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A musical feast

On July 24, the Go Live Music Festival will fill the Christchurch Town Hall with the music of more than 16 new and established Ōtautahi performers. Julia Strelou talks with one of them.


Pop/jazz sensation Emily C Browning, who released her new single ‘I Wasn’t Into You Anyway’ in April, is one of those taking to the stage.

After blowing up on social media, Browning found herself playing to sold-out crowds in the USA, yet despite international fame, the Christchurch local says she is looking forward to playing at the Town Hall. “I have always loved the Town Hall ever since I was a kid. Go Live Festival will be my first time playing in that building (aside from high school choir), so it’ll be a pretty special gig for me.”

Browning also released her video for ‘I Wasn’t Into You Anyway’ in April, devouring a real Habanero and a Ghost Pepper provided for her by the SpicyBoys at Riverside Markets as part of it. “For this video, I wanted to be in some kind of pain and do something self-deprecating and kind of silly.”

The song is about the sting of rejection, a pain that is universally relatable, but the playful nature reflects how ridiculous the heart can behave when it feels unrequited love. “It represents the stages of getting over someone – swinging back and forth between desperation and total denial. And the whole thing is so silly because we barely spent any time together! It wasn’t even a thing, but feeling rejected just makes everything seem more dramatic.”

Charlie Rose Creative

At the end of the clip, Browning douses herself with oat milk, relieving herself of the sting left by the chillies and signifying moving on. “The milk served as a kind of climax to the story, which I suppose represents me losing my cool and then pulling myself together again right at the last second.”

Fans can expect to see Browning perform the song at the festival, and she adds there is music on the horizon. “A new single is on the way! I’m currently trying to cook up a new music video to match the energy of the last one, which is proving to be a good challenge.”



Girl, put your records on

Despite music streaming services being the norm, vinyl records have a hardy and increasing fanbase. Metropol’s gadget guru Ian Knott checks out a turntable that will be a talking point in any living room.



Nothing beats the tactility of pulling a vinyl record out of its sleeve and holding it in your hands. It’s a feeling of ownership that you just don’t get from streaming or downloading music.

And with the right equipment, the sound quality you get from the more-than-century old technology is still second to none.

As with most things electronic, the quality you get directly correlates to the depth of your pockets. But British audio equipment manufacturer Rega has an entry level turntable that delivers incredible quality without the need to take out a second mortgage.

Reda Planar 1 turntable

The Planar 1 turntable is hand-made, like all Rega products, and not only looks slick in black or white, but doesn’t require a degree in sound engineering to set up. Simply unpack, slide the balance weight onto the tonearm, remove the stylus guard and you’re ready to spin your favourite vinyl.

As a record spins, centrifugal force tries to throw the stylus outwards, but gone are the days of putting a 50c coin on top of the stylus to keep it on track – the preset bias force on the Planar 1’s tonearm eliminates any adjustments.

So as Corrine Bailey Rae so sweetly sings, rediscover the pleasure and quality of vinyl and “Put your records on”. With Rega’s sleek Planar 1 turntable adorning your lounge, your friends will be flocking to you with their own record collections. And at only $700, it’s a relatively painless outlay that will deliver one of the more pleasurable things in life… listening to music the way it was meant to be heard.



Time flies for Ladyhawke


Whether you’ve been a supporter from her first eponymous debut album or a more recent convert, you’ll be pleased to hear 2021 has been dubbed the comeback year for beloved Kiwi singer Ladyhawke (Phillipa Brown). Jess Murray catches up with the songstress to discuss new music, mental health and where to next.



After a brief hiatus; you’re back with your fourth album, Time Flies. Describe the sound of the new album.
I think it’s a warm nostalgia trip! Synths, hooky guitar and bass lines everywhere.

You’re embarking on an Australasian tour to promote the album, performing in Christchurch on July 16. What can concert-goers expect from the night?
I’ll be playing a huge amount of my back catalogue, especially my first record, a couple of tracks I’ve never performed live off that record too. And of course, the new record!

You’ve recently collaborated with talented NZ duo, Broods, to create Guilty Love (which was a massive success). Are there any other artists that you are hoping to work with?
Everything’s all finished now for this album, but I love collaborating, especially with other artists. I’d love to see what me and Aldous Harding could come up with! I absolutely love her and her music, so that could be a really fun one!

