Songs for Christchurch

Album raises money for local projects

VICKI ANDERSON
Last updated 15:42 05/10/2012

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Barnaby Bennett talks to Vicki Anderson about Songs for Christchurch, a project designed to raise international awareness of Kiwi talent and funds for rebuilding Christchurch.

Songs for Christchurch is a music-driven fundraising effort that aims to raise money for projects in Christchurch and promote Christchurch and New Zealand artists to overseas audiences.

In direct response to the Christchurch earthquakes, it is a compilation album featuring tracks donated by 22 local and international artists including Grammy Award winners Flight of the Conchords, British musician Imogen Heap and American musician Amanda Palmer, who was due to perform in Christchurch on the week of the February 2011 quake.

Via PledgeMe, the team behind the project (which includes Jessie Moss of Jessie James and the Outlaws and architect Barnaby Bennett) aims to raise $7700 by 11.59pm on October 15.

Bennett moved to Christchurch in January.

"Being an architect I moved to Christchurch because I saw the city's response to the disaster as exciting. In Wellington, I've been involved in the Cuba Street Festival and the Jazz Festival. I was in Melbourne and heard about this idea from someone at Architecture for Humanity. They said 'let's do a fundraising album, who wants to be involved?' and I offered my assistance," he says.

All money from album sales, less "unavoidable administration fees", will go to the Architecture for Humanity charity and help fund their Christchurch-based operation and community projects rebuilding Christchurch.

Specifically, Bennett says, it will be used to support pro-bono design and construction management for Christchurch non-profits and community organisations over a "wide range of community projects".

One project they are working on is the rebuild of Unlimited High School, which was located in the central business district, and subsequently destroyed by the earthquake.

Heap performed an acoustic concert in Christchurch in April titled Songs For Christchurch to raise funds for the earthquake-hit school.

The sold-out concert at the Aurora Centre was Heap's only New Zealand show.

Many artists have donated rewards for pledgers, including Tim Finn who has donated the signed, handwritten lyrics of Persuasion, Flight of the Conchords, The Black Seeds, Ladi6 and The Eastern, who have each donated items.

Bennett says he has been thrilled by the support artists have given the project.

"Tim Finn and Flight of the Conchords came on board really early on, so did Imogen Heap. All of the artists involved have a relationship to Christchurch in some way and they've given us their songs for free. I've worked out that they've given us around $250,000 in intellectual copyrights pro bono which is amazing," he says.

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Flight of the Conchords have donated the track Pencils in the Wind, which has previously only been available as a bonus track.

"We've got a bit of money to raise but they've put a link to the project on their Facebook page and they have 1 1/2 million fans, so hopefully some of them around the world will help out," Bennett says.

Songs For Christchurch will be internationally released on December 2.

In Christchurch, it will be launched on December 2 with a live gig featuring five acts who have contributed to the project.

"We hope to hold it on an empty site near Re:Start," Bennett says.

The album will also feature limited edition screen-printed posters of hand illustrations of all contributing artists by Kiwi illustrator John Baker.

Go to YouTube/user/ songsforchristchurch to see a video about the project made by Christchurch film-maker Gerard Smyth, who shot When A City Falls, alongside Gareth Moon and Giles McNeill.

"The album's all ready to go. We just need the money for production and to get it out there and, hopefully, make a difference," Bennett says.

See pledgeme.co.nz/429 to donate, and songsforchristchurch.org, youtube.com/user/songsforchristchurch or twitter.com/songs4chchnz for updates on the project.

THEY SAY

"I came to visit Christchurch as the festival in Auckland I was due to play was cancelled. I decided that as I was in the area and Christchurch could probably do with a little musical distraction to head over there and join other musicians with the same feelings. I saw a steeple sitting on the pavement as I drove into Christchurch. A sad sight. The night was great fun with everyone in strong spirits. My song Neglected Space felt right to dedicate as a song to all the tumbled, crumpled buildings crying out again for human connection." Imogen Heap

"It's about artists that want to spread awareness, the money that will come will be one side of the rebuild, but more important than that is keeping up an awareness of Christchurch." Delaney Davidson

"For those who live outside of Christchurch . . . pledging, donating towards this project is a very easy, quick and a meaningful way to help out. It says that you are aware of the city's ongoing struggle and that you care." Jessie Moss (Jessie James and the Outlaws)

"It's awesome music donated by awesome musicians to help regenerate Christchurch." Ryan Prebble (The Nudge)

"It gives us all an opportunity to reconnect with that concept of community. . . . not just doing everything for yourself but for others . . . you should support the album because it gives you the opportunity to say 'I can contribute in some small way'." LA Mitchell

"You can't rely on the power structures that are already in place, you can't necessarily rely on the Government, on the insurance companies you've invested with your whole life. . . but you can rely on your fellow humans. The stuff that's happening inside people, that's not so easy to see, and I think if people outside of Christchurch are willing to connect to us there, it just really helps in a sense of solidarity." Adam McGrath (The Eastern)

"The buildings have been pulled down, but nothing has been erected in their place yet. . . this is my hometown, so it's been like an arrow to the heart." Mara TK (Electric Wire Hustle)

"You have to think outside the square, because the square collapsed." Paul McLaney (Fly My Pretties)

THE ARTISTS

Flight of the Conchords

AHoriBuzz

Tim Finn

Fat Freddy's Drop

Imogen Heap

Amanda Palmer

Delaney Davidson

The Black Seeds

The Eastern

Electric Wire Hustle

The Unfaithful Ways

Greg Johnson

Spartacus R

LA Mitchell

Jessie James and the Outlaws

Ladi6

Dear Frontier

The Nudge

The Yoots

Fly My Pretties

Plus more to be announced

- The Press

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