I left NZ in 86 and except for a brief period when I was home from late 89 till early 92, I’ve lived overseas all this time. In that time, I lost touch with the local music scene which can be discouraging for a Kiwi because music is part of our identity, especially for a Polynesian; if you stay away from it too long, you will lose that identity. Call it nostalgia, but it’s real.
And I missed out on so much. I only got back into it in the early tens through my brother who used to flip me local talent via facebook to listen to. So, this is more a thanks to him for introducing me to some really great home-grown talent. Thanks brother.
First up is a guy known as J. Williams. Not really into his music but the video is memorable because it features my niece (the daughter of my brother who kept me in touch with the music scene back home). She’s the girl in the hot pink jacket who dances with the singer.
Next up is good old roots music. The Black Seeds features Brett McKenzie, he of the cult musical act Flight of the Conchords. Typical Kiwi feel and invocation here. Reggae is very much an integral part of the NZ music scene.
Nesian Mystik hailed from Auckland and are school friends who took their friendship to a musical level. Diverse cultures – Raro, Sa, Tongan, and Maori. I liked what they attempted in this track, especially with guitar intro (of course!). This was one of my favourite tracks back then. I think they split up recently but I can’t confirm as my tastes have migrated from them, as you do, and therefore I can’t confirm.
The House of Shem was one of the local groups my brother introduced me to. This reggae song was very popular locally and established the group among a very flourishing reggae scene (very strong among Polys for some reason). The intro features early on the father (lead guitar) and two sons (lead singer and keyboard/vocals). Song is probably their most familiar hit. It is what you might also call love rock, popularised by the likes of Aswad (UK) and others.
Ladi6 has been around for a while but isn’t as popular as other female artists, like Lorde. But it doesn’t matter because I like her direction.
Kora was a band I found by accident while searching for something a bit more “thumping”. And this brother band provided it with their synthesis of heavy metal, electronic, and reggae/dub.
On My Mind has a really good intro. The “smash you in your face” line always makes me smile. Manic laughter gives it that dramatic feel (like pop opera sort of drama). Makes me bop my head.
The local scene, as I discovered, was alive and well. I’ve only explored a very tiny yet familiar part of it, concentrating mainly on Polynesian artists because it’s easy to get lost among this vibrant and diverse scene and I need some direction at least. But thanks all the same brother.