When people ask what New Zealand music or musicians I like, I say “Six60, Dave Dobbyn, Brooke Fraser, Katchafire, Lorde, Exponents, Ladi6 and Stan Walker.”
So, non-New Zealanders, here’s who I’m talking about:
Six60 began life as Dunedin University students playing music together in their flat, which later developed into playing concerts for friends, flat-warmings, parties and eventually local bars. They are known for becoming popular underground due to word of mouth. Their self-titled debut album was released on 10 October 2011 on their own label Massive Entertainment. The album debuted at No.1 in the New Zealand charts and was certified Gold within its first three days of release. Blending soul, rock, dubstep and drum and bass, their music is as dynamic, versatile and unexpected as their back story. Extended singer/songwriter jams incorporate dubstep sections as bridges, hard rocking guitar work duels with robust synthetics and thunderous low end bass over vibrant percussive rhythms, and in both voice and instrumentation infectious melody consistently shines through.
An all-Maori reggae band from Hamilton, NZ, Katchafire formed in 2000 as a Bob Marley tribute band and developed into New Zealand’s hardest working reggae band paying all of the classics as well as writing and performing their own songs. They have released four albums: Revival (2003) which featured the highest-selling New Zealand single of 2002 “Giddy Up”; Slow Burning (2005) Say What You’re Thinking (2007) and On the Road Again 2010. Their name was inspired by the Bob Marley and The Wailers album Catch A Fire.
Dave Dobbyn was born in 1957 in the working class areas of Glen Innes, Auckland the third of five children to tour-bus driver Terry Dobbyn and Molly. Dobbyn began a successful solo career by writing the soundtrack music for the animated feature film Footrot Flats: The Dog’s Tale in 1986. The film yielded two hit singles: “You Oughta Be In Love” (1986) and the chart-topping “Slice of Heaven” (1986) recorded with the band Herbs. After the release of the film, Slice of Heaven became one of Dobbyn’s best-known songs, frequently used in tourism advertisements aired on Australian television that encouraged people to visit New Zealand. As a result, many Australians jokingly referred to the song as the New Zealand national anthem. With the success of the song in Australia, Dobbyn settled in Australia. In 2012 Dobbyn was part of the all-star lineup for the Flight of the Conchords charity single Feel Inside (And Stuff Like That). The song debuted at number 1 on the New Zealand music chart and remained there for two weeks.
Stan Walker (born 23 October 1990 in Melbourne, Victoria) is an Australian-New Zealand recording artist, actor and television personality. In 2009, Walker was the winner of the seventh and last season of Australian Idol. He subsequently signed a recording contract with Sony Music Australia. In December 2009, Walker released his debut studio album, Introducing Stan Walker, which included the hit single, “Black Box”. The album debuted at number three on the Australian ARIA Albums Chart and was certified platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). It also appeared on the New Zealand Albums Chart at number two and was certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ).
Ladi6 was born and raised in Christchurch, but her family moved to Africa for a year and a half when she was a teenager. This is where she says she first started to write and play music. After she returned to Christchurch in the mid 90’s, she started her entertainment career as a break dancer. When she was 16 she formed her first music group, Sheelahroc, with her cousin Tyra Hammond and Sarah Tamaira (a.k.a. Voodoo Child) in May 1999. Sheelahroc released the hit single If I Gave U Th’ Mic and won the award for Most Promising New Act at the 2001 bNet Music Awards.
Led by vocalist Jordan Luck, Exponents’ major hits, including “Why Does Love Do This To Me”, “Who Loves Who The Most”, “Victoria”, “I’ll Say Goodbye (Even Though I’m Blue)” and “Whatever Happened To Tracey” have been taken up by successive generations of younger New Zealanders. In 2005 the four original Exponents – Luck, Gent, Jones and Harry got together to record “Geraldine” and “Or A Girl I Knew” with producer Neil Finn for inclusion in a new Exponents hits compilation called Sex and Agriculture: The Very Best Of The Exponents. The album featured one disc of the hits and a second of b-sides and rarities. They played a few shows in support of the album which went platinum and reached number 7 on the charts.
Brooke Gabrielle Fraser Ligertwood better known as Brooke Fraser (born 15 December 1983) is a New Zealand singer-songwriter and musician best known for her involvement with the Christian label Hillsong Music. Her third studio album Flags has become the most successful album of her career, with the single “Something in the Water” reaching number one on the New Zealand Singles Chart in 2010 and charting around the world. “Something in the Water” was the 9th most played song in Germany in 2011 and has been certified Gold in Germany. The album debuted at No. 1 in NZ, No. 2 in Australia, No. 6 in Germany.
Lorde, aka Ella Yelich O’Connor, is a 16-year-old from New Zealand whose debut EP, The Love Club, is about to be playing on loop on your headphones for the next week (month?) (year?). Her voice is incredible — something like a cross between Adele and Ellie Goulding, but with a roughed-up smart kid swagger that’s completely foreign to both of them. And she writes her own songs (did I mention she’s 16? Go cry yourself to sleep, Taylor Swift). And she’s been dominating the pop charts in New Zealand for months.