? The producer, the video director, the photo-shooter - the artist? No. You can wait for sales and when the sales do come - oh, you've still got to pay back the manufacturing and blah-blah-blah. You don't get nothing. The people who get the money are all the peripheral dudes around the industry not the one of those peripheral dudes now...haha.'

Fuemana is also pleased that his brother has made such a good living off the music industry and now reports that he is: '…enjoying life, doing what he wants to do. He lives here, but he travels the world whenever he feels like it. He's got a few kids now with his same missus he had before he was big....i love my bro dearly and im damn proud of what he one has come close to that since, real happy with where im at today, im working in the Maori music industry working with new artist, sorta giving back to my Maori side, but also discovering a love for my Maori culture and im also developing a annual festival for Niue to represent my Niuean spirit. so its all good in the last thing before i roll out..."remember in the darkness what you've seen in the light"...274 for life!!!

So after a decade in the music industry, with 3 New Zealand Tui Music awards, Apra scroll nomination, Gold and Platinum discs and 7 NZ Top 40 Hits, Fuemana built an empire from the ghetto up that is an inspiration to the South Auckland artists that have followed.

Fred Wesley: interview

Mister Fred Wesley
Fred Wesley is one of the funkiest people on the planet. If you don't know who he is, well, he played trombone with James Brown and the JBs from 1968-70, and 1971-75 (as band leader and arranger), and then worked with George Clinton (Parliament/Funkadelic). Quite a pedigree.

Wesley joined James Brown in 1968, and his first recording with the Godfather of soul was the hugely important track Say it loud, I'm  black and I'm proud. He went to Zaire with Brown for the Ali/Foreman Rumble in the jungle in 1972 (see When we were kings/Soul Power documentaries for the full story).

Wesley joined the Count Basie Orchestra in 1978, pursing his love of jazz (check his version of Herbie Hancock's Watermelon Man, off the previously unreleased jazz album he did in the 70s, issued in 2011).

He's playing inAuckland on 21st March at The Powerstation. The 69-year old keeps busy - this year he did a European tour, played Brazil with Maceo Parker, did a jazz festival in Croatia, and jammed with Osaka Monaurail in Japan. And fitted in a recording session with D'Angelo. I had the pleasure of talking with Mr Wesley on the phone late last year. Here's that conversation.

Q: I had a look at your touring schedule this year, you get around! Across Europe, then playing in San Francisco with several former members of the JBs, off to Brazil, and recently out to Japan to play with Osaka Monaurail. So, no plans to retire any time soon?

Fred Wesley: Aw no, I'm not going to retire til they drag me off the stage and put me in a hole. That's when I retire.

Q: So, you really will be doing it to death [a JBs song title]?

FW: (laughs) oh yeah! That's true. I'll be doing it to death. I have no plans to retire. I'm gonna play as long as I can.

Q: How was Japan? And the reunion with Clyde, Fred and Jabo?

FW: Japan was wonderful. The Osaka Monaurail is a very good band. The gig with Clyde, Jabo, Fred Thomas [all former members of James Brown's band, like Wesley] they all did an excellent job. We had them as guests with my band. We did some old tunes, it was a lot of fun. We did Get on the good foot, Cold sweat, I got the feeling, and Pass the peas, Gimme some more, we did a variety of stuff that they featured on, on the original recordings. We had a great time.

Q: Did you need to rehearse them or did those songs just come back naturally?

FW: I had to put it together cos some of the band had never played it before, and Jabo, Clyde and Fred had forgotten exactly what they'd played. We had a rehearsal and it came back real fast, and we had a good time.

Q: You've been involved in many records over the years, what records that you've done are you the most proud of?

FW: I'm real proud of House Party, the whole album never came out in general release, there's some bootlegs that have been out, but that album was a very good album, I thought. I'm very proud of it. Of course, the James Brown albums, Mind Power, The Payback, Good foot, those were good albums too. And the albums I did with George Clinton, Mothership Connection... I'm just proud of my long career!

Q: You've lectured at universities and various academic institutions and worked with James Brown and George Clinton, two of the funkiest people ever to grace the planet, and I was curious, how do you define funk?

FW: Well, funk is music, number one, but it is an aggressive kind of music. People who play it seem to have an attitude, they don't wanna be outplayed by the next guy so they're very aggressive about playing. Funk has a beat and a bassline and a guitar line, that's indigenous to all funk music, its just aggressive music.

Q: I read that your first recording with James Brown was Say It loud I'm black and I'm proud, which was a very important record when it came out in 1968, in the midst of a lot of social change in America. That was some 40 odd years ago, and this year, you played at the White House for President and Mrs Obama - what was that like? Did you get to meet the President?

