2014 – Performing Artists

Arthur Ahbez

timthumb3Best described as a soul lost in the spirit of song, Arthur Ahbez is found around the outskirts of town donning a good pair of roman sandals and a cactus shirt.

Finding solace in the ethos of Jazz, Folk, and Psychedelic movements of the 1960’s, many such artists played a part in shaping his own song writing inclinations and musical outlook. After parting ways with his first band Welfare Mothers, Arthur found freedom in building sounds on his own – expressions which reflect his understanding for honest, versatile music.  His penchant for DIY recording was blessed with an 8 track tape deck, found under a pile of flannel shirts – this marked a two year long writing and recording process for his recently released, acid folk debut album, Gold.

With the blood type of a nu-folk nostalgic poet, Arthur’s music is mainly focused around the art of capturing moments. From somber folk acoustic tracks to loud  swinging jams, his music does all it can to push open doors and invite people to take part in the moment.

As a live band Arthur performs with a four-piece known as Superbird, with which he works to create high energies and emotions.  Brothers Chanan and Rikihana Douglas are on drums and bass respectively – aside from sharing a band, they share 13 siblings. Anton Tennet is on organ and Thod Schmit plays percussion.



French For Rabbits

FFR_MismaDrawing influence from the wet, windblown landscapes of coastal New Zealand, French for Rabbits hail from the remote setting of Waikuku Beach, in NZ’s South Island.  While their warm instrumentation lends itself to pleasant comparisons with the Paisley West Coast dream pop of bands like Mazzy Star, French for Rabbits are infused with a cold, brooding gaze evident through carefully decaying beats and glacial guitars akin to Laura Marling or Daughter on opiates. Their debut EP Claimed by the Sea and an accompanying PLAN remix saw the band shift their gaze internationally, touring extensively throughout Europe and the UK over the past six months (including to Secret Garden Party, Wilderness Festival and The Great Escape). Their debut LP Spirits (Lefse/Fat Possum/Home Alone Music) due for release in late October sees a lush widening of their eerie, yet comforting sound.



Anika Moa

Anika MoaAnika Moa is a singer/songwriter who needs little introduction. She burst onto the New Zealand music scene 13 years ago with the double-platinum album ‘Thinking Room’. Singles such as ‘Youthful’, ‘Good In My Head’, and ‘Falling In Love Again’ became massive hits and led the charge in the renaissance of local music on commercial radio. A plethora of touring followed in the wake of this success. Aside from Anika’s obvious songwriting skills, her talents are nowhere more apparent than when playing live. Anika is a true raconteur — not just holding audiences spellbound with her songs, but keeping them entertained with her witty, often hilarious, between song banter and stories. She has the down-to-earth kiwi humour that wins audiences over in an instant and keeps them returning for more.



Kaitlin Riegel

Kaitlin RiegelKaitlin Riegel was born in Portland, Oregon and raised in the United States until the age of 12. Then her family ventured across the world and uprooted Kaitlin to settle in Auckland, New Zealand. Now after living nearly half of her life in each country, she’s proud to be an American and a Kiwi.

Learning to play piano and sing, throughout her childhood, became much more than a hobby. Kaitlin launched into songwriting when she performed at a local Arts Centre Coffee House open mic night, amongst the folk and country singers at a young age. Now at the age of 19, her passion for music has never been stronger. After a few years of working on her degree, double majoring in Mathematics and English, she realized her mind was programmed for music when she spent the days before exams writing and recording new songs, instead of focusing on her studies. Most of the music she creates revolves around intricate vocal parts but almost everything she writes is composed on her beloved Roland keyboard. Her goal, as for many musicians, is to get the music to reflect the lyric, which then bonds together to create an image in the listeners mind. She loves to experiment with sound to create an atmosphere and tell a story. The final result can be heard with her songs that were produced by Simon “Berkfinger” Berckelman (The Temper Trap, Silverchair, Wolfmother).



