Two childhood best buddies from Christchurch have been making music since they were seven. Now their sweet harmonies and lyrics that carry messages teenagers are relating to, have created indie-folk success.
Constellations, Six Dollar Shirt and Oversized Ring are debut singles off their EP released earlier this month. Their EP We Can Only Laugh is so titled because, “We take our music seriously, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously. How can we, we’re only 17 and 18 years old,” Nat Hutton says.
“We have known each other since preschool – he’s my best friend. Our first song together was actually written in tribute to the Christchurch Earthquakes, in 2011.” Jono Stewart came from a choral background and, with his uncle James Reid the lead singer for The Feelers, was surrounded by music. “I get inspiration from whatever I’m listening to.”
Crumbs is the duo’s personal favourite track – “It includes a lot of elements.” They’ve been highly involved in productions with producer Will McGillivray from NOMAD – “a big inspiration”, as is their mentor Sacha Vee from SOLE Music Academy.
Finalists in the past two NZ Rock Quests, they made the top five in 2017. They opened for Jed Parsons here last year and will open for Australian indie folk singer, Michael Dunstan, who plays on 11 April at Blue Smoke in The Tannery. “There will be at least another single out this year – there’s lots we haven’t released yet! We just want to play music – and keep on having fun with it.”
Fiona Pears was five when her mother took her to see renowned violinist Carl Pini in concert. “I just fell in love with the violin. There was something about this crazy sounding instrument. I must have nagged mum and dad because eventually I found this tiny violin in my Christmas stocking.”
At 12 years of age, Fiona was leading the Christchurch Youth Orchestra and, at 14, she joined the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra. It was due to hearing beautiful Spanish and jazz melodies in her late teens that Fiona began to explore other music styles, such as Latin, Celtic, gypsy and jazz. By the time she hit her 20s, she’d found her niche.
Fiona also began composing music around this time, with much inspiration coming from overseas backpacking experiences. “I got locked out of a backpackers one night because I’d returned late from playing in a blues bar in Belgium. I ended up sleeping on the concrete outside, with my arms wrapped round my violin. I was a bit of a wild child!” She recalls seeing both Nigel Kennedy and Hungarian musician, Roby Lakatos, at Ronnie Scots. “About a month later I was asked to play at Ronnie Scots. I remember standing on the stage doing a sound check and thinking, ‘This is ridiculous – I’m standing where Roby Lakatos did!’”
Conversation turns to how Fiona’s life has evolved since her 2014 album Swing Driven Thing came out. The biggest life-change is that she and music producer husband, Ian, are now working in respite care, looking after foster children in the weekends so that foster parents can have a break. “I was fortunate to have had a beautiful childhood, but some of these children haven’t, so we give to them as much as we can.”
Fiona’s English born husband, Ian Tilley, has produced for Deutsche Grammophon, EMI, Universal, Classic FM, and BMG. Fiona works with Ian on these albums and writes many of the orchestral arrangements. Ian then heads to the UK to finish them.
“When it comes to my stuff, it’s Ian who does everything – from production to media to posters. I get the praise for my concerts, but really, a lot of the legwork is down to him.” The Gift of Music is Fiona’s next big gig and she’s thrilled to be part of it. “I remember walking down London’s Oxford Street with Ian literally dragging me, because I was crying; then homelessness came to Christchurch and I was crying walking the streets of my own city. How can there be such a divide? Nobody wakes up and says ‘Hey, I want to be a homeless person!”
All the money raised from The Gift of Music goes to registered charity Street Wise to help pay medical expenses for the homeless. “The cynics will have their say, but I don’t think about them,” Fiona says. “This is about helping people – trying to bridge that gap between the Great Divide.”
The Gift of Music will be held at the Transitional Cathedral on Saturday 30 March. Tickets available at www.eventfinda.co.nz.
Georgia and Caleb Nott, the siblings who make music together as Broods, are coming to Christchurch on March 22 with their ‘Don’t Feed the Pop Monster’ tour. We caught up with LA based Georgia ahead of the tour about what 2019 has in store.
Do you miss living in New Zealand? When was the last time you were home?
We come home a lot actually. We spend every Christmas at home with the family. We have the best of both worlds really. LA is amazing and there are so many opportunities and inspiring people here. But, we also get to come home and recharge whenever it gets hectic.
What does 2019 hold for Broods?
