Category Archives: music

SFS | MC Tali

New Zealand’s Queen of Drum and Bass, Tali is an accomplished MC, freestyler, songwriter, producer, teacher, mentor, motivational speaker, and author – is there anything this woman can’t do?! Hailing from a dairy farm in Taranaki, Tali took on the world in 2001, moving to the UK and becoming a top international MC. She’s worked with some of the biggest names in DNB, including Roni Size, Goldie, Fabio & Grooverider; toured the world over with her band; and has even composed a musical which has previewed at London’s West End. Most recently, Tali has been busy writing a book, titled The Little White House.

Catch Tali performing alongside best friend Aroha at Splore. The powerhouse duo is a force of talent unlike anything you’ve ever heard before.

Describe your perfect summer music festival in three words
Full Of Adventure

Name the top three artists who would make up your ideal festival line-up
Anderson Paak, Solange, Dub Physix

What are you looking forward to most about playing the summer festival circuit?
It’s always a bit of a reunion – a chance to catch up with all your fellow musician friends and see them perform and have some backstage fun. I also love the road trip element – cruising around various parts of NZ and playing shows to epic crowds, always gives me such a reinvigorated appreciation for my beautiful country and its people.

In your opinion, what’s this year’s Summer Anthem?
The same tune every summer. ‘Summertime’ by The Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff is my absolute go to. I also think Souls of Mischief ’93 to infinity’ is another summer classic.

Out of all your tunes, which one is the one that ‘never fails’?
Aroha has this tune that sounds like ‘Drop It Like Its Hot’ but like a House remix. I always spit this rhyme originally from De La Soul’s ‘Ring Ring Ring’ over the top of it – which fits perfectly. People go nuts for it because they recognise the sample and I know some people recognise the lyrics. Either way it’s always a vibe.

What’s are the top 3 tracks on your Spotify playlist?

  1. ‘El Tornejant’ – Upercent. This ridiculously heavy minimal Techno jam that I am obsessed with. Jeremy Upbeats put me onto it.
  2. ‘Bun Ya’ – MC DRS, Marcus Intalex, Chimpo, Strategy, Skittles, Fox and Rolla. (The Enei Remix) This is a DnB jam that I cannot listen to except at high volume. I nearly break my neck brockin’ out to this!
  3. ‘OPP’ – Naughty By Nature – This is a classic jam that I love playing in my car. Always gets me a super happy hyper mood.

What’s your personal ‘guilty pleasure’ track
I don’t feel guilty about anything I listen to because it’s all fire. Even the Drake and Bieber shit. lol

What’s your social media of choice?
Instagram. Less rants, more pictures 🙂

Who do you follow and where?
Usually my friends to the dance floor!

What’s your go-to festival outfit?
I love Splore because unlike other festivals you can always be a bit extra. Last year I dressed as a Little Red Fox with light up ears which I made completely by hand. This years costume is already under way. I gotta sewing machine from my Mum in preparation this year! My friends and I all agree – anything with sequins or lights is essential. Helps you find each other in the crowd 🙂

Word association:
Music – Life
Festival – Adventures
Camping – Glamping (our own way)
Fashion – Individual
Roadie – Essential

Situated in a beguiling bay on the shores of Tapapakanga Regional Park, Splore is an annual, boutique and arts festival like no other. Described as New Zealand’s greatest dress up party, this three day entertainment extravaganza promises a good time, good vibes, and hot showers! Splore 2018 takes place 23-25 February. Buy your tickets here.

interviewed | Estère: beat maker extraordinaire

Estère is currently a Wellington girl, although born on Waiheke, with oodles of eclectic vibe and funk in her stride. As we walked into her live gig in Golden Dawn, the crowd was hanging on each word. She tapped one foot, twisted buttons and harmonised with her self-made melodies – wearing a stylish grey two piece crop-top and skirt, Estère owned the stage with style and ease. Jackson and Kim, her new percussionists, joined her and her machines, holding down rhythms following Lola, Estère’s MPC (music production controller). This girl had everything under control and looked like she was having a great time. The crowd sang along, requested encores and cheered for more. Estère has evidently collected a solid fan base, youngsters and older listeners alike. And yet she remains modest, thanking her audience for their support, and greeting fans that came to her afterwards with a generous smile.