Aldous Harding

Aldous HardingAldous Harding (Hannah) released her debut album “Aldous Harding” in April 2014. Fantastic reviews of her album and live performances have lead to a second run of the album in NZ and international distribution. Hannah grew up surrounded by folk music, her mother being Folk singer Lorina Harding. Spending time in the South Island musical community of Lyttelton, she spent time playing with The Eastern and working with Marlon Williams who produced her album. She recently supported Tiny Ruins on tour, earning much acclaim. The ‘13th Floor Review’ states: “Aldous Harding was wonderful, and really earned the crowd’s standing ovation after a stunningly intimate version of Roy Orbison’s ‘Crying’.”



Jesse Sheehan

Jesse-SheehanSheehan shows incredible maturity in both his song writing and performance. Don’t expect over dubbed auto tuned pop perfection, it’s real music, played with a great deal of passion and feel. He has played support to southern American folk rockers ‘The Alabama Shakes’ and to UK solo star ‘Jake Bugg’ plus featured as a singer in ex Split Enzer, Eddie Rayner’s ENZSO shows late last year.

Sheehan has just completed a world tour of Australia, Canada & the USA, UK and Europe as guitarist and backing vocalist to Neil Finn on the ‘Dizzy Heights’ tour, which is a pretty good start for someone at the tender age of 22.



Little Bark

LittleBarkLittle Bark first came to attention with the release of her debut ‘Hope is Rubbery’ in 2011. The project of musician Sophie Burbery, it introduced a set of what RadioNZ called; ‘Curious, fantastical songs…like falling through clouds”.

Following a move to Auckland, New Zealand, and last year’s single ‘Modern Love’, Little Bark recently opened for Neko Case at Auckland’s The Powerstation. Her upcoming album, ‘USB’ was produced with Stef Animal and is a synth-based ‘soundtrack’. 10 tracks that dance and brood, imagining a twisted coupling of Vangelis, Cyndi Lauper + Fever Ray, but even that fantastic image only scratches the surface.



Jupiter Project

jupiter-projectThings have been steadily shining bright for rising indie R&B duo, Jupiter Project. But now the boys from down-under are ready to make an international statement with the release of their eagerly anticipated debut EP.

Intriguingly titled ‘Zeus’, the pair match their soulful vocals with a brave, genre-defying palette of production compiled and composed by the duo. The 11-track-deep EP samples production work by the likes of Hudson Mohawke and Jamie XX, amongst others, and their unique blend of lo-fi R&B vocals and diverse instrumentation has drawn comparison to a range of international artists, from Phoenix to Drake.

Gavin Correia and Marty Rich; otherwise known as Jupiter Project, aren’t new to the scene in their native New Zealand, where they have played major international festivals such as Rhythm and Vines and also shared stages with the likes of Flume and Will.I.Am. The duo is also known as one of New Zealand’s most prolific songwriters and has recently penned a number of top 10 hits at home.

Their first single off Zeus, ‘Peer Pressure’, brings forth a subtle French nu-disco influence, complimented by smooth vocals and intellectually subtle wordplay. After listening to the record, it becomes clear why culture icons like Adidas, Hypebeast and Grammy.com have come on board to support the boys. Be sure to jump on the wagon before it’s too late.



Ha The Unclear

Ha-the-unclearSkewed and catchy, Ha the Unclear’s sound is delivered with unaffected accents and constructed with a blend of off-kilter pop and 1960’s influenced folk-rock. Their output teeters on the fence of the strange and the familiar, while their lucid lyrics are awash in layered harmonies and supported by a charmingly dynamic rhythm section.

Ha the Unclear (pronounced as a name rather than an exclamation) initially formed in Dunedin in 2010 under the moniker Baraka and the Finish Hims. Left only with “the stains of ritual, a taste for communion wine and an existential crisis” from a catholic education, Michael Cathro is joined by Paul Cathro on bass, drummer Ben Sargeant and guitarist Theo Francis to deliver songs and stories about elderly regret, a coffee table’s infatuation with its owner, tricycling through a New Zealand suburb, pondering the imponderable and catholic school.