FW: I met him, just briefly, that was a really mindblowing experience. I played on Say it loud, I'm black and I'm proud, and 40 years later I meet the President and he's black. That was really amazing. I never thought the same thing would happen in my lifetime. To see it twice is really amazing. 

I have really been here long enough to say 'I'm black and I'm proud' and then to see the pride of having a black President, it's really amazing how things have changed over the years.

He [President Obama] came downstairs during the rehearsals, and he sat and talked to my manager - my daughter. And when I met him, he said 'what's your name?' I say 'it's Fred Wesley', he says 'Oh yeah, I talked to your daughter earlier'. So, my daughter got more of him than I did. I got a few seconds with him, but she got about 15 minutes with him!

Q: I’m very much looking forward to seeing you in Auckland on 21st March - a week earlier we also get a live show here from Hugh Masekela. I see on your website you caught up with Hugh at a festival in Croatia earlier this year, and it mentions a 30 years later reunion with Hugh - what’s the story behind that?

We both played the Rumble in the Jungle, a festival in Zaire [the concert covered in the documentaries Soul Power and When We Were Kings] back in 1974, when they had the Ali/Foreman fight. We had seen each other since then, but I hadn't seen him in over 30 years, you know? I was really happy to see Hugh. We've been good friends.

Q: You worked under James Brown, and then George Clinton, how were they different to work for?

FW: Well, James was very creative, but he was creative in the way that he wanted it exactly like he wanted it, you know? But George Clinton was creative, by taking what you gave him. He had a lot of great musicians around him. Like Bernie Worrell, Garry Shider, Bootsy, myself, and Maceo, so he would take what we gave him and mix into a great album, a great song, and that was the difference. James Brown would give you exactly what he wanted and it would come out his way, and George Clinton would take what you gave him and mix it in and out and make a great song out of it.

Q: What can we expect from the Fred Wesley live show?

FW: Well, I do some of everybody's music; I try to do some James Brown music from with the JBs, and some of George Clintons's music, we do a little of that. Even some of Count Basie music. But we will focus on my music.

For years I've been a sideman with all these great musicians and artists, and now I get a chance to do some of the things I want to do myself. So we'll do For The Elders, In Love In LA, and some of my personal music, and I think you'll like that too. It's a mix of all the different music I've been involved with. But we'll play the familiar songs too, like Pass The Peas, and House Party, so we'll have a great time.

Shayne meets Freddy

Flying Nun alt rock god jams out with bbq reggae sensation! (kidding). And then there's Hopepa's exploding suitcase...

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

TLC debut album

From the Powertool Recs crew: "Recent additions to the Powertool Records family Transcendental Learning Collective are gearing up to release their debut album “Shift”. They are rapidly picking up fans as their single memorably titled ‘Munt in E7’ has been playlisted on 95bFM and is hitting the airwaves around New Zealand.

Formed by DJN (DRONE/DRONEnsemble, Rome, Crane, AFL) around 2010, the band recorded “SHIFT” during 2011 – 2012 with the fluid production skills of Mike Hodgson (Pitch Black, Tinnitus) and extra extra guitars courtesy of Sean O’Reilly (King Loser, Ola, Sferic Experiment).

Aucklanders should note Saturday March 9 in their diaries for the release party, to be held at New Lynn’s most spaced-out venue, UFO.

Expect minimal guitar grooves with maximum repetition courtesy of 3 guitars and a laptop; the band say it may be satisfying to listeners of Can, Pink Floyd, Suicide, Kraftwerk, The Fall, the Gordons, Spacemen 3, Fela Kuti, trance music, with a splash of dub." Listen to the album on Bandcamp.

Live at UFO, 11 Veronica St, New Lynn
8.30pm Saturday March 9. $5 entry fee; albums available

Ice Cube celebrates the Eames

Ice Cube: "They [The Eames] were doing mashups before mashups even existed... The Eames made structure and nature one... this going green, 1949 style, bitch..."

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

P-Money + Duck Down = done deal

P-Money has signed with US label Duck Down Music, home to Pharoahe Monch, 9th Wonder, Black Moon, Smif-N-Wessun, KRS-One and our own David Dallas, who has been working with the label for a while, since signing with them in Nov 2010.

P-Money's new single is out, called ‘Welcome To America’ featuring Skyzoo and Havoc of Mobb Deep - off his album Gratitude, due out later in the year. Have a listen/DL

ADDED P-Money's new track is featured on Nah Right, who say the new album is out May 21 in the US

Marbecks Lower Hutt shuts

I heard via Twitter earlier this week that Marbecks was shutting its store in Queensgate mall, in Lower Hutt, apparently one of a number of shops closing down in that mall. I asked Marbecks on their Facebook page what the story was.

