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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.


 

Composing celebrations: Lansdown Narropera


Some big birthdays are being celebrated with some big sounds at Lansdown Homestead this month. The Tai Tapu venue will come alive with the sound of Beethoven in celebration of 170 years of Canterbury being settled, and 250 years since the composer was born.

 

 

The four hour-long daytime concerts on December 16 and 17 will celebrate the 170th anniversary of the settlement of Canterbury and the 250th anniversary of the birth of Beethoven.

This December, audiences can enjoy the music with four soloists from the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra (CSO) in the spectacular Golden Room in Lansdown Homestead.

On December 16, there will be two concerts. At 11am, CSO concertmaster Dr Martin Riseley and Professor Terence Dennis will play Beethoven’s sonatas 7 and 10 for violin and piano.

The performance is dedicated to the morning arrival at Lyttelton of the ship Charlotte Jane and the birth of the Canterbury settlement on December 16, 1850.

At 2.30pm the same day, CSO violinist Cathy Irons and pianist Jeremy Woodside will present a delightful programme in a style familiar to early settlers.

The two daytime concerts on December 17 feature music by Beethoven, exclusively.

At 11am, Jonathan Tanner plays sonatas 5 and 8 for violin and piano with Woodside.

At 2.30pm Tomas Hurnik plays sonatas for cello and piano with Woodside and the delightful variations on ‘Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen’.

Tickets are $25 and available from The Court Theatre box office, (03) 963 0870 or online.


 

Bic’s musical homecoming


Bic Runga is one of Canterbury’s finest entertainment exports. This summer she is set to headline two noteworthy local performances, Nostalgia Festival and Ōtautahi Together, a free concert to mark 10 years since the February 2011 earthquake. Metropol catches up with the talented musician ahead of a bumper summer season.

PHOTOS KAREN INDERBITZEN-WALLER

You have two hometown performances coming up. What does it mean to you to perform in your hometown and, for the memorial, at such a meaningful occasion?
“I always love performing in Christchurch, it’s always a really cool audience and I love playing in my hometown. I’m really looking forward to Nostalgia, I’ve heard it’s really great, and being asked to perform at the memorial is a huge honour for me, I was really humbled to be asked.”

It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since the February 2011 earthquake. What does this milestone signify for you?
“Ten years is a really long time, I found it hard to believe it’s been that long. Speaking to the [Christchurch City] Council about it, they want the concert to feel healing and positive and those kinds of things, because it is such a milestone for the city.
“In many ways, it’s given Christchurch a chance to rebuild in a way that’s modern and interesting and really represents how Christchurch has changed.”

Your Christchurch performances are two of many for you including your own Spring Tour, Rhythm and Vines, and Summer Sounds. Is this a busier than normal summer season for you?
“I haven’t played this much in summer in many years. A lot of international bands can’t come into New Zealand, so it’s kind of a big moment for New Zealand music this summer. A lot of bands are getting shows and festival slots which might have gone to internationals in the past. It’s such a good opportunity for New Zealand bands.”

You hold a special place in Cantabrians’ hearts – many people feel they have watched you grow up since your first album release at just 20. What has been happening for you off the stage recently?
“Well, I am so middle aged now. My kids are five, seven and 13…and I am just looking forward to being a little old lady making music – which doesn’t feel like it will be too far off. Lockdown was a positive time for our family in lots of ways, it showed me what matters and what doesn’t; there was no sitting in traffic in Auckland trying to get my kids to school, but there was lots of time spent together and that’s what’s really important.”

See Bic Runga perform at Nostalgia Festival on Saturday February 13 and at the free Ōtautahi Together concert on Sunday, February 28. Purchase tickets for Nostalgia online.


 

Ending on a high note: Ali Cat Productions


Award-winning Canterbury performer Ali Harper is not letting a year of pandemic postponements stop her. She is determined to end the year on a high note by performing two shows in December.

 

Photography: Emma Brittenden
Ali is wearing Repertoire (The Colombo)

 

The first show, Christmas Joy will be held on December 5, followed by four performances of The Look of Love on December 17 to 19. Both shows will be performed at The Piano.

In previous years, her Christmas concerts have sold out – and she promises 2020 will be better than before as she shares the stage with special guest and much-loved violinist Fiona Pears, Connor Hartley-Hall on guitar and 70 glorious voices from the Cobham Intermediate School Chorale all led by Musical Director and pianist Andy Manning.

