Skilaa’s Mixtape

Skilaa’s Mixtape

In late November Auckland indie jazz fusion RnB neo-soul hip hop alt-folk outfit Skilaa released their debut EP ‘Fantasy Life’. It’s rare to find a band that is this hard to place within common genres, but between one another the five-piece consists of a bunch of very active, “nerdy” participants in their scene – namely Tom Dennison, Michael Howell, Adam Tobeck, Chelsea Prastiti, Crystal Choi and Lea Anae. NZM asked the band to create a playlist for us, so we can hear them in the context of their own influences, which it turned out, is as eclectic as you might expect.

Chelsea’s Picks:

Haz Beats, Miloux: All Night

Rebecca Mason Melrose aka Miloux is a straight-up genius and everyone should know it. Her writing and harmonic sensibilities are extremely impressive, and her melismatic singing is just unbelievable. I love her to pieces. We went to jazz school together and she just caaaned from day one. I remember hanging in a practice room with her and she was playing these beautiful haunting chord progressions on the piano and just thinking “Wowza!” She was developing this sound even back then. Her harmonies in this track are so close and crunchy which is exactly my taste, and I’m not gonna lie, you gotta have ears of steel to execute them this well. She’s a vocal nerd’s dream. Also Haz is a wonderful producer, and I think this is a brilliant pairing. The beats and the sounds are so beeeeauuudifuuu. :3

Anthonie Tonnon: Old Images 

I picked this tune not only because I think it’s literally perfect songwriting, but also the vocals are just the most wonderful example of an NZ accent being resonated so beautifully, and I think Tono has one of the most perfect voices that this country has ever produced. It’s really important for this accent to be represented more and I play him to all my students and I’m like, “This is what our accent can actually sound like by gum!” The lyrics, the sound palette and everything is just magic. He’s amazing and he reeeeeeeaaally knows what he’s doing. And his Rail Land shows were inspired! I do love the Eastern Line 🙂

The Beths: Uptown Girl 

Ooooh boy, it’s so hard to pick a fave Beths’ song, but this one is definitely right up there for me. That modulating melody in the chorus and the harmonic structure and everything about the sound of this tune really does it for me! I thraaashed it when it came out and keep coming back to it. Liz Stokes is also another great example of beautiful NZ singing. I’ve learnt a lot about getting my own accent to come through in my voice from listening to Liz, and she also has just the most beautiful straight-tone sound, it’s so satisfying to listen to. :3

Bailey Wiley: Zaddy

Such a beautiful RnB track. I’ve always thought of Bailey as a real afficionado of this genre, you can so tell she nerds this stuff. I loooove the flute details at the beginning, and the video, ugh I can’t even. I got to interview her too, she was super cool!

King Kapisi: Screems from Da Old Plantation

This track is a childhood favourite! I absolutely love everything about it, and I remember reeeeeally getting into that little bit in the chorus “la dee dee da da ooooooh” it’s such a humorous and whimsical little hook, just genius. :3

DBLDBL/Trapjaw Kelpie: Sleepy Dead

This track is so original, I’ve never heard anything like it! It’s such a vibe, and the harmony palate is just wild. Also just an amazing concept for a hook “I’m dressed for death” oooh so goth. 😛

Goodshirt: Buck it Up

Another childhood fave. I think this song is so clever, great shouty chant melody and that little synth note through the chorus, brilliant! Also, the music video is completely mad, I remember really just being delightfully confused by it as a kid. 😛

Mike’s picks:

Prince: I Feel For You

This is one of the first songs I remember hearing as a little kid at home. Both my parents are big Prince fans! This isn’t one of his most well known songs but every time I hear that intro groove I can’t help but smile and bop along to it. Still gets me! I definitely try to capture that feeling of groove when I write ideas for Skilaa.  

Ché-Fu: Misty Frequencies

This song reminds me of all the great RnB music from Aotearoa that influenced me growing up. Ché-Fu’s vocals are amazing on this track and the chord progression from Godfrey de Grut is crafted so cleverly. Having the intro chord progression pop up again later in the song is so subtle but effective! I really like those little details when it comes to songwriting. 

Check out Skilaa’s ‘Fantasy Life’ EP here.


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