Marbecks have confirmed this closure this morning via their Facebook page, posting the following:

"Yesterday marked the last day of trade for Marbecks Queensgate, we’re of course sad to close, but the closure had originally been planned for March last year, so we got an extra year over expectations, for which we’re grateful.

More importantly it marks the end of Chris Smith’s reign as music king of Queensgate, where he has reigned supreme for decades; I won’t let on how many ;-). The music man with the mullet has become a local legend!

Happily it is not the end of Chris’s reign in Lower Hutt, he is opening his own independent record store outside the mall, in a much more reasonably priced location & hopes to be the purveyor of all things music in the Hutt for many years to come – we wish him every good wish & blessing in his new venture.

Thanks to Chris & all the fine staff at Lower Hutt over our many, many years there. We wish all the leaving staff all the very best in the various new jobs & travels that they are going to, it was a great store, and you had a great reputation, you can leave with heads held high – job well done.

Great store, great people, good times.

Cheers, Rog"

ADDED: The new store that Chris Smith is opening is called Mint Music, check their Facebook page for how the store fitout is coming along.  It;'s at 258 High St, Lower Hutt.
UPDATE: Mint Music opened on March 8. Read 'Boutique retro feel to new music store' article from Dominion Post.

ADDED I asked Marbecks via Twitter this morning about reports their one of their Chch stores was advertising 'Last xmas sale ever' in their window, and were they closing - Marbecks responded that "as previously indicated, as & when leases permit we will be winding down our physical store footprint on a case by case basis."

ADDED 27 Feb: Have heard from someone in Christchurch that he was told by Marbecks Riccarton staff that they were closing that store, and the Merivale store is closing too, by Christmas.

Previous posts: Marbecks closes Queens Arcade after 78 years, opens Hobson St cafe
Marbecks Dunedin refocuses on cafe

Taite Prize finalists

 The Taite Prize finalists have been announced... Tom Scott makes it in twice with @peace and Home brew.

@Peace – @Peace (Frequency Media Group)
Aaradhna – Treble & Reverb (Frequency Media Group)
Collapsing Cities – Strangers Again (Pastel Pistol)
Home Brew – Home Brew (Young Gifted & Broke / Frequency Media Group)
Lawrence Arabia – The Sparrow (Honorary Bedouin)
OPOSSOM – Electric Hawaii (CRS Records)
SJD – Elastic Wasteland (Round Trip Mars)

And via Cheese on Toast here’s the judging panel:
Gary Steel (writer, editor, journalist at large)
Grant Smithies (Sunday Star Times)
Jan Hellriegel (IMNZ member / Native Tongue Music Publishing)
Lydia Jenkin (NZ Herald Entertainment)
Damian Vaughan (NZ Licensing Manager, APRA)
Leonie Hayden (Editor, RipItUp)
Murray Cammick (freelance DJ / music doyen)
Nick Atkinson (The Music Mix / Radio NZ)
Ren Kirk (Editor,
Sandra Hopping (IMNZ member/ Ode Records)
11th Man – John Taite (BBC America)

Mo Kolours: EP3: Tusk Dance

Mo Kolours has dropped his EP3: Tusk Dance, and it's up on Bandcamp as name your price. It's fruity as, give it a listen.

"Anglo-Mauritian pop-experimentalist Mo Kolours completes his trilogy of EPs for One-Handed Music with EP3: Tusk Dance. The most introspective collection so far, Tusk Dance is the best opportunity yet to glimpse the otherworldly visions of this unique singer, producer and percussionist."

Monday, February 25, 2013

Owiny Techno

Owiny Sigoma Band - Owiny Techno b/w Nyiduonge Drums. 12" / Digital. Released 01/04/13.

Lead track from Owiny Sigoma Band's sophomore album 'Power Punch' forthcoming on Brownswood Recordings. Boom!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

RIP Cleotha Staples

Staple Singers, Cleotha on left

Cleotha Staples, founding member of the Staple Singers, dies at 78. Via Soulbounce.

From Chicago Tribune: Cleotha Staples, founding member of the Staple Singers, dies at 78

"Cleotha Staples, one of the founding members of the renowned Chicago soul and gospel group the Staple Singers, died Thursday at the age of 78.

She had been suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease for 12 years, and had been under 24-hour home care. Her longtime caretaker was with her when she died at 11:11 a.m. Thursday in her high-rise condominium on the South Side, according to her sister, Mavis Staples.