Releases include bedroom recordings Brown (2010), Mould EP (2011), Animal Diseases & Suspicious Packages EP (2011) and demo releases Mannequins (2012) and Burn the Boats (2013). Ha the Unclear also have releases through Dunedin’s The Attic on The Attic Singles Club and compilations It Came From the Attic and Nature’s Worst Vol. 3. Studio album Bacterium, Look at Your Motor Go is scheduled for release August 2014.



Race Banyon

Race BanyonRace Banyon is the electronic music production and performance alias of Wellington teenager Eddie Johnston. He has headlined sold-out shows throughout New Zealand, played alongside Rustie, Baauer, Ryan Hemsworth, BADBADNOTGOOD and Kaytranada, and released his first EP ‘Whatever Dreams Are Made Of’.

He has also created remixes for bands The Phoenix Foundation, Doprah and Grayson Gilmour. Mixing the pulse and musicality of Chicago-house, juke and footwork with the emotional heft of modern RnB and the theatrics of contemporary hip-hop, his productions and live performances have marked him out as one of the most exciting young talents currently active within NZ.



She’s So Rad

shessoradShe’s So Rad is an indie shoegaze/rock band comprising of Jeremy Toy (vocals, guitar), Anji Sami (vocals, synth), Phil Hadfield (bass), John Parker (drums). SSR’s debut record, ‘In Circles’, recorded in the spare room of Jeremy Toy and Anji’s Sami’s apartment, was a finalist for the Taite Prize 2012. SSR found a fan in Ladyhawke and was asked to tour the U.K. as support band for the Ladyhawke tour in 2012.

In between albums SSR has released a “Special Disco Version” E.P. of 80’s electro boogie jams, released on Japanese label Wonderful Noise. This came about because front man, Jeremy Toy, is also a DJ and has a love for Disco and Boogie music. Fans of this release include Kimbra, House Shoes, Kutmah and Grooveman Spot.

The band has had features/premiere’s of recent singles on influential blogs: This Is Fake DIY (‘Confetti’), The Line of Best Fit (‘Confetti’, ‘Levels’) and The 405 (‘Levels’).  Their 2nd full-length record is due out 2nd half of 2014 and will feature songs mixed by legendary engineer Tony Hoffer (The Kooks, M83, Beck, Supergrass). The band’s recent singles ‘Confetti’ and ‘Levels’ will both be on the new record. She’s So Rad have supported Sebadoh, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Phoenix Foundation, The Naked And Famous, Ladyhawke, The Adults.



Golden Curtain

Golden CurtainGolden Curtain is Andrew McKenzie (Grand Prix), Andrew Gladstone (Garageland) and Brad Gamble. They are based in Napier having moved there from Wellington and Auckland in 2007. The band has released 2 albums (‘English Tuning’ & ‘Dream City’) and has received some fantastic reviews locally and internationally. The two Andrews have separately been successful with their previous bands and bass player Brad was recently included in an American blog article about “the 10 bassists you should know about in the world”. Recent shows include supports for the Phoenix Foundation, and Auckland gigs with Fazerdaze, the Roulettes, and Dictaphone Blues.



Anthonie Tonnon

Anthonie-TonnonAfter a year and a half spent touring extensively throughout the United States, Australia and New Zealand, Anthonie Tonnon has emerged with a live show larger than the sum of it’s single performer, and with an album due for release in 2015.

His narrative lyrics and arresting live show have seen him perform with Beirut and Okkervil River in New Zealand, and the likes of Sean Nelson, Nicholas Krgovich and  Shenandoah Davis in the USA. He has performed on Daytrotter Sessions, and has placed an album in the CMJ Top 200 Charts as well as the Top 20 NZ Albums Chart.



Dictaphone Blues

DictaphoneBluesDictaphone Blues have released two albums “On The Down and In” 2009 and “Beneath The Crystal Palace” 2012. Both earned rave reviews from critics and fans alike and their electrically charged performances have been heralded as the stuff of lore. Latest single ‘Her Heart Breaks Like A Wave’ has been nominated for the 2014 APRA Silver Scroll (the premier NZ song-writing award) and is whetting the appetite of the faithful for the new album ‘Mufti Day’.



