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NZMM: Critics on Wellington Music – Simon Grigg of AudioCulture

We’ve been checking in with some local artists, writers & critics to get their thoughts on what makes the Wellington Music scene unique, and to get their take on some of their favourite Wellington sounds. You can check out some older posts from critics Nick Bollinger, & Grant Smithies, Blue Smoke writer Chris Bourke, and musicians Samuel Flynn Scott & Alistair Fraser, but since it is New Zealand Music Month we thought we would check in with some more people over the course of May.

Whether offering an opinion on the uniqueness or elusive qualities that make up Wellington music, or just some of their favourite albums, the most important thing is the music itself, and we hope these posts lead you back to some favourite albums, or help you to discover something new.

Up today is Simon Grigg who really needs no introduction. But anyway…Simon is or has been a NZ label owner, music businessman, writer, broadcaster, publisher, producer, DJ and archivist. Between 1977 and 2007 he released, or was behind, some 151 records in New Zealand. Of those about three quarters entered the NZ charts – album, single or compilation. He has had gold and platinum discs in some 34 countries, including, with OMC, a US platinum album, and a double platinum single Australian single. The first Room Service album also went platinum in Australia, and the second one gold and has released, via his labels, a number one single in NZ in each of the eighties, nineties and 2000s. In 2012 he founded and was appointed the Creative Director of AudioCulture, the NZ On Air funded online narrative of the people and cultures of New Zealand Music.

I guess it’s something to do with its place as a port and as a focus for the arts, but Wellington’s musical past is an often thrilling clash of inventiveness, pure pop and raw energy. It was in Wellington where record companies like HMV and Tanza created the New Zealand music industry in the early 1950s, with songs like Blue Smoke and the very first rock and roll record made outside the USA, Johnny Cooper’s ‘Rock Around The Clock’, recorded in the Wakefield Street studios. It was the northern dormitory suburbs (later cities) of the Hutt Valley that gave us a string of legendary artists including The Fourmyula, usually thought of as the greatest pop songwriters of their time. They were part of the HMV pop machine that dominated the charts in from the mid-60s to the middle of the next decade.
The Terrace scene of the early 1980s pushed post punk experimentalism, whilst at the same time The Mockers were about to take the city back to the pop heights. Then we have the utterly unique reggae-soul-pacifika fusion of the late 1990s into the new century – one of the very few musical styles we as a nation have sent around the world.
And I’ve not mentioned Shihad, Head Like A Hole, Holidaymakers, Rick Bryant, Quincy Conserve, BLERTA … the list is endless ..

Pixie Williams ‘Blue Smoke’

The Fourmyula ‘Nature’

Shoes This High ‘Not Weighting’

The Mockers ‘Forever Tuesday Morning’

Fat Freddy’s Drop ‘Wandering Eye’

Shihad ‘Home Again’

Head Like A Hole ‘Comfortably Shagged’

Holidaymakers ‘Sweet Lovers’

Rick Bryant ‘Time’

Quincy Conserve ‘Ride The Rain’

BLERTA ‘Dance All Around The World’

Friday Bonus!
Here’s an interview Simon did for Standing Room Only on RNZ late last year on Upper Hutt music..

Copyright Radio New Zealand. Used by permission.

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