They may hail from the flat lands of Palmerston North, but Dunedin has long been the home of darkwave lo-fi duo, Strange Harvest – Justin Walshaw (guitar, vocals) and Skye Strange (keys and vocals).
Since the band formed in 2011, they have entertained us at numerous gigs around town, have released two albums ‘Here Is Where You Are’ and ‘Inside a Replica City’ under local label Lttl Paisly Records, and are recording a third, ‘Pattern Recognition’. This will be coming out in April 2015. They have just released their single ‘Astronaut’ which you can listen to here.
Last Friday, they played at The Crown Hotel, supported by Radio Cegeste and Hologram Heart.
To find out more about this quirky band, we talked with guitarist, Justin Walshaw, who describes their musical style using three adjectives “dodgy, batch-roasted and interpersonal”. Although they enjoy music by American experimental band Gang Gang Dance, Prince, Cappadonna and the Beastie Boys, the Strange Harvest sound is distinctive and unaffected. Instead, Justin and Skye draw on past experiences and the culture they grew up with as influences.
“Musical influences are kind of weird. It’s like how your childhood memories can be related back to a song or a cassette tape of Bananarama that reminds you of eating ice-cream on the beach. And how the second ‘Faith No More’ album seemed really bizarre at the time. And how certain Smiths’ riffs will put a knot in your stomach. I remember when bars first started playing Hip Hop over decent PAs.”
We were particularly interested in some of their song lyrics in ‘Inside a Replica City’ which describe the irony of celebrity culture and our society’s obsession with social media.
“…we should probably log-off. But I love E Channel, and how it can affect people – really badly. CNN can run 24 hours of Ebola updates, and the CIA will continue to enhance torture techniques, but we really need to know who Jennifer Lawrence is sleeping with. It’s absurd. We all know it’s bizarre. Lilo is our spiritual guide. And when she’s gone, there will be a new High-Priestess of Nothing.”
However, their new album ‘Pattern Recognition’ is “spacey”. Justin prefers it to the previous one. “It’s more about technology than celebrity”.
Justin credits band mate and wife, Skye, as the “brains behind the band”. Prior to Strange Harvest, she played in bands ‘Rise Of The City Cat Cult’ and ‘The Autoharpies’. Skye is also about to release a solo EP as ‘Embedded Figures’.
So what keeps this busy band in Dunedin? “We’ve been here about 15 years. So Dunedin is really home now. It’s a good place to be … The psycho-geography is appealing … I like the pseudo-Scottish-ness. And the music scene here is very open and diverse – this tends to happen in ‘Art School towns’.”
Thanks guys, long may you reign here!
Keep an eye out for this talented pair and their new album … watch this space!!
Now we’re all back together again, it’s time to get down to business with a catch-up of what’s been happening in Dunedin this Spring.
Lorde’s intimate concert at the Dunedin Town Hall (29 October) was quite rightly a sell out! It was sublime – spectacular costumes (three in all from black to white to red), quirky sets and cool special effects (smoke, bubbles and falling confetti depicting a drawing of Lorde).
Lorde was magnificent but very down to earth. She’d never been to Dunedin before but was impressed and could see why people wanted to study at Otago. Our favourite songs were ‘Team’, ‘Glory and Gore’ (where she played around with the melody) and ‘400 Lux’, ultimately the love song of the night in which her words were echoed passionately by the throngs of young people. It was also great to hear her perform ‘Yellow Flicker Beat’ which features in the upcoming Hunger Games movie, Mockingjay Part 1. Lorde, please perform here again soon!
Lyttelton was hit hard by the 2011 earthquakes with severe damage to the Timeball station. But, you can’t keep a good town down! There’s still plenty to charm the visitor including the dazzling Wunderbar with its rustic glamour and quirkiness. Last Saturday, this fabulous bar hosted a Blues Revival Dance Night, with Stomping Nick and Blues Professor Duo of Ari Freeman and Oscar Green. Ari is also locally known as the Wizard of Papanui. Rockabilly was the dress code of the evening – perfect for letting loose on the dance floor!
In 1964, The Beatles unbelievably performed in Dunedin’s Town Hall. Fifty years on, Taste Merchants (Lower Stuart Street) saluted the Fab Four with a Beatles extravaganza. Over three nights, local musicians performed a selection of Beatles classics. So stoked that last night’s performances included ‘A Day in the Life’, the best ever Beatles song in our opinion. Other highlights included ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, ‘Paperback Writer’ and ‘Drive My Car’. It was a fabulously fun night – it just goes to show that all you need is love!
