9 May 2017

NZ records that shaped our dance floors

From RNZ Music, 4:39 pm on 9 May 2017

Records selected from the personal collections of New Zealand's most influential DJs are currently on display in Auckland as part of the exhibition 'Base FM Cover Story 2: NZ Records That Shaped Our Dance Floors'.

The exhibition celebrates local records that had a big impact on New Zealand's dance scene and features personal stories from 50 DJs including Peter Urlich, P-Money, Matt Harvey of Concord Dawn, Stinky Jim, Jay Bulletproof, and Nathan Haines.

To give you a bit of a taster, here are ten of our faves:

Murry Sweetpants and his selection - Fat Freddy's Drop, 'Flashback'

Murry Sweetpants and his selection - Fat Freddy's Drop, 'Flashback' Photo: Courtesy of Base FM

Murry Sweetpants

Fat Freddy’s Drop
‘Flashback’ (Jazzanova Mixes)
Sonar Kollectiv, 2006

“An unplanned home birth in Sandringham, came to a triumphant climax with the arrival of my first child, Natalia Lily Pretscherer as this tune was blasting out over the stereo at home, up to my eyeballs in towels & emotion, the line 'breathe easy lover...' never rang truer.

“Every time I hear this tune now it reminds me of this momentous day in my life, the artwork on the cover seems strangely relevant to this memory too.”

Murry Sweetpants started out at George FM in the 1990s and is now a DJ about town and host of Wednesday Afternoons on BaseFM Drive.

Peter McLennan and his selection - Patea Maori Club, 'Poi E'

Peter McLennan and his selection - Patea Maori Club, 'Poi E' Photo: Courtesy of Base FM

Peter McLennan

Patea Maori Club
‘Poi E’
Maui Records, 1987

“The [record] that works without fail when I’m out DJing is this great record - Poi-E, by the Patea Maori Club. Put this on, then watch people’s faces light up with a huge smile.

“Poi-E is the only local single to have been a chart hit in three different decades and even had a documentary made about it.

“It’s the only song in Te Reo Maori ever to hit number one, in 1984, and was the biggest selling single that year, beating Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ and Stevie Wonder’s ‘I Just Called To Say I Love You’.

“I don’t remember when I first heard it, but it was probably on TV, watching that classic video with Joe Moana breakdancing in the canoe in the middle of the main street of Patea, and Dalvanius hooning by in his car, doing a mean pukana out the window. Tumeke!”

Peter McLennan is a writer, musician (Dub Asylum, Hallelujah Picassos), DJ (BaseFM) and blogger (Dubdotdash).

P-Money an his selection - P-Money & Scribe, 'Not Many - The Remix!'

P-Money an his selection - P-Money & Scribe, 'Not Many - The Remix!' Photo: Courtesy of Base FM


P-Money & Scribe
‘Not Many - The Remix!’
Dirty Records, 2003

“[You] can't understate how exciting and rare it was to have local rap music on vinyl in the early 2000s.

“One of my favourite memories with Scribe was doing an in-store performance at Deal Real Records in London and performing 'Not Many'. The legendary MC and producer Lord Finesse (DITC) was also in attendance that day and, unbeknownst to us, he bought copies of the record! 

“Later that same night during his own show, Lord Finesse kicked live freestyles while DJ Boogie Blind cut up two copies of the Not Many instrumental.

“That was a magic moment which could only happen because of this piece of vinyl.”

P-Money is an internationally renowned hip-hop DJ and producer and co-owner of NZ label Dirty Records.

Slave, AKA Mark Williams and his selection - Soane, Go Master

Slave, AKA Mark Williams and his selection - Soane, Go Master Photo: Courtesy of Base FM

Mark Williams aka Slave

Go Master
Paper Recordings, 2001

“Soane was a don. The Tongan prince! I first hung out with him at The Box/Cause Celeb nightclub [in Auckland], where, along with Time Selusi, these guys were the coolest, best doorman in town.

“Soane was all about the music, and he loved soul, RnB and house. He’d gone from working the door to rocking the clubs DJing and became a favourite of the ever growing club scene.

“The record cover art is beautiful and awesome ... People all over the world, saw tapa design for the first time thanks to Soane.

“To my knowledge, it was the first house record or dance music record from NZ to come out on an international label [Manchester-based Paper Recordings]. Whatever the case, It was a big f*ing deal!

"We were super proud of Soane … [he] really represented so much of the Auckland dance music culture and still does. Big up the bro!”

Mark Williams aka Slave is a pioneer of new Zeland hip-hop. He's an MC and radio presenter, currently hosting the Log Cabin on George FM every Sunday.

