20 Essential NZ Releases
Written by Admin on May 31, 2016
Throughout the Month of May, Base FM will be digging into the local music archives to present 20 essential NZ releases that we feel reflect the sound of Base FM. Spanning the last 20+ years, we’ve focused on releases which continue to play a part in the sound you hear on Base FM, and releases which have continue to influence the next generation of local music makers.
Tune into Base FM Breakfast at 9.30am each morning throughout May, where we’ll introduce an album a day and feature 3 tracks from each release.
[nextpage title=”ELECTRIC WIRE HUSTLE ‘Electric Wire Hustle'”]
ELECTRIC WIRE HUSTLE ‘Electric Wire Hustle’
Released via Every Waking Hour (NZ, 2009), BBE (Europe, 2010), and Wonderful Noise (Japan, 2010) as a 3-part limited series on vinyl.
With their debut self-titled album Electric Wire Hustle achieved cult status. A number one song on Hype Machine, five-star reviews from the likes of Okayplayer, and BBC Radio support from Gilles Peterson and Benji B secured them unwavering support internationally.
Press releases via www.bbemusic.com (2010):
Developing their own sound and twist on modern hip hop, psychedelic and soul, New Zealand’s Electric Wire Hustle has forged a fresh sound that challenges genre boundaries and preconceptions. The music of EWH reaches forward while referencing key points of music’s past. Thick drums and percussion layered with synth lines, hints of Fender Rhodes and nylon stringed guitars have your neck snapping while your ear cranes to the evocative vocals of Mara TK. Since forming in 2007 the trio of – Mara TK, Taay Ninh and Myele Manzanza – have experienced an outstanding response to their music. Their strong live shows have seen them support the likes of UK soul singer Alice Russell, Japan’s DJ Krush, Grooveman Spot and U.S. psychedlic soul outfit SA-RA Creative Partners. EWH have also had the pleasure of collaborating with U.S. recording artists Georgia Anne Muldrow (Epistrophik Peach/SomeOthaShip/ Ubiquity Records), Atlanta based Stacy Epps, Mara’s dad; NZ blues legend Billy TK and UK future Soul exponent Steve Spacek who all feature on their debut album.
“Already given the coveted Gilles Peterson seal of approval, and wrapping up their first tour of the states, Electric Wire Hustle are on their way to groundbreaking status.” – Revivalist/ Okayplayer.com
“Quite simply this is the best, most exciting R&B, soul, electronica, whatever you want to call it, record I’ve heard this year.” – Okayplayer.com
“A great blend of forward thinking hip hop, jazz and soul.” – Waajeed (Platinum Pied Pipers, Bling47, Ubiquity)
“The group I am most excited about is Electric Wire Hustle…their LP is rock solid.” – Tyler Askew (Rude Movements/Shibuya FM)
“(Electric Wire Hustle) have fulfilled their early promise by crafting a dynamic album to woo both the songwriters and beat junkies.” – Straight No Chaser
‘Electric Wire Hustle’s debut album selected as number 1 album of Top 10 albums of 2009’ – Aaron Byrd & Anthony Valadez (Radio KCRW Los Angeles)
[nextpage title=”CHE FU ‘2 B.S. Pacific'”]
CHE FU ‘2b S.Pacific’
Released October 1998 via BMG
Che Fu’s debut album is an absolute classic, with songs that remain as relevant today (both sonically & lyrically) as they did when they were fist released in 1998. While we could wax lyrical about our favourite tracks from this album all day long, we’ve unearthed a much better detailed description courtesy of Peter Mac’s (Base FM’s Ring The Alarm) dubdotdash blog, published in 2013 on the eve of Che’s Tyler St Garage performance where he revisited this album in it’s entirety live.
Che Fu revisits his 1998 debut album 2 B S.Pacific (produced by Andy Morton aka Submariner), later this month at Tyler St Garage, playing it in full on May 30, 2013. The album was his first major statement after getting fired from Supergroove – Che: “I didn’t leave the band, I was thrown out.”
Che talked about the events surrounding the creation of his debut album in an extensive interview in Back2Basics magazine with the mag’s editor DJ Sir-Vere, back in 2005. The following comes from that interview.
Che had a meeting with his label about his solo album and was asked to bring along examples of what he wanted it to sound like. He took along Mad Lion’s tune Take It Easy, a heavy ragga hiphop track produced by KRS One. Che is in the BMG boardroom, he’s smiling and saying “Do you like it?'” and they freaked out. “They didn’t know how to pigeonhole me and didn’t like the reggaeness of my [demo] tracks. They thought they’d send me to New York to take the reggae out of me! That’s the worst place to send someone if you don’t went them to get into Jamaican styles. Brooklyn dancehall, boh! … I was also sent there to look for some producers but it didn’t really work out.”