Mental Health is an important discussion in New Zealand. Last year was challenging for you, struggling with post-natal depression and being diagnosed and treated for skin cancer. Can you tell us a bit about the help you received and how important it is for New Zealanders to have access to those services?
Me talking about my mental health issues has been something I really made sure to do. I know that when you’re going through all that stuff, you want to know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and that you’re not alone, even if it is just a Kiwi musician talking about it in the press. I want people going through similar things to know they’re not alone. I think mental health is so important, every single New Zealander should have access to therapy, and it should no longer be looked at as something you just need to “cheer up” from. I found a good therapist through a friend recommendation. I think if you go to see someone and you don’t connect with the therapist, don’t give up. It took me a long time to find someone – mostly because it took me a long time to pluck up the courage and find the energy to do it.

Looking to the future; what is on the cards for you in the next 12 months on and off stage?
I just want to do more and more music! I have a few things keeping me busy and excited. I stream on twitch, just gaming and hanging out at this stage, but my goal is to make music live on stream. I also have an instrumental side project just for fun called Sleepwalker, it’s a great outlet for me and inspires me to keep making more music!



Making music together


Christchurch businessman Martin Brennan has teamed up with Nelson Tasman songbird Aly Cook to bring music to Aotearoa and Australia.



Martin first met Aly just over two years ago, at a Sharon O’Neill at the Hornby Club in Christchurch.

Aly was the promoter for Sharon’s tour and singing backing vocals in the band. Now she’s managing director of his company Tasman Records Ltd and the two of them are brightening up the airwaves.

The company’s first release is a licensed title, Keeping the Light on – The Best of Gerry Beckley.

Gerry is one third of super group America, which brought us songs like Sister Golden Hair, I Need You, Horse with No Name, Muskrat Love and You Can Do Magic, to name just a few.

His new album has five previously unreleased tracks, including the single (I’m Your) Heart Slave, that offer proof of how prodigious Gerry’s output is when he’s in song writing mode. “Yeah, I’m pretty prolific,” he acknowledges, “but I like to preface this with the fact I come from the school of song writing where you need to write 10 to come up with two that are keepers. That doesn’t mean the other eight are crap, either. But you end up with an abundance of material, and you want to have a home for it.”

The album is available from Penny Lane Records in Christchurch.



A refreshing drink

Note: updated with new dates

Popular Australia pop rock group Lime Cordiale is set to hit the stage in Christchurch August 30. Formed in 2009, the band consists of brothers Oli and Louis Leimbach, with various touring members.

After an explosive 12 months, Lime Cordiale will play its latest album live in New Zealand for its 14 Steps to A Better You tour, across four cities. The New Zealand leg of the tour kicks off in Dunedin on Friday, August 26, then heads to Wellington, Christchurch and lastly Auckland.

Supporting the group will be Sydney indie triple j faves, the three-piece Le Shiv.

Lime Cordiale notched up a successful 2020 with the release of its sophomore album, 14 Steps to A Better You, which topped the Aussie Album Chart and saw it receive eight ARIA nominations.

Always high octane, front man Louis is the ultimate showman, as the brothers’ distinctive vocal and on-stage charisma sets the ultimate party vibe.

The band last played in Aotearoa towards the end of 2019 for the Robbery tour and its live performance garnered rave reviews, being described by some as “the stuff of legend”.

“Overseas touring, are you kidding me? Says Oli. “We’ve been waiting a year and a half to get over there and now it’s finally happening.

“New Zealand is just the best place to tour. Beautiful country and the driest humour.”

In 2020, Lime Cordiale’s hit singles Robbery and Temper Temper gained platinum accreditation, and over the past 18 months the band have accrued an additional seven gold singles.

Add to those 1.5 million monthly listeners and upwards of 217 million streams on Spotify, close to 20 million Apple Music streams and YouTube views exceeding 13 million, the band is on a fast rise.

Tour Dates

August 26
Sold Out

August 27 & 28
Hunter Lounge, Wellington

August 30
Christchurch Town Hall, Christchurch

August 31 & Sept 1


He’s no ordinary thing

When a close friend needed help, Opshop frontman Jason Kerrison did something he knows well, going on stage and fronting the recent Man Down benefit concert, the band’s first live performance in Christchurch in nine years.



