And again: nz musician’s photo bigger than All Blacks pic on front page of NZ Herald.
New Album ‘Curiosities’ Available November 12
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Bastard Jazz Recordings is proud to present the sophomore album Curiosities by New Zealand multi- instrumentalist and producer Lord Echo (aka Mike Fabs). An enticing sonic excursion that effortlessly transcends genre and geography, the release finds Echo flexing his dual-mastery of 60’s production techniques and modern dancefloor aesthetics, while also highlighting the vocal prowess of his soulful compatriots through a flowing blend of boogie-laced Funk, disco-primed Dub, futuristic Soul, and timeless African rhythms.
Curiosities picks up right where Melodies left off, with the sun-drenched psychedelic dub sounds of tracks like “Bohemian Idol” (featuring vocals by Toby Laing of Fat Freddy’s Drop), and the jerky funk vibes of cuts like “Digital Haircut” and “Street Knowledge”. The album provides a wealth of DJ fodder, with forward thinking 70s-inspired disco tunes such as “Molten Lava” (featuring the soaring vocals of Leila Adu), as well as analog Afro-infused burners like “What Is That Feeling” and “Put It In My Head” (complemented by the golden-voiced Mara TK of Electric Wire Hustle fame). Down-home spiritual jazz/electronic meanderings (“Ghost Hands”, “Arabesque”) provide a counterpoint to Echo’s driving cover-version of the Pharoah Sanders & Leon Thomas classic “The Creator Has a Master Plan”. His inspiring take on the track is uplifted by the soulful singing of Lisa Tomlins (who’s notable vocals on Echo’s rendition of Sister Sledge’s “Thinking Of You” made it a standout hit from his Melodies album).
The finely-tuned collaborations throughout Curiosities underscore Lord Echo’s pivotal position in the thriving New Zealand music scene. “I generally only work with people I know quite well personally”, says Echo humbly.
"I made this record primarily with DJs in mind," he continues. "They are generally people who really love music and are often obsessed with various aspects of it. I’m not making music for people for whom it’s just some background noise in their lives, I’m making music for people for whom it IS their lives. And for better or worse, I guess I am one of those people."
Picasso core returns! This Labour weekend.
Auckland 90s reggae-dub-ska-thrash-punk outfit Hallelujah Picassos returned to the live stage in June this year, with a brief support slot for the mighty Drab Doo Riffs. After 12 years away from the live arena, they had a fun time jumping around like lunatics, and all reports from their fans at the gig were they still knew how to rip up a stage.
The band have a few special guests in store (plus the original lineup onstage), Mr Darryn Harkness will be joining us again on the bass, and will also be signing copies of our CD Rewind The Hateman, which will be on sale at the gig. Door sales only, $15.
The Apra Silver Scrolls were held last night at the Vector Arena, a departure from their usual venue, the Auckland Town Hall. They managed to squeeze in between One Direction and Beyonce, one presenter pointed out, which explains why it was on a Tuesday night.
The evening kicked off with an introduction from Apra’s Anthony Healey, who mentioned the success of having a New Zealander at the top of the US charts for the first time. What a BIZARRE thing to say. HOW very BIZARRE. Maybe I misheard him.
The first of the cover versions of each of the finalists, as is Apra’s tradition, was Rackets [watch] taking to Thames Soup by the Phoenix Foundation giving it a rough, noisy edge, but not really bringing anything new to the song.
The Sounz Contemporary Award went to Karlo Margetic for Lightbox, which was performed by the MPC Trio [watch], a delightfully leftfield combo of Jeremy Toy (She’s So Rad), Lewis McCallum, and Johnnie Fleury. That was some out-there space rock.
Then we got to the induction for the latest NZ Music Hall of Fame recipient, Dave Dobbyn. Warren Maxwell delivered the speech, toasting Dave, his songs, and his life.
Maxwell talked about Dobbyn’s place in our history saying that “Your Wikipedia bio is ingrained in New Zealand folklore.” Maxwell talked of reading through Dobbyn’s lyrics, and choosing a few of them to read out.
He recited Beside You (which won Dobbyn the Silver Scroll in 1998), and Lap Of The Gods, adding in a few asides to lines he particularly liked. Maxwell said of Dobbyn that “You are living the dream, of being a successful human.”
Then there was a video presentation, of Dobbyn’s musical friends and mates talking about him, like Chris Bourke talking about Loyal, saying even the America’s Cup couldn’t kill it - intercut with voxpops from people on the street, talking about his music and what it meant to them.
