"There's something very special about being yourself " - A chat with Northlane.

Northlane

Touring on the back of their fourth studio album Mesmer, Sydney based metal core outfit Northlane are set to play New Zealand this weekend, the 25th in Wellington, the 26th in Auckland. Released back in March of 2017, Mesmer received critical acclaim,  being the third Northlane album in a row to debut in the top 5 in the ARIA Charts. 


Ahead of their tour, I had a fun chat their vocalist, a really open Marcus Bridge. We had talked about the band recording with a psychologist, challenging stereotypes and being authentic, it was a nice time, have a listen!

I caught Northlane at New Years at Perth's RedFest last year, it was a dope show and know they will be bringing a sick live performance to our shores, so may I encourage you to cop your tickets here! 

Cleansing for Curiosity

So detox diets and juice cleansing are on trend right now but people have really mixed opinions on them, so I've been meaning to try it for myself  for a while. I wanted to see if they had noticeable benefits and explore how I felt doing one and whether I'd recommend one. 

Acorn blends are actually delicious, who'd have thought.

Acorn blends are actually delicious, who'd have thought.

To indulge my curiosity I rang the really nice people at GreenLeafOrganics  and enquired about the range of cleanses they have. I told them maintaining my energy is important to me, because amongst other things, I work as personal trainer and coach competitive Muay Thai fighters and boxers  so I have a really physical job, as well my own work out regimen I hate to deviate too far from.  They recommended the single day Fit Cleanse for me to start with and try a two day juice cleanse in a fortnight. The Fit Cleanses is plant based and suitable for vegans, using either grown chemical free or organic ingredients.  Most ingredients were certified as raw (as in, not heated to damage nutrients) and refined sugar free too. The smoothie blends are a combination of nut milks,  vegetables and fruits, with added plant protein powder. It sounded like a good option to maintain my routine, so I swung by their store to collect it. 

I  kicked the day off at 7am with the appropriately named Sunrise, and proceeded to sip the full range throughout the day. I got to consume a smoothie every couple of hours and while obviously not a filling meal, the bircher was a nice addition,  as fasting from solid food when you're not used to it can be a little emotionally taxing and sometimes just chewing something not only staves off hunger pangs, it deals with the craving to eat, so I snacked on it a little over the day. Everything actually tasted good too, which was a bonus. 

While  I consumed a lot less calories throughout the day than I usually would, I actually didn't feel excessively hungry. By the afternoon I haddeveloped a bit of a headache because I normally drink about three coffees a day, so I snuck in half a cold brew to stave that off, but other than that I stuck to the plan. As the day went on I actually felt a little more clear headed than usual, but perhaps a little tired, which was interesting to observe, though I had shitty sleep the night before so that could have played a part.   At 5:30pm I taught boxing and did an hours sparring, which anyone who has given it a go will tell you is some pretty hard shit to to do. Sparring I felt a little sluggish, it I didn't get punched in the head any more than usual, and I didn't at all feel lacking in energy to get through it.  I had my final smoothie blend after the session to get some protein in and replenish the glycogen (that's the stored glucose in your body)  back into the system, and finished off the last of the coconut water that was part of the package to help rehydrate.  I  went to bed and had a dope  sleep (the reduction in caffeine surely helped!), and actually woke up feeling noticeably more energetic, a feeling that's lasted the last  the next couple of days.  

 

Bircher to snack on.

Bircher to snack on.

I think a big thing about a juice cleanse or partial fast is that it makes you really mindful of food and what you're ingesting. I generally pretty well, but sometimes can slip into bad habits ( excessive caffeine intake for example!), so it was a good opportunity to be really considered about things.  If on the other hand you eat a generally shitty diet, a cleanse could be a good opportunity to take break your habits. 

Now I'm not a dietician or nutritionist  just a dude who trains a lot and cares about what he eats, and I wanted to understand a bit of the science behind cleansing, so I rang my bro Cliff Harvey, a lecturer and researcher about nutrition.  I told him what I'd done for the day, and he explained that "going on a periodic fast" is a great way to help reset your metabolism (the process and rate your body turns food into energy) and even potentially help your immune system.  He described juice cleanses as a modified fast, and for the duration of the cleanse I'd effectively been on a lower calorie, high nutrient, maybe lower carb type diet.  Doing that, I could have been resetting my body and  "helping it to burn fat more effectively" by getting it  tap into it's own fat stores more effectively for energy rather than relying on sugar. The better we can be at using our fat stores he explained, the less reliant we are at having to get more sugar in and thus reducing sugary cravings.  He said it was important to note that when choosing a cleanse , that your not just swapping one shitty diet for another shitty diet as some juice cleanses are really high in fructose being all based around fruits so it's important to find one that's more blended. That said, any sort of day when you're reducing processed and refined foods and swapping them for something more nutrient rich is a good thing.