“I adore this time of year and this year’s Christmas is focusing on love and gratitude,” she says. “The fragility of life has shown up for all of us this year. By creating a little bit of magic and lightening hearts through the beauty of music is what I think we all need at this time.”

Then it’s third time lucky for The Look Of Love – a musical feast for the heart and soul via the full spectrum of Burt Bacharach’s hit songs with muysical arranger Tom Rainey.

“Before lockdown Tom and I were able to record and release The Look of Love album and debut the show at Nelson’s Theatre Royal,” says Ali.

“Then our Christchurch dates had to be postponed due to Covid-19, not once but twice – but the upside is the songs resonate even more now with all that everyone has been have been through this year.”

The Look Of Love, captures the intimate Manhattan cabaret club vibe to transport you back through the ages, the ‘50s to the ‘80s, celebrating a long line of Bacharach muses, from Marlene Dietrich to Dusty Springfield, Dionne Warwick to Aretha Franklin and Cilla Black.

“Burt’s melodies are utterly gorgeous, timeless and abundantly beautiful whether they are about heartache or hope. I can’t think of a better way to uplift us into Christmas,” she says.


 

The king’s coming to town


Tūranga is set to become alive with the sound of music when the New Zealand Opera’s critically acclaimed Eight Songs for a Mad King comes to town.

 

 

The rescheduled season is positioned for December 3, 5 and 6 at the Cathedral Square library, where audiences will be treated to the highly regarded performance.

Eight Songs for a Mad King explores the complicated relationship between mental health and power. This rendition reimagines Maxwell Davies’ king as a corporate everyman.

This concept is reinforced by a double performance that will see audiences, split into two groups of 50, experience the work once inside and up-close to the performer, and once outside listening through headphones.

South Island Baritone Robert Tucker is pushed to the very limits of a singer’s endurance as he sings across five octaves, accompanied by Stroma New Music Ensemble, conducted by Hamish McKeich.

It is directed by Thomas de Mallet Burgess and designed by Robin Rawstorne. Tickets are onsale now as part of New Zealand Opera subscription packages or as standalone tickets on sale at www.nzopera.com.


 

Made in lockdown


Music is a safe space for Christchurch-based singer-songwriter, Analise Twemlow, who doesn’t experience the involuntary tics caused by Tourette’s syndrome when she sings and performs. Metropol catches up with the talented teen about the release of her first single, which is raising money to support others with Tourette’s and came about under the mentorship of Kiwi musician, Tiki Taane.

 

STEVE BONE PHOTOGRAPHY

 

Analise’s single, Made in New Zealand, was made in lockdown. With the help of her mentor, high profile New Zealand musician and producer, Tiki Taane, the 17-year-old used the time and space to write and record the song about Aotearoa’s efforts to stamp out Covid-19

“I actually really enjoyed lockdown, I went for walks and I was really productive. I made lots of music,” she says.

Released last month, the pandemic prompted piece – which even features a cameo of Dr Ashley Bloomfield in its video – will donate all royalties to the Tourette’s Association of New Zealand (TANZ).

The Christchurch-based organisation was founded by Analise’s mother, Robyn, to support those with the complex condition and their families, as well as educating the wider community.

“I was really proud of New Zealand,” says Analise. “We’ve overcome earthquakes, fires and Covid-19, and look at us now, we’re doing great.”

Although lockdown allowed Analise to spend lots of time listening to and making music, the uncertain period triggered the involuntary movements and noises caused by the disorder.

Diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome at nine, Analise says she has a love-hate relationship with it.

“It’s not like anything that people see on TV or social media, there is so much more to Tourette’s than what people say. It’s not just swearing at all. It’s like you don’t have control over your body.”

Analise is passionate about helping people with Tourette’s and educating others so children do not grow up with the same misconceptions she experienced – and she wants to use her music to help do so.

“If I work with music, I also want to work with mental health and Tourette’s,” says the Hagley School of Music student who picked up a guitar for the first time at the age of seven.

“I love performing, it’s my favourite thing ever and I actually feel proud of myself, as I sing, so it’s a good feeling.