A lot of touring! Hoping that we’ll get some time here and there to keep the writing going but for the most part we’ll just be touring this album.
What can Christchurch fans expect from the Don’t Feed the Pop Monster tour?
This is the first time we’ve wanted to play every song on the album live. It’s gonna be a very special one to tour. This album has taken up so much space in our lives and to share it with fans in person is going to be some special sh**.
What advice do you have for other New Zealand musicians hoping to make it in the industry?
You really just have to get out there and do it in any shape or form you can. Say yes to collaborating and show people who you are through your music.
What one Kiwi thing do you miss the most living in America?
The fam! Thank god for FaceTime.
What would you like remembered about you?
I think it’s safe to say my music haha! I get less and less obsessed with the idea of being remembered though. I think whatever we make has to be authentic otherwise what you leave behind isn’t really you. So I’d like to be remembered for the music that I make when I am most authentic I guess.
What do you feel is the best song you’ve released to date and why?
Dust. It’s my soul in a song and it still holds the same gravity for me that it did the day we wrote it.
Dave Dobbyn is said to have written the soundtrack of the country, with a list of iconic Kiwi hits to his name. Heading to Christchurch to join Bryan Adams on the stage on 17 March, we caught up with him to discuss a career of hits.
You’ve been said to have written the soundtrack of New Zealand, with some of the country’s biggest hits under your commercial belt, what have been some of your own favourites?
Well that’s always a hard one to answer because it’s my job to think of my next song as the favour-ite. For me anyway, that’s what drives me – to come up with a better song. If I didn’t believe in that, then I would just be repeating myself and that’d be fruitless and sad. So at the risk of not answering the question, I can’t have any favourites yet.
Out of all the artists and musicians you have worked with, who has had the biggest impact on your music career?
All of them. I’m serious. I have learnt so much from writers, artists and players, that my gratitude is huge. Firstly, I learned that you do not give up – that if you decide to be an artist and musician then you must commit your life to it. Otherwise it isn’t truly, authentically you. This way the art you come up with will have meaning. So collectively, all the artists I’ve worked with have had a huge impact on me.
What do you consider are some of your biggest career highlights?
Too many to list here, but a few examples: playing in prisons; singing for a dying man and his fami-ly; playing for the Hyde Park Memorial in London; playing for the Pike River Families; touring with Th’Dudes & DD Smash; touring with my band now……the highlights keep coming.
What are you most looking forward to on the Bryan Adams concerts?
Having supported Bryan before it is an exciting thing to play to his audience again. It’s a big buzz to meet him and his great band. We’ll rise to the occasion very well. I’m proud of my band and we will assuredly rock you. It’ll be grand.
Where do you draw your inspiration for songs from and how often do you put pen to paper now?
I’m always dreaming and I’ve learnt to explore them as they contain songs and a kind of deep un-knowable advice. So I listen to that in some way which drives the creativity – the need to articulate feelings and mood. It is often when you’re not looking that a song will pounce on you. The work is in finishing the jolly thing.
Out of all your hits, have there been any that surprised you with their success – and why?
Yes, I was pleasantly surprised that ‘Welcome Home’ made such a mark. I was thrilled that people responded to the kind of peacefulness that it aspired to. It was Christchurch that inspired that song. It grew into a very useful song that carves its own path now.
How does it feel both as a songwriter and as a performer, to have had such an influence over the music of a country, iconic songs that have touched lives?
It makes me feel a responsibility. It is an honour to be able to write and perform for an audience that I love in the land we all love. I’m still amazed at the freedom of that reality.
If you hadn’t found success as an artist, what do you think you would have done?
I think it would be a creative job. Probably making simple things. Two of my brothers are gifted craftsmen and make amazing wooden things with deft accuracy – so maybe I can still learn to make something cool.
How does a day in the life of Dave Dobbyn look these days?
It begins hopefully at 7:15am. Feed dog and cats, make sure dog doesn’t steal cat food by glaring at him, gently. Once the first cuppa tea has hit the spot and I hear my wife sigh happily with her tea mug at her lips, it’s into the studio for news, NYT crossword, emails and more tea (trying to quit sugar). I’m learning a lot online these days – audio production stuff especially – and political /philosophical stuff.
Play guitar and piano. Learn lap steel guitar. Mostly I’m dreaming up music and tinkering with sound. There’s always a new learning curve to take on, so now I’m learning how to use our new mixing console that sounds so darned musical I’m jumping for joy. I have a deep feeling I’ll be producing more music than ever in the next few years.