Overall, I had a really positive experience with my cleanse.   I think if you're looking to reset your diet or start a new routine it's a good way to go. It's not a miracle cure to any ailments you may have but it's a good way to reflect and be more intentional about what you're consuming, as well as spending a day ingesting a lot of really good nutrients and excluding shit that's bad for you. The trick would be then not to go back to what you know and maintaining a balanced diet of whole foods that continues to be more natural and more unprocessed than packaged. If you try one out, let me know how it goes! 

Watch Out! It's AlexisOnFire...

Richie

Alexisonfire.jpg

It's an exciting time for punk and hardcore kids young and old (read, me) lately in Auckland as the bands we grew up singing along to regroup, reform and re-visit our stages.  The Bleeders before Christmas and LA's post hardcore outfit LetLive tonight are being followed up by AlexisOnFire, all the way from Canada next Monday the 23rd of January. The much loved group are playing their first show in New Zealand in ten years, at the iconic Power-Station, and tickets are still available online. It's hard not to sound over-hyped and use all the tired old adjectives when describing a show, but having seen them play a couple of times, I promise it'll be a high-energy emotionally charged performance.  

The band first formed in 2001, and released four full length albums (Alexisonfire, WatchOut!, Crisis and Old Crows/Young Cardinals) ,  before breaking up in 2012, only to reform in 2015.  Some readers will know the beautiful voice of vocalist Dallas Green from his solo work as City and Colour, or guitarist and backing vocalist Wade McNeil as the singer of Gallows. Throughout their work, the band delves into  both the personal and political, with songs such as Sons Of Privilege   critiquing American policy and well, privilege,  while Rough Hands is one of the most heart rending break up dirges you'll ever hear.  
 

I've a couple of tickets to give away, check out my instagram, for how to win 'em!

 

Speed dating with letlive!

RICHIE

So I had dope time chatting this morning with Jason Aalon , founding member and vocalist of LA based post-hardcore band letlive.  Today's interview quickly got interesting, as Jason talked about society, and  growing up mixed race in America and indeed what that experience was like in the hardcore scene, which, for all it's often progressive politics is very white and male dominated.  

I want to create confronting art that challenges people in various ways, obviously sonically, but also ideologically, intellectually..


It was refreshing to have a conversation of depth after a few minutes, and having been involved in the hardcore scene and punk scene for over nearly 20 years myself, it never ceases to make me smile that more often than not people who've never met before quickly find common bonds through music and the message in it, in this world wide community.  

I feel like for so many years I’ve felt foreign in my own country

letlive's latest, and fourth,  album If I'm The Devil...came out on Epitaph Records in June of 2016, and I have to say it's a refreshing listen. While keeping lots of the punk aggression letlive are known for, it takes elements of new wave, rock and even some hip hop production elements to create something sonically interesting and adventurous and I totally recommend it. 

 letlive are touring Australia, starting in Brisbane on January the 8th 2017, and hitting New Zealand for one show only at the Kings Arms on January 18th. You can buy tickets to the New Zealand show here.  Come through and dance to music you can think to. 

On Speaking At The Auckland Women's Centre.

RICHIE

So back in March I was embroiled in a rather ugly episode on Twitter stemming from a misinterpreted comment I made on social media. The whole thing is something I'd rather forget, but knowing that I’m soon to be on a panel on a forum about online harassment against women I’ve reflected on a comment I made in March in a thread on a friend’s personal Facebook page, which is now in the public domain. In that comment I referred to people using a term some consider misogynist  and I put down people who disagreed with what I’d said. As a campaigner against gender based violence I’m learning all the time and I now understand the harm and hurt my comment caused to people. It was inappropriate. I deeply apologise and commit to engaging positively in the future. I'm not entirely sure how you stress sincerity in a lowly blog post, but please consider me inserting the appropriate memes or emojis which would do so here. 

Peace

Richie

 

 

War Wounds: A Conversation With A Combat Veteran

Richie

So it's been a minute since Aroha or I have used the blog. Partly 'cause we're busy, partly  cause we're overloaded, partly 'cause we're scared of getting flamed on Twitter for saying something wrong. Anyways, I've swallowed my fear of public shaming and decided I actually really enjoy the conversation that can come from sharing, thoughts, experiences and ideas, so I'm anteing up and looking to start putting things out there again. 

