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Newsletter Issue #530: 05 Jul 2020

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It's about the journey: Lessons learnt on the Karmatrain.

Three years ago, I asked my band, “should we do an EP with the few songs we have ready, or commit to the long haul and start work on an album?” The answer was unanimous: Album.

Being in a band is meant to be fun
Through my 20's I had become so fixated on the teenage dream of being a massively successful musician, that all the potential for fun was being ruined. Every show, rehearsal, local radio appearance and small opportunity was overshadowed by the anxiety and pressure of it being the best thing ever. This took its toll on me and my band mates. “This is the single that will break us,” I constantly thought. Haha OK mate calm down. Years later, and I still haven't completely given up the teenage dream - if we’re not Radiohead, I've failed.

Give up your dreams

The Phoenix Foundation wrote a song called Give Up Your Dreams that really resonated with me. I was in a rut and not enjoying being a musician. I was shirking the responsibility of being band leader, as it was hard, unrewarding and going nowhere. I was starting to realise that my unrealistic dreams, goals and expectations were making me feel like shit all the time. When I wrote the chorus to Morning Warning, I tried to be free from the restraints of my own expectations. “Let go of the dreams that you held on to, for so long you thought that they were a part of you and made you who you are. Soon you’ll watch them float away on the wind and fall like they were never anything at all”.

The green eyed musician.

Before we started the album I was looking at bands like Coridian, Armed in Advance, Animalhead and City of Souls, to name drop a few mates. Seeing them posting about shows, new releases and new videos made me jealous. They seemed to be getting some decent traction. Seeing them supporting each other was a real eye-opener. They’d share each other's posts and songs and openly congratulate each other's success. I wanted to be in that club. So, we broke our “no gigs til the album” rule and managed to get a show supporting Coridian/Animalhead. It was a great re-introduction to the Auckland gigging scene, most notably because there was no cliquey bullshit going on. The dudes in the other bands were encouraging and supportive and we’ve since become mates and gone on to do more shows together. These guys welcomed us into the club with open arms. Could it be that co-supporting each other was an integral part of these bands’ successes and creating an industry that's actually enjoyable to be a part of?

Enjoying the journey

If you really want to start enjoying the process, every success needs to be celebrated. Every positive review should be enjoyed. It's so easy to undermine and undervalue your own successes. Instead appreciate these small steps are all vital steps in a larger journey.

If there’s one thing I've learnt from writing and recording our album, it's that the fun and the rewards are not from the release itself. The rewards are in the mahi. By our second and third single releases I’d learned what an anti-climax the releases were and where the rewards were really coming from. Writing and recording, jamming ideas, and watching “how to make chicken nuggets” videos with my band mates - these are the real prizes - not solely focussing on outcome. The release is often riddled with anxiety and total over-stimulation on social media to see “how well it's doing”. Eye roll emoji.

I still want musical success. Enough income to support the band financially so we don’t need to personally contribute would be plenty. Fame and fortune is unlikely, but more importantly - if I can't learn to be happy and grateful now and celebrate each small milestone, I will still at the core be ungrateful and unhappy with any future levels of success.

Radio won’t even play my jam

Ask Hauraki or the Rock how many tunes they’ve added lately from NZ rock bands. How many guys? Smaller local radio stations are far more supportive and approachable. Probably because their primary focus is music not advertising. Kaos FM, The Generator, West Coast Radio, Channel Z, Bayrock FM will actually reply to messages, listen to submissions and PLAY YOUR SONGS. These guys want to support you and they need your support. Seems like a no-brainer.

#indieuprising

We had no money to record our album and we had no budget to make a music video. We had to take complete ownership of the project and every step of the process. I had to finally admit I was the leader of the band, and actually lead. We saved up to record drums at Ellamy Studio but we could only afford a day of drums at a time so we did the drum tracking 2 or 3 songs at a time over months, then added the other elements at home. We needed a music video for our first single but couldn’t afford a film crew. Our guitarist Jonnie is a (pretty awesome) self-taught photographer, so he offered to have a go at shooting. My younger brother is an actor and writer so he helped direct. We saved up again and hired an editor to try and turn our ideas and ropey footage into reality. Jah Bless Mikey Rockwell, the master. All our music videos so far have been done for under a grand. We learnt you have to come up with creative ideas that are easily achievable and you have to utilise people in your existing networks. Paying a videographer and crew to shoot a music video is one way. Asking a friend who is learning camera skills, who might do it as a favour and for some creative input could be another way. It's an opportunity for them to practice on a product that will get released publicly, and if your song does well, exposure for their blossoming skills and yours. Plus, you might have fun working together.

