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    NZMM: Favourite Wellington Music Moment – Lake South

    02.05.17 | Permalink | Comment? | By

    Last year for NZ Music Month 2016, we asked bands/artists for a favourite memory of making music in Wellington.

    It could involve a favourite gig, a funny story from the recording studio, a moment that led to the inspiration for a song, the fond recollection of a defunct venue, or the piece of music or lyric that they were most proud of creating.

    We really enjoyed the stories people told us, so we are doing it again this year. To kick off we caught up with Lake South of Urbantramper, The Wellington Sea Shanty Society & Homealone Music.

    Recently he departed these shores for France, courtesy of funding from the New Zealand France Friendship Fund, where he joined up with fellow mariner Vorn and “post chant marin” group Croche Dedans to record a Sea Shanty album. Before that he released a new solo album ‘If You’re Born On An Island The Ocean Heals You’.











    A fond memory I have of creating music in Wellington was when I lived at a shitty flat in Newtown on Constable St. It was basically a corrugated iron shed. We lived upstairs and one day the bottom floor flooded. We got a couple of weeks free rent when we took the property managers to the tenancy tribunal. I had a little studio set up in a room behind the kitchen, and when we moved out I found a note in the cupboard. It said, “Get out now, while you still can. The mould will get you if the rats don’t get you first.” I wrote ‘Shitty Flat’ from Urbantramper’s Tokon & The Colours in this house. It seems this has become a common theme in my life/music.

    Cover used with permission.

  • General

    New Album: Lake South

    13.03.17 | Permalink | Comment? | By











    ‘New Album’ is where a band or artist answers some questions about their latest release. Up next is Lake South, whose new album ‘If You’re Born On An Island The Ocean Heals You’ is out today.

    When/where was the new album recorded?
    ‘Good Keen Man’ was recorded in an infamous Moxham Ave flat that has since been demolished. The rest of the songs were made at Thinkt studios in Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland.

    Who produced/engineered the album?
    Joshua Lynn produced/engineered most of the album in his studio. Ben Lemi also recorded some backing vocals in his room in Wellington.

    How did the songwriting happen?
    I wrote these songs over the past three years as I moved to, and then settled in, ‘the big smoke’. Some were written at my flat and a few at a bach in Whanarua Bay. I write on the guitar first and then shape them on the computer.

    Were you going for a different sound/approach on this album?
    This album was a lot less concept driven in terms of sound compared to the last couple of Urbantramper releases. I just used whatever instruments I thought were appropriate for the songs.
    I did, however, want to capture my experience of the current Auckland/NZ housing situation.

    Was there any specific gear you used to capture that?
    I initially used a lot of plugins and then painstakingly replaced them all with hardware synths. Everything’s been run through actual compressors, EQs and reverbs. That’s new for me.

    Is there a particular single/track that you feel captures the essence of the album?
    Cost of living. This was the last song to be added to the album and it came out quick. My mate Chris listened to some demos of the album and suggested there was a ‘cost of living’ theme. It stuck with me.

    Is there a physical copy available? If not, which digital platforms is it available on?
    Yes I made a few CDs. Chris (mentioned above) said he’s started buying CDs again because they sound better. The CDs are for people like Chris – lucky I only made a few.
    It’s also on all digital platforms: Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple, etc…

    Are you working on a video/videos for any of the songs?
    Videos are available for ‘Good Keen Man’, ‘Renters’ and ‘Binge Drinking & D.H Lawrence’. I’m currently working on one for ‘Cost of Living’; it’s a sequel to the first ‘Good Keen Man’ clip.

  • General

    New Album: French for Rabbits

    10.03.17 | Permalink | Comment? | By











    ‘New Album’ is where a band or artist answers some questions about their latest release. Up next is dream-pop band French for Rabbits who have just released their 2nd album ‘The Weight of Melted Snow’.

    When/where was the new album recorded?
    The album was recorded over two years – mostly it was recorded at the Blue Barn in Wellington, and at Lee Prebble’s studio called The Surgery. I like to record all my vocals in intimate spaces by myself though, so this was done in a small room in Port Chalmers, and in my living room in Wellington where I can see out over the harbour, Newtown and Island Bay.