“When I play music and when I sing, I don’t really tic at all so it’s just that kind of safe space and when I play, I just feel relaxed.”

Amid a pandemic, charitable donations are harder to come by, so Analise’s single will raise money for TANZ’s annual Camp Twitch. And, if possible, allow for two camps to happen in 2021.

It was attending the camp where Analise met four of her best friends, who now form the band, The Lunatics.

Robyn says she started TANZ after Analise’s diagnosis revealed a lack of information about the disorder here. Camp Twitch is a special priority.

“It’s a safe place for them and no one’s judging them. It’s a place where they are ‘normal’ for a whole week, and that’s just what they need, they just need that support.”

Listen to Made in New Zealand at  www.itsanalise.com, or make a donation to TANZ at www.tourettes.org.nz.

STEVE BONE PHOTOGRAPHY

 


 

Having a ball with Alexa


While having constantly-listening smart devices at home may instil a certain sense of paranoia in some, there are many benefits to be had from such technology for those prepared to embrace it.

 

 

With two third generation Echoes, an Echo Dot and an Echo Auto in our household, my family have more than embraced the convenience of the Alexa AI.

From checking the weather forecast, setting cooking timers and wake-up alarms to playing music, dimming lights, telling jokes, reading audio books, dishing out endless knowledge to monitoring home security and much more, Alexa brings a little piece of what was once the realm of science fiction into our daily lives.

With the release of the Gen 4 Echo models just in time for Christmas, there has never been a better, or more affordable time to take advantage of how smart devices can enhance your lifestyle.

The new Echoes present a stark difference in styling to the previous generation, which may not appeal to everyone.

Gone are the cylindrical and hockey-puck aesthetics of the Gen 3 Echo and Echo Dot respectively, for a more prominent spherical style that is sure to quickly capture attention in any room.

Physical appearance aside, the new and older models are essentially identical in functionality, although the ball shape does promote slightly better sound from the speaker.

With the Gen 3 models now going at a cheaper price, I’d be rushing to snap one up before they sell out, but if the shape of the new Echo models holds some appeal, then they’re still excellent value for money.


 

Making Paradise


We’ve long searched for paradise, that idyllic place or state where everything is perfect and now, thanks to Kiwi singer songwriter Anderson Rocio, there are plenty more reasons to love paradise – a million to be precise.

That’s how many Spotify streams Rocio’s latest song Paradise has had since the song made its global debut in a pivotal scene in season five of the popular Netflix series Lucifer.

And while the numbers – which are still climbing – are impressive, what is perhaps even more so, is the fact that it was written and recorded in her bedroom in less than a day.

“It is so inspiring. I never really feel like these songs come from me, just more ‘through’ me from somewhere else. But to know that people around the world are connecting to the art that I produce is, I think, an artist’s dream. It’s been my dream for a very long time!”

The 26-year-old half Spanish, half American beauty was born in Italy, grew up in the UK and sailed the world on a 13.4 metre catamaran for three years with her family and a Yamaha p60 piano, before they settled in New Zealand when Rocio was 14. After graduating with a Bachelor in Music, Classic Piano Performance from Otago University, she bought a one-way ticket to LA to pursue her music dream in 2017.

It took 18 months, but she was eventually signed to a sync agency called THINK Music Inc in August 2018 on the back of her first EP, Darkerside, Rocio had released earlier that year.

Occasionally THINK would send her briefs for “an uplifting, sweet song” or “something with the word forever in it” and last September there was a brief for a “happy, sad song”.

“The turnover was quick,” she says. “I had a day to see what I could come up with!”

Trawling YouTube news with the sound muted, provided the inspiration and Rocio managed to capture the dichotomy of the chaos taking place in the world, with the beauty of humanity. “I wrote, sang, played and recorded Paradise and sent it through without thinking a lot more about it,” she says.

Like many things in life, it didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen… five months later, when the sync agency asked to approve the use of Paradise for the Netflix show Lucifer. Rocio said “Awesome!” and quickly forgot about it, again.

“You never know until close to when the show airs whether or not they’ll actually use it,” she laughs.

When she received the air date and confirmation of use – she was over the moon, but still unaware of how prominent the song would be in this show.

The night before the screening, a close videographer friend put together some iPhone footage of Rocio at home in Queenstown during lockdown as a music video, in case anyone went in search of the artist behind the song.