Choose what you spend money on carefully and invest into the parts of the project that you need a professional touch on. For our album we recorded drums at Ellamy Studio (cheers Louis!) and then painstakingly recorded guitars, bass and vocals ourselves. It saved thousands but also allowed us the time to learn more about songwriting, recording, and project management and develop our skills throughout the process. Ask the legendary Dave Rhodes - the recordings we sent him later in the project were much better than the tracks we did right at the start of the process. Sorry Dave, love you man!

Write your goals down, man.

Before the album was finished I wrote on my whiteboard - “10,000 streams per song, NZ Charts, Record label.” What if you smashed a goal you didn’t document? How will you get the satisfaction for your achievement? Be specific. “I want 2,500 streams on the new single in one month”. “I want to chart with this album.” “I want to sell 100 tickets to this show.” 

“Do you know what you’re looking for? You can have anything that you want, anything at all.”

It's much easier to drive towards a definite destination. Break down your goal into the smallest bits possible. Before we started the album I had very little idea how to practically approach the project. Even knowing where to even start felt almost impossible. I started writing lists and gradually developed a system that helped keep track of ideas and workflow. Be organised. Make a spreadsheet, delegate tasks between band-mates. Make sure you’re finding ways to keep dragging your team forward and make sure that you’re having fun while you’re doing it.

Set deadlines, even flexible ones, to keep track of your progress and be accountable for hitting time frames. Think of ways to create on a limited budget.

What would be enough?

Having released an album, I’m in the club I used to resent not being a part of. I have a small collection of musical friends that send each other demos and swap suggestions, advice and support.  

I have crossed some of my goals off the whiteboard. The album has over 50K streams, Outside In managed to scrape into the top NZ Albums on the NZ charts, we’re playing a sold out show next week, we’ve had some international interest and some generous reviews locally.

I’m working on being grateful for all these gifts and trying not to discount their value with habitual negative self-talk.

I’ve got to remember that me from 2 years ago would be stoked with where I am now. For where I am on my journey right now, compared with where I was - prettay, prettay good. The album being conceptual, with self-knowledge and growth being key themes, it really helped me to go on quite the journey.

Don’t be so hard on yourself.

Playing music is fun. Express the pains, challenges and highlights through your art. Try and heal and grow through your creation. Set some realistic goals and achieve them. Creatives often feel emotional extremes. I'm trying to be grateful for such a full spectrum of feels, but sometimes it's really tough. The extreme lows from the many rejections and the way gate-keepers of the industry treat us can really have a negative impact on a struggling creative’s state of mind. Let's continue to support each other and continue to develop a scene we can all be proud to be a part of. It's about the journey man. Support local radio and support your fellow musicians and their art. 

Finding happiness in the process has been the key. Releasing our album was a massive goal that we saw through to completion, but now what? We’ve got a bunch of demos being passed between band mates for album #2 already. I better get writing.

Flick me a message if you want to chat about any or all of this, I'm always up to help or discuss the journey so far.


---

Many thanks to Mikey Brown from Outside In for writing this editorial.


Riqi Harawira is a man of many talents; aside from being known as the former Dead Flowers guitarist, he's also a counsellor, and he leads courses which teach Maori customs. He often discusses his early life frankly, and having come out of a tumultuous number of years, he uses it to craft his music. His latest single Ruapekapeka takes inspiration from his forebears as well as history of Aotearoa's Land Wars, and it is sung almost entirely in Te Reo Maori.

Muzic.net.nz's Steve S had the great privilege of having Riqi take time and discuss in detail his greatest influences, new music in the works, how the latest video for Ruapekapeka was filmed, and more.

First round’s on me - What’ll you be having?

Mac’s Gold, because it’s local. A surprisingly large amount of our brewers are owned by offshore big-corps.

Care to list for us your five biggest influences? Can be either musical or non-musical.

Bob Marley for his pure conscious kaupapa and his earnest vocals, he has my heart.

