Hard News by Russell Brown


Friday Music: SJD, with strings attached

I'm pretty excited about going to the special SJD performance of the Saint John Divine album with a string quartet at Mercury Theatre tomorrow night. The version of this show they played in Wellington a months ago had Simon Sweetman in raptures and as he notes, we also get the bonus of a Shayne Carter solo set to open.

Tickets are available from Under the Radar – but just because it's you guys, I have a double pass to give away. Just click the email link at the bottom of this post and put "SJD" in the subject line. Because time is so tight, I will draw this by 5pm today, so if you haven't heard from me by then, you'll need to get on and buy your tickets like a normal person.


I'm playing some records in at Real Groovy Records earlier in the day tomorrow, from 11am till 1pm. I'll start with a little Dollar Brand and see where it goes. Meanwhile, Andrew Tidball, who books the DJs for the shop, asked me to write a little about the top five records in my DJ bag. That was fun to do.

And if you missed it earlier in the week, a post linking to the various parts in the video of last Saturday's warm, fuzzy and informative DJ Stories edition of IRL at the Golden Dawn in association with Orcon. We will definitely do that again.


Lawrence Arabia plays as part of Late Night Art at the Auckland Art Gallery next Tuesday, alongside the work of moving image artist Yang Fudong. It's a Pantograph Punch joint, so I'm sure it'll be sweet.

As part of promotion for the event, James performed a song called 'Just Sleep, Your Shame Will Keep' on Newsworthy.

Which put me in mind of the song we commissioned from him for the 2009 Christmas special of Media7. 

I can't even remember half the scandals that seemed so important then ...


As part of the preparations for for the 50th anniversary New Zealand Music Awards, the original award – the Loxene Golden Disc awarded to Ray Columbus in 1965 – has been retrieved from the care of Ray's bandmate Billy Kristian. It's a very long time since it has been seen in public, but I held it in my hands yesterday. It's a really nice object:

Audioculture has published my Flying Nun Prehistory – a look at how weird, arty Christchurch gave birth to New Zealand's archetypal indie label. I think we'll build on this largely untold story over time. Thanks to Jane Walker for coming through with some great photographs, including this one of her with fellow Basket Cases Olly Scott and Nicky Carter:

Does anyone have photos from the Gresham Hotel? We'd love those.


I got sent an advance copy of Jonathan Bree's forthcoming album A Little Night Music and I really like the way it's so boldly distinct from everything musical going on around him. The video for 'Murder' rather sums up that distinctiveness:



Just this morning, Leisure popped out a little preview of their debut live peformance at Laneway this summer. Two tracks, including this smooth jam ...

From their lovely new EP of digital soul, Groeni:

Dancefloor jazz king Mark de Clive-Lowe has released a remix album of last year's release Church, and it includes this pretty amazing piece of work by Jeremy Toy as his Leonard Charles identity (could Leonard Charles be considered a remix of Jeremy Toy?):

You can buy both Church and the remixes as a $20 bundle.

Baboom has the exclusive on Bailey Wiley's sassy, atmospheric new single 'Take It From Me':

Serious, dirty, funky soul from RocknRolla Soundsystem's new remix of conscious soul singer Laura Lee. You can buy that here:

The guys also made this bangin' 40-minute "premix" ahead of their performance at next week's Amsterdam Dance Event. Follow them on HearThis for the free download:

In a similarly funky vein, this little stormer (click through for a free download – you may wish to unfollow the overly chatty Hypeddit account again afterwards):

And finally, because Fridays are all about the kitchen-dancing, This great housey edit from a crew who got terminated on by Soundcloud this week and are now on HearThis. Free download:


The Hard News Friday Music Post is kindly sponsored by:

The Audio Consultant


Hug Reform

I'm not as suddenly pessimistic about the All Blacks' chances of winning the Rugby World Cup as some folk, but I can confidently make this prediction: whoever wins, there will be hugs, hugs and even more hugs.