And on Friday August 21, they watched in anticipation the fifth episode of Lucifer season five, screening on Netflix in New Zealand. And, rather than simply background music, the song plays during a pivotal scene featuring the character Mazikeen, played by South African-born Kiwi actress Lesley-Ann Brandt. Her phone hasn’t stopped ringing and the notifications haven’t stopped pinging since.

“It’s been amazing to see. For me, it’s one more step closer to getting to where I have always wanted to be,” Rocio says.

“It’s been a gradual climb with my music and this is the biggest milestone yet. I still feel like I’m daydreaming, so it hasn’t really hit… even now. But I have become a lot busier! It also kinda feels like my birthday every time I wake up to see what new news has come through!”


 

Super Summer Sound


The wide appeal of Kiwi supergroup L.A.B is making waves here and abroad. Metropol catches up with lead guitarist and vocalist Joel Shadbolt ahead of their Christchurch show.

L .A.B, pronounced as each letter, but representative of a laboratory where pioneering ideas are cooked up, is behind one of the country’s most popular songs of the moment.

The nostalgic Kiwi summertime bop, ‘In the Air’ has spent 35 weeks in the Official New Zealand Top 40 Singles chart, 33 of those in the top 10 and three as number one.

It’s the first New Zealand number one since Lorde in 2017, the first independent single since Flight of the Conchords in 2012 and is nominated for a coveted 2020 Apra Silver Scroll song writing award.

Comprised of members of some of New Zealand’s most well-known bands of recent decades, L.A.B’s five members are Kora’s Brad and Stu Kora, Katchafire’s Ara Adams-Tamatea, and Miharo Gregory, and Joel Shadbolt.

Joel told Metropol how the accidental success of ‘In the Air’ has help the group – who have three albums under their belts since forming in 2017 – cement its sound.

“The thing with ‘In the Air’ is none of us thought it would be a number one hit,” he says. “It keeps growing legs with how long it’s been out and just keeps going.”

The reason for that?

“We think people are attaching themselves to the nostalgic sound. Lyrically, it’s about young love, it’s very much about that summer love.

“Musically, it’s more of an old school song feel. It’s different from other music which is prominent at the moment, but it seems to resonate.”

Starting life as a Kiwi reggae band, the supergroup’s sound has developed to put its blues, rock, RnB, and funk influences more centre stage.

“When I hear [‘In the Air’], I hear influences from the ‘70s with the basic beat, simple guitar chords and bassline – yet when kids at school hear it, they can hear something fresh in it because it’s not what they’re used to hearing.”

And it is inspiration from that era which the band is really tapping into, he says.

”The older the sound we try to come out with, the more it seems to resonate with audiences as something new.

“We’re influenced by the music we were brought up on. We have really close connections with music from Bob Marley and Stevie Wonder, their music resonates with all generations and when we write our music we’re conscious about doing that, too.”

‘In the Air’ is from L.A.B’s third album, which Joel sees as a turning point for the band, which he says will be further demonstrated in its fourth album due to be released this summer.

“In our third album we found the groove so to speak. You can definitely hear Kora and reggae more so in the first and second albums. The third, we don’t ascribe it so much to other bands, we just hear it as L.A.B.

“The sound is always evolving, but now we get to the point where we’re say that’s an L.A.B sound.”

Covid-19 disrupted L.A.B’s planned Australian tour as well as shows in Auckland and Hamilton. However, once the country went from Alert Level 4 to 1, the capacity of the New Zealand shows were increased – and the concerts were the first major events to take place amidst a global pandemic.

“Because of the pandemic we’ve been able to reschedule and make the shows bigger. We went from 1000 people at the Power Station to 6000 at Spark Arena, and also ended up playing to 6000 at Cloudeland’s Arena instead of 1000 at The Factory.”

They will also be headlining a number of New Zealand music festivals this summer, should they go ahead due to Covid-19.

At which time, L.A.B will perform alongside other Kiwi favourites Benee, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Shapeshifter, The Upbeats, Broods, and Sola Rosa.

When the band comes to Christchurch in October Joel says audiences here can expect to hear their super summer sound.

• L.A.B are playing Horncastle Arena on October 31. Buy tickets at www.ticketek.co.nz.