Local recording studio Sandbox Studio is the best kept secret in the Wellington Music scene, but word is spreading far and wide, and a growing number of artists are coming from all over the country and even across the Tasman to record their sound with Sandbox Studio.
This uniquely located studio was once the living room of the apartment next door, which was built for the owner as a city crash pad. The Penthouse extension which now houses Sandbox Studio was built in the early ’70s but had been abandoned, and was essentially unoccupied for the best part of 10 years or so, before engineer Benni Krueger & musician Jon Lemmon took on the lease in 2016. Initially planned as an art and music space, it eventually became a shared music space, before evolving into a professional recording studio.
For New Zealand Music Month we are premiering a retrospective look at Sandbox Studio, with a feature-length video comprising multiple retrospective interviews conducted over several time periods, along with archival video footage and photos representing the evolution of the studio and its equipment over time. Now jointly run by studio engineers Benni Krueger and Peter Molteno, we talked with studio co-founders Benni, Daniela Mogin and Lorenzo Buhne about how they came to be involved in the studio’s creation, the building of their unique isolation booth, their thoughts on the Wellington music scene, and many other topics.
Today Sandbox Studio is one of Wellington’s top recording studios — a streamlined, professional powerhouse with a fast-paced turnover. In the time since we filmed some of these segments, Sandbox Studio has worked with over 100 new artists and have made significant improvements to the space, equipment, and workflow.
This feature is a snapshot of the studio in its infancy rather than how it is represented today, but it tells the fascinating story of how three people from completely different backgrounds and different countries came together to create something unique and special for the local music scene in Wellington.
Exciting things have been happening of late at Johnsonville Library at Waitohi Hub, with this week heralding the arrival of part of the libraries’ vinyl collection at their branch. They have been working hard behind the scenes to present this collection, a majority of which has been in storage since the closure of the Central Library.
The idea of having a vinyl collection at Waitohi came about as a result of their recently established Vinyl Club, which meets on the last Saturday of each month. Vinyl Club is a place to share and appreciate music on wax and is open to all. Unfortunately, they have had to postpone meetings for the last few months in light of COVID-19 alert level changes, however they hope to resume meeting when Wellington returns to Level 1.
For further details, keep an eye on our Events Calendar.
The vinyl collection at Waitohi comprises approximately 300 records of varying genres, from Jazz to Hip Hop to local music from Wellington and around New Zealand. The collection is located on the Lower Ground at Waitohi in front of Tūhura HIVE Makerspace, which hosts their Vinyl Club sessions. Records may be taken out for $1 each for a loan period of 7 days and are issued in retro bespoke turquoise sleeves for style and ease of carriage!
Thanks to Sam from Opium Eater who generously agreed to model with one of our Vinyl satchels…
PureSound Studios is a new music production business based in central Wellington, run by Anthony Limbrick who produces under the names Bravo Bonez & Learning To Dive, and Rosie Spearing who is lead singer of the band Corduroy. and solo project Alba Rose Music. We caught up with them in December last year for an in-depth and wide ranging interview. We found out a bit more about the Studio, how it came together, all the gear they have, their musical identities, their thoughts on advances in Music recording technologies & the impact of streaming, and how they help local creatives progress their Music projects.
Part one Feat Ross Harris, Steve Burridge and Neil Johnstone.
Arts laureate and New Zealand classical composer Ross Harris is regarded widely as one of the leading musical lights of his generation. In his time he has worn and still wears many musical hats : – from teaching at Victoria University, to Tuba playing, being the regular accordion player with the phenomenal Klezmer outfit The Kugels. And in the past has dived deep into the World of electro acoustic music esp. with the iconic eighties outfit The Free Radicals with fellow sonic explorer Jonathan Besser.
Click here to hear an interview with Ross talking about his days in the Free Radicals and what it was like to be an electronic musical pioneer in the 1980’s.
These days Ross can be seen regularly playing Klezmer with The Kugels or in the audience at the Michael Fowler listening to one of his classical compositions being played but very rarely does he perform in the Electro acoustic World so when we were offered the chance to record an ultra-rare live performance of Ross playing experimental accordion at an electroacoustic gig at the launch of poet Janis Freegard’s latest poetry collection Reading the Signs we jumped at it .