Che came back and started recording his debut album with DLT, following on from their collaboration on the hit single Chains (more on that song’s creation in a minute), but Che decided against pursing this.
“I wasn’t really happy with the way things were going [with DLT]. It was like people didn’t trust me to do my shit, my way. I could understand because I hadn’t done it before but I felt in my own head I knew what I wanted to do. I called Andy Morton and finished it off with him.”
Che also revealed how he wrote the lyrics and the distinctive chorus for Chains. “DLT was doing his own album and asked me to do a track. So I turn up at the studio to do this track. As far as I knew I was just going to bust a rhyme on one of his songs. I go in the booth and he says ‘You got your chorus ready?’ I was like ‘Chorus?’ I didn’t want to look like I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing, so I said ‘I just have to go to the toilet.’
“I go in to the toilet and am like ‘oh my god, oh my god! He thinks I’m doing a whole track.’So I stand there, in the toilet, and came up with ‘Come break my chains come help me out…’ I went straight back to the booth and sung it even though I had made it up 30 seconds before!”
Che had never told anyone that story (apart from his manager and his lady) before that 2005 interview with Sir-Vere.
Like Sir-Vere says, “consider the genius of this man. Chains would go on to hold the number one spot in NZ for six weeks … off DLT’s hot track and a hook written by Che Fu, in 30 seconds, in a toilet.”
Perhaps one of the most surprising admissions in the interview is about Che’s singing voice. I’d always thought he’d had a natural singing talent. Turns out it took some work…
Che: “I’d played guitar for four years [in Low Down Dirty Blues Band/Supergroove] and didn’t do any singing … after one gig [where I did some singing] parents came up and started hassling, saying ‘you should get Che to sing more.’ This is when I was 16. That’s when I thought if I’m gonna sing, man, I’ve gotta come out phat … so I started practising, training. Asterix, he’s my favourite in the 12 Tribes Band. When he first came to the house he couldn’t sing for s**t. Then one year he was bad [good], so I asked him ‘how did you lift up the level?’ And he said ‘I just listened to a lot of Earth Wind and Fire.’
“So I tried to copy that. People always say ‘You could always sing’, but I was like no, I learnt it.” Che says he spent a year singing along to Stevie Wonder, Donnie Hathaway and others.
Much respect to Sir-Vere for pulling such a great interview out of Che.
The album 2 B S.Pacific features contributions from Chip Matthews on bass, Ned Ngatae on guitar, and production from Andy ‘Submariner’ Morton, all of whom worked alongside Che in the hiphop collective Token Village. Chong Nee played keys and produced two tracks; Juse produced one also.
Scratches on the album were covered by Manuel Bundy, with DJ Sub Zero also making an appearance, and Che scratches on a few tracks too. Guest vocals for King Kapisi, Ras Daan, Phatmosphere, all Token Village MCs (TVMCs). Album art by Otis and Dick Frizzell, photos by Greg Semu and Glenn Jowitt.
[nextpage title=”OPENSOULS ‘Kaleidoscope'”]OPENSOULS ‘Kaleidoscope’
Released April 2006 on From The Crate / Rhythmethod
It took 5 years to create the debut Opensouls album Kaleidoscope, which originally started as sketches back in 2001 on Otas MPC2000. Ota aka Jeremy Toy, pulled together a remarkable group of musicians over those 5 years, the Opensouls band made up of Bjorn Petersen & Tyra Hammond [vocals], Chip Matthews [bass], Isaac Aesili [trumpet], Scott Towers [sax], Stephanie Brown [keyboards], Buttafingers [turntables], Julien Dyne [drums] and Jeremy himself [guitar/MPC2000].
Three of the band have traveled to South Africa, Rome and Seattle as part of the Red Bull Music Academy, the music, experiences & inspiration informing Kaleidoscope, as much as the groups constant gigging and appearances at festivals such as Soundsplash & Rippon. Many of the group are experienced musicians, with members of well known underground and overground NZ groups such as Solaa, Hollie Smith Band, Fat Freddys Drop, Che Fu & The Krates making up the Opensouls band.
Kaleidoscope is 16 tracks deep with production from the beatmaker that brought to light In Your Hands and Turn It Up!, Jeremy Toy, with co-production from Julien Dyne. The album was mastered in LA by Dave Cooley, mastering engineer for Stones Throw Records [Madlib, J Dilla etc.] who has also worked with David Axelrod and Queens Of The Stone Age.