The rest of his tight-knit group of friends also rallied around to help when they heard their mate, Gorilla Biscuit bassist and soundman Jason Kokiri (aka Koko), had suffered a stroke and would be off work for some time. Opshop was joined on stage by Gorilla Biscuit, the Christchurch band that helped three of its members hone their musical skills in the early-90s.

“In our early days at the Dux, we were Gorilla Biscuit. We’ve all stayed friends to this day,” says Jason (aka JK) who grew up in Christchurch and still has family and many friends here.

Gorilla Biscuit’s members are: JK (Opshop, The Babysitters Circus, The Marley Allstars, Fungi), Jason Fa’afoi (The Stereo Bus, Good Laika), Jason “Koko” Kokiri, Aubrey Tupai, Clinton Harris (Opshop, The Feelers, AutoMatic 80s, Carly Binding), Leighton Faulkner, Bobby Kennedy (Opshop, The Stereo Bus, Neil Finn, AutoMatic 80s), and Vahid Qualls.

His friend’s health crisis hit JK hard. “What has happened with Koko makes me very conscious of my mortality, and that of others, my family and friends. In the scheme of life, it has been a real wake-up call,” he says.

Now resident in Northland near Kaitaia, JK lives on a self-proclaimed mountain surrounded by beautiful hills and bush. He continues to write, record, and selectively perform, in between making roads, raising alpacas and projects such planning, designing, and building a tiny home.

Then there is the violin which he once started to learn and is keen to pick up again, “to violently unleash” the music in it and him. Who knows; it might even feature in his next Christchurch gig.

Christchurch holds a special place in his heart; both a historical and a hysterical connection, he explains.

“I’ve been so lucky with my friends. Many I have known since growing up in Christchurch, since I was 11 through to 17 and now I’m in my mid-40s and they are still there. It’s nice to touch base and catch up with them as often as I can.”

Aside from his music, JK supports several causes such as Cure Kids, Starship Hospital and more recently added a rescue dog to his family.

A “Kaitaia Special”, the pup (Panda) was discovered in a local forest and found a new home with the JK and his partner Adele Krantz a few weeks ago. Now life is a 145 hectare farm and native forest, with alpacas, horses, cats and dogs.

As with many others, the Covid-19 pandemic gave birth to a radically changed lifestyle for JK. “Previously I was often on stage and away more than I was home. Lockdown meant I had time to make a few changes.”

The musician developed a keen interest in crypto currency, investing in it and now has turned that interest into a pastime while he also writes his next album, due out by Christmas. “I’m really excited about it. The music is different to anything I have done before so I am a bit nervous about it.”

Since the pandemic, his style of composing has changed, he says, from writing with a band to writing with headphones and synthesisers.

“I’ve been listening to a lot of Blondie. Kate Bush and the like. As a result, the new album is more 80s synthetic cyber punk pop with a grooving organic layer.”

Also in the offing is a 360 degree virtual reality interactive music video that JK is developing with a colleague ex Weta Workshop. Based around a running narrative, the music video includes a virtual reality component.

Players with VR headsets will be able search for collectibles inside the actual music video and win JK token, a crypto currency which they can then use in the JK environment to purchase everything from concert tickets to exclusive releases in Non Fungible Tokens.

In between all of that there’s still time to look out for his mates and his pet causes.


Fast facts

  • Opshop garnered nine Platinum albums, nine NZ Music Awards and the prestigious APRA Silver Scroll Award for Song of the Year.
  • After the 2010 major earthquake in Canterbury, JK worked with Paul Ellis to create the Band Together concert in Hagley Park, Christchurch, to raise spirits in his hometown.
  • In 2011, JK was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, for Services to Music.
  • He appeared on the Team Ball Player Thing single that raised money for Cure Kids in 2015.
  • He was a judge on New
    Zealand’s Got Talent in 2012, and the X Factor in 2015.


Guitar legend rocks on

The first international performer in 12 months to cross the Trans-Tasman border without quarantine, Australian journeyman John Butler is bringing his music to Christchurch this month.
The guitar-roots rock legend will front the John Butler Trio (JBT) in its only South Island concert at the iconic Isaac Theatre Royal in Christchurch on Saturday, May 15.



The multi-award-winning artist was to have headlined the Bluesfest at Byron Bay earlier this year, until Covid-19 canned that.