Cleotha Staples was a vital component of the Staple Singers’ distinctive harmonies. Her soprano voice, which rang out like a bell and descended with a distinctive twang, was among the key musical elements in the family group that sold tens of millions of records and scored hits such as “I’ll Take You There,” “Respect Yourself” and “Uncloudy Day.”

Cleotha is survived by her sisters Mavis and Yvonne and her brother, Pervis.

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, Feb 23

Al Green - Love and happiness - Shoes edit
Charles Wright - That's all that matters baby
 Laura Lee - Crumbs off the table
Keith Mansfield - Crash course - Wai wan re-edit
Hypnotic brass ensemble - Sankofa
20th century steel band - Land of a thousand dances
Pepe Braddock - Peer pressure
45nm - Rider
Manasseh meets Blood and fire (feat Michael Rose and Ranking Joe) - No burial
Groove corp meets Twilight circus (feat Big Youth) - Love is what we need - G corp remix
Dubkasm - No retreat - flute instrumental
Marcia Griffiths - Electric boogie - Dub 1
 Groove armada - Tune in
Tony Allen - Ole - Moritz von Oswald remix
Kenny Dope - Get down
Jay Z - Show me what you got inst
Eric B and Rakim - I know you got soul
Jurassic 5 - Quality control
Mark Ronson - No one knows
Charles Wright -Doing what comes naturally
Prince Tui Teka - Let's stay together
Rim D Paul and the Quintikis - Poi poi twist

Friday, February 22, 2013

Fat Freddys live - Mother Mother

New track from the lads. Fat Freddys Drop are out on the winery tour circuit, and having fun, by the sounds of it.

"The first leg across the North Island and down South has been awesome!" Freddy's saxophone player Scott Towers aka Chopper Reeds told the NZ Herald.

"NZ rules! Days off playing golf and eating scallops, crayfish, flounder and even slow-cooked goat in the Hawke's Bay, swimming in the river at Mangatainoka and flinging the frisbee amongst the feijoa trees in New Plymouth. "

The Winery Tour heads to Nelson this Friday and Saturday, Blenheim on Sunday then up to the North Island for the final three shows in Tauranga, Auckland and Hamilton in March. Joined by The Adults, and Anika, Boh and Hollie.

Authors on wax for sale

Greg Gatenby in his office. Photo: Michelle Siu for National Post
Via National Post: World’s largest collection of authors on vinyl up for sale

"Some years ago, Greg Gatenby found himself in a dusty old record store in Stockholm, Sweden. The shelves were piled high with old 33s and 45s, but Gatenby wasn’t interested in music. He approached the clerk behind the counter and asked: “Do you have any records by authors?”

Gatenby, sitting in his Toronto office on Tuesday morning, mimics the clerk’s puzzled expression; head tilted to the side, eyes narrowed, lips pursed.

Eventually, the clerk spoke: “Do you mean novelists and poets?”

“Yes,” replied Gatenby.

“On vinyl? Do you care what format?”


“I’ve been waiting for you for 28 years,” the clerk said.

“I don’t understand,” said Gatenby.

“Oh, you will.”

The clerk rose from his seat and walked to a far corner of the store, where he placed a ladder against the packed shelves and climbed high off the ground. He proceeded to take down several heavy boxes full of nothing but spoken word LPs from around the world.

“He said I was the first person in 28 years to ever ask for authors on vinyl,” recalls Gatenby.

It was the pinnacle of Gatenby’s record-collecting career, but the number he discovered in that Stockholm store — 70 or 80 in all — is dwarfed by the collection he has amassed since then. A man best-known for his commitment to live readings —he is the founding artistic director of Toronto’sInternational Festival of Authors — Gatenby has accumulated what he calls the world’s largest collection of authors on wax. And all 1719 pieces of vinyl are currently for sale.

“There’s no categorical way of knowing, except that for 35 years I’ve been talking to record dealers who are amazed,” he says.

“When I tell them I have 1700-plus their jaws drop, because they just don’t know anyone who’s that crazy.”

King Britt workshop

King Britt sez "A few months ago, I gave a workshop on creating samples for sample packs and the philosophy I use when creating them. Here are highlights."

Crate diggers: Nu Mark

Ex Jurassic 5 DJ Nu Mark has got mad records. Totally worth the watch.

Jurassic 5 reunion confirmed for Coachella too. And maybe some more shows...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

6 million recordings are rotting

Report: Roughly 6 Million Archived Recordings are Rotting As We Speak... [via Digital Music News  -excerpts follow]

"The whereabouts of a wire recording made by the crew members of the Enola Gay from inside the plane as the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima are unknown. Many key recordings made by George Gershwin no longer survive. Recordings by Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, and other top recording artists have been lost."