2. The Optimist
3. What Do You Do?
4. Latin Joint
5. They Dont Even Know
7. Turn It Up!
9. Moving On
12. Falling In
14. In Your Hands
15. Rise Up [Pt. 1]
16. Rise Up [Pt. 2]
Kaleidoscope was later re-released with a bonus disc featuring instrumental versions of all the songs.
[nextpage title=”LADI6 ‘Time Is Not Much'”]
LADI6 ‘Time Is Not Much’
Released on Question Music in 2008, distributed by Rhythmethod.
The following text is taken from a 2008 interview with Ladi about the album: http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/music/729076/Ladi6-heads-out-on-her-own
Time Is Not Much is the debut album of Christchurch-born singer/songwriter/rapper Ladi6 (born Karoline Tamati), released in November 2008. It won Best Urban/Hip Hop Album and Ladi6 was nominated for Best Female Solo Artist at the 2009 New Zealand Music Awards.In the same year Ladi6 won Best Pacific Female Artist at the 2009 Pacific Music Awards
Time Is Not Much was named after Ladi’s 10-year-old cousin Shaquille who died suddenly just a few weeks before the album was completed. The name came from a poem the 10 year old had written – “thanks to her the album has more meaning – it’s not just music for music’s sake. She wanted to be a singer, she wanted to go to London and do all these things I’ve just recently done – and I feel I’ve taken her spirit with me. I’m glad something good comes from her death … she gets to be the star of the show.”
Ladi didn’t start singing until she spent over a year in Tanzania with her family as a teenager, where her father taught her guitar. At 18 she joined all girl hiphop crew Sheelaroc with her older sisters and cousin Tyra Hammond. In 2002 Footnote Records released the Sheelahroc single If I Gave You Th’ Mic, produced by Nava Thomas, in what Tamati describes as “the first significant recording we’d ever done”.
Time Is Not Much was released independently in New Zealand and debuted at number 4 on the New Zealand Top 40 Album chart, staying in the top 40 albums for 10 weeks.The album was mostly produced by Ladi6’s partner Parks (aka Brent Park). It was released throughout Europe by London label Records in July 2010.
[nextpage title=”LORD ECHO ‘Melodies'”]
LORD ECHO ‘Melodies’
Lord Echo review by Scott Kara for Time Out, NZ Herald (17th Feb, 2011)
Verdict: Black Seeds man reveals his diverse musical nous
Under the guise of Lord Echo, Mike Fabulous of the Black Seeds breaks out and shows he is made of much more than just head nodding, catchy reggae. And while there is the echo and shudder of pure dub emanating from this classy solo album, Melodies also encompasses everything from chinking loungey grooves, reggae house, wild and joyous Latin and Afro-jazz influences, and moments of stomping heaviness, while still maintaining a solid uniform
sound all of its own.
‘That’s Right’ is a marvel with its smooth Black Science Orchestra/Ashley Beedle saunter and groove to it, ‘Wang East’ is similar, only more pulsing, psychedelic and soulful, and ‘The Book Keeper’ is a sleepy reggae gem while six-minute skanker ‘Sword Cane’ is sweet, yet oddly surreal. The Latin and Afro moments come through on the cosmic, sax-driven ‘Miracle Dance’, and the percussive and brassy funk of ‘Terabu’. And while the electronic bird cheeps during ‘Honest I Do’ ruffle the ears a little they are inspired.
With many guests from the capital city, including Fat Freddys Drop member Toby Laing and Phoenix Foundation’s Will Ricketts, Melodies doesn’t do much to dispel the idea that there is no such thing as the Wellington sound because it’s Wellington through and through. It has that same soothing, friendly, and warming Fat Freddy’s Drop and Black Seeds vibe, only with more variety – and it’s fabulous stuff.
[nextpage title=”KORA ‘EP Volume’ “]KORA ‘EP Volume’
Kora first got started back in the 90s when the Whakatane raised Kora brothers entered and won the Smokefree Rockquest under the name Aunty Beatrice. In 2002 Laughton and Francis Kora recorded the track ‘Barely Can See’ with Dan McGruer and Lilou, a Madagascan tourist, for LOOP Select 004 compilation with Wellington-based record label Recordings Aot(ear)oa. The track, released under the name Kora, received such a positive response from critics that it buoyed on the recording of ‘EP Volume’ with all four brothers and Dan. The EP was released in 2004 and included the tracks ‘Burning’ and ‘Politician’ which immediately achieved mainstream popularity. ‘Politician’ is still regularly dug out by Base FM DJs, especially as a song that so often sums up our feelings about the local political climate.