Estère’s sound could be considered a mix of electro-pop with elements of soulful jazz. But it’s difficult to put it in a box, which she doesn’t want to be anyway, referring to her music as ‘Electric blue witchhop’. Her songs vary in feeling, tone and beat – the result of her creative, and laborious, dedication to production. Her close relationship with various electronic bits of kit, an NPC and SPD drum machine included, have helped her craft out a unique sound.

As we sat in a bustling cafe on K-road, philosophising about the different ways people learn rhythm, Estère explained “I have very strong feelings for timing…” Although not from a family of musicians, Estère reckons some of her rhythm may have come from her upbringing,

“My mum loves dancing, she doesn’t care what anyone thinks. She used to embarrass me hardcore when I was quite young coz we’d be at festivals and she’d be the only lady up the front going like this [raises her arms and moshes] and I’d be like….oh my god…”

Despite youth embarrassment, Estère is evidently grateful for her family’s enthusiasm for dancing, and the sounds her mum introduced her to, singing “Moooving on up” as she paid homage to the “amazingly deep voice” of Heather Smalls from M people and blind guitarist, José Feliciano. After the obligatory infatuation with Britney Spears and 90’s boy-bands, Estère listened to the likes of Prince and Grace Jones, both artists with a similarly impressive vocal range to herself. Although Estère doesn’t consider herself a singer first and foremost, more a beatmaker, her voice has the elasticity of a professional, effortlessly hitting lows and highs as she accompanies the hard-graft of her instrumentals,

“I head hunt samples that I think will be good for a track. It can be quite laborious. Once I have found something I like, I manipulate it in Logic, put it into my NPC and then drum it out with my fingers.”

Her description of recording random things she hears out on the streets makes me want to take my Zoom recorder for a walk after our interview. Instead, I watch a Youtube of her discussing the gendered nature of the Beats industry.  Aside from her interesting sound, and great stage presence, there are a couple of things that personally drew me to Estère. Like me, she is a student of anthropology, and also of mixed heritage. This quest to think through difference, and understand the place culture does and does not have in our being is something that Estère uses music and electronic instruments to process. She sometimes addresses life’s intimate feelings and experiences through her song-writing too. Grandmother, a slow melodic song with subtle tones, is a tribute to her Cameroonian grandmother who sadly passed away three months before they were due to meet for the first time.

“I really wanted to meet her. I’d heard a lot of stories about her, and people said we were really similar. So this song is kind of about the experience I have, and don’t have, of her at the same time.

Appeller de la terre, l’esprit de ma grandmere  – Call forth, from the Earth, the spirit of my grandmother…”

She wistfully repeats the line from her song in with a fluent French accent. Estère’s sound has travelled the length of Aotearoa, Australia, France, England, Denmark, South Korea and Southern Africa. She performed in Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland on festival circuit in 2017, putting her feet down on African soil for the first time. She admits some prior misconceptions,

“I think I had a somewhat exoticised idea of Africa…and when I got there I thought…well, it’s just not that different from anywhere else really. People love listening to live music, they travel from other countries to come to festivals, and some of the festivals were massive! They were amazing!”

Estère plans to continue her connection across continents, in awe of West African singers such as Simphiwe Dana. Estere’s singles are diverse in sound, as you can hear in her new album soon to be released – My Design, On Others’ Lives – and include songs such as the catchy Pro Bono Techno Zone, a comment on youth infatuation with technology. Much of Estère’s songs offer a thoughtful comment on the world we live in, part of her bigger concern with trying to imagine what it would be like to live in the world as someone else. Her latest single Rent reflects on the concept of property ownership, something people are so beholden to in Aotearoa that the fact many people cannot even afford to rent, let alone own a home, is diminished in the face of the ‘Real Estate’ industry. Her music is another version of anthropology, a way of questioning what is taken for granted, and offering another experience of the world that might shift dominant perceptions.