Rugby clearly did not invent the sporting hug, but its modern ubiquity seems more notable in light of New Zealand rugby's long (proud, even) tradition of emotional suppression. By that tradition, an All Black who scored a crucial try was expected to pick himself up without celebration, toss the ball to the kicker and trot back towards halfway, perhaps collecting a couple of handshakes on the way.

This was actively promoted as a virtue. When I was a kid, the Burnside Rugby Club newsletter would refer to football as "the kiss and cuddle code", a source of the kind of unwarranted emotion and intimacy from which parents ought to keep their sons well clear.

Look at this reel of great All Black moments of the 1960s. No matter how brilliant the try, the moment it's awarded, the team turns and jogs back to half way. Half the time the scorer isn't even congratulated:

By the 197os, half-hearted expressions of joy started to appear. Watch as a few players sheepishly raise a hand after Sid Going burrows over for a try against the Springboks at the one-minute mark:

By the 1987 World Cup final, we are clearly in a new era. After David Kirk scores at the eight minute mark, Buck Shelford helps him to his feet and administers a couple of congratulatory cuffs to the back of the halfback's head as they track back. And then, from 11 minutes, there are actual embraces in victory. Nothing like you'd get now, but there are men definitely touching each other:

So let's fast-forward to the aftermath of the 2011 final, when this happened:

Clearly, much of this can be put down changes in the way men relate to each other off the field, but I wonder if some degree of permission for that has flowed the other way too.

I first recall pondering this in the 1990s (no, really, I ponder lots of things) and wondered then if the introduction of entactogenic drugs to the practice of partying had changed popular culture. Suddenly, it was okay to not only hug your mate, but even tell him you loved him. 

Since then, we've seen the rise of hip hop's thumbs-up-handshake-to-chest-bump version of the hug offering a kind of limited, but sincere, intimacy. But mostly, it's the full man-hug, all the time.

I'm told by my mother that I never shied from a hug as a child, but even so, I hug a lot more than I used to. When my best mate comes around for a beer, which is a not infrequent occurrence, we always part with a hug. Sometimes we meet with one too. The signal is always the same: the throwing open of the arms, the opening of the chest. It's good.

 This poses some obvious problems for people who are generally uncomfortable with hugging or being hugged. One or two of those people are dear friends and I try and remember the boundaries when I greet them. And there are also clearly issues for women who get unwelcome hugs from men whose intentions they distrust. The hug, like the ubiquitous and not always welcome cheek-kiss (something else we never used to do in New Zealand) does provide an avenue for the creepers.

But those caveats aside, and whether we changed the game or the game changed us, when the whistle sounds and I see men trained to brutally collide with each other exchange an embrace, I do think it's better than it used to be.


#OrconIRL: Why DJs hate weddings and the Serato start-up legend

Thanks so much to everyone who came down to IRL at the Golden Dawn on Association with Orcon on Saturday. After a little weather scare in the morning, it turned out pretty nice. Again, we had 95bFM's Hugh Sundae and his team delivering live sound and vision – and pending a proper edit, you can watch the whole thing right here (scroll forward to 00:20:41 for the first of the talking parts):

I couldn't get time codes to play nice in the embeds, but you can skip to the specific parts with these links:

Esther Macintyre interviews Aroha Harawira about the joys and perils of being a woman in the DJ trade – and why she now requires security at every gig.

I talk to Serato co-founder AJ Bertenshaw about the company's history and culture and its venture into the the consumer space with the new Pyro app. Then he does a little demo. (That's also Pyro you can hear playing and mixing in the breaks between talks.)

Jafa Mafia's Tobi Muir and Silva MC play a little set. Note that it started with a Cornell Campbell dubplate (ie: a special one-off version recorded for them) and finishes with a similar dubplate of Dawn Penn's 'No No No'.