The group’s seventh studio album HOME debuted at number one on the ARIA Charts and was nominated for Best Independent Blues & Roots Album at the 2019 AIR Awards.

John is a journeyman from way back. “I started playing the guitar when I was 16, and I’m 43 now,” he recalls.

“I began busking instrumental songs when I was 21. As a teenager I used to write songs just for myself, so it took me a while to make my first demo tape. I remember the first person who asked me for a tape came back two or three times – and when I still didn’t have one, she walked away shaking her head. I realised at that point that I really had to get off my butt and do it.”

That first cassette sold over 3500 copies – a number that a fair few signed artists would be happy with, let alone a busker. Many performers would have stopped right there, content to jam their youth away, but Butler knuckled down to building a profile.

“It was a gradual progression from busking to playing in bars and clubs,” he remembers.

“I did gigs in the week and busked at the weekends, but as more and more gigs came along, I just wasn’t around to busk anymore. I had all these songs written, so I decided to share my act with drums and bass and formed the John Butler Trio.”

Butler’s recorded catalogue has paved the way to major success, although he has never rested on his laurels. In the mid-2000s he set up his label plus a charitable organisation – The Seed Fund – which provides grants to artists and musicians. His involvement in a long list of environmental campaigns is as integral to Butler as his music.

“Ah, don’t get me started!” he chuckles. “I’m laughing here, because otherwise I’d have to cry.

The hydraulic fracking that’s going on in Australia and the UK and USA is out of control, and completely evil.

They’re messing with our water now, and I like clean water and clean air. Does that make me a fundamentalist?

I don’t think so. At least the environment is a mainstream issue now, not a left-leaning concern as it used to be. Personally, I pick and choose where I can be involved, and where I can be most potent to a campaign.”

Add Butler’s perspective and worldview to the new songs on HOME and it’s no wonder that they add up to such an immersive experience.

Crowd-stirring anthems feature in the form of Tahitian Blue and Running Away, as well as atmospheric drones in Wade in The Water.

If you’re looking for big country-rock sounds, look no further than Miss Your Love.



A song to belong

A new exhibition at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū by a local artist gives a glimpse into what five New Zealand families with a wide range of cultural and ancestral connections feel about place and belonging in Aotearoa.



Artist Olivia Webb, whose own Christchurch-based family is part of the exhibit, worked with five families – who have ties to Kiribati, Zambia, Samoa, the Philippines, England and the Netherlands – to create their own songs about living in Aotearoa for her exhibition named Anthems of Belonging.

In life-sized video projections, each family is seen performing their anthem from their own lounge room, emphasising both the personal and political qualities of using one’s voice. While they are not professional singers, music is an important part of each family’s culture.

Gallery Lead Curator Felicity Milburn says the exhibition illustrates the diversity of contemporary New Zealand culture, and shows how varied cultural backgrounds and traditions can shape the experience of living and belonging here.

“The face of Aotearoa is constantly changing – for the benefit of us all, I think – and this exhibition is a perfect illustration of that.”

Olivia says the anthems reflect the personal values, concerns and aspirations of all involved.

“These songs have different vocal qualities, musical structures and lyrics, often including ideas that do not feature in New Zealand’s current national anthem ‘God Defend New Zealand’ – a musical setting of a poem written by Irish-born Thomas Bracken in the 1870s.”

Webb is currently working to develop two new anthems with Christchurch families, and these will be added to the exhibition as they are completed.

Anthems of Belonging is on at the Christchurch Art Gallery from March 13 until July 11, and contains several public programmes including a floor talk and multiple workshops. Find out more at




Instrumental to the community: Rockshop

Rock may be in the name of this recognisable, 100 percent Kiwi owned company, but the Rockshop is far more than one genre of music. And alongside classical maestros, KBB Music, selling and renting musical instruments might be a main act – but the brand is committed to helping the musical community, too.



Director of Webb Group of Companies, trading as KBB Music and Rockshop, Brett Wells, says the Rockshop brand has been servicing New Zealand’s musical community since 1986, with the founding “band members” still deeply involved with day to day running of the business.

KBB Music has been around since 1888, so is very well placed – and regarded – as classical and orchestral music experts in New Zealand.