For the last couple of months I've been travelling, meeting new people, getting lost, finding things out about myself, it's been an amazing time. Most recently, I was hanging out in Orange County, California, at my dear friend Dan Smith's Captured Tattoo.  I've been hanging around tattoo studios for nearly 20 years, and without a doubt, tattoo studios have always led to me having interesting conversations with the eclectic mix of folks you find in them.  As I offered around vegan ice-creams I got chatting to the dude who was taking getting tattooed   like a champ and so it came to pass I met George Ceja. George had a really cool energy about him, a ready smile, he laughed easily. We just met and we were already having some great lols.  He struck me as the sort of friend I'd hit the gym and hang out with in my normal life.  And yet, it turned out he'd taken part in a war I'd been deeply and vocally opposed to. I'd marched in my little city of Auckland against the U.S invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. I'd regularly shared links through my social networks, about the civilian death toll. I'd cried for Bush and Rumsfield to be tried for illegal invasions. But here I was talking shit and making jokes and enjoying hanging out with a guy who had taken part in that war.

"Is that a purple heart?", I asked,  pointing to a piece he already had.  
"Yeah dude" he replied.
"Oh man, what happened?"
"I got blown up, in Afghanistan, my back got broken."
" Woah, that's wild can I record a conversation with you about that for my shitty little blog"  I asked.  
He was totally into it. New tattoo still bleeding and wrapped in cling wrap, he sat down on the couch as the shop shut down for the day and we got to talking.   The lighting wasn't great, the sound was recorded just on the little Sony action cam I'd been travelling with and I didn't have a point to make with the interview, but I think George ended up sharing some interesting insights into something that had dominated headlines for years that we don't often get to hear. Take a look, despite it's poorly edited glory, I think it was a cool conversation.  


 

Music, Drugs, Talking, Dancing.

RICHIE

Ok, so  you're probably paralysed by indecision because there's a buttload of dope shit happening this weekend, but let me try and snap you out of that and encourage you to attend my picks for fun things to do;  Splore, kicking off on Friday the 19th and finishing Sunday the 21st, and then late Sunday afternoon there's a great talk back in Auckland, Control: Fighting It, Losing It, Finding It. 

 


I attended my first Splore last year, with my partner in blog crime Aroha, and we had a silly amount of fun.  Located at the beautiful Tapapakanga Regional Park an hour out of Auckland,  it was a legit good time. What can go wrong on a beach with amazing musicians and artists, so many great friends,  fruity costumes to marvel at, great healthy food and even a huge out door yoga class.

This year promises to be no different, with a plethora of musical acts from at home and around the globe, artists and intellectually engaging activities. On the music front,  there's three days stacked with DJs and musicians across four stages (if I'm counting them right). I'm especially looking forwards to  Little Simz, and  like last year I'm sure I'll discover a bunch of artists I'd not seen  or heard before.  I'm looking forwards to having my heart and ears filled up with the musical offerings I'm going to be introduced to. 

Little Simz, this hook takes me places! 

As well as music, there's actually a host of other interesting stuff to take part in or attend at Splore. For example, the esteemed  Russell Brown, you may know his excellent work at Public Address, is hosting a very interesting series of panels on Saturday at The Listening Lounge. I'm humbled to be partaking in a discussion about somethings you might not know about drugs, alongside some New Zealand notables on the subject, before leading drug policy expert Dr Sanho Tree,  delivers the key note speech "about the foundations of the global drug war in US foreign policy imperatives, the reasons it has failed and the prospects and means for reform." At 12, the theme and cast of the panel changes to the state of Dance music. Including Aroha, Eddie Johnston, and Lady Flic, it all  promises to be very illuminating and thought provoking. 

If sitting down listening isn't your thing, there's heaps of physical fun to be done. Mind out of the gutter children, There's also handstand and dance workshops, workshops on hula hoops and acrobatics, you can up skill yourself and your dreams of joining the circus and eloping can start to take shape!  

The whole event is super family friendly, kids under 12 get in free and there are three and two day tickets which are still  available.  Go on, get out of town and broaden your horizons, it'll be a nice time, promise! 