And to conclude, the DJ panel with Tina Turntables, Aroha, Murray Cammick, Dubhead and The Professor, who talk about what gigs DJ all hate (weddings, especially friends' weddings) and the state of the DJ nation. Sorry, the stream broke up a little here, but we'll retrieve a better copy from the source recording.

I didn't take many pictures (busy!) but this one of the place all ready for the floor is nice:

Esther and Aroha have a pre-show chat.

All eyes on the Serato Pyro demo.

And Silva tears it up ...

If you have any pics of the event, feel free to upload them in comments. Keep them to no more than 1MB each and use the "Choose file" button by the comment window to upload.


Friday Music: The next Soundcloud?

If you've used Soundcloud for a while, you'll probably have noticed that it ain't what it used to be. That's largely because it's spent the last couple of years under the copyright cosh. It concluded a somewhat mystifying deal that saw Warner Music take a 5% stake, but negotiations with Universal Music have been halted by a lawsuit from Britain's Performing Rights Society, which says it's acting after five years of talks failed to result in a deal.

Ironically, Soundcloud's galloping growth – annual plays doubled in the past year to 4.9 billion – will have made music companies even more determined to get their due, even though there's very little revenue to go around. It may be that Soundcloud's CEO Aexander Ljung will prevail and the company will find a way to monetise and pay, but it will be a different place then.

Those numbers say it's a better place to present music than ever. Yet DJ mixes and edits are being taken down all the time and the effort of trying to go legit seems to have impacted on the whole atmosphere of the place. It's not the home of mix culture any more and the niche vibe that launched Drake mixtapes and the dubious blessing of EDM is ebbing.

So ... is it time for a new Soundcloud?

A DJ TechTools roundup of alternatives recently annointed Hear This as the rightful heir and so did this guy and this guy and I'm inclined to agree.

Hear This is both how Soundcloud used to be and how it could have been if it hadn't stalled. It's probably even more DJ-oriented, but has a lot more available for download – often on a follow-to-download or share-to-download basis – and people I already follow on Soundcloud, like RocknRolla Soundsystem, Disco Tech and Digital Visions, are there too. (I'm Public Address there and I have no tracks to play you.)

Among the downloads there at the moment are this bouncy Disco Tech edit of Aretha's 'Rock Steady':

RocknRolla's Sly and the Family Stone edit:

And Bosq's Temptations rework:

There are also some really cool features that tend to emphasise how much momentum Soundcloud has lost in the last couple of years. Like a much more sophisticated embedded player (I could even choose to add an external style sheet especially for this site) and Maps, which lets you locate profiles by location. It's a little underpopulated as yet but, as an example, it swiftly led me to this this edit by young Auckland DJ Lady Jaye, who I would not have found any other way.

But more importantly, it's also something Soundcloud has never managed (or tried) to become: a shop. This track, for example, offers the option of buying a WAV file direct from the artist:

Maybe that will help it survive an eventual copyright reckoning, maybe it won't. But Hear This is pretty clearly where the mix culture crowd is heading for now.


I'm delighted this week to welcome the new Friday Music sponsor, The Audio Consultant. They're a longstanding home and commercial sound solutions company from Hamilton and they've more recently set up an Auckland branch in Williamson Ave, Grey Lynn.

They're a really great fit because the boss Dan Howard is not only a legit music fan, but a member of the Public Address reader community and a really nice chap. Huzzah!


Did I mention we have an event tomorrow? 

The surprise on the poster is now not a surprise – it's Serato's first consumer app, Pyro, which runs on iOS devices (and Apple Watch) and fills a gap in the market for people who want to play a bunch of songs more or less like a DJ would, matching tempos and mixing between tracks. I've been using it for a couple of weeks and really works. It's also free.

IRL kicks off at 2.30 and it would really help us if you could RSVP here.

I'd also note that Golden Dawn is doing lunch tomorrow, so you could come early and eat some of the bar's award-winning food before the show. It seems the weather is going to clear in plenty of time.