With her sensitivity, intelligence and humble charm, combined with infectious bounce-y dances moves, it is likely Estère will be loved wherever she performs. Catch her opening for her teenage heroine, Grace Jones in Christchurch on March 2nd, 2018 (tickets available here). And download her upcoming EP out in April 2018 – until then download all her currently released singles here.

 

 

been | St Jerome’s Laneway Festival 2018 – Auckland

You know the buzzy feeling you get after a concert or music festival that lasts for a few days after?! Yea that is my current situation.

Auckland was treated to perhaps what felt like the hottest day on Monday with a sweltering 28 degrees Celsius! Being from Papua New Guinea you would think I would be accustomed to the heat but far from it! I avoided getting to the festival until much later when it was slightly cooler. And it seems it may have been a smart move with reports on Twitter about massive queues at the festival entrance and people waiting for up to an hour and 30 minutes to get in. By the time I made my way there, there were no queues at the entrance thankfully.

The organizers have created something special with hosting Laneway Festival right in the middle of Auckland City at Albert Park. The lush trees and gardens make such a huge difference to the whole vibe of the festival, definitely was feeling it on the day.

So onto the music. Who did I manage to see? Well quite a good number of quality acts for sure. Not knowing much about this year’s lineup and what to expect, I came away being a fan of pretty much most of the bands I saw.

Noah Slee – Image credit David Watson

Having read up on Noah Slee I thought I’d check out his set and to see what was up on offer. Slee is based in Berlin and hails from Tonga via Glenn Eden, West Auckland. He definitely tried to work the crowd up with some pretty sweet summer neo-soul tunes and mixed in Erykah Badu and Sergio Mendez tracks to the crowd’s delight. Slee had some great energy and finished off his set with one of his popular tracks Radar.

Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals – Image credit David Watson

When I got to the main Rotunda stage 10 minutes early for Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals I was not expecting it to be completely packed out. Actually I haven’t listened much to Anderson .Paak but oh boy I was in for such a treat! Anderson had such great energy and the crowd absolutely loved it, I loved it!!! Mixing up some jazz, hip-hop, R&B, the whole ensemble had such a great vibe and everyone felt it. So I now completely understand why there was a massive crowd gathering around the stage way ahead of his scheduled performance.

TOKiMONSTA – Image credit David Watson

TOKiMONSTA served up some killer beats at the Thunderdome stage. It felt like it was the perfect time for it, riding on the high from Anderson .Paak. I wanted to stay for the whole set but ended up rushing back to Rotunda stage to catch the start of Bonobo.

Szjerdene + Bonobo- Image credit David Watson

Playing at the main stage Bonobo brought a live band with him which was great. Also featured was vocalist Szjerdene who has provided vocals on a number of Bonobo tracks including the sublime Transits. A few issues with Szjerdene’s mic meant it was hard for us to hear her which was a shame. Again, I wanted to stay until the end for the set but really wanted to catch The War on Drugs.

The War on Drugs – Image credit Connor Crawford

The War on Drugs played on the Princess Street Stage and it was a great way to end my night at Laneway Festival. After winning a Grammy for Best Rock Album earlier in the day, Adam Granduciel and the rest of the band must have been on such a buzz. Their set was amazing and I was left wanting more. Playing tracks from Lost In The Dream and their latest Grammy award winning album A Deeper Understanding, it was a definite festival highlight for me.

The War on Drugs – Image credit Connor Crawford

Featured image: Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern – Taken by Max Lemesh

been | One Love 2018

How Tauranga became the home of reggae (for one weekend).

