I've said before that I think we're living in a rich era for New Zealand music, one in which the ambition and creativity of the artists is bulwarked with skills in the technical and commercial parts of the music business that basically didn't use to be there.
Take the new single by Bene, whose set at The Others Way you may recall me raving about recently. You can find it on your chosen streaming service here.
It's her song – and she has a swag more of them – but it's been brought to fruition by Josh Fountain, who took over Golden Age, the little commercial studio in Morningside, Auckland, where Lorde's Pure Heroine was recorded.
As a really good profile by Hussein Moses for The Spinoff explains, Fountain's big break was enrolling at the Music and Audio Institute of New Zealand (MAINZ) – and then one of his tutors, Angus McNaughton (who was once a partner in Incubator, the tiny studio where the Headless Chickens' Body Blow was recorded) got him a job making jingles, where he met his future bandmates in Kidz in Space.
He worked on records by Smashproof, Randa, Thomston and Annah Mac before being bequeathed Golden Age by Joel Little. Thereafter, he worked with Maala, Openside and Theia, who have all managed to break through the international pop noise and make an impression on the local charts.
But it's on 'Soaked' where you can most clearly hear the sound of Leisure, the kind of groove supergroup Fountain is part of along with Jayden Parkes, who was in the pop-punk band Goodnight Nurse with Joel Little. They're managed (along with Thomston and Sol3 Mio) by Seiko, the management company founded by Scott Maclachlan, who discovered and signed Lorde. (Maclachlan took a senior A&R role at Warner Music Australasia earlier this year, but continues to advise at Seiko.)
Also in Leisure is Jordan Arts, who was half of Kids of 88, along with Sam McCarthy, who was also in Goodnight Nurse along with Parkes and Little and now works in LA as Boyboy.
Jordan also has his own thing, High Hoops, and has been a favourite of this blog for some years now. His debut album, Seasons On Planet Earth, is out today and it's a beguiling mix of giddy nu-disco and rolling, smoky grooves, deeper than it might first appear.
Meanwhile, Bene has signed with Australian's Niche Talent Agency, which will handle her bookings from here on. She's managed by CRS, who also look after Fountain and have been Brooke Fraser's management since forever, out of the same Morningside building as Golden Age.
So, as you can see, there are a lot of moving parts here – including parts that didn't exist 10 years ago. Old creative relationships, bands that didn't quite work out first time, lessons learned, skills acquired, opportunities grasped and networks formed. It looks good to me.
Bene is in the Laneway 2019 lineup for the festival's 10th birthday – alongside Courtney Barnett and Florence and the Machine. I'm quite thrilled to see Jon Hopkins back. And the absolute curveball? Veteran South Island experimentalists The Dead C. Had you asked "Will Florence and the Machine and The Dead C ever share a bill in our universe?" I would not have picked that.
Note also that there are more Splore announcements on the way. I heard about one of them this week and let's just say I am most excited.
Hallelujah Picassos are back with with a new single that somehow haunts and stomps at the same time:
The flip is a wiggy new mix of 'Picasso Core', which features one of the last vocals recorded by the late Bobbylon. There's also a 7" single out today, available here at Flying Out.
Speaking of Flying Out, I'm delighted to be the first friend to step up for Friday Friends, a new series at the physical Flying Out store (80 Pitt Street, near the K Road corner). I'll be playing records while people muck about in a record shop from 5pm to 7pm today.
Come on down! I hear there's even beer.
Just one. An absolute banger of a Fela Kuti edit. Free download (with a bit of palaver):