Prince for his sleek and sexy style of playing, and his total boss attitude. The fact he is a half-caste is not wasted on me either. As a mixed-race kid growing up myself he was an example of how combining two different cultures could be a potent, melodic elixir. Prince had so much soul and aptitude as an artist. Much like Lenny Kravitz too.

Miles Davis because he is a mean mofo and reinvented the Jazz idiom. Nobody f**ed with Miles, except racist police. He was a master of free-styling.

Now, I’m going to cheat here: Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jimmy Page, Gary Moore, Peter Frampton & Jimi Hendrix are my favourite guitarists because they become unhinged and unrestricted in their wairua and technique when they play. Their signature styles go beyond technical abilities & can only be described as Ariki or Atua, other-worldly, Rangatira, high ranking aristocrats of the guitar realm.

What was the most rewarding thing you got up to whilst in lockdown?

I was still getting paid, which was really nice, and it afforded me the time to focus on my Mau rakau and fitness, which I love. I am not only working towards a new grading next year, but I am also helping others to achieve their grades. The kaupapa teaches you about Unity and serving others. It’s a responsibility to the kaupapa of Te Whare Tu taua o Aotearoa to give back to the kaupapa and not just take from it. Helping others is encouraged. Part of my grade is to learn how to teach so I get more responsibility put on me by higher ranking Pou (Posts) and my teachers to assist them in bringing mana to our peka (branch).

Your single Ruapekapeka is a hard rock tune sung in Te Reo; what compelled you to write about this particular historical battle?

Since moving back to my Turangawaewae Ahipara in the far north I have been delving in to a lot of Maori kaupapa. I’ve also picked up more Te reo Maori and being in the stomping grounds of my father (Te Rarawa, Te Aupouri) and our ancestors which has fed my wairua. I train with Te whare Tu taua o Aotearoa which is an international school of Maori weaponry developed by Pita Sharples and has thousands of followers worldwide. It is a high honour for me to learn the ways of the warrior, and to wield the Taiaha is a boyhood dream of mine, especially as I have been learning from my own people Kohao Tu taua o Ngapuhi. The North is full of beautiful Maori kaupapa, and you are often included or asked to tautoko and represent.

My fiance and I visited Ruapekapeka pa in 2018 and I was inspired to learn more about it and write the song. I had this killer riff already and decided it was a great fit and it was meant to be the chassis to carry this kaupapa. I wanted to create something that was uniquely bespoke to my iwi Ngapuhi. Something I could leave behind, something for new generations to instil some inspiration and make the great accomplishments of our ancestors relevant again. My father is buried at Te Ahu Ahu in Ohaeawai which is a battle that we cover in the song Ruapekapeka. It's Hone Heke's maunga and that's where I will end up one day next to my father.

The accompanying music video to Ruapekapeka is both detailed and epic; where was it filmed, how long did it take to shoot, and how many people were involved with filming?

The video was shot exclusively at Ruapekapeka pa in Towai, north of Whangarei. Originally I had planned to film in Auckland on a green screen, but in hindsight, I wasn't thinking big enough, but after meeting Kawiti’s descendants, Kaumatua Hirini Henare, and Kawiti’s great-grandson Ken Kawiti of Ngati Hine, I was welcomed onto their marae, which gave me the tohu (sign) that I was meant to film at the pa. I had the honour of having members of Te Kohao Tu taua o Ngapuhi and members from our Peka (branch) in Kaitaia Nga Taniwha o Muriwhenua support me as an Opetaua (war party) who participated in the fight scenes. That is genuine mahi from Te whare Tu Taua! As producer on this music video, it is my job to think outside the square & acquire all the right parts to make the project successful. One of my visions was to acquire the re-enactment footage we used from South Seas Film and Television, which saved us Thousands in the end.

What does New Zealand music personally mean to you? And what changes would you like to see?

My father was the first Maori to perform on 6 continents of the world in 1955. When he was in America he had to sit on the Black side of the bus. He was a young Maori boy from the far north performing for the Queen on two occasions, and he performed with Nat King Cole, plus a string of other accomplishments. When he returned to NZ he had a record deal, and even cut an album which we had stored away until after his death 1990. Unfortunately, the album was lost and like the record deal, it never saw the light of day. Part of my motivation for being an artist is to continue the positive aspects of my father’s legacy and to carry his torch with pride.