    Who produced/engineered the album? How did the tracks come together in the studio, or at home?
    Ben Lemi mixed the album at his home studio in Wellington. Ben and I work together as team to produce and shape the album. We think a lot about the colour and feel of each song. We spent many an hour pondering sounds, with me using extremely vague metaphors to try to describe what I was hearing in my head.

    How did the songwriting happen?
    Generally I like to write alone, it is a very personal experience. But, then I will bring the songs to John or sometimes straight to the band and we will work together on the instrumentation and sometimes the structure. Sometimes John and I write together, and on this album Ben contributed the song ‘Birds Eye Point of View’. It’s one of my favourites on the album.

    Were you going for a different sound/approach on this album?
    When we started producing it we knew we wanted it to be more intimate than our last album Spirits, but also more expansive. I wanted to create an honest album, and I think that’s what we did.

    Was there any specific gear you used to capture that?
    We used some good microphones for the vocals which was important, and I went to the Christchurch Jazz School to record on their grand piano for some tracks so that it was organic and lush. I’m not too much of gear fiend so I don’t know about all the other instruments! We did use more electric guitar on this album!

    Is there a particular single/track that you feel captures the essence of the album?
    I think The Weight of Melted Snow is my favourite, or perhaps One & Only – it kind of ties up many of the feelings running through the album.

    Is there a physical copy available? If not which digital platforms is it available on?
    Yes – it will be available on CD from record shops throughout New Zealand, and we definitely recommend supporting the great independent shops around. We will be running a pre-order for the album on vinyl later in the year. It will also be available from the usual places online from March 10!

    Are you working on a video/videos for any of the songs?
    We have two beautiful videos waiting in the wings made by Dunedin filmmakers Emily Berryman and Pheobe Lysbeth Kay. Very much looking forward to sharing them soon!

  • General

    NZMM: Favourite Wellington Music Moment – Brooke Singer/French For Rabbits

    03.05.16 | Permalink | Comment? | By


    For New Zealand Month last year we asked a bunch of people what they thought made Wellington music unique as well as what their favourite albums by Wellington artists were.

    This year we thought we would do something similar, but slightly different. This time we’re asking people for a favourite memory of making music in Wellington. It could involve a favourite gig, a funny story from the recording studio, a moment that led to the inspiration for a song, the fond recollection of a defunct venue, or the piece of music or lyric that they are most proud of creating.

    First up is Brooke Singer of French For Rabbits. Originally from Waikuku Beach near Christchurch, Brooke & guitarist John Fitzgerald moved to Wellington in 2011, where they formed ‘French for Rabbits’ with locals Ben (Bass) & Hikurangi (Drums). They released their debut EP in 2012 through the Wellington collective HomeAlone Music (also home to Eb & Sparrow, Timothy Blackman and City Oh Sigh) and in 2014 the acclaimed full length album Spirits was released on Lefse Records and HomeAlone Music, coinciding with an extensive tour where the opened for Danish chanteuse Agnes Obel in some of the most beautiful concert halls through Europe.

    So it’s really hard to pick one moment!

    A moment I loved was at The Moorings in Thorndon – it’s a grand old dame of a house a bit past her prime. We were playing a Home Alone Music christmas parties and Timothy Blackman was singing ‘When you find that love’ and I think I was playing piano (badly), and Eli from Hula Hope was singing harmonies, and we could see everyones feet dangling from the balcony, and it was all a bit chaotic, but kind of encapsulated the best bits of playing at that house.

    In fact you can listen to it because somebody recorded it:

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    ‘French for Rabbits’ have a new track out, Feathers & Dreams, part of new collection of songs to be released in 2016. You can buy some of their music on Bandcamp here.

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    Cover art courtesy of HomeAlone Music. Used with permission.

  • General

    Interviews: Timothy Blackman on Home Alone Music

    01.02.16 | Permalink | Comment? | By


    Timothy Blackman released his first solo album Giraffes, Wharves And Sinking Sand in 2006 & since then has operated independent record label Homealonemusic, which has become the home for successful local & international acts such as French For Rabbits, Eb & Sparrow, City Oh Sigh, Urbantramper/Lake South, Fraser Ross & Timothy Blackman himself. We caught up with Tim recently to ask him a few questions about how Homealone came to be and how it all works…

    You released ‘Giraffes, Wharves and Sinking Sand’ yourself & then decided to form the ‘Home Alone’ musical label/collective, which you now co-run. Is that correct?
    I started Home Alone Music in 2006 for the release of my first solo EP. I was really into Daniel Johnston and Jandek at the time, both of whom had their own record labels, so it made sense that I would do the same thing.