The US Library of Congress reveals that a large percentage of America's recorded music history has been destroyed, lost, or is simply deteriorating as we speak. "Radio broadcasts, music, interviews, historic speeches, field recordings, comedy records, author readings and other recordings have already been forever lost to the American people," Librarian James H. Billington says.

The hard numbers clearly show a recording legacy under attack. In one survey that canvassed 46 million historic recordings across libraries, archives, museums, and societies, about 6 million works were deemed to be "in need" or "in urgent need" of restoration. On top of that, another 20 million are in an "unknown" state, suggesting a possible multiple of the 6 million figure.

When it comes to outright destruction or missing content, the reasons are varied. 'Acts of God' like a fire at a studio or radio station, or the recent Hurricane Sandy only compound problems like limited budgets and theft. But one of the largest culprits is US Copyright Law itself, which often handcuffs preservationists fearful of massive infringement penalties, even on stuff that is simply being left to rot.

Of particular focus are works created prior to February 15th, 1972, the date when copyright law was federalized. Go past that date, and you're dealing with a complicated patchwork of state laws, and often, 'orphan works' with unknown authors and origins.

"To complicate matters, state laws that prohibit unauthorized duplication of sound recordings make no provisions for duplication for preservation purposes by libraries or archives."

"Many pre-1972 sound recordings will deteriorate long before 2067, the year in which they will enter the public domain under current federal law," the report continues. "Sound recordings historically have been fixed on media that are much more fragile than many other types of copyrighted works."

Donald Byrd - Gilles P tribute

3rd copyright ruling out

Elton sez "How much? Ouch." Source
Yesterday the Copyright Tribunal announced their third ruling, over an internet user accused of uploading an Elton John song (twice), and a Coldplay song via torrent software. The user was fined $797.17, although RIANZ was asking for a $3931 penalty.

From Stuff NZ: "...The tribunal instead ordered $7.17 in direct compensation, the repayment of $250 in fees Rianz had paid to get the case to the tribunal and a deterrent of $180 for each of the three "strikes". The deterrent was slightly higher than the $120 benchmark set in its first Skynet judgement.

The tribunal explained the internet user had been found to have illegally shared a total of 97 tracks and offered no explanation for the offences.

The decision follows two awards, of $616 and $557, ordered by the tribunal in cases where Rianz had also sought thousands of dollars and appears to indicate the sums it will award against pirates in most cases are likely to remain in three figures."

Copyright lawyer Rick Shera (who works for clients on both sides of the copyright debate) commented on his blog that the ruling offers "Clear affirmation that file sharing networks, of themselves, are not illegal. Note however that the Tribunal implies that "much of the content" on such networks is infringing (although without referencing any evidence for that statement)."

Contrast this with comments from Rianz's Chris Caddick, who was reported by Newstalk ZB in January thus: 'Managing director, Chris Caddick says it takes effort to share content. He says it's a deliberate act to download a piece of software which enables peer-to-peer file sharing.'

I asked Shera via Twitter: "decision mentions there was 'no response of any kind from acct holder' - so how do they know the acct holder got the 3 warnings?"

His response: " That is part of the presumption of guilt", with this link to the Copyright Act, 122N Infringement notice as evidence of copyright infringement.

NBR notes that 'Under Section 122N of the Act - the "presumption of guilt section" as Shera and other legal critics call it - there's no requirement for a rights holder to even prove the defendant actually even received the notices.'

NBR also reports that "A rep for Rianz said the industry group had no detailed statement on the decision. But he did tell NBR ONLINE, "We think the decision is a good one and sends a message that if you illegally share files and are caught you can expect a fine. This particular fine would have bought the respondent five years of Spotify premium service. Why bother to illegally share music?"

Further reading:
NBR has the raw data - Third ruling (PDF) NBR also has the two previous rulings in full.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Mara meets Moodymann

Electric Wire Hustle's Mara TK dropped a solo 7"single a little while back, and has pulled together some sterling names for a few remixes on the Taniwhunk EP. You get Moodymann and Simbad plus the originals on this 12" from German label OnGravity. Out now in UK/Europe, stand by for it to drop in NZ record stores very soon. Hat tip to Martyn Pepperell over at Vanguard Red for this one.

You can catch Electric Wire Hustle and family playing at Womad, doing a very special set where the band members will be joined by their parents - in Mara's case, that means his dad, legendary guitarist Billy TK, plays alongside him. Photo below....