What does the rest of 2019 have in store for you?
Looking pretty good. I’ll be releasing new music later in the year so I’m working on that. There are a few surprises coming and some gigs locally and abroad. Keep an eye out for me and I’ll keep an eye on you.
Best known as a contemporary romantic balladeer, Engelbert Humperdinck’s passion for life and music appears endless.
The 82-year-old legendary entertainer is returning to Christchurch on March 2 with his The Man I Want To Be Tour and says he loved visiting New Zealand. “It’s very near and dear to me. I love New Zealand. I’m not just saying that because I’m coming there… I love it mainly because they love my music.”
First released 52 years ago on Engelbert’s Release Me album, Ten Guitars is considered by many as the unofficial anthem of New Zealand. Engelbert was delighted how popular the song became. “It’s massive over there. When I’m there I have to sing it a couple of times. I sing it once (myself) and then the audience sings it.”
With over half of a century in the musical business, the father of four and grandfather of eight says he has no plans to stop. “I’m not ready to sit in front of the fire place and put my knees up and keep watching TV. No, no, no.
“I’m still very active and my stage performance is very active… it’s almost like it used to be in the years gone by.”
Engelbert says people “are usually surprised at the way I move on stage”. “To be honest I don’t feel (and people tell me) I don’t look my age, thank God. I’m still moving and dancing around on stage – it’s no problem for me.”
Described often in the media as a “sultry swooner”, Engelbert has had his fair share of female attention when on stage but says “that was a thing of the past”.
Asked if he still has underwear thrown at him, he replied “No. Occasionally somebody might do it to get attention it’s a thing of the past and I’m glad because none of those panties fit me,” he laughs. He puts his agility and good health down to exercise and losing 31lbs. “I’ve just finished doing a TV special in Hawaii (which is going to be released pretty soon) and I thought ‘I must look how I used to in the old days’ so I went on a strict diet and slimmed down.”
His daily routine consists of half an hour on the treadmill in the morning as well as hitting the gym. “I think you should respect your body because without your body working correctly, you have no life.” The veteran singer entered the world as Arnold George Dorsey. He was born and grew up in Madras, India, as the youngest of 10 children. His family moved to Leicester, England where his music career began.
During his career he has generated sales in excess of 140 million records, including 64 gold albums and 23 platinum, four Grammy nominations, a Golden Globe, and stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Las Vegas Walk of Fame. He has performed for the Queen four times and many dignitaries around the world. He put out his latest studio album, The Man I Want To Be in November last year with two notable covers from Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars.
Engelbert says he likes to keep up-to-date in today’s music world. “I listen to programmes like The Voice and other talent shows. I listen to the music because the people that are singing it are usually singing what is happening in today’s world… so I keep up with my musical learning in that respect.”
On his New Zealand tour he will be showcasing new music as well as original hits including Quando Quando Quando, Release Me, A Man Without Love, The Last Waltz and Am I That Easy To Forget. He says his latest album was also a love letter to his, wife of 52 years Patricia Healy, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
A strong believer in holistic and eastern medicine, Engelbert says she now has round the clock care at their California home but continues to fight the disease. “She does understand what you are talking about although she can’t reciprocate.”
He says her treatment consists of holistic medicine and acupuncture. “Actually you know she’s making progress… very slow… and one has to be patient and keep the prayers coming in. Eastern medicine seems to be taking an effect on her which is good.”
With a long career in the music industry, Engelbert says he’s had a few regrets – the biggest being a choice in management. “I’ve made some bad decisions in my career… for instance management, which has hindered me in my career.”
With his eyes firmly on the future, Engelebert has a message for his Christchurch fans. “You can tell them I’m happy to be coming back to their wonderful country and I hope the people who come and see my show enjoy the programme I am bringing them.”
Bryan Adams is returning to New Zealand in March 2019 to play concerts in Auckland and Wellington before being joined by Dave Dobbyn and the Jordan Luck Band to perform in Nelson and Christchurch.
We catch up with the ‘(Everything I Do) I Do It for You’ hitmaker ahead of his trip down under.
How many times have you visited New Zealand and what is your impression of our country?
I’ve been at least half a dozen times, all for gigs. My impression of NZ is much like everyone else in the world, this is where we need to go if there is a third world war. It’s safe, there is a strong environmental movement and you’re almost as nice as us Canadians.