After Splore, I'm heading back to the village I fluctuate between loving and hating to listen to some kind smart people talk about things I find fascinating;  addiction and anxiety. My dear friends Damaris Coulter (Coco's Cantina) and Dominic Hoey (Tourettes) join brainiac and all round cool person Sara Illingworth (Impolitikal) to chat about these topics that touch a lot of our lives. Sonia Grey is hosting the night, and I'm really looking forwards to sitting back, listening, learning and probably laughing. Entry is by donation, $5 should do it I reckon. The more we talk about anxiety and addiction, the better we can help those in need I think, so if you're looking for something smart to do, this is for you. 

As always, whatever you do this weekend,  please drive, drink and drug safely (or hey, don't drink or drug at all,  sobriety is fun, honest!), don't touch people's bodies without them wanting you to and saying you can, be nice to strangers and animals, and just generally be a good person. Have fun out there! 



 

Goldie - Drum and Bass MBE

AROHA

This one's for lovers of drum & bass. Today I was pleasantly surprised to be paid a visit by Metalheadz label head Goldie on my George FM Grind show before his 3 date tour of NZ with Artificial Intelligence, Ant TC1 and Scar.

In the below interview he talks about being awarded an MBE from the Queen, his new album 'The Journeyman', his ARTA graffiti art app and giving out free hugs to Kiwis!


John Key's son's a DJ

AROHA

Before I get into this, I'd like to say that this blog post is 100% my opinion and nobody at George FM/Mediaworks has suggested that I lend my voice to this conversation. My blog partner Richie may not share my opinion on what I'm about to say either also. However, after seeing my Facebook feed catch fire yesterday with the news that John Key's son, Max has been given a show on George FM, I couldn't bite my tongue.

Trawl through any of my personal social media and it's fairly obvious that I am left wing to the core. I always have been. I party voted Green in the last election and lent my face and voice to their campaign, I'm friends with Jacinda Ardern, I was at the first anti-TPPA march, I've posted a photo of John Key eating/deep throating a hotdog and have made several disparaging remarks about our current Prime Minister. I really don't like John Key.

However, do I think that my dislike of this man who pulls all the strings should then extend to his children? No, I don't. I scoffed when I first heard that John Key's son was forming a DJ/Production duo called Troskey, because I doubted that they would be any good. I was being a bit of an arsehole to be honest.

Tourettes wrote an excellent piece of poetry entitled "John Key's Son's a DJ" which I think is one of the most important pieces of social commentary to be created in recent years. The main hook revolves around the title, but there's a lot more to it, check it out below.

So roll around yesterday to when the news broke of Max Key's appointment on George FM, (the station I work for) and the subsequent barrage of commentary on Facebook from my friends. Most of it became an attack on Max, George FM and Mediaworks, and I sat there reading some of it, thinking that I anticipated that this would happen, but then putting myself in Max's shoes and thinking, "Jesus, this poor guy, he will always be hated, ridiculed and penalised for being John Key's son". 

There are those who will say, "yes but he was raised in luxury, he'll always have doors opened to him" etc etc, however he and his sister Stephie Key will also be bullied and attacked (online and in person) for at least as long as their father remains Prime Minister. I don't agree with this at all. Max posts a video of his trip to Hawaii with his girlfriend and family online and people lose their minds, "how dare he enjoy his white privileged lifestyle and flaunt it on Instagram?!". You know what? He's just doing what so many people his age with money and Go-Pros are doing online, yet they don't get the same amount of scrutiny and hate thrown at them as he does. I'll admit, I watched the video, I thought it was corny, but was he hurting anyone by posting it?

There seems to be plenty of conspiracy theories floating around concerning Max's appointment on George FM; examples I have seen include "George FM is a National supporting station", "it's because Mark Weldon (Mediaworks CEO) is friends with John Key", and "George FM must be getting paid for this". I'll tell you what I do know; the people who suggested that Max should be given a show on George FM are good friends of mine, are all as left-wing as I am and all were impressed by Max's DJing ability. After the Springbreak Fiji event (week two, which I wasn't at), I heard so many comments about how pleasantly surprised they were by the guy and what a nice young man he was.

I haven't met Max Key yet myself, I've never seen him DJ, but I heard him on George FM last night and I thought he played a pretty sweet set. I value my friends' opinions and I'll give the guy a chance. I think you should too. Of course, if dance music on a commercial music station isn't your thing, then this will have no impact on your life. I'm fairly sure Max won't be spouting political broadcasts in support of his Dad, but no doubt he loves and supports his father. Although, if I suddenly start to tell people to "vote National" after listening to his original tunes, then you'll know that something more sinister is up and he's weaved some subliminal mojo into his music.