Last night, while England rugby supporters descended on Dunners, there was madness of a different kind as Purple Rain (Princes St) hosted their ‘Voodoo Madness’ party. Strange creatures of the night enjoyed performances by Whisky & The Wench and Tahu & The Takahes. Spiral Technica also captivated us with their fire show. The Purple Rain team really know how to throw a good party!
An extra dimension was injected into the Dunedin music scene when bassist Lucy Hunter and drummer Tim Player moved from Gisborne to Dunners to bring us eery but energetic experimental pop music. Now, joined by guitarist Reg Norris, this charismatic trio are Opposite Sex. Lucy and Tim took time out from their busy work and music schedules to chat to us about their band and how it came to be.
Lucy and Tim have travelled different musical paths to get where they are now:
Lucy explains “… I played piano and trumpet when I was growing up and just learned bass, just after [high] school, but Tim hadn’t played anything at all.” There is pretty much no instrument that Lucy hasn’t dabbled with.
“Prior to Opposite Sex, my ex-boyfriend was Connan Mockasin so I played with them [Connan and the Mockasins] a bit and that got me into music I guess. After that I had a band called The Ravishes and that was alongside Opposite Sex.”
What strikes us about Lucy, though, is her unique voice, which ranges from angelic in recordings to frantic and punk-like in live performances.
Tim, on the other hand, had no musical experience prior to Opposite Sex. Nevertheless, he is very talented and musically knowledgeable.
“All I can say is that I grew up listening to music from a young age …” He credits international bands The Birthday Party and Half Japanese and NZ band The Blueness as inspirational. He mainly plays drums and a bit of free-form guitar.
Opposite Sex has been making music since 2010 and is no stranger to the Dunedin music scene. They feel at home here and have enjoyed supporting local bands, including The Puddle, Snapper and Space Dust. Lucy and guitarist Reg more recently played in a side project called Sonny Carver and have contributed to the massive Dunedin collaboration Operation Underground by playing at a porch session. However, a real turning point for the band was being discovered by Fishrider Records owner, Ian Henderson.
“It was sort of through [Ian’s band] The Puddle and Ian got in contact with us … he’s always been supportive,” recalls Tim.
Under the FIshrider label, the band released their debut album ‘Opposite Sex’ in 2011 and are now working on a new album, ‘Hamlet’, which will be out later in the year. Lucy, the main songwriter, describes the process:
“Usually I’ll lay down the bass line and the vocal melody but I still have it in my head for quite a long time before I put it to music …”
Studying for an English degree definitely adds flair to Lucy’s songwriting.
“… I’ve done quite a few crime papers and a gothic fiction paper and I’ve been writing some really gothy songs which I wouldn’t have done before, so I guess that’s been directly inspired by university stuff.”
Lucy and Tim hinted that the new album will be darker, with longer, more complicated songs than their previous album. Since Reg joined the band, the guitar sound is more “distorted and aggressive”.
The band members were stoked about the opportunity to support Wellington-based band Shocking Pinks at Chick’s Hotel, Port Chalmers last Saturday.
We’re really looking forward to hearing their new album, ‘Hamlet’. Good luck guys!
There’s more to Taste Merchants than wine and gigs. They also hold occasional vinyl fairs. We popped along to one last Saturday and enjoyed perusing through the eccentric, the classics and the undiscovered treasures. There was something for everyone! Keep an eye on their Facebook page for the next fair. One of the things we love about Dunners is that events like this happen!
Dunedin’s unique music festival was held for the sixth time at Fea Street, Dalmore. The sun and the style came out along with Dunners’ finest blues rock, guitar-pop, reggae, electro-pop…and Soulseller! Just for fun we’ve got a quiz for you: guess the musicians behind their instruments (answers at the end)!
1. Michael Morris
2. Penelope Esplin
3. Paul Cathro
4. Ben Sargeant
5. Evan Sunley James
6. Sam McKean
Dunners was picture perfect on Thursday when Tinie Tempah was in the city to perform at the Forsyth Barr Stadium as part of OUSA Orientation, 2014. Despite his busy schedule, he still found time to visit St Clair beach and Cadbury World. He even ran up Baldwin Street with DJ Charlesy!
Tinie Tempah really turned up the heat while performing songs such as ‘Lover Not A Fighter’ and ‘Children Of The Sun’. Tinie was impressed when the crowd erupted into singing the chorus of ‘Written In The Stars’. He also commented that if his life had taken a different turn, he would have liked to study at the University of Otago – it can’t get much better than that!
Full marks to Dan Hendra (OUSA Events Manager) for securing such a huge internationally renowned British artist. After all, Tinie was the opening act for the 2014 BAFTAs and even high-fived his pal Prince William (who will also be in Dunedin soon)!