If you can't make it but will be near a device, this is where the amazing Hugh Sundae and his crew will be streaming the whole thing for 95bFM:

We'll be talking at 3pm sharp, so don't miss.


So on Wednesday, the visiting rap group Rae Sremmurd tweeted Justin Bieber:

And last night in Auckland Bieber came onstage at their gig, smoked a joint and swigged from a bottle of Hennessy. One of very many videos ...


More summer festival news: Splore has made its first lineup announcement and the standout for me is sound system veterans The Dub Pistols. Others will be delighted to see the return of The Correspondents and Pitchfork darling Waxahatchee should be well worth seeing.

Splore stages its announcements, so there is a lot more to come. I've also talked with the Splore team about doing another talk programme in 2016 and I'm very hopeful that will happen. I have an American guest in mind who I think will be amazing.

In case you were wondering, the ticket and camping options are here.


This year's BBC John Peel Lecture was by Brian Eno. You can hear it here on the BBC 6 Music site. And you can also watch this charming little video of Eno having a look around the Peel Archive:

Have you seen Disco/Graph? It's a sprawling interactive visualisation of musical relationships captured in the data on Discogs. Just search for an artist or act and then double-click to reveal more relationships. here's the one for The Clean.

The National Library's Sholto Duncan has pored over the dead URL file of the New Zealand Web Archive and turned up hundreds of New Zealand music sites that exist now only in the Archive. Some of them really illustrate why we have such an archive.

NZRave.com, for example, ran from 2005 to 2011 and is, says Sholto, "an extensive resource with hundreds of pages of news, articles, interviews, and of course photos – including some that aren’t so flattering! It’s a great insight into a specific music subculture, and also includes a range of forums and user generated content."



The latest NZ ON Air NewTracks playlist is up on Souncloud now and there are some real crackers on it. Among them, this haunting, imposing tune from The Impending Adorations, aka Paul McLaney:

Note also that Paul and Rhian Sheehan have collaborated on this track, which uses Baboom as a charitable donation platform.  Proceeds go directly to Oxfam via Baboom's real-time payments system.

Back to NewTracks, Dick Johnson's awesome remix of A Hori Buzz's 'Providence', which you can buy on iTunes:

Earlier in the week, Stereogum premiered 'Warm Waveform', the latest single from The Chills' forthcoming Silver Bullets album.

The lovely chaps at the Sweet Mix Kids have teamed up with Pikachunes for a very quirky new single that's out today:

They've also posted a remix of their last single, 'Pure Heart', as a free download:

And one of my favourites on the 95bFM playlist at the moment, this extremely perky NCEA anthem from Avoid! Avoid!


And finally Auckland, The Phoenix Foundation play the Powerstation tonight and Lontalius plays Neck of the Woods before jetting out to America. If I had to call it, I'd say Justin Bieber is more likely to be seen on stage with the latter.


The Hard News Friday Music Post is kindly sponsored by:

The Audio Consultant


About Chris Brown

We should begin by making clear exactly what Chris Brown did to Rihanna in 2009. He has not "been accused of being involved in violence against his partner" as Dame Tariana Turia bizarrely said yesterday. And his actions were not "considered only odious enough to warrant community service" as a hapless post on The Daily Blog claims.

Brown was convicted of felony assault in 2009 on the basis of a police statement that describes a vicious and prolonged attack on his then-girlfriend – biting, strangling and a "barrage" of punches that "caused Robyn F.’s mouth to fill with blood and blood to splatter all over her clothing and the interior of the vehicle." He told her he was going to kill her and it ended only when he fled after someone heard her screaming and called the police.

Brown was wealthy enough to afford the kind of lawyers who could get him a very good plea deal: counselling, community work and five years' probation.

Probation did not go well. In 2011, he "went berserk" after a challenging Good Morning America interview. The following year, he was part of an ugly nightclub brawl in which a number of bystanders were injured. The next year he punched and threatened to kill Frank Ocean in a dispute over a parking space, also verbally abusing Ocean, who had recently come out, as a "faggot".