Dobbyn came up and accepted the honour, to a standing ovation. He worked thru his thank you list, chronologically, and said he’d thank the big guy at the end. He commented on the kind words said about him in the video, saying “It’s like being at your own funeral, and you get to talk to everybody.” He also said “To the record companies and labels, thank you. It’s over!” And then he laughed.
The musical tributes to Dobbyn [watch] came from country singer Tami Neilson singing with harpist Weiting Shyu doing Language, a very sparse, spooky version; Mark Vanilau (who often plays in Dobbyns current band) with Scribe doing It Dawned On Me, which started with Scribe rapping, then joining in singing in beautiful harmonies with Vanilau, and totally nailing it - NZ Herald’s Russell Baillie said “it was “one of the all time great #silverscrolls performances”; and the closer of this section was Shihad rocking out on Be Mine Tonight, an energetic if perfunctory photocopy of a rendition.
[The day after the awards, I saw someone on Twitter congratulate Scribe on his singing, suggesting the singing lessons had paid off. Scribe replied “I’ve never had singing lessons. I take it as a compliment! I hate singing. I did it for Dave Dobbyn! #TheMan”.]
The Maioha award was next, presented by Te Awanui Reeder. He talked a bit of the history of the award, and listed some Maori performers, from Tui Teka and Dalvanius, to Pieter T “and our favourite Maori, Lorde!” Then he got serious for a second and congratulated her on her success.
The finalists were Iwi, Maisey Rika, and Ngatapa Black. Maisey Rika, along with co-writers Te Kahautu Maxwell, and Mahuia Bridgeman-Cooper, won for their song Ruiamoko.
It was then performed by Tama Waipara [watch] with University of Auckland percussion ensemble and guests, which included Godfrey De Grut, who also acted as musical director for the evening. Cos doing that job wasn’t enough for him. Super busy dude. Respect!
Apra board member Don McGlashan took the stage, and talked about the recently departed Dave McArtney, then shifted to congratulating Lorde, peering out into the crowd saying “I hope I’m looking at you - there’s a lot of people here with big hair - I could be looking at Lorde, or Laughton Kora.”
Later the MC for the evening, Dai Henwood, talked the house band into singing Happy Birthday for Jordan Luck, and everyone joined in. The house band onstage was a nice touch.
After a million years, someone other than Neil Finn won the award for most performed NZ work internationally. Brooke Fraser took this out (and also the prize for most played NZ song in NZ), and her manager, Campbell Smith, got up to accept it, saying “I spent the last two years drunk in Paris while this song did its work.”
He said he felt like he was in a Trivial Pursuit question - Neil Finn won this award for 100 years, Ella (Lorde) and Joel will win it for the next 100 years -which song won it in between? Nice touch.
Anna Coddington’s Bird In Hand got a big, beaty, bouncy treatment from Sola Rosa [watch], with Cherie Mathieson on vocals, killing it.
Royals got a suitably radical take [watch], starting with Lionel Reekie wandering onstage singing and playing accordion, then joined by splendid soul diva Bella Kalolo, and a young Asian beatboxer by the name of Phillip Fan. He even did a beatbox solo half way thu, then switched up the tempo and it went drum n bass for a second. Brilliant.
Tattletale Saints’ Complicated Man got covered by Jesse Sheehan [watch] with Chip Matthews and Tom Broome, rocking it up in a brisk fashion.
And the last finalist, Aaradhna’s Wake up, well how do you make a funky song even funkier? Get three drummers to perform it. That was just monstrous.
The drummers were Nick Gaffney, Scotty Pearson, and Katie Everingham [watch]. They were lit from behind in silhouette mostly, hammering away like they were auditioning for the Glitter Band (hat tip to Russell Baillie for that reference). Pounding good time.
I wanted Aaradhna to win the Silver Scroll, her song Wake Up is such a gorgeous pop tune, but Lorde and Joel Little took it out. Did the final voting process happen before or after the song started to take off? Who knows. But it is unlikely to slow down its trajectory any time soon.
The top five finalists were voted on by Apra’s 10,000 members in August from a long list of 20 decided by a judging panel (all of whom are significant APRA writer member themselves) - voting started on July 25 and closed August 18, and that list of five finalists was announced on 12 September.
Lorde’s speech [watch] was warm and goofy: “What’s cool about this is I’m so new to this, and everyone has really accepted me, which is awesome.” Then Joel had a brief natter, saying that it took him ten years to get on that stage, and Lorde did it in ten months. He also said to her “the scary part of it is you definitely haven’t written your best song.” The winner gets to keep the Silver Scroll trophy for 11 months, and a $5000 prize.