If I was judged on the actions of my own (biological) father, I would not be where I am today. Also, has anyone noticed that my surname is Harawira? If George FM is as right-wing as many are suggesting, surely I wouldn't be holding down the weekday slot for 24 hours a week. If I lose my job over writing this blog post, then perhaps those of you making these types of claims can reward yourselves for being justified and right in your conspiracy theories.

I'm not going to make any more comments about this on the blog or social media, so don't expect me to answer any questions or engage in online arguments. I just felt like I had to say something. Say what you want about John Key, but leave his kids out of it.

"I was told I was going to be raped cause I didn't smile at someone...I was 16."

RICHIE

*Trigger Warning*

Last night, my girlfriend was accosted, live on national television, by two boys who thought it would be cool to touch her inappropriately, get in her space and yell the sexually aggressive phrase "fuck her right in the pussy." Apparently it's a popular viral internet thing to do if you're a rapey pissed up fuck boi. It's funny some say. Despite having boys she didn't know touch her without permission and embarrass her on TV, I thought she played it pretty cool live on air, laughing it off as girls the world over seem to learn to do in our culture. The thing is, they shouldn't have to. 

Just as upsetting as what transpired, was reading many of the comments, from both men and women in support of the two guys who did this. "Legends" was a term I saw used on social media to describe the two guys who think women shouldn't report from music festivals .  Harden up, you're being unprofessional, just laugh it off type  comments abounded. Why should women and girls learn to laugh it off? Why is that an even a thing, that it's ok to make someone feel shitty and females should just deal with it? Why aren't boys and men learning not to sexually harass and intimidate women and girls?  

While on one admittedly stupid, alpha male level, the whole thing angers me (love those boys to come do some sparring with me at the gym - you're always welcome Sean Phillips and Terry Insull, I'll go a round with you each one after the other), it also got me thinking about sexual harassment, street harassment  and about what women and girls put up with in our society.  I wanted to  know how commonly  females  are made to feel uncomfortable, solicited, touched without consent, and generally treated badly.  So tonight, when I was teaching my women's Muay Thai class, I got chatting to some of the students who turned up and came up with an impromptu interview. Shout out iPhones!  I'm not claiming by any means an exhaustive body of  journalistic work, it's just a random group of women from a  range of backgrounds, just recounting their experiences authentically. 
 

"I feel scared because I've had men chase me."

"I feel worthless. I hate when guys just look at you for your body." 

Now I don't know any of these interviewees especially well, we  didn't have a script and all the interview subjects did it on literally 5 minutes notice with little time to prepare their thoughts  after a training session, but I think these short stories speak really powerfully about just how common and severe a problem harassment is.  16 year old girls should be able to go for a walk or a run without having grown men yell at them out of their cars. 37 year old mothers should be able to take their infants for a walk in a pram without getting hassled. Your work place should be a safe place where you feel comfortable.  Snapchat shouldn't be a place females are receiving unsolicited sexually explicit videos.

"If you're one of those people who tell women to laugh it or ignore it, you should stop because really we can't be so blasè."  

May I just pause to publicly say thank you all so much for sharing with me, and allowing me to put it online. The internet can be mean and people are thoughtless  bullies online, so I think you're all really brave and cool AF to open up like this. 

Now you might think I'm just upset because something happened to my girlfriend, but the fact is, this isn't the first story I've heard about harassment, sexual or otherwise.  This sort of shit is, as you can see in the video above, routine, and this is simply the most recent  example of it that's close to home. It makes me think of the girlfriend who told me she lost her virginity, by being raped when passed out drunk. Or one of my best friends who woke up naked at age 15, not sure where she was and what the boy who she'd been with had done to her, but she was dressed when she went to bed. How's that related, you might scoff and ask, and to that I say google rape culture. Nothing happens in a vacuum. We continue to live in and create a culture which, basically treats women like shit. Women get paid less, suffer dramatically higher levels of domestic violence and sexual assault than men. It's the daily sexual innuendo, jokes, harassment and verbal abuse and intimidating behaviour that is a backdrop which helps create the environment for all of this to happen in.

Men, bros, bruhs, dudes, we need to look at our behaviour. We need to stop laughing at and humiliating women. Treating their bodies like public property that you can grab when you feel like it. We need to call other guys out, challenge them on the language they use, the porno they watch and what it's teaching them, the jokes they laugh at. It's up to us to question others, because next time it might not be 'just a joke' and it might not be my girlfriend, it might be yours. Or your daughter. Your sister. Your friend. Will it be so funny then?

