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NZ Music Month - Discover New: Independent Labels

NZ Music Month - Discover New: Independent Labels

Friday 18th May, 2018 1:42PM

In celebration of New Zealand Music Month 2018 we've put together a four-part series exploring this year's theme of Discover New. Each week we'll highlight a range of artists bubbling up from the underground who we feel are representative of the depth and breadth of Aotearoa's emerging musical talent. For our second feature of the month we present for your ears five emerging independent New Zealand labels, promoting a diverse selection of bleeding-edge talent from jangling guitars to club-rattling club sounds and beyond.

These independent labels all emerged as active forces over the last year or so, supporting the work of rising stars from throughout New Zealand. The collectives featured are just the tip of the iceberg in a fresh wave of musical activity sweeping Aotearoa, including new labels Kuini Control (which released Coco Solid's crucial mixtape COKES), Cursed Helm who are kicking off in 2018, and experimental music facilitators mf/mp who commenced activity late last year. Dive in to explore sounds and words direct from the labels, and check out last week's Discover New: Singles. If you like what you hear, you can show your support via purchasing recordings direct (arranged in alphabetical order)...

Ball Of Wax

"Ball of Wax is a Wellington based label run by James Paul. The intention is to promote diverse and inclusive underground NZ music and make it accessible to an audience outside of the underground. (We) opened a sandwich shop, it acts as the retail store for the label too. It’s a small 'hole in the wall' style sandwich shop that Al from Groeni and myself started a few months ago that serves up artisan sandwiches that are assembled on the spot. The place is called Good Boy."

Current artists on the roster include: French Concession, Zero Cool, Gulls, Girl boss, ONONO, Blaek, Shuedet.

Upcoming artists include: Deanne Krieg, Cave Circles.

Upcoming releases include: Gulls, Shuedet, Deanne Krieg, Cave Circles.

Listen to: ONONO's track 'Pickup Point' from their Stand EP, which is out now on vinyl via Ball Of Wax in collaboration with Coffee Supreme...

The Big Fresh Collective

"The Big Fresh Collective is a contemporary dance music label based out of Christchurch New Zealand that specialises in FootMahi / Footwork / Juke / 160 BPM Traxxx. The brain child of local Christchurch lad Liam K. Swiggs - The Big Fresh Collective started as a crew of like minded individuals who came from all over Aotearoa sharing common interests for hip hop and dance music and getting wasted in our parents garages. After gaining some notoriety from our infamously grimey blog posts, it landed us a radio show on Pulzar FM which we hosted every week for nearly three years before being asked to leave after repeated infringements for drinking too many Codys and smoking chop bongs in the studio. 

This is where we began to develop our New Zealand adaptation of footwork and juke which we now like to call FOOTMAHI - staying true to the roots of the Chicago born genres whilst doing kiwi as shit like mixing in some Home Brew vocals over a burning hot juke track. After a while of exclusively mixing out the FootMahi live, we began to produce our own tracks in a similar style. The Big Fresh Collective releases all our music for free download via the pay what you want system. Although most of our mahi is done on the interwebs we specialise in throwing massive gigs (exclusively run in garages), playing FootMahi sets at kids birthday parties / weddings / drum & bass gigs along with spreading awareness of the local scene to anyone who wants to listen."

Currently active artists on the roster include: Demp, IRV, DJ QUICKFEET, Buster, Haussmane, Mrmeatyboy, Liam K. Swiggs.

Recent releases include: the label's first full length album SOUTHERN FRIED from latest member Invercargill-based DJ QUICKFEET which was released this week, and compilations The Big Fresh Collection Volume #001 and FootMahi #001. 

Listen to: Liam K. Swiggs' FootMahi track 'FREAKAZOID BREAKS 18' which dropped in April...


"IGG is a small label from Auckland that functions as an outlet for a group of friends to release music, both digitally and physically. We started in May of last year (2017) with an establishing mixtape release called Dated Stock. The ethos of the label is never explicitly discussed but it is simply a welcoming place to release our music in a central, archival way. We released a few small cassette runs including the aforementioned mixtape, as well as rainy weather’s Sad Songs mini album and a few cassingles. The IGG logo found its way on to the hastily sold out 80-90 odd DIY cassette run of sprite1999’s vaporwave album St. Francis in June.

After a short lull period, Intent by Plumm was re-posted onto our label after an independent release, and the artist has subsequently relocated to Montreal, Canada. It sounds cool to try claim an Auckland - Montreal tie, but we also have an outlier down in Wellington. With Sad Songs in May 2017, our artist rainy weather established a unique and exciting style of songwriting and production for nz. Following such a tranquil release was the pop-jam collection of songs Sigh In The Big City.

We have plans for a follow-up mixtape, hopefully signalling to some new sonic exploration and a few collaborations between us. Satin Sheets’ self-titled album (2017) may find itself in a colourful cassette package after it disappeared from the web, as well as Syd Com’s graceful EPs of last year, and our new champion Walks’ second EP Ricochet."

Current artists on the roster include:
rainy weather, Satin Sheets, Plumm, Yeremy, Walks, Syd Com, sprite1999.

Listen to: a track by Walks from his recent collection Ricochet...


"MARGINS is a house and techno record label, formed with the aim of bringing attention to the unique underground dance music produced in New Zealand. The label was born in Wellington in 2016 and has so far released five EPs and one cassette compilation. MARGINS embraces the eclectic and unclassifiable nature of New Zealand’s underground dance music scene, having so far released music spanning from melancholy deep house to distorted industrial techno, and are currently preparing the release of their second genre spanning compilation, due out this winter.

New Zealand has an incredibly exciting dance music culture, in that it is young, raw and without set influence or style. The New Zealand DIY attitude, usually associated with Flying Nun, can also be seen in our house and techno scene. As there are no clubs, people throw raves in heavy metal bars or at house parties. There is no established house and techno sound in New Zealand, this generation of producers take influence from an array of sounds and scenes from across the globe. This culminates in a refreshing 'anything goes' ethos, void of any notion of how dance music should or can sound." - Kelvin Leo Neil

Current artists released via MARGINS include: k2k, Keepsakes, Sandboards, Fly Nights, Duo Alias.

Listen to: 'Untitled' from Auckland techno artist Fly NightsPassage EP...

Razored Raw

"Razored Raw is a Wellington-based DIY punk label run by Matai Szwed. The label’s focus is on lo-fi, local, raw recordings released digitally and on cassette. I also organise shows and run a distro. The aim is to record and / or release top-notch bands when they’re in their prime, live, and abrasive, and be an active contribution to the local scene. The label has done a total of fourteen cassettes, mostly Wellington bands. Launched September 2017 with five simultaneous releases and shows at Death Ray Records and MOON in Newtown, Wellington, New Zealand’s capital punk rock suburb.

June 1st and 2nd sees the release of four new cassettes and the Destroy Wellington two-night fest at Valhalla, Wellington. Shout out to Death Ray Records, the home of Razored Raw cassettes, New Zealand’s best record store."

Current artists released via Razored Raw include: Stress Ghetto, The Hellebores, Pantihero, Corpse Rat, Feral Blood, Leech (Japan), Pvnisher.

Upcoming releases include: Church of Goya, Mothers Dearest, Greek Domestic Violence, Extended Hell (US).

Listen to: 'Dead Pig' from Mothers Dearest's self-titled collection...


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