Short Film, 2005
This series, made for use as a teaching resource in secondary schools by the NZ Music Industry Commission, was produced and directed by longtime Kiwi music champion Arthur Baysting. The full series featured 47 leading acts (including Don McGlashan, the Black Seeds, Nesian Mystik, Chris Knox and Fat Freddy's Drop) talking directly to the next generation of musicians about their music and careers. They offer intimate performances of classic songs, and heartfelt advice on subjects including songwriting, recording techniques, technology and the music industry.
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).
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.
Indie legend Chris Knox is featured in this episode from a series made for secondary school music students. He performs 'One Fell Swoop' — a love song he describes as an aberration amongst his more "nasty" numbers — and explains its composition while denying Whitney Houston comparisons. Knox is typically forthright in discussing his varied career as musician, cartoonist, TV presenter and "renaissance bloke". He outlines his philosophy of DIY self-sufficiency and extols the virtues of never compromising (so that even failure is "much more meaningful").
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rodney Fisher and Gareth Thomas from Auckland band Goodshirt preach a DIY message, in this episode from a series directed at secondary school music students. In the backyard of the house where they made their debut album, they perform stripped back versions of 'Slippy' (inspired by a Grey Lynn bus ride) and 'Blowing Dirt'. There's also a guided tour of the back shed where they built a recording studio with accessibly priced equipment that was good enough to produce a chart topping single in 'Sophie' — and stop them going into debt to a record company.
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”.
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.
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.
This episode from a series for high school music students features Auckland hip-hop act Nesian Mystik who can speak from personal experience about music education after forming at Western Springs College and first making an impression in Rockquest's Pacifica Beats. They perform stripped down versions of their APRA Silver Scroll winner 'For the People', and 'Better than Change' (written by Dallas Tamaira of Fat Freddy's Drop) and emphasise how simple music making can be — they started out with just their voices and a Playstation One programme.
Hip hop DJ/ producer P-Money (Pete Wadams) talks about a career born from very modest beginnings in this episode from a series for secondary school music students. After initial attempts at scratching on his father’s turntable were quickly rebuffed, he began making music using twin cassette decks. Success in DJ contests followed; and creating his own beats led to collaborations with acts including DLT, Scribe and Che Fu. He describes the process where his music for Scribe’s ‘I Remember’ was built up from samples from a particularly unlikely source.
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.
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.
TrinityRoots' vocalist and songwriter Warren Maxwell talks about his career and songwriting in this episode from a series for secondary school music students. Maxwell explains the genesis of the Wellington roots/reggae act's classic 'Little Things' (and the making of its music video); he performs a stripped back excerpt from the song. Maxwell also recalls the problems the band encountered in recording their first album and previews a new work, 'Angel Song' (which later appeared on TrinityRoots' second album Home, Land and Sea).
Wayne Mason — multi-instrumentalist and composer of The Fourmyula classic 'Nature' — talks about songwriting and his musical evolution in this episode, from a series made for high school students. He demonstrates his piano playing (on an energetic boogie-woogie work out) and a Scandalli accordion on 'High and Dry' (which he wrote in the Warratahs). He discusses the origins of 'Nature', and his songwriting technique (which always begins on a guitar); and muses on his high school band The Fourmyula which took him to Abbey Road, where he met The Beatles.
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.