On The Beat: NZ Music Wrap

19:58, Nov 20 2011
Hallelujah Picassos
REGROUPING: Hallelujah Picassos are rewinding the past.

Hallelujah for the encore?

Almost 15 years after they officially disbanded, Auckland-based Hallelujah Picassos have released a career retrospective.

So why now?

"We've been talking, for about four  years now, about getting our music back in circulation," says founding member Peter McLennan.

"It has largely been unavailable for nearly 20 years and, over that period, I've been asked numerous times by fans about where they can get our CDs. There is so much great NZ music, from even just the past 20 years, that has disappeared and we wanted to bring back our part of that.

"I know there's a lot of hype around Flying Nun's 30th anniversary but they weren't the only thing happening in the 90s. I think it's important to remind people of that." 


There's even talk of another Hallelujah Picassos reunion gig (they last played as the support for Asian Dub Foundation at the Powerstation in Auckland in 2000). 

"As always with the Picassos, expect the unexpected," McLennan says. "No plans to tour. I have no great desire to leave the house - I am too comfortable!"

LA dunks it

In basketball terminology LA Mitchell is hoping for a slam dunk with her new EP #2, which is produced by Wellington's D:UNK. 

"Yes I am! This EP is a bridge, so we've not arrived but we've definitely departed from where we were," Mitchell says.

The multi-talented musician, who shows off her alter-ego rock chick as a member of The Dukes and Dave Dobbyn's band has recently been flying pretty as part of Barnaby Weir's revolving collective Fly My Pretties, who wound up their latest tour in Wellington last night.

"Often I am sitting behind a beautiful Rhodes [piano], which is very pretty," she says.

"And this season of Fly My Pretties we were dressed in Cybele so sitting or standing we're all feeling very pretty! I could write a small novel or, at the least, a collection of short stories about what I have learnt and the beautiful conversations I've enjoyed with other writers about the never-ending journey of it. As a performer, I've learnt to trust in my abilities more and to step out gunning from the get-go!

"As a writer I've come to appreciate the craft of writing as being totally different to the craft of playing an instrument well. Those two things alone have been defining moments for me as an artist over the last three years."

Fire in the Tiger Belly

Dominic Hoey has found his voice, so to speak. 

The Auckland hip hop magician behind Tourettes, whose new album Tiger Belly, was released on Trip To Mars earlier this month, has recorded his first vocal.  

"I sung a hook on this new project I'm working on. But the guy who I'm  doing it with hasn't replied, so perhaps he hates it," Hoey says.

"I'm definitely trying new things with my vocals. I'm pretty tone deaf though." Hoey is still rapping lyrical on Tiger Belly, which is a late contender for album of the year.

"I always sit up late writing until four or five in the morning and, one night, I wrote down the words  tiger and belly and it just stood out,' he says.

"I woke up my girl friend of the time and was like 'tiger belly'."

She told me to shut up. And then I realised it had to be the title of the album."

Two for the Disco 3

Producer P-Money and DJ Dan Aux are well known in their own right.

Together you'd think they'd be a dynamic duo - and, you'd be right, but just to show that some things never quite add up they've called their debut offering The Disco 3. 

For those with grey hair you might recall that's who the Fat Boys were known as in the early '80s. 

"I have been guilty of playing a Fat Boys song," P-Money says.

"I have quite an extensive collection of bad 80s pop hits on 7" vinyl in my basement back home in Australia."

And Dan?

"'The Twis' by The Fat Boys and Chubby Checker was the first record I ever bought. True story."

It's possible that this side project could become "a beast with its own destiny" even though, on a personal level, there are individual things they are both working on. 

Dan: "I'm currently working on clearing and balancing my chakras, which paves the way to opening limitless creative energy. This has involved a lot of laying on my back."

P-Money: "I've been eating right and maintaining a regular fitness schedule. I've also been working with a new Australian female rapper named Sky'High."

Warratahs' tears

A lot of musicians sing the blues or get a bad case of them at some stage of their career but in Barry Saunders' case he's been struck down by a bad case of RSI. 

The solo artist and frontman for perennial Kiwi favourites The Warratahs, has had to hang up his guitar.

Fortunately, I've only had to can a couple of shows," Saunders says. 

"I might have to become a stand-up or a harp player for a couple of months. I've tried the physio and an osteopath, without any luck, so maybe I'll need an amputation!"

Despite the setback, The Warratahs will still play Vynfields Martinborough today and the inaugural Mandeville Music Festival in Swannanoa, north of Christchurch, on December 10 on the back of the release of their new single "Kupe's Tears".

"It's a place I liked," Saunders says of the song.

"I incorporated it into another song. We are recording songs one at a time, which will be part of a new album mid next year."

Support for Langley

Matt Langley is doing his bit for trans-Tasman relations. 

The Kiwi songwriter and Mel Parsons will host and support Australian songwriter Jodie Lane, who tours New Zealand for the first time to celebrate the release of his new album Blood Thinner.

"I do what I can for our Aussie cousins, especially in lieu of the Rugby World Cup result," Langley says.

"They may be in need of a hug and a nice hot cuppa and I'm there for them."

The tour kicks off at the Wine Cellar in Auckland on November 29.

Lane returns the favour when Langley and Parsons support him on an Australian tour early next year.

Cinematic heyday

James Hayday has been having a field day on the big screen. 

The Auckland musician and beatmeister recently finished the sound design for Shackleton's Captain (an 80-minute TV movie directed by Leanne Pool) and has been commissioned to compose the score for  a short film directed by Dan Kircher. 

"I'm sound designer as well as composer, which is something that I've not really done before," Hayday says.

"I always like getting close to something that could be music with the sound design, so finding the blurry line will be  interesting with this one." 

Another movie project, Hayday worked on, Welby Ings' Munted,  this month won best short film at the Lucerne International Film Festival .

"It's in the running at several other European festivals at the moment as well," Hayday says.

"It's really picked up steam, which has made us all very happy as it's a film deserving of attention - a very unique rural New Zealand story.

"With any luck, people will be able to see it here at some stage." 

It hasn't left Hayday much time for creating the beats he's so well known for as Mr Hayday but there is a Coco Soild collaboration on the way.

Hall's surreal year

Ria Hall's year keeps getting better and better. 

The singer, who performed at the Rugby World Cup opening ceremony, recently charted new territory when her self-titled debut EP peaked at  No 2  on the official New Zealand Top 40. 

"It feels absolutely surreal," Hall says.

"It's hard to explain how I feel.   I didn't expect it at all though, so it's a pretty amazing surprise!  I feel very grateful that people have taken to the EP. It's very inspiring and exciting to know people like it."

After her Rugby World Cup triumph, Hall was again in demand as a cultural ambassador when she was invited by  the Ministry for Culture and Heritage to perform as part of the NZ delegation at the Frankfurt Bookfair. 

"I'm letting the EP marinate within the NZ music landscape for the moment," she says.

"I'm very busy with various gigs and I'm getting used to the fact that music is my fulltime career! I'm mucking around with a few ideas musically and hope to have another EP out in time for  NZ music month 2012!"

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