Downtown Brown and his selection - Joe Dukie and DJ Firchie, 'Flashback'

Photo: Courtesy of Base FM

Downtown Brown

Joe Dukie & DJ Fitchie
‘Midnight Marauders’
The Drop, 2002

“Picture a hot sweaty early evening at Splore 2002, in that iconic geodesic dome tent. It had been a blazingly hot afternoon. I had just played a four turntable set with The Nomad, and after we’d packed up I went for a wander through the narrow bush track behind the tent.

“The cicada chorus was so intense it felt like an electric current tazing through my body. As I re-emerged from the bush I heard the unforgettable keyboard loop of Marauders start up, and I raced back into the tent.

“I’d been in love with this tune ever since it dropped only a few months before. Halfway through the song, Mu introduced the sickest of sick old skool jungle drum loops into the arrangement and I felt like the whole tent was gonna lift off.

“My treasured copy of Midnight Marauders has been shamelessly thrashed at clubs and festivals all over NZ, Australia and Europe. It’s been a favourite tune to play at the beginning or the end of a set”

Downtown Brown aka Simon Hendl is a DJ and promoter. He helped establish one of Queenstown's most popular clubs - Subculture and is a member of Sunshine Soundsystem along with Shapeshifter's P Digsss and others.

Murray Cammick and his selection - Ardijah, Ardijah

Murray Cammick and his selection - Ardijah, Ardijah Photo: Courtesy of Base FM

Murray Cammick

Ardijah (featuring the track ‘Jammin’)
Warner Music, 1987

“In 1985, the word got around that there were some fine funky bands playing South Auckland.

“RipItUp magazine needed to find an antidote for “too-much-Flying Nun-syndrome” that engulfed the country – every music writer in the country had caught the bug.

“Musician Simon Lynch ( ... soon to join Ardijah) arranged to have [me] as RipItUp editor, escorted around South Auckland one night.

“We started with Ardijah at Black Power’s “The Factory” in East Tamaki, followed by Sidewalk at Cleopatra’s in Mt Wellington and finally 42nd Street at Club New York in Papatoetoe.

“When Ardijah broke out of the clubs by recording for Pagan Records and winning the Rheineck Rock Award, those of us that were not devoid of funk got very excited. They were soon on the cover of RipItUp and the song that started their live show – Jammin’ – became the opening track on their debut album and a local track that is timeless.”

Murray Cammick is a music journalist and photographer. He founded of Rip It Up magazine, as well as record labels Southside Records and Wildside Records, with a roster including Shihad, Head Like A Hole, and Bailter Space.

Dylan C and his selection - Shapeshifter, 'Been missing'

Dylan C and his selection - Shapeshifter, 'Been missing' Photo: Courtesy of Base FM

Dylan C

‘Been Missing’ / ‘Relocator’ 12”
Salmonella Dub Recordings 2003
“In early 2004 I started playing at Rakinos on High St [in Auckland], initially on Saturday afternoons when there weren’t too many people around.

“I didn’t own turntables or a mixer at the time, so the only chance to practice my mixing was either during my show on Base FM or playing at Rakinos. At that point I was just selecting tunes without mixing, simply fading out one tune as I’d introduce the next.
“Then came the ‘Been Missing’ 12” vinyl - the first Shapeshifter track to feature the vocals of P-Diggs. It contained all the elements I liked in a tune: a nice long instrumental intro and outro (which was perfect for practising beat matching), it was hip-hop tempo but it wasn’t hip-hop, with lush atmospherics but the beat was still tough. There was a dope bassline and I liked the vocal.
I learnt to mix with this record.”

Dylan C is Base FM Breakfast host, Programme Director and one of the most booked DJs in the country.

Matt Harvey of Concord Dawn and his selection - Concord Dawn - Morning Light

Matt Harvey of Concord Dawn and his selection - Concord Dawn - Morning Light Photo: Courtesy of Base FM

Matt Harvey of Concord Dawn

Concord Dawn 
‘Morning Light’ 12”
Timeless, 2002
“I have very fond memories indeed of playing this at Ministry in Christchurch. That was one of the best clubs this country has ever seen and Christchurch at the time was New Zealand’s capital of drum and bass, despite Auckland being strong.

“Wellington with Studio 9 and Sub 9 was a hotbed for jungle sounds also.
“One time, I started a set with ‘Morning Light’ but I soon learnt to play it last, otherwise everyone would go home once I had played it!
“I have too many memories to name really. People singing along to it in Bangalore, people going mental the first time I played it in Estonia, hearing the crowd sing it over the top of the PA in Japan.

“[It’s] given me a lot of out-of-it experiences and I reckon I have played it in about 400 or 500 towns or so by now.”

Matt Harvey is a DJ and producer and the man behind Concord Dawn, arguably New Zealand's most successful drum and bass act. He founded Uprising Records and currently splits his time behind Auckland and Vienna.