Streaming rates should be better; musicians get even better when they are remunerated properly.

Also, Kiwis really should go out and support more Kiwi artists, especially at grassroots levels. Go make a big thing about it, make NZ music thrive!

In what ways have you seen the use of Te Reo Maori in Kiwi music change over the years?

It has become more complex and stronger because the kohanga reo and Kura kaupapa generation from the 80’s are confident speakers, and have taken Te Reo to higher and different places.


Read the full interview here

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New Pop artist Roonie, previously known as Michaela Pointon, is making lead-way with her electrifying writing about loneliness and love. She moved to Auckland in 2019 where she is studying, writing new songs and building a name for herself in the music scene. While experiencing this huge year of growth in her music, Roonie also found herself deeply lost in heartbreak. Darryl from Muzic.net.nz spoke to Roonie about her name change, working with Chris Chetland and her future plans:

You've released music under your own name, why the change to a pseudonym?

Roonie felt like the next right step to take in my musical journey. I wanted to step away from my own name as I knew I could create a brand around it. Roonie's music is also a different genre to my previously released music.

How is the music of Roonie different from that of Michaela Pointon?

Both Roonie and Michaela Pointon's music reflect different stages in my life. The records I was listening to while creating the music under my own name were completely different to the musical influences used on my new tracks. My old music was folk singer-songwriter style, compared with my new music which is pop inspired.

There are many genres and subgenres of music - how do you classify your music? and why?

My debut Roonie single My Heart has been released under an Indie-Pop genre. I feel the influences used to create this track such as Maggie Rogers stem from somewhat of an indie-pop genre too. However, I am wanting to venture into an even more direct line of pop in the near future.

How did working with Chris at Kog come about?

Chris is super talented and was definitely the person I wanted to master My Heart and my other singles coming out this year. I emailed him and he got back to me with a yes! It was awesome to work with him.

A single typically comes from an album, dropping one of those soon?

My plan is to release an EP at the end of the year (after more singles), which I am so excited for! Keep your ears/eyes out for more Roonie music coming soon.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I am super excited to continue learning and absorbing as much as I can from the music industry. I feel very determined to do music full time once I leave University, so I hope 5 years' time will consist of many more co-writing sessions, recording sessions, tours, albums, festivals and many more friends from the music industry.

What is your songwriting process?

When writing with my guitar, I always start with the chord progressions first, then voice memo melodic ideas over vowel sounds, then lyrics last. But I voice memo everything! Sometimes the most unintentional ideas are the ones that work best, but are the easiest to forget while writing.

If there's anything else I haven't asked that you'd like to say, please write it here :)

Thank you so much to Muzic.net.nz and to everyone for their support with My Heart.


Read the full interview here

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Photo Credit: Christian Tjandrawinata


On Episode #95 we spoke to Huia Hamon. Huia is a singer/songwriter who performs in Te Reo Maori, she works at Kog Studio as publicist, she founded Integrity Promotions, her Grandfather is artist & poet Rei Hamon and she's married to musician and mastering engineer Chris Chetland. Huia is a double threat - smart and hilarious and this is a fun episode.

On our latest episode we spoke to Tabla musician Aditya Kalyanpur. Aditya began his career in Mumbai before moving to the US and over the years he's collaborated with many top artists including Katy Perry, Anoushka Shankar, Herbie Hancock and The Rolling Stones. This episode is a celebration of Aditya Kalyanpur's incredible journey and a love letter to music.

Listen to our episodes on our website, iTunesStitcherSpotifyiHeart RadioPlayer.FMTuneIn and all other good podcast apps!

DON’T GIVE UP YOUR DAY JOB - THE PODCAST


www.dontgiveupyourdayjob.co.nz


New Artist Pages

The following new artist pages have been added to Muzic.net.nz during the past month:

Ebony Lamb Something Zesty Valleyside Boys
Dharmarat No Life Roonie
Hummucide Victor J Sefo Sebo
Rotting Vegetation Dolphin Zero Plussed
James Hunter MikeyGeorge Chris Lake
Phil and Lana Doublet KITA Full Bloom
Mini Simmons Alchebad Internet Death
Your Face Boy Virgo theajsound
Fred Samson Reignmaker
Steffany Beck Steve Hutchinson


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