    How did each of the artists come to be involved with Home Alone? Is it a case of people you’ve known & played with before, or local groups you felt shared similar aims & approaches to making music?
    I met Kate Uhe (of City of Sigh) in 2010 when we played a show together. I was really getting into what her band was doing. Kate and I both had an appreciation for the same type of music too. I asked if City Oh Sigh wanted to release their EP (Like a Light) on Home Alone Music and Kate thought it was a fun idea, so that’s what we did. We worked pretty hard promoting that EP and took it on a little tour, in which I was the support act.
    French for Rabbits got involved in late 2011 for the release of their Claimed by the Sea EP (which came out in early 2012). Kate Uhe had been doing some vocals for the EP. I had met Brooke when she was in her previous band the Raggamuffin Children too. The albums from Urbantramper, Lake South, Fraser Ross and Eb and Sparrow happened because either Kate, Brooke or myself had played on their records or were already good musical friends.

    Are you looking at expanding the artist roster in the future, or do you just want to be a certain size?
    We like being small. We are keen to bring more new bands/acts into the collective, but we are in no rush to make it happen.

    HomeAloneXmas show
    Home Alone XMAS Party, 2015

    Some of the bands on the label, like French For Rabbits, have developed an overseas following, as they toured Europe recently. How do you balance both international & local promotion & touring?
    Basically all the artists work on their own promotion and booking (including all costs), but all of the bands are available to help one another when needed. We are not a business, but we do collaborate together – or more lend a helping hand. For example, when French for Rabbits are on tour I occasionally assist with some of the promotion stuff they might normally manage on their own. French for Rabbits also have a booking agent in Europe and a record label in the USA who both help out with promotion and touring outside of New Zealand.

    Do you want to talk a bit about digital music in general? All of the Home Alone artists are on Bandcamp and Spotify. Do you think it’s more difficult now for bands to get attention or easier, given the huge amount of music on Bandcamp for example?
    We have our digital files on all the different streaming services. Bandcamp and Spotify both work well for all the home alone bands. In many ways the internet (bandcamp etc) has allowed us to be heard by a greater audience, rather than not be heard.

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    Vinyl has had a big resurgence recently. Do you still see the need for putting out physical formats? Some people (and places like Libraries) still prefer CDs, and you also do cassettes for some releases. How do you strike a balance between those formats?
    I guess we are firm believers in the concept of the ‘most appropriate technology’. The new Lake South single (Binge Drinking and D.H Lawrence) was released as a free download because Lake couldn’t see people wanting to buy a physical CD/Cassette for just one song. However, it made sense for Fraser Ross to do a CD of his 2015 album Mongrels because he was doing lots of shows and needed something for the merch table. We haven’t really done too many record pressings in the past, but moving forward we will do so if it seems like a good idea.

    Do you want to talk a bit about the recent Home Alone Compilation, ‘Autumn 2015’? You had done one of these previously in 2012, so is the idea to just gather up some ‘rare’ tracks that have accrued along the way? The roster for this release includes some bands that are not part of the Home Alone family? How did that come to pass?
    The first compilation album in 2012 (Summer) was actually songs from our most recent albums. However, Autumn 2015 was a collection of unreleased songs and live takes that had not been previously released from the seven Home Alone Music acts. We got in a few friends bands (Glass Vaults, Womb and Oscar Doorne) because we thought it seemed like a good idea to bring a few more songs into the mix. We released these albums as a free download because we thought it would help them be shared with a wider audience.

    Lastly can you tell us a bit about what’s happening for Homealone in 2016? What releases & tours can we look forward to?
    We are really excited about our 10 year anniversary celebrations which will be happening around June/July in Wellington. We also have some special recording projects which we hope to share later in the year. Keep your eye here for more details.

    Follow Homealone records:

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