Electric Wire Hustle with Billy TK, Sam Manzanza & Lê Nuong

New Jet Jaguar bizz

The first of six eps due out this year from Mr Upton, aka Jet Jaguar, go check it! Listen below... and name your price.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Potatohead People newie

"Brooklyn-based Bastard Jazz Recordings is proud to present The Kosmichemusik EP by Montreal/Vancouver duo Potatohead People (aka producers Nick Wisdom & AstroLogical) who had previously created internet buzz through their digital-only releases on netlabel Jellyfish Recordings.

Their debut for Bastard Jazz is a trip through the mellow synth-jazz hip-hop style they’ve become known for.
The EP kicks off with “Kosmichemusik”, a chugging joint with humming bass, gritty drums and well polished glimmering synths setting the mood proper. Next up, “It Gets Good” features Vancouver mainstay MC and renaissance man Moka Only spitting mellow Sunday-morning style rhymes over Potatoheads deep and moody hip-hop vibes, while “Blossoms” features Canadian vocalist and frequent collaborator Claire Mortifee providing gorgeous, quirky vocals over a bubbling, bouncy track with subdued bass, guitar and Rhodes weaving themselves in. 

Next up, “Love Hz” is an instrumental cut with crispy drums, ghostly vocal stabs, a catchy bubbling bassline and pulsing keyboards, while “Back To My Shit" is a lovelorn tale of breakup and redemption featuring the rhymes of Detroit's Frank Nitt (Frank'n'Dank, J. Dilla) with very catchy yet deep synth-heavy production from the Potatohead People. The EP rounds off with “Journey”, an expedition the deeper realms of beat music with subaqueous synths, lifting strings, and neck-snapping drums.

Bastard Jazz will also be releasing a limited edition 7” from this project featuring “Love Hz” and “Back To My Sh*t” on Valentine’s Day for all the heart-breakers and/or broken hearted."

Purchase the digital: iTunes, Amazon, Junodownload, Bastard Jazz Shop.

Dubmatix w Mykal Rose, free DL

Yosi Horikawa w Grayson Gilmour

YOSI HORIKAWA - AOTEAROA from Tom Gould on Vimeo.

New one from First Word Records, recent visitor to Aoteaora, Mister Yosi Horikawa....

"Fresh from last week's Souleance release, we're back with more great new music for your listening pleasure. Whispers from An Angel is the second release on First Word Records from Japanese producer Yosi Horikawa. After the delicate instrumental electronica of debut EP 'Wandering' this release sees a collaboration with fellow Red Bull Music Academy alumni Grayson Gilmour [NZ], Anenon & Jesse Boykins III. Originally recorded at Red Bull's studios in Madrid, the track remained unfinished for almost a year. It was too good to stay incomplete however and is the perfect release ahead of Yosi's debut album later this year.

Yosi's idiosyncratic production style is the ideal counterpoint to Jesse's soulful vocals and some subtle keyboard work from Grayson. With the addition of a tasteful saxophone solo from Anenon this is a track that is a collaboration in the truest sense of the word. On the b-side is the instrumental 'Dots' - another intricate Yosi rhythm, with layer upon layer of strange pops and crackles slowly building into a trademark off-kilter beat.

The release is topped off with a remix from Anenon of the title track adding a brooding build and a more club-friendly beat - effortlessly taking the track into a new dimension. The lead track is also available on a limited edition 7" - due to huge demand we've put 'Bubbles' from the debut EP on the flip. So many of you wanted it on vinyl, we had to make it happen. 

Listen / buy it here. It's shaping up to be a great year for Yosi after XLR8R named him as one of their artists to watch in 2013 and Time Out Tokyo picked 'Wandering' in their list of Japanese albums of 2012. For those that missed it you can also check out the stunning video project above from Yosi's recent trip to New Zealand...

Friday, February 15, 2013

Third3ye - Moments video

Some fine, jazzy blunted Aoteaora hiphop. Potholes in my blog is up on this one, saying " The latest NZ act to land on our radar is the trio of Third3ye, which is made up of melodic rappers Angelo King and MeloDownz and jazzy producer SwervinMervin. Last November, they released the damn-good Earth Raps EP, which features standout tracks like “Moments”. The spiritual, uplifting song just received a complementary visual treatment."

Listen/download below

Thursday, February 14, 2013

P-Money, flashbacks

P-Money has recently posted up a ton of his back catalog on Soundcloud for your listening pleasure, ahead for some new music dropping from him, dropping in two weeks. Check his Che Fu remix...