What can we expect from your new album, Shine A Light?
It’s a collection of songs I wrote while not working on the Broadway musical “Pretty Woman: The Musical”. ‘Shine A Light’, the lead single, was co-written (on email) with my new friend Ed Sheeran, plus I have a duet with….
Jennifer Lopez! What is she like to work with after your duet ‘That’s How Strong Our Love Is’?
Yes… Jennifer sounds amazing on the song; I think everyone will be surprised how well we sing together. I’m delighted we were able to fit it into our busy schedules.
Your music spans over four decades with a host of feel-good hits. What is your favourite and why?
I like all the songs everyone else likes. It’s easy to go on tour these days, everyone sings them for me. So honestly it would be hard to choose one song out of them all. ‘Summer of 69’ has turned into this global hit at parties and in karaoke. It’s funny because when it was released it hardly did anything. I think that’s true of many of my songs, they’ve been sleepers.
You’ve done a lot of humanitarian work and given back to many disadvantaged people through The Bryan Adams Foundation. Is there any particular project that you’ve supported that stands out for you?
For sure. In 2013, I did a photography book and exhibition featuring wounded soldiers, “Wounded – The Legacy of War”.
Out of all the artists and musicians you have worked with, who has had the biggest impact on your music career?
Tina Turner helped me back in the mid-80s by taking me to Europe. We sang every night and ripped the place apart. Was truly the most fun.
You turn 60 this year… how will you celebrate?
I’m not sure yet, probably underneath a bed sheet somewhere, or out trying to learn how to surf (my life-long ambition).
What does the future hold for Bryan Adams?
Other than international surfer extraordinaire? I’m just loving my daughters and trying to master the art of growing tomatoes.
You can add published winning photographer to the list of your multi-talents. What is your favourite subject/topic to photograph?
People, I love interesting characters. I have a book coming this year called ‘Homeless’ on people living on the streets of London.
See you soon NZ.
After a $2.8 million post-quake repair, historic Sign of the Takahe is set to make its musical mark as the grand masterpiece finally opens to the public again for a series of summer events.
Organised by local Cashmere resident, event manager and jazz pianist Katie Martin, the free summer series on Sunday afternoons from 20 January to February 10 from 4-6pm will make the most of the iconic venue’s indoor and outdoor space with performances from some of the region’s best jazz musicians. Food and coffee vendors, children’s entertainment and bar services will also be available.
“As a long-term local resident with fantastic memories of good times at the Sign of the Takahe in its pre-quake days, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share this amazing icon with the wider community,” Katie says.
“Live music will include the River City Jazzmen on Sunday 20 January from 4-6pm and The Mike Bickers Boptet on Sunday 27 January from 4-6pm, with other bands still to be confirmed.”
In October 2018, a Cashmere Primary School Te Pae Kereru open day fundraiser saw more than 2,500 people visit the restored building. “People had some wonderful stories of their memories at The Sign of the Takahe and what the building meant to them,” Katie says. “They were so excited to visit the site and since then have been talking about how they would love to see this landmark open and used again. So this summer series seems like an ideal way to make that happen.”
Shania Twain might have been her idol, but it was all down to her grandmother that New Zealand’s reigning Queen of Country, Jody Direen, is where she is today.
“Grandma was very musical. She’d bring her guitar whenever she came to visit; I’d try to wrap my hands around it to strum a few notes. She taught me my first song – Pistol Packin’ Mama. The sensation of being able to play guitar and sing at the same time was amazing! Hats off to Grandma – she was my inspiration.”
When Jody was five, the family moved from Mosgiel to Wanaka; it’s still her base, but she’s seldom home for long periods of time. “Music’s been my fulltime career for around six years now. I’m very lucky to be making a living doing something I love.”
Jody has travelled to Nashville to write and record her songs, and has also performed there. “Nashville’s considered the mecca of country music. There’s nothing like it, but it’s also extremely competitive. I remember going into this bar along Broadway, this woman was singing – an amazing voice… think Tina Turner on steroids – and she was singing for tips!”
In 2014 Jody performed at Nashville’s Country Music Association Festival (CMA), in the Global Artists Showcase category. “The CMA Festival is one of the biggest country music festivals in the world; to be selected to perform there is the opportunity of a lifetime!”