 

 

 

Laneway 2016 picks

AROHA

Often when I mention the Laneway festival to friends, the responses I get are "I don't know many of the bands" and "isn't it just full of hipsters?". To them I say, "why don't you come and find out for yourself?". It's highly likely that some would classify me as being a "hipster", but I'm more interested in the music.

The thing about Laneway is the acts programmed are alternative and often on the cusp of things really blowing up for them. Which is precisely why I like it; I want to be challenged musically. Whilst there is a great satisfaction in knowing all the words to your favourite songs so you can sing maniacally at the front woman whilst sweating off your mascara (me, watching Bat For Lashes at Laneway 3 years ago); there's something special about being turned onto new music in a live concert environment.

That said, I'm hoping to demystify some of the acts for you by sharing those who I'm most looking forward to seeing. Check out the links to their songs to get the gist of what they're about. I've also made a Laneway mini-mix with some of my favourites, which you can listen to below while you're preening before rolling down to Silo Park.

LEISURE

GOLDLINK

THUNDERCAT

SHAMIR

THE INTERNET

VINCE STAPLES

GOLDLINK

HERMITUDE

COURTNEY BARNETT

GRIMES

SOPHIE/QT

FLUME

Lastly, don't forget to drink lots of water. It gets really really hot at Silo Park and you do not want to flake out before Grimes takes the stage.

Northern Bass NYE 2015

AROHA

When Richie and I launched our blog, it was the 23rd of December, it was the day of my final radio show for the year and the day before I started my first proper holiday for 2015. Yes, I get to travel to other cities and in 2015 clocked up 3 trips to Australia and 2 to Fiji, but what people often forget is that I'm traveling because I'm working. It's true, going to music festivals is a lot of fun, as is playing music to fans in new places. However, it's still taxing and that coupled with the 24 hours that I spend on my own on the radio per week; well I have to admit, I was well and truly burnt out.

So this Christmas and New Years, I took a bit more time out for myself. My Mum came up to Auckland, we had a quiet Christmas and ate all our favourite things, I exercised, we drove up North, it was perfect. I had intentions to write some blog posts, then remembered that I had taken this holiday for a reason.

Auckland is an interesting city to be in at this time of the year because it's pretty much a ghost town. You'll see the odd tumbleweed and a solitary woman in activewear pushing a pram down Ponsonby Rd, desperately searching for somewhere open that will serve her an extra hot cappuccino with no froth. I like how quiet it gets.

However, come December 29th, I'd had enough downtime and needed to suck some music into my pores. Bass music. Another decision I'd made for the break was not to kill myself by traveling to DJ at multiple New Year's Eve festivals around the country, and to just take things easy and focus on Northern Bass in Mangawhai (only a 90 minute drive from Auckland). I made the right decision. 

We attended Northern Bass on the 30th of December and I saw some acts that I had been dying to see live. Foreign Beggars, Keys N Krates, Skepta, Andy C and Spor were fantastic. However that night, it was Swindle who stole my heart. I'd had his music recommended to me by my good mate Jay Bulletproof (whose earlier set also rocked), but it wasn't until I heard the Swindle remix of Little Dragon's song "Klapp Klapp" that I really started to take notice. He has a distinctly jazzy sound with a gritty UK edge; grime, trap, rap, future bass, drum & bass, house - it's pretty hard to define what exactly his sound is, which is one of the things I love about him.

So there I was, dancing on the stage with a crew of friends, all of us enthusiastically shouting each time he spun a new track. He's not only a fantastic producer, but a sick DJ too. I predict great things for Swindle in 2016. 

Here's a tune that I really dig from his 2015 album Peace, Love & Music "Mad Ting" featuring JME.

On the 31st of January it was my turn to perform. I played an early afternoon set to a small-ish crowd, but by the time I finished I had a solid and appreciative crew out in full force. I love dark, dirty, wonky House Music, and that's exactly what I played. You can listen to and download my DJ set below.

The rest of the evening had many highlights including HomebrewLadi6 and Slum Village. However it was when Brazillian Drum & Bass legend DJ Marky took the stage, accompanied by my good mate and collaborator Tali on MC duties, that the night really kicked into full swing. Watching the set from the stage, the duo had an effortless synergy, despite not having seen each other for a long time. The crowd loved it. 