I observed Little doing an endless string of interviews in the media room before the event, with Lorde and manager standing 6 feet away, back to the media. I saw a journalist approach them and get rebuffed - Lorde is not doing any interviews tonight. And then at one point, Lorde turned around, pointed at Little and laughed, and then went back to her company. Watching her boy do all the work. Answering the same questions over and over, And people wonder why she doesn’t want to do media.
Then we had the closing number. I heard a whisper about this a few weeks ago, and I couldn’t really quite believe it was gonna happen. Hats off to whoever pulled this off.
The closing act was,… Sisters Underground, doing In The Neighbourhood, their big hit from 1994v [watch]. With a choir. It was so freaking rad. People jumping up and dancing all over the arena. And Greg Semu’s video playing behind them, with scenes of South Auckland playing out. What a blinder of a finish.
This year and last year, I noticed a trend is starting to emerge - the calibre of the presentation and performances around the NZ Music Hall of Fame inductees seem to be so high now that they are overshadowing the awards, to a certain extent.
This is also happening with the NZ Music Awards - see the level of excitement generated around Toy Love’s induction last year. It’s a fascinating problem to have. The outcome may be that it makes everyone raise their game across other areas of the awards, to meet this. And that can only be a good thing.
Review: The Corner’s Gareth Shute on the night, with video
Public Address - Russell Brown on the Silver Scrolls
ADDED MC for the evening Dai Henwood, filled in some time mid-show by asking the house band to improvise some music based on his random descriptions, watch house and member Sam Allen’s video here.
WATCH: Royals by Lorde,covered by Lionel Reekie, Bella Kalolo and Phillip Fan
WATCH: Bird in the hand by Anna Coddington,covered by Sola Rosa w Cherie Mathieson
WATCH: Wake up,by Aaradhna, covered by Nick Gaffney, Scotty Pearson and Katie Everingham
WATCH: Sisters Underground perform In the neighbourhood
SO NICE FEAT. LADI6 (PRODUCED BY P-MONEY)
Scribe – Probably the most feel good track on the album P-Money did it again with this joint I got this the same time as “My Lady” remix beat. P had just evolved in his beatmaking to a whole other level with this batch. This beat just made me feel good warm and summery. It gave me the same vibe as “Oh Boy” Camron so I went to work straight away. An ode to Hip Hop and my family I talk about my discovery of Hip Hop as a kid going to school and growing up with my cousins in the hood and one of them just happened to be Ladi6.
P-Money – Scribe and Ladi6 are first cousins. They are really close. There was no way we could complete the album without her vocals on there. This song is pretty much Scribe’s dedication to his whole family. He name drops almost everyone in the third verse. I always thought it was cool that he did that. Including the whole family on the album.
Ladi6 – This album is now an embedded piece of my (our) families history. Malo (MC Scribe) had made some of these verses/songs well known family classics before he had even moved from Christchurch to Auckland to start on his infamous and historic road to record breaking success. He cleverly slaved over them with an eye for detail and an ear for the sincere.
We all moved up to Auckland together living out of our cousins house in South Auckland where Scribe set up shop, bucket bong, black book, pens and a tape player in the laundry room where we would all pack in there day in and out, straining to hear his newest verse, over his latest P-Money instrumental, memorising every last lyric. By the time the album came out most of us cousins knew every damn word to every damn song.
Scribe was kind enough to ask me along to sing backing vocals and perform our own rap jam, ‘Scribe,L.6,’ as part of his BDO Oz tour and around various shows in New Zealand. It was such an incredible learning curve for me as an aspiring artist and musician, an experience I have and will always treasure. Even though “The Crusader” was MC Scribes beginning, it also marked a start to my own journey. Something I will always be grateful to him for.
"I might’ve been the only one who had a car at the time, because I recall after Scribble came through and did his verse we had to hop into my fucked up 94 Civic and go pick up Sav [Savage] and bring him to the studio after his shift finished at the gas station. On a comedic note, later that night I was dropping Scribe off at his cousins house and my car died in the middle of G.I on this busy ass street, [and] without saying a word the bro got out the car and pushed us to the nearest BP LOL… I only met him that day and his single had just hit #1 on the charts yet here he was, no shame, pushing this car through the intersection with traffic beepin’ at us etc. LOL, he will forever be the man in my eyes just off that."
If you missed the Audioculture talk at the Auckland Library last week, here’s the audio - featuring Audioculture’s Simon Grigg, Murray Cammick, and Steve Shaw.
One of my favourite remixes of a local tune is Bic Runga’s Something Good, remixed by the Submariner (Andy Morton). It appeared as a bonus track on Bic’s CD single for Something Good way back in 2002.