‘EP Volume’ reached No. 4 on the IMNZ charts and led to the band touring the country and headlining festivals such as Kaikoura Roots and Soundsplash.
[nextpage title=”JULIEN DYNE ‘Pins & Digits'”]JULIEN DYNE ‘Pins & Digits’
Released in 2009 via From The Crate, Wonderful Noise & BBE.
Julien Dyne is a multi-talented artist – a top New Zealand drummer, producer and visual artist.
Best known for his work as the drummer for Opensouls and Tyra and the Tornadoes, Julien has also worked with the likes of Verse Two, Nathan Haines, Fat Freddy’s Drop and Ladi6. Since his selection for the Red Bull Music Academy in Rome in 2004 Julien has been working with international artists and forging his own unique sound as a producer.
Julien spent two weeks in Cologne in 2007 where he recorded, collaborated and co-produced with legendary musicians and producers including the Mizell brothers (Motown/ Jackson 5, Donald Byrd, Bobbi Humphrey), Om’mas Keith (Sa- Ra), Steve Spacek, Mark Pritchard (Harmonic 313), Andreya Triana, Black Spade , Theo Parrish , Roman Rosic, Skymark and Sophie Loizou.
Pins and Digits is Julien’s long awaited debut album, following the critical acclaim of his first release Phantom Limbo EP (2007). Phantom Limbo EP introduced Julien as a producer and served as a platform for him to showcase his sizable percussion and production skills – he expertly moulds together produced beats and live instrumentation to create a sound which encompasses hip hop and funk, afrobeat and jazz. The Sunday Star Times described the EP as “the most convincing local hybrid of jazz, funk and hip-hop I’ve heard in a very long time.” Lead single ‘Maddingos’ was nominated for a bnet award 2007, and remains a local anthem for DJs.
Pins and Digits features guests spots from some of New Zealand’s most talented musicians including Jonathan Crayford, Paul Dyne, Lewis McCallum, Jeremy Toy (opensouls), John Bell, Isaac Aesili, Steph Brown and stand out tracks from the fresh vocal talents of Mara TK (Electric Wire Hustle) and Parks (Ladi6). Stylistically Pins and Digits combines the big bass, brass and beats aesthetic of the Phantom Limbo EP with futuristic keyboards and synthesised sounds.
[nextpage title=”THE BLACK SEEDS ‘On The Sun'”]THE BLACK SEEDS ‘On The Sun’
Released 2004 through Capitol and Shock Records
‘On The Sun’ was The Black Seeds second album, evolving from the dub/reggae of their debut album ‘Keep On Pushing’ to include a tighter, more funk and soul infused sound. Produced by Lee Prebble and mastered in Sydney, the album was created to stand up to the pressures of a big, fat sound system while sounding just as good in your headphones. ‘On The Sun’ debuted at number 3 on the New Zealand album charts and achieved double platinum sales.
In 2005 the album was released in Australia through Loop Recordings and Shock Records, adding to the band’s building popularity across the Tasman. The Black Seeds have joined Fat Freddy’s Drop, Ladi6, Katchafire etc as one of those New Zealand bands that regularly spends half the year touring overseas. They also helped to draw international attention to the local live reggae/dub/soul music scene here in Aotearoa.
The track ‘So True’ was a hit on mainstream radio here in New Zealand, and one of the most popular songs of the 2004/2005 summer. Here at Base FM ‘So True’ got just as much love while ‘Fire’, ‘Senegal Champions Of Africa’ and ‘Turn It Around’ were also in high rotation and continue to get pulled out as NZ classics.
[nextpage title=”TEAM DYNAMITE ‘Shepherds Delight'”]
TEAM DYNAMITE ‘Shepherds Delight’
Released 2014 through Young Gifted and Broke
Shepherds Delight was Team Dynamites first full length album which saw the musicians nominated for 4 awards at the Vodafone Pacific Music Awards including Best Pacific Urban Artist, Best Pacific Music Album, and APRA Best Pacific Song for their collaboration with Che Fu on the track ‘Coconut Lime’.
The overall sound is driven by Haz Beats, best known for his work with Young Gifted and Broke’s Home Brew Crew and complimented by the exceptional lyrical flows of MC’s Lucky Lance and Tony Tz.
The album also features some excellent collaborations with other NZ artists including Tonga Vaea, Lui Silk, @peace and of course Che Fu.
[nextpage title=”RIA HALL ‘Ria Hall'”]RIA HALL ‘Ria Hall’
Ria Hall EP review published 06 November 2011 via www.music.net.nz
A REVIEW BY DILEMMA
Ria Hall has had an interesting journey leading up to the release of her debut EP. She has wowed crowds touring with some of NZ’s musical elite, backing up Hollie Smith, holding her own beside Anna Coddington in Eru Dangerspiel and singing with TrinityRoots. She has a background performing with one of New Zealand’s top kapahaka groups, and her recent performance at the RWC opening ceremony was a breath taking start to her solo career.