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Parris does Radz

The world champion dancers Parris Goebel and Re-Quest dance crew and freinds mix it up to Aaradhna's great ska inflected ditty Keep My Cool. Love it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Solomonix reggae

This album from Auckland reggae outfit Solomonix, produced by Riddim Central's Iron Will, dropped late last year, and has recently hit Bandcamp, pay what you like. Serious roots reggae from Aotearoa, tasty business. Check it.

Kimbra wins Grammys

Gotye and Kimbra. Photo:

Kimbra scored two Grammy nominations for her guest slot on Gotye's hit single Somebody That I Used To Know - Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, and also Record of the year - and won. She arrived in Los Angeles a few days ago, saying she would be based there for the next few months, and first item of business was get all dressed up for Sunday night's awards ceremony.

Gotye won Best Alternative Album, then he And Kimbra won Best Pop Duo. She looked thrilled. Then the big one, Record of the year.

Kimbra told the NZ Herald's Russell Baillie that  she "didn't think they had much chance. Especially as unlike those fellow nominees they hadn't been asked to play the song on the night. "I kinda took that as a sign that maybe we weren't going to be main players in the awards ... but we were stoked to be at an award ceremony for the first time and we were able to relax and not have to worry about a performance."

The award was announced by Prince. Kimbra was pretty excited about seeing Prince, mentioning on Twitter earlier in the day "Prince will be at The Grammys presenting an award tonight. Breathe, breathe"

Check Prince's entrance... gif by Rich Juzwiak, who says  "Prince is still the coolest, no matter what he says."

Then Prince intros the nominees, thne says "The award goes to..." he opens the envelope, looks at the winners name., and says "oh, I love this song... Somebody That I Used To Know."

Cut to Gotye and Kimbra getting up in the audience, she looks completely stunned. They get up on stage, and Gotye makes a brief speech, and thanks Prince for his music, then Kimbra thanks Gotye and his producer, and also thanks Prince. He stands there, being all enigmatic. What a dude. Watch the clip on the Grammys site.Or watch below, if it's still up.

Previous Kiwi Grammy winners are jazz arranger/musician Alan Broadbent (7 nominations and two wins) and Flight of the Conchords.

ADDED:  Kimbra tweeted "Still can't believe this actually happened. Framing this moment forever in my mind"  - see photo below...

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Free Mr Chop

Wicked sampler of Mr Chop's mighty work, some great bleepy business...

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, Feb 9

 Johnny Hammond - Higher ground
Buddy Miles - Them changes
Idris Muhammad - Express yourself
Mantarays - Originator
Quincy Jones - Hummin
Nat King Cole - Ay cosita Linda
Eli Goulart - Meu samba - Nicola Conte remix
Thelonious Monk - Straight no chaser
Madhouse - Two
Sheila E - Love bizarre
SOS Band  - SOS (dit dit dit dash dash dash dit dit dit)
Slim - It's in the mix
Womack and Womack - Teardrops
Laidback - Get laidback
Chancha via curcuito - Vaina
Comfort fit - Nitro
Stinky Jim - Get ready to talk
Cos ber zam - Ne noya - Daphni mix
Michael Olatunji - Soul makossa
Hugh Masekela - Languta (live in Auckland, March 14, and at Womad)
Ralph Myerz and the Jack Herren band - Savannah
General Echo - Drunken master
Donald Byrd - Think twice
John Davis and the monster orchestra - Holler

Friday, February 08, 2013

Aaradhna signs US album deal

Last night on TVNZ's Seven Sharp, Aaradhna announced her new five album deal with US major label Republic Records (formerly named Universal Republic). Watch that announcement here. Exciting news!

Of course, now comes the hard work to make some kind of impact in the US market, but having a great album for starters is sure gonna help. Good luck, Radz!

Catch Aaradhna on the Summer Vineyard  Tour with Opshop, Missy Higgins, and Che Fu in February, dates here. Official press release on Aaradhna's album news here.

Previous post: Aaradhna live instore, Real Groovy

RIP Donald Byrd

photo: LastFM
Posted on Facebook by Byrd's nephew, Alex Bugnon...

"Donald Byrd 1932- 2013
Donald passed away Monday in Delaware, where he lived. His funeral will be held in Detroit sometime next week. I have no more patience for this unnecessary shroud of secrecy placed over his death by certain members of his immediate family ( NOT His children! We are very tight! ) who are "handling" it. I'm letting y'all know, so spread it as far as you can! Let's remember Donald as a one of a kind pioneer of the trumpet, of the many styles of music he took on, of music education. In sum, Donald was an avid, eternal student of music, until his death. That's what I try to be, everyday!!
Rest in peace, uncle!"