The Submariner is responsible for several hugely important records here, including early groundbreaking work by the likes of hiphop MCs like King Kapisi, Che Fu, and Ermehn. He had contributed keys, programming, and engineering to a few tracks on Bic Runga’s 2002 album Beautiful Collision. Read more about him over at Audioculture.
In 2004 he produced Break It To Pieces, the critically acclaimed debut album by Kas Futialo, aka Tha Feelstyle - he raps in Samoan and English on this album. Kas had previously worked under the name The Field Style Orator, and featured on this remix billed as that.
Submariner has also done some great remixes for Mark de Clive Lowe, Julien Dyne, Rhombus, Che Fu, Nathan Haines, Recloose, and more - check the Soundcloud tunes here.
I’ve been wanting to put this remix on Youtube for a while, and then recently I saw Robyn Gallagher write about Bic’s video for the original song, as part of her fantastic5000 Ways project, reviewing every NZ On Air music video - go take a look if you haven’t seen this site.
I had an idea. I grabbed a copy of the video, chopped and hacked it up on an ancient iMac and found an old video of The Field Style Orator and included a few grabs from that. Added some breakdancing, cause it’s about time Bic had some b-boy action in one of her videos. Kidding. Love your, work Bic. Please don’t sue me.
It’s been another big week for Kiwi pop star Lorde. Here song Royals is still sitting at #1, for the second week in a row on the US charts. She has two releases in the Billboard Top 200 albums, Pure Heroine and Love Club EP.
Her song Royals was covered by some street urchins in a tv ad for Samsung, featuring football star Lionel Messi. He uses Samsung’s latest technology to demolish a building in the slums and create a playing field for the grateful urchins. Apparently the ad is inspired by Messi’s own charitable foundation doing similar work.
The reaction online to Royals featuring in a tv ad right after it topped the US singles chart was lively, to say the least. Many online commenters were turned off by what looked like a sudden grab of a pop hit from Samsung, although Billboard quoted an ad exec saying they estimated the music was signed off in late July, well before Royals headed up the charts.
Many folk picked up on a piece written by The Verge’s Nilay Patel slamming Samsung on some rather odd assertions. See “Samsung doesn’t understand Lorde’s ‘Royals,’ uses it to advertise the Galaxy Note 3 to street urchins.”
The comments on that post suggest that Patel has a long history of taking any opportunity to slam Samsung. Is he trolling, or does he have a point? He also mentioned on Twitter that it’s “particularly bad timing for Samsung as Royals is currently under fire for being racist.” Let’s not go down into that particular cesspit.
The Verge’s followup piece talked to the ad’s director, Adam Hashemi… “Choosing a song proved difficult, and Hashemi makes it sound as though one wasn’t selected until late into production. His team considered tracks ranging from David Bowie’s “Starman” to Johnny Mercer’s “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive.” When they finally landed on “Royals,” it only had 2 million views on YouTube, he says, and wasn’t yet a hit single, although they saw potential. Now, it’s at closer to 28 million, and sits atop the Billboard Hot 100. Hashemi isn’t sure if Lorde ever saw and approved her song’s use in the ad, but a licensing team did clear it.”
So, will Lorde cash in on this ad? Her co-writer, Joel Little, has a publishing deal with Sony ATV, and Lorde is yet to sign a publishing deal. Her record company probably won’t get any income from the ad, as they have used their own recording of the song, not the original recording. Lorde’s publishing will have been done thru AMCOS, in lieu of a publishing company.
Will the exposure in the Samsung ad hurt her or help her? Simon Grigg (OMC’s label) says if the ad only has a short run, then it will help ingrain the song, but if it has a long run, it will become known as the song from the Samsung ad, which may be offputting to radio.
Grigg says ”most radio will not want to play a song that is seen to be endorsing a brand.” Her future income will be from publishing, and that is linked to airplay. Grigg says when OMC’s album came out it sold 1.5 million copies and made it to #39 in the US charts, but that was back when albums were still selling in big numbers. Lorde’s album sold 127,000 copies in it’s first week, which Grigg described as soft sales.
Meanwhile, she’s started doing more interviews, as her album gets released in various parts of the globe. The Guardian’s Alex Petridis talked to her, ahead of her album’s UK release on Oct 28.
"… Interviewing an international pop sensation while their mum hovers in the background is a slightly odd experience, but then, as Yelich-O’Connor points out, she shouldn’t really be here herself. She should be back home in New Zealand, in Davenport [sic], a suburb of Auckland that’s apparently known locally as the Bubble – "because it’s so insular and closed off from everything" – and which she describes, winningly, as "the kind of suburb that people make movies about, there’s quite weird mums everywhere".