The annual One Love festival took place over the weekend at the Tauranga Domain. Day 2 headliner, Shaggy pulling out due to unforeseen circumstances (read: performing at the Grammys with Sting) didn’t deter the 20,000 strong crowd from witnessing some of the finest reggae performers the world has to offer; confirming that reggae is indeed ingrained in kiwi roots.

Ria Hall, Marley All-Stars – Day 1

Common Kings headlined day one and Katchafire made their return to the festival, playing old favourites as well as new songs to close day two.

Common Kings – Day 1

Over the weekend, the crowd saw a plethora of artists playing, ranging from Bay of Plenty locals Tyneegiant to Canada’s pop reggae band, Magic! And not one disappointed.

On day one, the crowd were treated to a praiseworthy performance of Fill Me Up by Sons of Zion; a truly awe-inspiring homage to Bob Marley by NZ Marley All-Stars starring an amazing collective of artists (Laughton Kora, Fran Kora, Ria Hall, Anna Coddington, Annie Crummer, Boh Runga, Logan Bell (Katchafire), Tiki Taane, Joel Shadbolt and Shelton Woolright); a goosebumps-inducing performance by House of Shem; the reunion of Kora, after a 4-year hiatus and a raucous performance by Common Kings.

Tiki Taane, Marley All-Stars – Day 1

Whilst on day two, highlights included a three piece acoustic set by Kiwi icons Herbs; legendary British band Aswad’s nostalgic performance of their 1988 NZ#1 single Don’t turn around; Stan Walker’s feet-stomping performance of messages; Fiji’s hair-raising performance of Love of my Life; crowd-singing along to Magic!’s performance of rude; and the enigmatic closing performance by Katchafire.

Stan Walker w special guest William Wairua – Day 2

One Love’s great reggae vibes, complemented by the Kiwi Summer sun, has certainly put Tauranga on the world’s reggae music map. If you haven’t already, start planning your trip to Tauranga for One Love 2019.

Check out photographs from the weekend hereAll photographs taken on a Nikon D7500.

SFS | BAYNK!

Jock Nowell-Usticke otherwise known as BAYNK is a singer, song writer and producer that burst onto the scene with his track Sundae in 2015. The standout track led to a slot at 2016’s Laneways Festival and he is back again at this year’s festival. Featuring edgy electronic beats, he will definitely be a highlight with the Auckland crowd on the day.

Describe your perfect summer music festival in three words…
Losing my marbles

Name the top three artists who would make up your ideal festival line-up:
Flume
Mura Masa
Bon Iver

What are you looking forward to most about playing the summer festival circuit?
Laneway (2018) because that’s where everything started for me.

In your opinion, what’s this year’s Summer Anthem?
Bodak Yellow

Out of all your tunes, which one is the one that ‘never fails’?
Could You

What’s are the top 3 tracks on your Spotify playlist?
Shut Up by Stormzy
I Fall Apart by Post Malone
Dissolve by Kllo

What’s your personal ‘guilty pleasure’ track?
Taylor Swift – Blank Space but there’s no guilt involved

What’s your social media of choice?
Instagram – because it lets me put my nudes up you should go check them out @baynkofficial

Who do you follow and where?
What? I follow 759 people on Instagram, 361 on twitter and 1000+ on facebook. Am I supposed to list them?

What’s your go-to festival outfit?
Long baggy singlet. Shorts with deep pockets. Black sunglasses and an old pair of shoes because they always get wrecked. Emergency poncho on hand at all times.

Word association:
Music – Ableton
Festival – Friends
Camping – Mosquitoes
Fashion – Gucci
Roadie – Convertible

This year marks 8 years of Laneway Festival in New Zealand and the second year in its dream location of Albert Park precinct. This boutique inner-city festival boasts a line-up showcasing some of the best new international talent. With four individual stages and an abundance of grass, shade and great music, Laneway Festival is set to be one of greats this summer festival season.

BAYNK’s Soundcloud is https://soundcloud.com/baynk

SFS | Ria Hall

Singer. Performer. Artist. Woman. Love of fashion. Love of culture. Māori. Pākeha. Proud.