On her debut self-titled EP, Ria Hall drapes a series of musings on unity, culture and is laced with the beauty of the Maori language. The 5 tracks are laid out as a journey on a well constructed E.P. ‘It’s Alright’ begins the procession with a mystical sounding Maori introduction and leads into a solid digital sound. ‘Ko Au Ko La,‘ ‘One’ and ‘I am a Child’ tell a story that become a somewhat more political and cultural sound while still keeping a constant beat, harmonies and staying true to the natural talent of Ria Hall. Ending with ‘Best of Me’ quickens the tempo and makes you want to listen to more, but with the promise of more to come this little taster will make you appreciate the wait.
Produced by Riki Gooch (Eru Dangerspiel), their goal was to create an EP that intertwines and celebrates Maori culture and progressive future music. The result is an EP showcasing a diverse range of musical content, influences and styles. Now the door has been flung wide open, there is no telling where the music might take things next.
[nextpage title=”TRINITY ROOTS ‘Home, Land and Sea'”]TRINITY ROOTS ‘Home, Land and Sea’
Home, Land and Sea review by Sian Bennett, from www.amplifier.co.nz via NZ Musician.
Released August 2004.
The second offering from TrinityRoots is roots and reggae of the purest kind. Steeped in mystique, flavoured with jazz and infused with soul, there is a sense of timelessness and space present on this album. There is no rush. There are no radio edits. Everything has its place, ebbing and flowing accordingly. From the opening track Aotearoa‚ “a heartfelt and spiritual ode to our Motherland”, TrinityRoots delve deep into the magical soil of this country. The hypnotic Longs I For You creeps and crawls its way through the subconscious, All We Be is an inspiring call to step up and realise your own potential. The album is woven throughout with soundbites from friends and whanau with The Dream evocative of a late afternoon jam session. Alongside TrinityRoots members Warren Maxwell, Rio Hemopo and Riki Gooch, Hollie Smith also contributes an understated and appealing vocal style. Recorded at their Wellington studio, The Surgery, with audio whiz Lee Prebble on engineering and shared production duties, ‘Home Land and Sea’ succeeds in capturing an essence of that which is unique to Aotearoa.
The digital re-release of ‘Home, Land and Sea’ also features 2 bonus live recordings.
[nextpage title=”PACIFIC HEIGHTS ‘In A Quiet Storm'”]
PACIFIC HEIGHTS ‘In A Quiet Storm’
Released in 2008 via Trutone Recordings
Review by Scott Kara for NZ Herald (September 2008).
Pacific Heights is the solo project of Shapeshifter’s flamboyant performer and production whiz Devin Abrams, but don’t expect the rousing drum’n’bass style of his main band. This time round, on In A Quiet Storm, there’s hardly a break beat in earshot as Abrams mixes up laid-back hip-hop, gently pulsing, and at times convulsing electronica, and lashings of smooth Kiwi soul. He’s helped out, especially on the latter, by well-known singers Ladi6 and Fat Freddy’s frontman Joe Dukie, and up-and-comers from his hometown of Christchurch, including the seductive mutterings of Mara TK on TK Funk. While the opening rap-cum-spoken word intro is a little twee, the album builds beautifully, moving from the lazy house music interlude Tamborines, to the moochy and clattery hand-clap laced Rockin, and then the beguiling pulse of Toylove.It’s predictable to call it a summer album but a song like Summertime, with its lovely ebbing bass, will have you dusting off those sandals in a jiffy. Abrams is a clever chap because few musicians can conjure up an album that’s as good for dinner time as it is for a late night outdoor dance party.
[nextpage title=”FUNKOMMUNITY ‘Chequered Thoughts'”]
FUNKOMMUNITY ‘Chequered Thoughts’
Released July 2012 on Melting Pot Music
Funkommunity, who have since changed their name to Sorceress, released their debut album in 2012. Both Isaac Aesili and Rachel Fraser had spent years touring, recording and collaborating with some of the country’s top artists, but ‘Chequered Thoughts’ saw the two come together to finally create something of their own. Rachel Fraser had gained attention for her warm, soul heavy voice on Recloose track ‘Catch A Leaf’ while Isaac Aesili was well known for his work with Open Souls, Solaa, Recloose Live and Eru Dangerspiel. He’d also co-written songs with Aaradhna, Ladi6, Hollie Smith, Mara TK and Julien Dyne.
