Former Blam Blam Blam, Front Lawn and Mutton Birds member, Don McGlashan takes time out from making his first solo album to talk about songwriting in this episode from a series made for high school music students. McGlashan is passionate in exhorting his audience to write their own songs and make their own voices heard. Acoustic versions of his classic 'Dominion Road' (written about a neighbouring street) and another Mutton Birds number 'White Valiant' (based on a dream) underline his enthusiasm for writing about immediate surroundings, not faraway places.
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.
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.
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.
Exponents lead singer Jordan Luck discusses his career and approach to songwriting in this episode from a series for secondary school music students. Luck recalls his own first musical steps at Geraldine High School and the realisation that he could write his own material. He performs an acoustic version of his classic song 'Victoria' which he wrote about the toll of domestic violence on his landlord at the time — an example of his preference for writing from personal experience. He also previews 'Finesse', a work in progress about Invercargill.
In this episode from a series for secondary school music students, singer Hinewehi Mohi recalls the controversy that followed her Maori language rendition of 'God Defend New Zealand' at the 1999 Rugby World Cup. She talks of her immersion in music at school and its importance to her following the birth of her daughter with cerebral palsy (and the Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre this inspired her to establish). As a songwriter who doesn't play an instrument, she explains the origins of 'Kotahitanga' — her Maori language-meets-dance pop hit with Oceania in 2002.
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”.
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.
Bill Lake of Wellington blues/roots institution The Windy City Strugglers takes the podium for this episode from a series for secondary school music students. Accompanied by fellow Strugglers Andrew Delahunty (guitar) and broadcaster/music critic Nick Bollinger (bass), he plays ‘Good Grief’ as an example of the way a song can be written through thinking about a single phrase. However, the main order of business is a beginners guide to the blues and rock’n’roll rhythms he holds so dear (along with a demonstration of guitar playing using open tunings).
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.