Ria Hall is the powerful new force in NZ Music. Her long-awaited debut album, Rules of Engagement, features appearances and production from Tiki Taane, Kings, Laughton Kora, and Electric Wire Hustle. The album showcases her incredible talent as a vocalist and lyricist.

Catch her hosting One Love festival in Tauranga this weekend and performing with Wellington band, The Nudge at Splore this February.

Describe your perfect summer music festival in three words:
Sun. Food. Vibes.

Name the top three artists who would make up your ideal festival line-up:
Kendrick Lamar. Childish Gambino. Janelle Monae.

What are you looking forward to most about playing the summer festival circuit?
Being out and about playing my new record to the masses! Very excited!

In your opinion, what’s this year’s Summer Anthem?
Hmmm not sure yet, too early to say!

Out of all your tunes, which one is the one that ‘never fails’?
Barely Know featuring Kings. It’s a banger.

What’s are the top 3 tracks on your Spotify playlist?
Pawn it all – Alicia Keys
Heart don’t stand a chance – Anderson.Paak
California – Childish Gambino

What’s your personal ‘guilty pleasure’ track?
Paranoid Android – Radiohead

What’s your social media of choice?
Instagram

What’s your go-to festival outfit?
Denim shorts, chucks, singlet.

Word association:
Music – vibes
Festival – vibes
Camping – vibes
Fashion – vibes
Roadie – what you reckon?

Situated in a beguiling bay on the shores of Tapapakanga Regional Park, Splore is an annual, boutique and arts festival like no other. Described as New Zealand’s greatest dress up party, this three day entertainment extravaganza promises a good time, good vibes, and hot showers! Splore 2018 takes place 23-25 February. Buy your tickets here.

been | Alt-J

Coming off the high from their wildly successful first and second albums (An Awesome Wave and This is All Yours) Alt-J released their much anticipated third album earlier this year. RELAXER is a collection of 8 hit-or-miss tracks leaving even die-hard fans a little underwhelmed. So, naturally when they announced their RELAXER tour I was disappointed all the focus would be on their least exciting album. However, I couldn’t stand to miss standout tracks like ‘In Cold Blood’ and ‘Deadcrush’ live in Town Hall.

First let me mention the outstanding performance by Clap Clap Riot, the Kiwi five-piece Indie-Rock band who opened the night. They warmed up the crowd with head-banging tunes capturing the attention of the crowd quickly. ‘Crickets in the Grass’ off their new album Dull Life was a definite crowd-pleaser. The lead singer belted ballads and thrashed his guitar with band mates joining him on a bass guitar, keys/guitar and a powerful drum beat.

As a self-proclaimed lighting geek, I took note of the long lights hanging on stage in the dark and waited with anticipation for them  to light up the venue in a dramatic fashion. I was not disappointed, the lights were fascinating, often taking form of skyscrapers. Town Hall was made for shows like this.

Alt-J took their places on stage where they remained for the entirety of the show, the lights acting at times like a cage over each band member. They opened with one of stand out tracks on RELAXER, ‘3WW’ before diving into fan-favourite ‘Something Good’. The sound was stunning, something I’ve come to expect from the venue.

Although there was minimal crowd interaction, Alt-J knew what the crowd wanted serving up nine tracks from An Awesome Wave and five from This Is All Yours. My fears of the show being too RELAXER focused were quickly put to bed. Their set-list was masterfully crafted, including the four best songs from RELAXER sprinkled throughout ending with ‘Pleader’ surprisingly being a show-stopper with it’s choir-like vocals and haunting violin.

The band quickly returned to stage for a thrilling encore of ‘Intro’, ‘Left Hand Free’ and ‘Breezeblocks’ ending the evening with the crowd pleading “Please don’t go/I love you so, I love you so”.

It was one of those shows I immediately mourned the ending of. 5/5.

see the skyscrapers?