So below our exclusive video of Ross Harris playing with Steve Burridge and Neil Johnstone from the Album Shearwater Drift featuring the above and also ngā taonga pūoro player Al Fraser. Enjoy.
Part Two feat Steve Burridge and Neil Johnstone.
Shearwater drift / Fraser, Alistair
“Shearwater Drift is a vast sonic collage that explores real and imagined landscapes.Over 18 tracks,it features Taongo Puoro within soundscapes created by synthesisers, percussion, treated samples and other instruments that is not an easy listen, at times it can be quite eerie, but the dark and ethereal ambient atmosphere is the perfect vehicle by which the mystery of these ancient instruments can be experienced.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Symphony no. 5 ; Violin concerto / Harris, Ross
“Ross Harris’s Symphony No.5 uses as its core poems by Panni Palasti. The moving poems in the piece are based on the personal experiences of the poet during World War Two and the subsequent Hungarian Revolution. The work creates complex orchestral movements around these poems. This particular recording has conductor Eckehard Steir steering the orchestra and he judges well the balance between the moments of ferocity and the work’s sonic ebb and flow.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Free Radicals / Free Radicals (Musical group)
“Wellington based Free Radicals :-Ross Harris and Jonathan Besserwere active in the early 80s, described by one reviewer as ‘Eno meets industrial punk meets Stockhausen’. This compilation of archival recordings show the full range, scope and ambition of the pioneering outfit.” ( adapted from Catalogue.)
Requiem for the fallen / Harris, Ross
“Requiem for the fallen honours the memory of soldiers who died in the First World War. Poetry by Vincent O’Sullivan is woven through the Latin of the Requiem Mass and carries many homespun New Zealand references. Horomona Horo’s taonga pūoro improvisations add a haunting beauty that could only be from Aotearoa (New Zealand)” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Cathedral / Besser, Jonathan
“Cathedral is a recording of a concert originally performed live in 1984 in front of an audience wearing eye masks, and this re issue includes one new track called “Ruins (2084)”. And features Jonathan Besser playing on Dunedin’s St Paul’s Cathedral pipe organ and Greg Fox on electric guitar and treatments. The work is an innovative, immersive, atmospheric and ambient piece.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)
Ponguru / Fraser, Alistair
“Ponguru is a truly unique album fusing seamlessly the sonic worlds of acclaimed jazz bassist Phil Boniface and leading Nga Taonga Puoro player Al Fraser . The resulting album has many faces and facets its Jazz tinged rather than Jazz, ambient in places and like a complex sonic landscape in others, throughout all its pieces it’s always fiercely original , rewarding and hugely atmospheric. Phil’s bass work is of the highest calibre imbuing the whole piece with a core of beautiful rhythmic structure. And Al’s emotive, nuanced playing shows that he is rightfully regarded as one of the finest musicians working in NZ today.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Toitū te pūoro. / Fraser, Alistair
“Al Fraser, the Wellington musician and instrument maker takes the listener on a deep, dreamlike and evocative journey into the mysterious, mystical and unique sound worlds created by the ancient taonga puoro.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Reading the Signs / Freegard, Janis
“Reading the Signs is Janis Freegard’s most recent poetry collection. The work is a prose poetry sequence which explores our inner and outer world’s through various means such as divination and the rich diversity of life as viewed through a poet as biological scientist lens. The core themes behind this often humorous but also serious collection are loss and recovery, climate change and gender fluidity not to mention spiders, piglets and Tasseography (tea leaf reading) . The publication includes accompanying art works by Neil Johnstone” ( Adapted from catalogue)
Libraries are no longer just places to get books. Need a PA system for a party, a speaking engagement, or a wedding? Playing a live or studio gig? Need to do some recording in the field, or hook up some gear to your laptop and make a new album at home? The new Library Music Equipment collection has what you need. We love Wellington music at Wellington City Libraries and we are here to help you make it.
We have five new Music Kits for people to borrow as part of our new Equipment Lending Service:
Our Wellington Music Project began properly around October in 2014, so this was the first full year of our page and blog on Wellington Music. Here are some highlights we wrote about during the year that you may have missed at the time.
[Nicole Andrews recording the piano tracks for her album In The Shallows at the New Zealand School Of Music]