Isaac and Rachel first worked together on Recloose, but when they came together as Funkommunity they created a new and distinct sound all of their own. What was initially a duo quickly became a five piece live soul band.
From the album’s sleeve notes on bandcamp :
According to the enviable density of talented electronic-soul heads in New Zealand, the credits of ‘Chequered Thoughts’ read like a mere who-is-who of kiwi soul visioneers – with Julien Dyne on drums/percussion, and Christoph El Truento aka DJ Truent and Taay Ninh (Electric Wire Hustle) on the controls. Thus, ‘Chequered Thoughts’ really turned out to be THE quintessential kiwi soul manifesto the down under scene deserves. “New Zealand is lucky to have such a healthy soul music community, we are like one big family“, says Isaac with regards to the special chemistry New Zealand musicians seem to have. “My soul bro Taay from Electric Wire Hustle already knew Rachel from when we were working with her in Solaa, and Christoph El Truento is one of the most exciting new producers here in New Zealand. He sent us some demos which included a beat that we eventually turned into ‘Dandilion’. And Julien Dyne is one of my mentors, i have been collaborating with him for years so it was dope to get him on cymbals, percussion and synthetic textures. His parts were like the icing on the cake.”
Track like ‘The Light’, ‘What You Give’, ‘Dandilion’ and ‘Pass It On’ quickly became favourites on Base FM and are still heavily in rotation.
[nextpage title=”HOME BREW ‘Home Brew (Special Edition)'”]
HOME BREW ‘Home Brew (Special Edition)’
Released May 2012 (Digital / 2 CD / 4 x LP)
Home Brew for me represents memories of living in Auckland. I remember first meeting Tom at Scratch 22’s flat in Grey Lynn at some point years ago. I remember hearing Tom freestyling live in the old Base FM studio next to George, back when Truent was skipping school / work. I remember Substance always being around and making things happen. I remember when we had Home Brew play in our lounge for Ed G’s 30th birthday (I think we still owe them a bottle of something for that too). I remember when Chip would always play ‘Friday’ on the breakfast show on Fridays. I remember when Haz gave me a bunch of demo’s and rough mixes and I still play that version of ‘Plastic Magic’ with the typo in the title. I remember the 48 hour release party at that saloon in Kingsland because it was my birthday weekend and I put in at least 24 hours at that place. I remember they always did things their own way, even if it ended in near disaster. I remember they always made the best promo videos. I remember GetBan was the man. I remember when Tom, then Haz, then Lui all started shows on Base FM. I remember I had to hide the airhorn sample. – Dylan C (May 2016)
The following article appeared in the Lifestyle section of The Aucklander (27th April 2012), ahead of the release of the album Home Brew (Special Edition). By Daisy Sillis
Auckland hip hop crew Home Brew have answers ready for any controversy their debut album may cause. Divided into Light and Dark sides, it documents the band’s “live it up” lifestyle of partying, drinking and taking drugs – and the haunting, inevitable comedown.
“You can live a wild lifestyle but it’s going to catch up to you,” says lead vocalist Tom Scott. “Who made musicians the role models? I never asked for anything like that. Life doesn’t throw me anything medium. It’s high highs or low lows. I wanted to capture that with my music.I always want to party but, at the same time, that party lifestyle f**** you up eventually.”
Like Tom, Home Brew producer and beat maker Haz Huavi says he tries not to glorify their lifestyle. But he says younger audiences are already aware of the drugs and drinking culture. “I do feel a little responsible but it’s not like I’m putting drugs or alcohol in their mouths. Kids aren’t dumb. We’re just telling them how it is from our point of view.” Haz calls the album a “soulful infused truth of the ups and comedowns”.
The musicians – their third member is Lui Gumaka – have spent three years on the album, which was meant to be released in January. Home Brew’s hunger to get it perfect delayed the release until May.
“The album was finished in September, but there is a lot more to be done then just writing the words. Haz really wanted to go to town with it,” Tom says.
You may expect the 27-year-old to enthuse about the launch, but Tom says much has changed since they finished the album last year – not least himself. “As an artist I just always want to keep pushing myself and try different things. I didn’t know about the world six months ago. I hadn’t seen Cambodia; I didn’t know what genocide was. There are so many things I’ve learned about.”
He says listening to the album now “is like having to meet the person you were six months ago. It’s a cliche but the more you know, the more you don’t know”.
Home Brew is not signed to a record label. Instead, Tom has formed his own, Young, Gifted and Broke, which acts as a creative hub for like-minded musicians. “It’s our circle, all of our people, on a website. We want to get everyone out there otherwise they would just be sitting in their bedrooms making music forever.”
