It’s May, so it’s NZ Music Month! NZ Music Month is all about music from Aotearoa, and the people who make it. Radio stations play more local tunes, and we celebrate homegrown talent across the length and breadth of the country. So what’s happening locally? What does NZ Music Month mean to our local musicians and how can we support our local talent?
The NZ Music Commission kicked off NZ Music Month in 2000. There was plenty of great music being made but not enough people got to hear it, see it, or have it on their shelves. It’s marvellous to see how far things have come.
My music month started brilliantly with friends over for a birthday celebration, so out came the CDs and vinyl. I’ve got some great early NZ compilations on vinyl, being rather partial to Flying Nun bands and NZ punk. I was lucky enough to be given the book “From AK79 to The Class Of 81” as a prezzy, with great photos of the era by Andrew Phelps. What could be better? Maybe more music? Oh yeah, a gift voucher for Spellbound Wax, our very own local vinyl store. So I went in and got the classic Straitjacket Fits album Hail.
I asked some local musos for their thoughts on NZ Music Month and the local scene (follow the link to our website below for links to these band’s tracks and playlist links on Spotify):
Gana Goldsmith of UNI-FI thinks “the local music scene has really boosted in the last few years since Darryl took over Smash Palace and has live music every weekend. NZ Music Month for me is celebrating awesome kiwi musicians and their creative works but I reckon it should be celebrated all year around and not just for one month!”
SuperFly Killa started the month writing songs for their second EP. Kevin Pewhairangi gave us his local music recommendations: Tuari Brothers, Supreme Brother Sound, UNI-FI, Clown’s Kiss , Strobe & Kwick.
As an artist songwriter ErnieJ says that being involved in NZ Music Month makes him feel like he is contributing to a bigger kiwi vibe “Following Covid lockdown, Kiwi acts stepped up and demonstrated we have the talent. If local original music is given opportunity in front of an audience then chances are, we grow together”.
The man behind Spellbound Radio and The Spellbound Wax Company Deane Craw says he always tries to get anything from New Zealand on vinyl for the shop, “the local music scene has really ramped up after Covid, with more local bands touring, and commercial stations finally coming to the party”.
New Zealand music airplay on commercial stations was 21% in 2020. The industry began a voluntary Music Code back in 2002, when they played less than 10% local music. Their target was for commercial radio stations to play 20% New Zealand music. Not bad, but I reckon they can do better and follow in the footsteps of public, student and iwi radio stations, which are strong supporters of local content.
OK, I know, it’s getting a bit nippy out so you might not make it to all of the live shows. Luckily, there are a couple of other ways to hear our local talent. You may have heard local music playing at a cafe, restaurant, bar or shop lately. That’s because Lazy Fifty band manager Kerry Taggart put together a Gisborne Musicians Spotify playlist and got it out to local hospitality businesses. You’ll know if they have the playlist from the poster displayed in their window. Your ears can feast on tracks from locals, including The Crumb Factory, The Karuthers Brothers and Tama Waipara.
Another playlist, heavy on music from Tairāwhiti and 100% NZ made is the NZ Music Scene playlist. You’ll hear locals UNI-FI, Superfly Killa, Sit Down in Front, amongst others.
I could go on forever and don’t claim to have covered the whole spectrum of local music. But if you’re keen to find a new favourite NZ band, Bandcamp is a great place to start if you’re keen to support local artists. Check out Bandcamp here.
Enjoy your NZ Music Month and keep an ear out for a new project brewing at Gizzy Local that’s all about shining a light on local music – Gizzy Local music. Coming soon!
By Leah McAneney
Photographs by John Flatt – Lightseeker Photography