Jody has already released three albums; next year she will release her fourth.
Signed to Australian labels ABC Music and Universal Music, Jody spends much of her time between New Zealand and Australia. “I’ve come to think of it as one big country now. One night I might be performing in Christchurch, the next it will be Sydney. It gets hard sometimes, but I’ve got a great core band; we’re there for each other. I couldn’t do it without them.”
When not writing, recording or on the road, Jody’s overseeing iHeartRadio Top Paddock Music Festival, a yearly New Year’s Eve event held at Wanaka’s Lake Hawea that was created by Jody. “Top Paddock gives me the chance to pay it forward to my artist friends by giving them a stage, a venue and a hugely appreciative audience.”
Jody reflects on what would be the pinnacle of her career. “To have bigger shows and venues would be fantastic, and perhaps a collaboration with a pop group, because the lines between pop/rock/hip-hop and country are becoming increasingly blurred – Nelly and Tim McGraw’s Over and Over, for instance. I’d love to do something like that!”
For a woman of such drive, passion and massive talent as Jody Direen, it can only be a matter of time.
He encapsulates the 1980s, with a career spanning more than four decades and a signature brand of feel-good rock’n’roll hits, now Bryan Adams is returning to New Zealand with his ‘Shine A Light’ tour.
Presented by Neptune Entertainment and The Breeze, the four-date tour will celebrate the release of his forthcoming album Shine a Light and follows his visit to Kiwi shores earlier this year, when tens of thousands of Kiwis jumped at the opportunity to see the Canadian icon live. This time around Adams will play to crowds and cities he didn’t visit earlier this year, including Spark Arena in Auckland on March 12 and TSB Bank Arena in Wellington on 14 March. His tour will also take in the South Island, with shows in Nelson at Trafalgar Park on 16 March and Hagley Park in Christchurch on 17 March.
One of the most highly-acclaimed singer/songwriters, Adams is known for hit singles ‘(Everything I Do) I Do It For You’, ‘Summer Of ’69’ and his Rod Stewart and Sting collaboration ‘All for Love’. The Grammy-winning artist has seen success from a string of number ones in over 40 countries and has sold in excess of 65 million records worldwide. His thirst for performing and his unique take on live concerts have established him as one of the world’s best rock singers.
Thousands of New Zealanders got the chance to see Adams live in action earlier this year, with his shows receiving critical acclaim.
“Bryan Adams kicked off his Get Up! Tour in absolutely tip-top style… We’ve sung our hearts out, clapped our hands and waved our phone lights in gleeful revelry, and bounced our way through a solid two-hour set of pure, simple, honest pop-rock delivered with absolute class,” Ambient Light described of the earlier tour.
On his upcoming tour, Adams will be joined for the South Island shows only by special guests Dave Dobbyn and The Jordan Luck Band.
Both legendary Kiwi acts in their own right, Dobbyn started his career in Th’ Dudes and DD Smash, before going solo and releasing hit after hit, including ‘You Oughta Be In Love’, ‘Slice of Heaven’, ‘Loyal’ and ‘Welcome Home’. Meanwhile Jordan Luck was the lead singer and songwriter for The Exponents for several decades, with countless hits to his name, including ‘Why Does Love Do This To Me’, ‘Who Loves Who The Most’, ‘Victoria’ and ‘Whatever Happened To Tracey’.
The Jordan Luck Band will be playing all of the classic hits from The Exponents on this tour. Bryan Adams – 17 March 2019 Hagley Park, Christchurch with special guests Dave Dobbyn and The Jordan Luck Band.
As the name suggests, the Entertainment Company is able to knock your socks off, providing your function with the most awe-inspiring choreographed music and dance extravaganzas in town.
Director/Choreographer Sandy Gray has years of experience putting on the most magical and spell-bounding performances, thanks to her team of Christchurch’s most talented dancers, musicians, singers and cabaret companions.
The Entertainment Company also invite you to ‘A Night with the Stars’ on 30 November 7:30pm at Chateau on the Park Double Tree by Hilton.
You will be treated to two hours of music from icons like David Bowie, Aretha Franklin, Amy Winehouse, Freddie Mercury and many more, all performed by the newly formed Entertainment Company House Band. Delicious platter food will be on offer too.
With loads of dancers, backing vocalists, costumes and effects, this is one event all music lovers will not want to miss. Tickets are $50 at Eventbrite.