NZM asked a few local music industry folk, and other players, about their memorable moments of NZ Music Month, May 2019. Here’s what we learned:
My favourite part of NZ Music Month this year was having the privilege of being a judge at the Christchurch regional heats for Smokefree Rockquest! There is nothing more inspiring than bearing witness to up-and-coming teenage musicians giving their passion the attention it deserves and having the courage to perform their original music – and being literally judged for it.
There were so many amazing acts, and I was especially excited to see a majority of them were rock bands – a musical configuration I personally enjoy the most! I’m looking forward to seeing who comes out of the woodwork as our ‘next ones to watch’ at the national final.
May was spent with my head down working behind the scenes on new music and getting it all ready for release. It can be hard for musicians (or anyone really) working on a big project so intensely and with so much depth to it, that you lose perspective. So what made my NZMM special were the moments when I’d take some time to breathe.
It was important for me to see my project from a distance, to see how far I’d come. Years of songwriting, crafting, re-writing, failing, feeling crappy, getting back up, starting again, succeeding, developing a catalogue of songs, a sound, a direction, pre-production, rehearsals – and then finally recording my best songs! Earlier this year these recordings didn’t exist …and now they do! That’s the magic. That’s success.
In May I was in Berlin at the best synthesizer trade-show in the world, repping the Wellington made beast, Deluge. My NZMM didn’t involve live acts this time around, but I’ve got an excuse yeah? Tbh, I spent more time on beaches in Greece getting my tan on then watching bands in clubs… I did play a few shows myself though, I’ve gotten selfish in my old age.
Rotorua has had an inspired programme of events this year, spearheaded by non-other than Trinity Roots‘ Rio Hemopo, and as part of my NZMM I headed down from Auckland to attend the ‘Professional Development Seminar’. The seminar was well attended and the panel korero was vibrant, but what grabbed me was break time as it quite often is at these things, one on one time with attendees is just as valuable. From meeting talented kids producing and recording stunning music from home to a mum busting down preconceptions, hitting her stride as a songwriter hungry to create, learn, and share.
To celebrate NZ Music Month at Hocken Collections this year we put on an event to celebrate two ‘lost’ bands of Dunedin and South Otago – The Catlins River Boys (from Owaka), and the Titans. The event was a way to try and put them back into local band history and culture, and emphasise their achievements. We showed images of the bands and articles about them and played their recordings. In the case of The Titans, the recordings were never officially released, but we had been donated reel-to-reel tapes which we digitised.
The event was publicised widely, and national media (including the NZ Herald and RNZ) picked up on it (and all our Music Month events), which led to people related to the bands getting in touch with us. This was the best part – being able to engage with band members and their families, a number of whom came to the event – and learn more about them and their experiences. Speakers included Martin Phillipps, who talked about his love of ’60s music, and how it inspired him, and Steve Hudson, who was a drummer for a number of local and national ’60s bands, and a fan of The Titans who knew them. Hearing his reminiscences about the time was wonderful, and it filled in a number of gaps too.
My NZ Music Month ‘moment’ was spent sitting in our studio, watching the incredible live acts we’ve had through our live room during the month. In particular, seeing artists like Caroline Easther and Molly & The Chromatics performing for our upcoming covers compilation felt very full-circle – especially seeing Caroline cover Barry Saunders! The sheer energy, diversity, and professionalism exhibited by every musician who came into our live room really made me aware of the vastness of Wellington’s creativity, and expressionism we’re privy to here.
NZMM had new albums from Jan Hellriegel and The Verlaines, I got a book by Shayne Carter, saw that doco series that ran for 6 weeks called Anthems (which has been really educational) and I saw the Chills film! I also discovered that the entire Verlaines’ back catalogue is now available on their site.
NZ Music Month was huge for us. We released our first music video, and re-entered the NZ Singles Hot 20 at No.9 – only 2 spots back from one of our favourite bands and someone we look up to massively, Devilskin – what a buzz! We got our first mainstream radio play (The Rock and Radio Hauraki – thanks guys!), and our song went over 48,000 streams on Spotify. Plus we didn’t too much homework at school!
Rehearsals for this year’s Louder Than Love II – A Tribute to Chris Cornell are going amazingly. I feel so blessed to be jamming with & organising so many amazing musicians for this great cause. I’ve been blown away with the effort everyone has put in so far.
For us, it was gearing up for Rockquest. We played at a local bar end of May and had our first call for encore and autographs! 😁We had our regionals on Saturday night and won! So NZ Music Month was definitely good for us and our growth!
Part of the NZ Music Month pub quiz was a moment when the whole room had to solve anagrams of Kiwi artists, eg. ‘Lime Onanist’ was Tami Neilson. The whole room had guessed the one that could be shuffled to read ‘Dave Dobbyn‘ – except for Dave’s own team! Funny moment of a fun night!
During this NZ Music Month I organised my own (and very first) ‘War and Peace’ Arts and Music Festival (23-31 May), and performed 6 out of the 8 concerts I put together! I invited the best musicians in town, plus my awesome special guest, violist Milan Milisavljević from NY. The two of us got invited for an RNZ interview (Concert program on Upbeat with Nick Tipping) the day after Milan flew into Auckland!
These 8 concerts were all accompanied by an arts exhibition and many poets were invited to recite their poems during the musical performances! Anyway, I feel rather proud to have pulled this off, all within two months from planning, invitation to conclusion of the 9-day festival! There was a good variety including 3 viola recitals, Chinese, jazz, woodwind, strings and vocal concerts.