“Music drives what we do,” says Brett. “Everybody in the company plays a musical instrument, performs, writes, records, tours or engineers (many do all of this) whether they’re running the company, servicing the product, online or working in the stores. We’re all active musicians in our own right.”

While music lovers are served by likeminded and skilled musicians, the company is much more than just its retail offerings, says Brett.

“The company pours significant resources every year into events, performances, artists, organisations, clinics and teaching. Supporting New Zealand musicians at a fundamental level is crucial to nurture the talent to maintain our world class creative industry.”

The Rockshop has been long-time supporters of Smokefree Rockquest (from day one to be exact), Rockshop Band Quest, Show Quest and Smokefree Tangata Beats as well as other artists, organisations, events, tutoring and teaching studios.

KBB Music offers up the KBB Music Festival, Southern Jam, Christchurch Schools Music Festival and local support for the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.


The magic of Marlon

From home in the portside township of Lyttelton, music has taken alt-country troubadour Marlon Williams around the world, from The Yarra Hotel of inner-city Melbourne, to The Troubadour in Los Angeles.

It was the latter where Bradley Cooper spied his Kiwi-born and bred talents, seeking Marlon out to appear in his 2018 Academy award-winning film, A Star is Born.

There have been several film and television appearances since and more still to come out in the New Year. But it’s making music that still has his heart.

Marlon’s new album Plastic Bouquet hit the streets on December 11, his first new music since 2018’s award-winning Make Way For Love, made post breakup from Kiwi folk singer-songwriter Aldous Harding.

Collaboration – a strong theme of Marlon’s career – has once again proven a winning formula, this time with Canadian folk duo Kacy and Clayton’s musical talents providing the
cumulative glue, with the three musicians finding common ground between a lifelong shared passion for western country, folk and troubadour traditions.

It was driving through Europe with his band when he came across the duo’s ‘Springtime of the Year’. “It was an incredible vocal performance and song and it was just one of those musical moments when you get stopped in your tracks,” Marlon says.

“From there I very overzealously reached out to them and asked if we could make music together. Within a couple of days, we had decided to make an album.”

He hopped on a flight to Saskatoon for Christmas 2018 and together they wrote and recorded the bulk of what would become Plastic Bouquet over the course of just three weeks.

“This year being what it is, even February feels like a lifetime ago. So it’s been almost two years to the day. It doesn’t normally take that long, but in this case it has, so we’re super excited to get it out.”

Every December, Christchurch enjoys the start of summer as Saskatoon begins to freeze over. But despite hailing from opposite sides of the world, there was an immediate connection between the trio. “We found a dynamic that worked well, because we all love old Bob Dylan and Merle Haggard and have the same sense of humour,” Marlon says. “We’re kindred spirits.”
If there was a theme to the 11-track project, it was the dichotomy of familiarity and strangeness, he says.

“It’s the idea that we both come from the same place musically, but obviously culturally and geographically from somewhere very different, having faith that everything would blend together in a way that makes sense.”

Music has been something that has always made sense for Marlon, whose career has been a natural evolution. “I’m not a well organised person,” he laughs.

“I don’t plan a lot and I don’t think about the future that often, life just keeps rolling on and now this is what I do; I don’t do anything else.”

But he admits there came a time in his third year at university when, with a tour on the cards, he had to make a call between committing completely to music and finishing his degree – the only caveat from mum, visual artist Jenny Rendall, that he take it seriously and commit as much time to his musical pursuits as he had been committing to university.

This lack of planning ahead mirrors his approach to making music as well. “I don’t go into it consciously with intention, unless I’m collaborating, then it might be more systematic.”

Right now, he’s driven by the freedom to explore. “I’m most thankful for this time in my life, being where I’m at right now I’ve got time to figure things out, make mistakes, try and give things enough space to go somewhere new.

“Simply put, freedom of creativity.”

Marlon has been hunkered down in his homeland during the global pandemic, which thankfully fell outside a big tour cycle for the singer, who spends eight to nine months a year on the road. He’s spent the time writing, reading, working on a film soundtrack and learning te reo Māori, the latter for an album he’s working on that will be exclusively in the language.

But for now, he’s enjoying some down time in Diamond Harbour before his New Zealand tour kicks off in February, that will take him from Invercargill to Auckland. He’ll be performing locally at the James Hay Theatre from February 25 to 27.