This was all topped off with a memorable set to bring in the 2016 countdown by the legends who are Shapeshifter. It's no secret the guys are bogans at heart (much like me), so I particularly enjoyed the moments when they unleashed their metal guitar riffs on the crowd. I had planned to make it a long night, but decided at the last minute to pull pin after their set and was in bed by 1.30am! There were other acts that I was keen to see, but I'd had so much fun over the two days; I didn't feel like I was missing out. Waking up on New Year's Day without a hangover was a pretty incredible feeling too.

I have to take my hat off to Gareth, Bee and all the crew at FuZen Entertainment for making the event so great. It's grown exponentially in the past couple of years and often promoters struggle to meet the demands that such rapid growth puts on their infrastructures, but I believe they aced it. I hope to return at the end of this year and who knows, if I allow myself to have a bit more downtime throughout the 2016; I may end up playing a few more gigs over the Christmas / New Year's holiday break.

Partying For Grown Ups

RICHIE

If you want to keep the  party going after New Years you've no shortage of options over the coming months especially if you happen to live in Auckland. This weekend alone has back-to-back events; Anno Domini, Jamie XX (one of my faves) and Kurt Vile (I've never listened to him). The jewel in the crown of all this  musical awesomeness  is of course going to be Laneway Festival out in February, on the 1st.

 I'm obv late getting this post up, but the cleverly named series  Anno Domini (It's Latin for advancing of old age)  kicks it all off on Sunday, January 10th, right about now actually, the time of writing being 2:35pm on said date.  Described by co-promoter Mark Kneebone as an event that's 'not a fucking munt fest', Anno Domini brings to Auckland what's been going on in other cities for years, civilised roof top parties.  Hosted at The Auckland Art Gallery, the series is using public space in an innovative way. Food for  the series, which fall on the January 10th and 24th and February 14th, Valentines day,  is taken care of by my dear friends and wonderful team at Coco's Cantina.  For those who like to imbibe, drinks are provided by Mea Culpa . I'm feeling the  Roman vibe that's going on with all the Latin being bandied about and with Coco's delicious Italian cuisine. Well played fam. 

Amazing food and drinks and clever use of Latin aside, what's a party without music? The series highlights some of the best in left of centre electronic music. January 10th is headlined by Ninja Tune's signed,  Seven Davis Jr.  His house influenced experimental electronic productions are perfect for a lazy Sunday party. On the Jan, 24th, Californian Dam Funk shall be laying down the modern funk sounds, and the soundtrack to Valentine's Day is bought to us by Sydney's super dreamy Seekae  and  Roland Tings playing respective DJ Sets, along with Wellington lad Race Banyon.  If you're looking for  way to impress an exisiting or potential lover on Valentine's day, I'm backing tickets to this as a gift.  If all this wasn't enough to have a mild level of interest about (no one seems to get that excited this day and age of hipster indifference), there is a fourth date yet to be confirmed, and no doubt the line up shall be similarly great. 

Sweet Place To Party


On Monday the 11th, Jamie XX, of The XX fame plays at Auckland' Vector Arena. His solo album, In Colour, was a favourite release of mine in 2015. It's an intricate album full of beautiful melancholy you can dance to, offset by  party jams with features from Young Thug. Mr XX will no doubt be bringing an amazing set to perform, so if you want to party on a school night, this will be a trill time. 

Jamie XX

I won't bullshit you and say I'm a huge fan of Kurt Vile, but if you're into chilled out alternative rock stuff in the vein of Pavement or Beck, then he's great at what he does.  Since the Echo Festival he was scheduled to be a part of fell to pieces, he's playing Auckland at the Saint James on Tuesday and Wellington at the San Fran on Wednesday. Tickets to Wellington are sold out but still available for Auckland at the time of writing. 

Laneway is going to be such an amazing time, I think I'll give it a write up all of it's own, so stay posted. If you do go and check out any of these shows, let us know what you thought of them! 



 



Tips On Keeping Your New Year's Resolution To Drink Less.

RICHIE

January 1st 2016 marked my 9th year anniversary of sobriety. Quitting drinking was easy for me, as I was never really that into booze to start with.  It's not that simple for many folks though.  Perhaps because I'm the always sober guy in the crowd, a few people have come to me  asking for advice, with their  'I'm never drinking again' New Years Resolution plans over the last few days.  Often it's just talk from cats  with head-splitting hangovers,  (I do remember hangovers, that shit is no fun),  but just as often I hear a genuine desire to live a more balanced, health focused lifestyle. The thing is, changing habits around drinking can actually be harder than expected. Like changing any behavior, you need more than just will power. You need a plan, and often some supportive people around you.  As well as not drinking myself, I've worked in community alcohol and drug harm reduction at a community level the last few years, and I get lots of interesting links and articles sent to me at work that tackle the topic on the regular.  So, for your reading pleasure, I've compiled a bunch of tips from my personal and professional experience.  I hope it's helpful.

