Dancer and performer Mika (Neil Gudsell) introduces his urban Māori, Pacific dance troupe Torotoro in this episode from a series made for secondary school music students. He formed the group after seeing an opportunity for a big, young, funky Māori show during his own overseas performances. Torotoro fuses breakdance, kapa haka, hip hop and Pasifika influences, and its members have graduated from Gudsell’s Mika Haka youth programme. They talk about how the opportunity to travel and perform internationally has changed their lives.
Singer Moana Maniapoto discusses her evolution as a Māori musician in this episode from a series for high school music students. After first singing in public on the marae and learning to harmonise at school, she paid her way through university by singing in nightclubs. She describes her epiphany in a Detroit church as she realised that she needed to sing Māori songs rather than keep trying to emulate American soul and r'n'b divas. An acoustic performance of 'Hine Te Iwaiwa' (from her Toru album) is followed by a demonstration of traditional instruments.
Evan Short, one half of drum and bass duo Concord Dawn, talks about electronic music making in this episode from a series made for high school students. Appropriately, he first met future collaborator Matt Harvey in school music lessons and they later reconnected as drum and bass fans while studying audio engineering. To the thundering accompaniment of Concord Dawn’s student radio hit 'Morning Light', Short discusses hardware, software for beginners, the importance of developing good "ears", and the international recognition they have received.
Whānau is at the forefront of this episode from a series made for high school music students, which features bilingual Māori jazz and soul diva Whirimako Black. After an introduction in te reo, there’s an intimate acoustic performance of ‘Te Tini O Toi’ from her award-winning debut album Shrouded in the Mist. It’s a lullaby written for her children — and grandchildren to come — so they will know where they come from. Black also honours her grandfather, a multi-instrumentalist who began encouraging her to make music when she was three years old.
SJD (aka Sean James Donnelly), winner of the 2013 Taite Music Prize, talks samples, lyrics and home studios in this series made for secondary school music students. Donnelly demonstrates his fondness for old synthesisers (he admits liking their crankiness, and the way they make their most interesting sounds as they start to fall apart). Talking a couple of years after the release of second album Lost Soul Music, he traces the origins of Lost Soul single ‘A Boy’, and its music video — which features his son, and was animated and co-directed by his brother Kieran.
Mareko, Savage and Alphrisk from Dawn Raid act Deceptikonz offer a rhyme filled hip hop primer in this episode from a series for secondary school music students. Their vision of hip hop has little use for American-style guns and gangster rappers, but fighting with words is another matter and there are tips on the art of writing a battle verse (along with unlikely endorsements for The Discovery Channel and English classes). They also stress the importance of understanding an industry where artists arrive as musicians but need to leave as businessmen.
In this episode from a series for secondary school music students, James Reid (from The Feelers) and his brother Donald (a singer-songwriter who has co-written several Feelers songs) recall their school days when music making was frowned on by guidance counsellors rather than encouraged by projects like this one. Armed with acoustic guitars and a piano, they play excerpts from four songs (‘Communicate’, ‘We Raised Hell’, ‘Fishing For Lisa’ and ‘Unleash the Fury’) and discuss their philosophy of songwriting which is “all about being in the moment”.
Drummer Shelton Woolright and guitarist Marcus Powell from West Auckland metal band Blindspott feature in this episode from a series made for high school music students. They talk about their beginnings playing in sheds and paddocks in Taupaki and their decision to “get serious” which led to a major label record deal and radio play in Australia and South East Asia. The third Blindspott single ‘S.U.I.T. (So Us Is This)’ gets an acoustic run through as its construction is explained and there are some school friendly excerpts from the music video.
In this episode from a series made for high school music students, Dallas Tamaira and DJ Mu recall Fat Freddy's Drop's early history as a duo with just turntables and a microphone in a vibrant Wellington scene. They reveal an aversion to rehearsals, preferring to develop their music in a live setting and Mu demonstrates the component parts of their song 'Midnight Marauders' on his secret weapon — an Akai sampler capable of emulating all of the instruments in their sound. His verdict that every school should have one may not have gladdened principals' hearts.
Wellington funk, soul, reggae act The Black Seeds manage to cram themselves into a single shot for this episode from a series made for secondary school music students. Bookended by stripped back performances of 'Keep on Pushing' and 'Going Back Home', they explain the development of these songs from their origins as bass grooves. Mike Fabulous has cautionary words for aspiring songwriters about the dangers of overcomplicated song structures while Barnaby Weir reassuringly suggests that virtuosity is not an absolute prerequisite for being in the band.