Peter Urlich and his seleciton - Nathan Haines, Earth Is The Place

Peter Urlich and his seleciton - Nathan Haines, Earth Is The Place Photo: Courtesy of Base FM

Peter Urlich

Nathan Haines featuring Verna Francis
Earth Is The Place (Francois K edit)
Wave Music, 2001

“From the opening bars, with that tumbling spacey keyboard arpeggio over percussion, this track grabbed me. Then when the bass drops in sounding like a jazz upright on meth, this took me to Paris on the Eurostar with its funky broken beat and wicked hi-hat loop.

“The fact that it was the work of my dear friend Nathan Haines from Sound Travels (2000) only made me prouder to play whenever I could.”

“Earth is the place that I live. Love is the space that I give”

Peter Urlich was a founding member of Th' Dudes. He helped establish club culture in Auckland, owning and running several venues. He currently hosts Bright & Urlich on Auckland station 95bFM every Saturday.

Nathan Haines and his selection - Frank Gibson Sextet, ‘Scratch’, recorded live at the 7th Nationl Jazz Festival

Nathan Haines and his selection - Frank Gibson Sextet, ‘Scratch’, recorded live at the 7th Nationl Jazz Festival Photo: Courtesy of Base FM

Nathan Haines

Frank Gibson Sextet (ft. Kevin Haines)
‘Scratch’, from The 7th National Jazz Festival – recorded live at Tauranga 1969
Planetary, 1969

“Music is in my blood - my DNA. My father Kevin is a jazz bassist, so family life centred around music, both at home on the turntable or at gigs.

“When I started properly DJing in 1996 it was only natural a few of my Dad’s records found their way into my box.

“My first proper paid DJ gig was at the Milkbar in the Box [Auckland] in 1996 - I had come back from London for a month over summer with a swag of vinyl (well what else was there in those days) and Simon Grigg offered me a late slot in the tiny bar that was the Milkbar.

“I had always loved the eclectic DJ sets of Gilles Peterson who managed to mix brand new flavours with dance floor jazz and soul cuts. I decided I wanted to do that with my own DJ sets - cue using my own jazz collection and those records of my Dad’s.

“I had found a killer cut that I had loved since childhood - a live recording of the 1969 Tauranga Jazz Festival. Dad was playing bass with the Frank Gibson Sextet ... in the late 80s. 

“The track was called “Scratch” and was originally by The Jazz Crusaders, later to be known as simply The Crusaders, one of the most successful jazz/fusion crossover acts of the 80’s thanks to their Grammy award winning collaboration with Bill Withers “Just the Two of Us”.

“This early Jazz Crusaders track was swinging enough to play out and slotted right in alongside my early Blue Note, Impulse and CTI records.

“I got the copy here at Real Groovy in the mid 90’s as my Dad had kept his copy but he’s since given me that copy, so I now have two. I love it - and it’s got the extra cool bonus of being a track my Dad played on before I was even born, at a Festival that was to go on to be a big part of my life.”

Nathan Haines is an internationally renowned saxophonist, composer, producer, bandleader and vocalist. His work spans a number of genres, but he has a particular love for jazz. Nathan is based in London.

Rusell Brown and his selection -
 Stridulators, ‘Queue / The Inside Track’

Rusell Brown and his selection - Stridulators, ‘Queue / The Inside Track’ Photo: Courtesy of Base FM

Russel Brown

‘Queue / The Inside Track’
House of Squirm, 1984
“[Stridulators members] Steve Roach and Chris Burt had been members of The Techtones, a pretty straight-up new-wave pop band.

“My memory was that this, their next collaboration, was made at Steve's flat at Rosslyn Apartments in College Hill in 1984. But it turns out it was actually recorded at Chris's house in John Street.
“Clearly, my memories of the time are all tied up with the Rosslyn apartments. They were quite a place.

“Steve originally lived there with Ngila Dickson, who would go on to win an Oscar for her costume design in Lord of the Rings. Murray Cammick and Simon Grigg lived next door.

“Other residents included Mark Phillips, who had launched Auckland club culture with Peter Urlich at A Certain Bar. Trevor Reekie ran Pagan Records from one of the flats.
“[The record] was mostly made on a cassette recorder. Specifically, the TASCAM Portastudio, essentially a mixing board that could record four tracks to cassette tape.

“This might seem a weird record to play out, but I have done and it has its own, strange groove, along with a shuddering bass that NZ records simply didn't have at the time.

“To me it symbolises a unique branch of the evolution of New Zealand music. There's just nothing else like it.”

Russell Brown is a media commentator, and the owner of the Public Address community of blogs.

'Base FM Cover Story 2: NZ Records That Shaped Our Dance Floors' is presented by Auckland-based radio station Base FM

Exhibition Runs 22nd April – 13th May
Studio One Toi Tū, Room 10,
1 Ponsonby Road, Grey Lynn

Opening Hours:
Monday-Thursday 9am-7pm
Friday 9am-5pm
Saturday 9am-4pm

Thanks to Base FM for supply images and copy.