NewTracks New Artist: Ainslie Allen

NewTracks New Artist: Ainslie Allen

Having started well before her obligatory appearance at Smokefree Rockquest with her high school band, and, among other things, a small role on cult TV show The Tribe, the driven and talented Ainslie Allen has been around for a while and is on her way up. You may not know her name still, but the independent country artist has an album ready to go in May, and her new single Done And Gone features on NZ On Air Music‘s NewTracks compilation this February.

What’s your given name, where are you from and what instruments do you play?

Ainslie Allen. I’m from Titahi Bay, Porirua, my iwi is Rongowhakaata. I play guitar and sing.

Was any high school or other music training especially important to you?

Smokefree Rockquest was invaluable, recording our first demo, writing songs, working with a band, putting on shows, selling merch, winning overall Best Female, and third overall with my high school band the Avocardo Babies.

Whitireia Performing Arts was also beneficial from a performance perspective, I loved kapa haka, Cook Island hula, and Samoan dance.

Any other previous, or current, projects we might know you from?

Young Entertainers, The Tribe, Christmas in the Park, 2018 NZ Country Music Entertainer of the Year, The Mercy Mission to East Timor doco, ATC’s Hair, and The Rocky Horror Show.

How did you get started as a solo artist? Is anyone else directly involved with your music?

I started singing country music with my sister Jess when I was 12. Now I’m an independent artist, I do however like to collaborate with like-minded musicians. My new album, ‘Betty’, due out in May 2021 is produced by Ben Edwards. I like to share my time with people who can have a laugh, but also get the job done, with professionalism and spunk. I’m independent and self-managed, work with Ben and NicNak for publicity.

How has your writing (or music) evolved from your beginnings in songwriting?

I’ve found I need to be diligent with my writing, otherwise I’m lazy. Projects keep me motivated, like writing for my album. Once I have the motivation or an idea I find I can easily transpose this through a melody or a rhythm with either voice or guitar. When I’m unmotivated I rely on writing techniques and theory I’ve picked up along the way!

Aside from this release, what’s been your big highlight to date? 

Playing the main stage at Rhythm & Vines this year, and my single Taku Māmā released last year for te wiki o te Reo Māori. Stoked for this waiata to debut at #4 on Apple Music’s New Music Daily!

What made Done and Gone stand out for you as a single?

I think for me the vocally driven, fast, rhythmic meter of the verses with the juxtaposition of slow vocal timing in the choruses is something quite interesting, I’ve always been big on rhythmic lyrics.

What’s the story behind Done and Gone?

It’s a simple story of a lying, cheating cowboy! From a woman’s perspective, it’s a song of knowing her worth, and waiting for someone who truly deserves her. I wrote this song myself, recorded at the Sitting Room, Lyttelton, produced by Mr Ben Edwards.  

What’s your favourite moment, musical or lyrical, of the single?

I like the Radiohead moment in the bridge! Ben and I both love that band. I heard the riff in my head musically, that’s what transpired in the bridge of Done and Gone.

What would you like listeners to take away from this song?

Don’t settle for second best… intrigue to hear more from me.

How do you generally work out what song would make a good single?

I knew from the moment I wrote this song I wanted to release it as a single. As a writer and artist if you’re connected you know what will resonate well with your tribe of listeners. 

Are there any other musical endeavours you’re working on that we should keep an eye out for? 

‘Betty’, my debut album is due out this May 2021.

Can you please name three other local tunes that would fit well on a playlist alongside yours.

Adam Hattaway and the Haunters Wasting Our Time

DD Smash – Devil You Know

Gin Wigmore – Oh My

Have any previous NZOA applications not gained funding or been included on NewTracks? Got any advice for others out there? 

I’ve been denied so many times, it’s part of the business of music-making. Keep trying, keep applying. I have found NZOA very helpful when I require info on applications. 

Are there any musical blogs, Youtube channels or podcasts you’re super into?

  • Cocaine and Rhinestones: the history of country music, Tyler Mahan Coe – good night-time listening.
  • RNZ: The Aotearoa History Show
  • Che’s Channel – Te Paepae Waho

Who did you make the video with?

I didn’t have the budget to make a full-blown video, so I approached an artist whom I’ve admired from afar to create the lyric video for me, her name is Anna Robinson.

Any last words?

Be kind to yourselves, be kind to one another. There’s plenty of room for every artist to shine, support each other, go to shows, buy merch, support local, be humble, ngā mihi.

New Tracks is a compilation of new music from New Zealand artists which is distributed to broadcast and online platforms on the first of each month. Previously the Kiwi Hit Disc, New Tracks is one of the ways that New Zealand On Air promotes kiwi music to the industry, radio, streaming services, and media. To apply for New Tracks you must have a completed, airplay-ready song and a promotional plan.