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Book Review: The Problem With Music in New Zealand...

Book Review: The Problem With Music in New Zealand...

Friday 4th July, 2014 10:45AM

When a copy of The Problem With New Zealand Music And How To Fix & Why I Started And Ran Puppies first landed on my desk I was a little wary. The long-winded title led me to believe it would be 139 ranting pages of complaints about the local music scene, and the disclaimer inside the cover stating: “This is a first edition and has not been edited. Please excuse any mistakes,” only added to that impression. But what unfolds within the stark cover is a handbook of sorts, consisting of a series of essays penned by Ian “Blink” Jorgensen, who has gained notoriety over the years for the dozens-upon-dozens of gigs he has put on around the country (and abroad), under the umbrella of his music entity A Low Hum. I have never met Blink personally, but from the essays he has written I have drawn three conclusions: One, he is passionate about propagating a healthy music scene for New Zealand. Two, he has a brain that is constantly firing with ideas. Three, he is a gambler (like most enduring promoters) and is game enough to put his money where his mouth is.

The book is broken into two parts. The initial, and largest, section encompasses the Problems With New Zealand Music And How To Fix It, which is 10 essays that have evolved over the last few years. Here Blink clearly address core subjects such as, sagging live scenes in small towns, misguided APRA/PPNZ funding, creating DIY venues, the alcohol industry elbowing in on the music industry, and troublesome guestlists. Inspired by Steve Albini's essay The Problem with Music, Blink's self-titled book is digestible, colloquial and to-the-point. For example in his chapter about putting on vital all-ages shows, he states: “Make sure you can afford to lose money. If you’re a cry baby and can’t bare losing money, do something else. Buy the latest games console or something just as pointless and numb the pain of your boring existence.” But to be fair, this wry quote is not indicative of the convivial tone throughout the pages, which is punctuated with interesting and humorous anecdotes. And rather than simply point out problems, Blink spitballs solutions that are somewhat radical, definitely inspiring, and certainly conversation starting.

The second part of the book Blink writes about his “experiment” in opening popular Wellington venue Puppies, and discusses how he put some of his earlier ideas, such as strict set times, to task. He works through his failings and successes in an admirably honest and frank manner, and what comes across is his ardor for local music and the community that can be built around it. In the end the minor grammar and spelling mistakes are forgotten, and his ideas leave an imprint. This enchiridion would be well placed in the hands of venue owners, bands and promoters, but also back-door industry types. And I believe its ripples are already been felt. At the time of writing, the book has only been out four days, and has made it’s way to the hot hands of APRA. On his Facebook page Blink wrote that he was called in for a meeting with the organisation's bigwigs, where he heard “an admission from the top that their systems aren’t entirely accurate, that there is room for improvement and that there could be better systems in place”. Here’s hoping that this is a starting point to inject some positive and sustainable change into the scene.

The Problem With New Zealand Music And How To Fix It & Why I Started And Ran Puppies

Written by Ian "Blink" Jorgensen
Available in print or digital edition here.

Here's Blink's remix of Lorde's smash hit 'Royals' as referenced on page 128...

Review written by Danielle Street

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