The band also uses the Bandcamp website to sell their music. Listeners pay what they think it’s worth. The website takes a small cut of profits. Home Brew are big on being different and will also be involved in another form of marketing in May when they perform a “hostile takeover” of music magazine Volume. Editor Sam Wicks describes the trio as musical geniuses and has given them full license to translate that to print for one edition.
Tom, who studied psychology and philosophy at Auckland University, says his music is best described as existential. “It’s about my existence and analysing my existence whether I’m at a barbecue or talking about immortality. I’m always analysing existence, what’s going on, why it’s going on.”
Having played at the 2011 Big Day Out and being nominated for the 2010 Music Awards Critics’ Choice prize, Tom and Haz say financial rewards are rare. “I do music because I don’t want to waste a single second doing anything I don’t like,” Tom says. “I might be broke and 27, and I still can’t afford my own car, but I haven’t wasted my life working in a factory job or doing something that I’m scared of. That’s my way to battle death.”
SIP AND SEE
WHAT Home Brew’s album, Home Brew, is released on May 1 (JB Hi-Fi, Real Groovy, Conch Records. It can also be ordered on ITunes).
WITH 48-hour release party at Shooters Salon bar in Kingsland, May 5.
[nextpage title=”THE MIDNIGHT TRIPS ‘The Midnight Trips EP'”]
Released March 2013 via Renaissance Music.
Renaissance Music dropped this EP at the beginning of 2013 and there is a lot of diversity between the 5 tracks. The gospel-tinged first single “Life Is” appeared on the Base FM ‘Turn It Up’ double mix CD, while the rest of the EP which received heavy airplay on Base FM Breakfast, contains elements of Beats, HipHop, Neo Soul and Reggae.
The Midnight Trips is an outfit consisting of a bunch of fam & friends who got together in 2012 for an impromptu jam and from there decided to create something official. The crew is: Psalms (Lead vocals) S.F.T(Beat/Drums) Tonga (Keys) Ice (Bass) Rizvan (Raps)
Released under the Renaissance Music umbrella, check the links below for more music and on the website: www.renaissancemusic.co.nz
[nextpage title=”ESTÈRE ‘Estère'”]
The following article appeared was publish at www.nzmusic.org.nz (22nd April, 2014)
Estère, the girl with the MPC she calls Lola, releases her debut album today on Tuesday 22nd April as a free download via www.estere.bandcamp.com.
Featuring seven tracks, the album was recorded at Blue Barn Studios in Wellington during the course of 2013. Before heading into the studio, Estère pre-produced, arranged and recorded all the songs off her album onto her MPC Lola. She then went into Blue Barn Studios to re-record, polish and lay down vocals for the final album mix.
Track one on the album, Reptilian Journey, is one of the first beats Estère ever made and pays homage to the 320 million year long existence of reptiles. “I wanted the movement of the beat in Reptilian Journey to tell a story in itself. It makes me think of a little lizard crawling its way across a desert.”
I Spy, the song to which Estère’s debut music video was released, describes the character of greedy man, who eats ALL the cake, painting an analogy of the economic and social disparities that exist in our world today.
Culture Clash and Cruel Charlie were initially recorded in her bedroom at the end of 2012 and released as demos via Soundcloud. Both garnered attention from International Blogs and B-net radio stations. Cruel Charlie is an ode to a fictional ex boyfriend and Culture Clash explores the complete whole that can be born of two very different halves.
This album represents part of Estère’s journey with Lola. “I wanted this album to be a true reflection of my progress as a beat maker and song writer. I wanted it to retain the unpolished sound of those late nights that Lola and I stayed up, bedroom window open, half eaten toast on the desk. That’s why once I was in the studio I didn’t change much of what Lola and I had already written.”
In October 2013 Estère also embarked on the Red Bull Prodigy collaborative project with Washington D.C/ New York Producer Oddisee, which saw them spend two weeks in a studio together, making music. They subsequently released three songs, Flashlight, Curtains Down and Noon.
Estère and her MPC Lola live shows are idiosyncratic and expressive.
[nextpage title=”MANUEL BUNDY presents ‘Solephonic EP'”]
MANUEL BUNDY presents ‘Solephonic EP’
Released on 12″ vinyl through Sugarlicks Records in 2007.
Digital release available via Bandcamp in 2015.
Let’s set the scene: Auckland, 2007.
On the last Friday of every month, 3 of the scenes most respected tastemakers Cian, Submariner & Manuel Bundy presented the monthly Turnaround parties at Rising Sun on K Rd. The Turnaround had an unparalleled reputation for keeping the rumps shaking and the brains baking, with the emphasis on keeping the party rockin’ in an old school style ‘til the break of dawn.