ADDED: from Potholes In My Blog: " His influence, as you may know, is massive, as he played with everyone from John Coltrane to Eric Dolphy to Ahmad Jamal while amassing a highly notable discography in his own right. Additionally, Byrd left a huge mark on the hip-hop community, and it wasn’t just through producers sampling his music. Fans of Guru’s Jazzmatazz albums know full well that Byrd’s trumpet could be heard throughout the first two releases.

For us here at Potholes, two of Byrd’s most treasured moments came when J Dilla and Madlib reinterpreted his tunes on “Think Twice” and “Stepping into Tomorrow”, respectively..."

ADDED Feb 12: New York Times obit:  Donald Byrd, Renegade Jazz Trumpeter, Dies at 80

Bio from LastFM:
Donaldson Toussaint L’Ouverture Byrd II (born December 9, 1932) is an American jazz, rhythm and blues trumpeter. Born in Detroit, Michigan. He performed with Lionel Hampton before finishing high school. After playing in a military band during a term in the United States Air Force, he obtained a bachelor’s degree in music from Wayne State University and a master’s degree from Manhattan School of Music. While still at the Manhattan School he joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, replacing Clifford Brown. After leaving the Jazz Messengers in 1956 he performed with a wide variety of highly regarded jazz musicians.

In the 1970s, he moved away from his previous hard-bop jazz base and began to record jazz fusion and rhythm and blues. Teaming up with the Mizell Brothers, he produced Black Byrd, which was enormously successful and became Blue Note Records’ highest-ever selling album. The follow-up albums, Places and Spaces, Steppin’ Into Tomorrow and Street Lady were also big sellers, and have subsequently provided a rich source of samples for hip-hop artists such as Us3.

He has taught music at Rutgers University, the Hampton Institute, New York University, Howard University, and Oberlin College. In 1974 he created the Blackbyrds, a fusion group consisting of his best students. They scored several major hits, including “Walking In Rhythm” and “Blackbyrds Theme”.

Full bio at AllMusic...

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Igelese - Groovalation

Iglese, from Rip It Up issue 214, 1995
Igelese Ete released the single Groovalation in 1995, on local label Papa Pacific Records, run by Manu Taylor, then working at Marbecks (these days he is station manager at BFM). Papa Pacific also released early recordings by Dei Hamo, Johnny Sagala (Lost Tribe), Stellar, and Fieldstyle Orator [now Tha Feelstyle].

Igelese moved from Samoa to Wellington when he was 7. Rip It Up's John Russell (Issue 214, 1995) writes that "Igelese began singing in the choir at the church where his father was a preacher, and wound up as both a member and conductor of several singing groups, including the National Youth Choir. At age 15, he was resident pianist at the Park Royal Hotel in Wellington." Igelese went on to complete a music degree at Victoria University, with a major in performance singing.

Igelese says Groovalation was his "plan to combine different styles of music, and by doing that I hoped to get a unifying effect. I included the Polynesian styles because that's my background,  and Maori because I wanted to pay tribute to the tangata whenua. The other reason I wanted to do Groovalation was to prove to young people that if you have a vision, not to give up."

Once he had the song recorded, getting a NZ On Air video grant proved difficult without a record company backing it. Russell writes that "Igelese was turned down three times ... for video funding. He had no initial success when he began searching for a recording contract."

Igelese : "I'm no record company, but I think most of them were too scared to take a song that had a Samoan and a Maori rapper. Maybe they just thought it was too extreme to try and sell"

He eventually got a deal with indie label Papa Pacific (distributed by Warners), and RIU reports that there was an album planned for later in the year (95).

RIU: "Meanwhile,Igelese has begun collaborating with Gifted and Brown and former Rough Opinion rapper Kas [now known as Tha Feelstyle] on what he describes as a new urban sound. Igelese  "I think the next thing people are going to get into is Polynesian fusion - mixing up a lot of different styles. That will be the thing to look out for." [which neatly points to the rise of the likes of Urban Pacifika/OMC]

Groovalation proved successful at commercial radio, earning Papa Pacific a Radio Hits funding rebate from NZ On Air, given to acts that achieved a significant level of radio airplay. The song spent 11 weeks in the NZ singles chart (and 5 weeks in the top 20), peaking at number 13 on 2nd July, 1995. Video directed by Makerita Urale (one of King Kapisi's sisters) and Simon Beaufield.

From NZ on Air Kiwi Hit Disc #13 liner notes "Groovalation started life as Tutufa'atasi (Meaning "standing together" or unity) and was written for the 1994 International Festival of the Arts' finale concert."