In 2013 his lawyers negotiated him out of a hit and run charge after an incident in which he was described as highly aggressive and calling the victim a "bitch". In the same year, he launched an unprovoked attack on two men who had tried to join in a fan photo with him, shouting “I’m not into this gay shit, I’m into boxing."

It was this last assault that finally brought his probation into question. His lawyers announced that he would voluntarily enter a drug rehab facility, where his goal would be to "gain focus and insight into his past and recent behavior, enabling him to continue the pursuit of his life and his career from a healthier vantage point". He didn't complete his three-month programme because he was thrown out for "breaking program rules by acting violently."

A judge committed him to another rehab facility, warning that if he left that one he would go to jail. He was kicked out of that one too. And was thus duly sentenced to a year's jail, less the time spent in rehab, and eventually served only half of that time because California's jails are overcrowded with non-violent drug offenders.

This year his probation formally expired. Unfortunately, his violent nature did not. In May, he was charged with battery after he and a member of his entourage beat a man he argued with at a basketball court. Again, the victim suddenly declined to press charges.

Chris Brown may well be sincere in his desire to beat his demons and change his ways. But the idea that he is anywhere near that place now, and that he can credibly act as an anti-violence advocate to the youth of New Zealand, is flat-out ludicrous.

But that's not actually his problem with coming to New Zealand. His problem is that he was declined entry to Britain in 2010, on account of his criminal record, and earlier this year he was also denied entry to Canada. Because he has been excluded from those two countries he is not automatically eligible for a New Zealand visa and would require a special direction under Section 17 of the Immigration Act 2009. So it's not a matter of choosing to ban him, but one of specifically electing to allow him in.

And yet, Kanoa Lloyd makes some strong arguments in her Newsworthy column Chris Brown and Our Domestic Violence Double Standards. Most notably, that such immigration sanctions have been almost exclusively visited on black entertainers: "If you’re white, you’re still welcome. We’re much more certain you’ve learned the error of your ways."

She contrasts the cases of Mike Tyson (denied a New Zealand visa in 2012 over his rape conviction) and Odd Future (ludicrously denied entry in 2011 as a potential "threat to public order") with that of Tommy Lee, who toured here despite having served six months jail time for assaulting his then-girlfriend Pamela Anderson in 1998 (she might have also noted an unpleasant race-tinged assault conviction in 2000 and an alleged assault on a man who tried to take photos of him in 2013).

But she's on less sure ground in implying that Eminem's violent lyrics didn't prevent him touring here only because he's white. Even the officials who banned Odd Future couldn't do so solely on the basis of their work. (Although Eminem was lucky to be able to plead down serious charges in 2000 after an incident where he brandished an unloaded gun at a man he saw kissing his wife.)

Lloyd also notes that Black Sabbath are touring here again this year even though "Ozzy Osbourne has admitted getting drunk and trying to strangle his wife Sharon in 1984. We seem to have let him off the hook for good behaviour."

Well, yeah, we have. I'm not sure a widely-recounted incident (including by Sharon herself) more than 25 years ago (it was in 1989) should prevent Osbourne ever travelling internationally again. I don't think anyone doubts that he is a reformed man.

And whatever we feel about people, it is not just to punish them in perpetuity – hearing Tony Veitch on the radio might well make your skin crawl, but he does have a right to employment. The late Graham Brazier was rightly convicted in 2013 of drunken assaults on his partners (they were not of anything approaching the order of the others described in this post, but they were certainly assaults) but it would have been unfair to have let his entire life be defined by them.

But the legal position is that Chris Brown needs special permission to enter New Zealand. There are reasonable arguments against him being banned – most notably that a ban would merely distract from the reality of how and where family violence happens, which is usually at the hands of ordinary men whose names we never learn.

But if your argument is that Brown should be granted entry because he currently represents a positive role model against violence, then I'm sorry, but your argument is full of shit.