Elsewhere in Auckland, the promoter Sam Momeny utilised the Galatos for the 5am presents gigs which featured some of the worlds best international selectors from Ninja Tune & Warp Records. For the local musicians, Khuja had the liveliest of dancefloors with DJs working alongside live percussionists, while downtown you could always count on Rakinos where the CC&Dry was only $5 and everybody knew your name. To round it out, FuBar on Queen St was the Auckland home of DNB and the best concert venue in the city was the iconic St James.
Meanwhile within the local DJ scene, Serato had yet to take hold and most of the DJs were still playing vinyl in the clubs. With a healthy roster of DJs representing Base, George, bFM, KFM, Fleet & Up – the scene was in a good state.
So with the scene set, in June of 2007 when Manuel Bundy dropped his long awaited debut 12” vinyl through Sugarlicks Records, it was fully embraced by a vast group of local DJs and music lovers. Across the 5 tracks, ‘Solephonic EP’ reflected the musical styles that Manuel Bundy was known to play in his DJ sets: boom bap hiphop, jazz & funk flavoured beats and a reggae skank. Co-produced by Sugarlicks studio don Lukas ‘The Nabatean” Farry, the roll call of artists who feature on this release include Finsta Bundy, Mark de Clive-Lowe, Ladi6 / Verse 2, Cherie Mathieson, Isaac Aesili, Jeremy Toy, Steph Brown, Tyna and Deva Mahal.
Check the original press release below.
SOLEPHONIC aka Manuel Bundy, The Don of DJing in NZ whether hip hop, house or otherwise. He has won more DJ awards than any other and has been a source of inspiration and knowledge for the scene since it started.
A fixture on the New Zealand dance music scene for nearly 20 years, Manuel (aka Manuel Matisi ) has toured the world as DJ of choice for artists such as Nathan Haines, Mark De Clive Lowe and OMC. He has also provided beats and scratches for the likes of King Kapisi, Dam Native, Breaks Co-Op and Nuvonesia, as well as producing his own beats under the Solephonic moniker.
He started djing in 1989 at High St’s De Bretts Hotel as resident til 1993. Then on to a regular Thursday at the Box in 1991 which led to a regular late nite set in the weekend with Rob Salmon (Yoshitoshi) in 1992.
While hip hop is the staple genre of a Manuel Bundy DJ set, he is able to effortlessly cover all the musical bases, with Funk, Soul, Reggae, Dancehall and House all being presented in their finest forms during one of his legendary stints behind the turntables. Manuel’s style is simple – anything goes, but it gots to be funky.
Manuel’s remix of Che Fu Misty Frequencies won remix of the year at the b-net awards 2002, and his second, a remix of One Million Dollars was a b-net favourite in 2004. For a year or two after Manuel helped establish and was programme director for Auckland’s only dedicated real hip hop reggae station Base fm (basefm.co.nz).
Manuel currently produces as Solephonic and his debut album is being recorded at Sugarlicks at the moment. Not quite in the can but its on track Pacific time … just released is the Solephonic album vinyl EP, stay tuned for a full length release soon.
[nextpage title=”@PEACE ‘@peace'”]
Released in 2011 via Young, Gifted & Broke.
@Peace came together in 2011 after Lui Tuiasau, formally known as Nothing2Nobody, approached Tom Scott, best known for his part in the popular Auckland hip hop group, Homebrew, at Base FM. The two then started gathering other local musicians and ending up with an extremely talented team consisting of themselves and Christoph El’ Truento, Dick Dastardly, and Brandon Haru.
[nextpage title=”BAILEY WILEY ‘S.O.M.M.'”]
BAILEY WILEY ‘S.O.M.M. EP (Still On My Mind)’
Released via Loop Recordings Aot(ear)oa, April 2016.
Featuring singles ‘Take It From Me’ and the title track ‘Still On My Mind’, S.O.M.M. is eight tracks from an artist in every sense of the word. Combining the neo-soul/hip-hop sound which has gained Bailey a huge following with more experimental electronic sounds, the EP displays the amazing vocal talent of Bailey Wiley.
Opening track ‘Dos Fuegos’ is the perfect scene setter of what is to come – amazing vocals combined with fascinating production. Across eight tracks Bailey Wiley throws down the gauntlet to the rest of the NZ music scene, and delivers the killer release that has been teased over countless live sets.
S.O.M.M. features a dream team of producers, with each bringing something different and unique to the table, and each pushing Bailey’s sound in exciting and different directions. The inspiration behind the EP is simple – “You. Me. Now. Then.”