Chelsea Jade

Chelsea JadeChelsea Jade has supported Lorde, Cat Power, Dirty Projectors, Bloc Party and Broken Social Scene. In 2012 she received the NZ Music Awards Critics Choice Award, and theaudience.co.nz’s ‘Wild Card’ Making Tracks grant. Most recently she has been invited to attend the Redbull Music Academy in Tokyo, later this year she will release her third dreampop EP ‘Beacons’ while preparing for a small tour in the USA in October and a few dates while she is in Japan.



Trip Pony

Trip PonyTrip Pony is the solo project of Auckland based singer/songwriter, Priya Sami (of The Sami Sisters). Priya encapsulates a strong female perspective citing Missy Elliot, Aaliyah and Santigold among her inspirations as well as modern day producers like Timbaland, Kanye West and Pharrell. ‘Daze’ offers the listener a slice of R&B Dream Pop, produced by Jeremy Toy (Opensouls, She’s So Rad, Hollie Smith) and features Vancouver based MC JayKin one of Canada’s strongest and best written MCs.



Rob Thorne

Rob ThorneRob Thorne (Ngati Tumutumu) is a new and original voice in Taonga Puoro. Looping instruments of stone, bone, shell and wood, every performance is a highly concentrated conversation between past and present. Powerful, magical, intentional. A musician with over 25 years experience, his work since 2001 with traditional Maori musical instruments has seen him complete an MA in Social Anthropology, travelling the country to research museum collections. In 2012 he received CNZ funding to record his debut Taonga Puoro album “Whaia te Maramatanga”. He participated in a performance series with Korean dancer & drummer Saes Byeol Cha and Italian born guitarist Lorenzo Buhne. In 2013 he performed with Richard Nunns, recorded for Dudley Benson’s ‘Forest’ remix project and participated in Phil Dadson’s exclusive sound-art exploration Sounding Tiritirimatangi. He successfully executed a crowd funding campaign to travel to the Peruvian Amazon to research and experience ancient indigenous sound-healing techniques. While in Lima he performed with jazz drummer Steve Cournane, and lectured on his work. 2014 brought the release of the album on Rattle Records to critical acclaim, a NZ national tour, he performed with Phil Dadson & Chilean musician Enrique Siques, and also with Jeff Henderson, dancer Lousie Potiki Bryant and noise aficionado Michael Morley.




SJDWinner of the 2013 Taite Music Prize, SJD has released six albums of outrageously good music that have made him one of NZ’s most cherished songwriters and performers. Amongst them Southern Lights, Songs From A Dictaphone and Elastic Wasteland have exquisitely blurred the boundaries between electronic and traditional structures, and song craft – producing unmitigated classics like ‘Superman You’re Crying’, ‘I Write This Song For You’ and ‘Make Love Ask Questions Later’ along the way. As a producer, songwriter and performer he has collaborated with many notable artists most recently touring the world as part of Pajama Club with Neil and Sharon Finn.



Sal Valentine & The Babyshakes

SalValentineandTheBabyshakes2013Widely regarded as one of the finest live acts in the country, Sal Valentine & The Babyshakes have twisted the fabric of musical time and life to deliver you a curated selection of infectious and original rhythm and blues.  Frontman and songwriter Sal Valentine is framed by a slick quartet of horns toting heavy licks and a polished rhythm section comprised of piano, double bass and drums. Alongside the instrumentalists stand the foils to Sal Valentine:  accomplished vocalists Chelsea Prastiti and Siobhan Grace. They are collectively named The Babyshakes, and have been declared by Valentine to be ‘Auckland’s Number 1 Band’.

Sal Valentine & The Babyshakes released their debut album at the end of 2013 to rapturous applause from critics and fans alike – peaking at #7 on the New Zealand album charts.

A few highlights of their touring life so far include playing Auckland Arts Festival, Auckland Fringe, Tauranga Fringe, The Sustainable Coastlines Annual Ball 2013, Nostalgia Festival, The Waiheke International Jazz Festival, Camp a Low Hum, Splore 2012 and 2014.