Hard News by Russell Brown

21

Music: In music's own spaces

On Monday, The Spinoff published a long, detailed report by Alex Casey and Duncan Greive on "How a prominent New Zealand music identity conducted a troubling series of relationships with young women, including girls as young as 12."

The "identity" was music blogger and DJ Andrew Tidball and what the gruelling story depicts is at once something that happens in many communities (even the most right-on) and something the music community in particular needs to contemplate and confront.

The story of the story is itself instructive. Claims that Tidball had acted inappropriately with young women on the internet originally emerged in January and were publicly denounced by Tidball, who claimed to be the victim of a online defamation campaign. It was difficult to know what to make of it: I was on holiday with patchy internet access and, like most people I suspect, I saw little of the actual claims. The only victim the Sunday Star Times could identify didn't want to talk at that time and the only real substance in its story was Tidball's forthright denial.

Tidball received prominent and public support from many people in the music community. I thought it seemed that he'd perhaps  been a sleaze in the past, but more than that? I couldn't tell. His action in proactively going to the police seemed appropriate. Like most people, I eventually forgot about it.

Alex and Duncan didn't forget. Instead, they spent two months winning the trust of four young women, interviewing other sources and collecting what documentary evidence they could. (They also went to Tidball, who declined further comment.) What their story claims is extremely disturbing. The police have now declared an interest in the matter.

The consequences have already begun for Tidball. All the advertising that was part of his livelihood is now is now gone from Tidball's website. His social media accounts are deleted. And yesterday, 95bFM general manager Hugh Sundae announced, with the support of the station's board, that Tidball's Tuesday night show on the station has been permanently cancelled.

bFM Statement Regarding Cheese On Toast

Following yesterday’s story published on The Spinoff, 95bFM will no longer air Andrew Tidball’s Cheese On Toast Dinner Party, effective immediately.

We are a majority-volunteer organisation, committed to providing and promoting a safe environment for our people, and we in no way condone behaviours detailed in the story.

An announcement about a replacement show will be made in due course.

The words "safe environment" are relevant here. What is said to have happened, happened in music's own spaces – starting with the much-loved bulletin board NZMusic.com. A shared passion for music became a pretext for predation.

Tidball might say, if he chose to acknowledge it at all, that this is all punishment for historical events. But the young women, whose first experience of intimacy was being manipulated by someone much older than them, don't have the privilege of walking away from their experiences.

Andrew Tidball always seemed a nice guy. My own contact with him has always been cordial, and that cordiality is a major part of the role he has played in the music scene. In the imited contact I've had with him, I never sensed anything was amiss. But has something worried you, sometime? Does Emma Hart's post about creepers ring any bells? Are there women you need to listen to? Guys you should keep a better eye on? Things you should say?

We all need to take responsibility for this.

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I was very sad to hear yesterday of the sudden death of Jim Laing, while he was out running in a West Auckland forest. I didn't know Jim as well as many of my friends did, but he impressed me as a lovely and creative man.

He was most prominently a member of the JPS Experience, but what a lot of people were sharing last night was their love of his solo album, Wait, as Lanky.

Arch Hill Records founder Ben Howe says the album, the label's second release, is still one of his favourites. My friend (and Jim's) Andy Rice describes it as "beautifully melodic, understated in the VU mould, just as Jim was."

The album was released in 2000 and has fallen out of memory to such a degree that there was nothing even on YouTube for me to put in this post. Happily, Ben uploaded this last night:

Thanks for the tunes, Jim.

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It took me a little while to warm to Street Chant's long-awaited second album, Hauora, and I decided in the end that the tracks were oddly sequenced. That's partly a result, I suspect, of the album's very long gestation. 'Sink' would have made for a more lively opener than 'One More Year' – but that was released as a single in 2012!

Emily Littler wrote last year for The Pantograph Punch about how and why the album took so long. She's not only a killer guitarist, she's a fine writer, and that facility shows through in the songs. "Like Sylvia Plath/From Sylvia Park" is such a funny, evocative line, one you could only write in Auckland.

Anyway, I've been playing Hauora daily and getting more into it each time. Here's the video for 'Insides'. Yes, there are still houses like this in Grey Lynn:

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Amanda Mills' two-part inside story of Straitjacket Fits for Audioculture is a wonderful piece of work that sheds considerable light on how and why things happened with that great band. She interviewed Shayne Carter, Andrew Brough and John Collie, and what each has to – especially about the relationship between Shayne and Andrew – is intriguing. This is as close to definitive as you're going to get.

Another, more personal, memory of Flying Nun Records by Andrew Schmidt is also a great read.

And frequent Audioculture author Gareth Shute has a lovely thinkpiece on the Pantograh Punch about the difficult presence of parenting in popular music's enduring themes:

Instead, the radio frequencies and bandwidth are filled up with ever-growing numbers of romantic love songs. Perhaps it’s just that the pop music is uniquely suited to representing that first blush of infatuation that washes over a person in the first hours, days, and (if they're lucky) weeks that they spend with a new person that they're attracted to. They’ve become the modern form of a sonnet – a short outpouring of emotion that captures the feeling of love/desire while it’s still at its most electric, without qualifying or over-analysing it.

Yet if it’s the intensity of feeling that is the key to inspiring the love song, then why aren’t more songs inspired by the equally heart-grasping emotions that a child generates in their parent? The parent feels the same level of uncontrollable adoration, which bonds them to their offspring from the first moment. If you dig around the internet, you can unearth a few songs about parental love from within popular music, but most of them are simply awful – insipid versions of romantic love songs with all the raciness of sex and danger of heartbreak removed.

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Real Groovy has announced its Record Store day lineup of live bands and DJs.

Rebel Soul Music has a DJ lineup and helpings of salt and vinegar chips on Saturday.

Southbound Records has Tami Neilson, The Leers and Delaney Davidson playing in the afternoon.

And Flying Out has Peter Jefferies! Plus Jed Town and others and various specials, including a new shipment of second-hand US vinyl.

But I won't be at any of them, because by happy accident, I will experience Record Store Day in the spiritual home of the independent record store – Brooklyn, New York. Thanks to Pete Darlington for the heads-up that it's also the last day in business for this amazing New York reggae emporium.

I land in New York on Friday evening and pretty drop my bags and go and see The Melvins and Napalm Death. Wish me luck!

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Tunes!

My favourite Australians Cup & String posted a forthcoming release and it's great:

And the lovely chaps of Rocknrolla Soundsystems have released this hammering piece of funk:

That's a reshare-to-download deal on HearThis, or a pay-what-you-want on Bandcamp.

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The Hard News Friday Music Post is kindly sponsored by:

The Audio Consultant

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