Before going further, it's important to note, that if you think you've got a serious problem with alcohol or even an addiction to it, it's worthwhile getting in touch with a health professional or support group.  Alcoholics Anonymous    have a long and proven history of helping people gain lasting sobriety through the 12 step program.  In Auckland, Community Alcohol and Drug Services (CADS) can help with counseling or in serious cases medical detox.  Nationally, the Alcohol Drug Helpline has a toll free line to call, and a great directory of services to help you find services somewhere near you. And don't forget, you can always visit your GP and they can give you advice too. If on the other hand you think you generally have a handle on things, but you are looking for a lifestyle change  and  need a little advice and support to get a handle on it, read on.  
 

A good place to start with any plan is to figure out the why you want to drink less or not drink at all. Is it cause you're tired of waking up to virtual strangers in your bed? You waste too much money getting pissed up on the regular? Are you missing too much training? You want to lose weight? Whatever the reason is, figure it out, write it down. Put your why at a the top of  a list and  at and stick it on your wall or make it your screen saver, wherever you'u can refer to it regularly. Reminders help us to stay focused and keep us on track. 

Once you've thought about the why, obviously it comes to the how. What strategies are you going to have in place to reach your goals to drink less.  Goals should be achievable.  If they aren't you're just setting yourself up for failure, so be realistic.  If you drink every night after work for example, going cold turkey off the bat can be a hard ask. Start off with aiming for a reduction in your drinking, and then look to phase the devil's fire water down or out. Drinking four nights a week when you used to drink five is a positive step. Gradually reducing how much you drink down to one or two nights a week, or cutting it out all together, is going to be much more achievable for most people than trying to do it all at once. People losing weight keep a food diary, you can do the same with your drinking. Similarly, if you binge drink, if you're not looking to be totally abstinent, see if you can cut it down from weekly binge drinking to fortnightly then monthly. Figure out what your goal is and stick to it. Your wallet, waistline and liver will thank you for it. 

As you're drinking less, you'll need to figure out new ways to deal with stress, relax and socialize.  Having ideas at hand to deal with shit days or boredom, that  fill the space of alcohol is a vital part of the equation to maintaining your change. Life is stressful, and a wine or a beer is no doubt an easy and often enjoyable way to take your mind off things, but for lots of folks, one often leads to seven and some bad decisions, a cloudy head and more stress.  To clear rather than cloud the head, consider meditation, or yoga, or taking up running to deal with the tough days we all a encounter. You've heard about the endorphins that come with exercise, get some going  in you!  Practice your DJ set, (music is medicine), read a book or a magazine, learn to bake all the raw organic recipes you read on health blogs,  go for a walk with your boyfriend, play touch with your bros, do all the shit you talk about doing but never get around to.  It can help you unwind and connect with yourself.  Do this, and, maybe, the clear head that comes with drinking less can actually help you figure out solutions to whatever is causing your stress and resolve it. 

mediate don't medicate.jpg

Socializing sober, or even when you're drinking sensibly can seem daunting  when the standard invitation to hang out most of the time is 'Do you want to get a drink?". Think of fun alternatives to do rather than just meeting up at a bar. There are heaps of things to do. A play, a gym date, a concert or a dinner, anything where drinking isn't the central focus of the event. Some of the activities you might have taken up to deal with stress can actually be just  a fun way to chill with your friends. I've had some of my best heart to hearts in the gym, or over coffee and brunch. Alcohol doesn't have to be involved to talk deeply or have a laugh. 

In my experience, friends, for a range of reasons, often find taking no for an answer when it comes to drinking difficult to accept. "Just have one", they plead and tease.  Who you spend time with, especially in the early stages, can really make a difference in whether you stick to your goal or not, so w
isely chose who you hang out with. Some people are supportive of your changes, while others can feel threatened by them.  Have  a look and see if your friends and family are encouraging or enabling and try and spend more time with those who support your goals, not those that undermine them. If you're struggling to think of people who might be supportive, there's an awesome online community called Hello Sunday Morning which helps people change their relationship with alcohol. It's got a vibrant social media presence, where people share what they are learning and doing in a declared 3 month break from booze. You can visit their website, or  check them out on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.  As an aside,  on Instagram in particular, there are a lot of feeds dedicated to living sober. Have a search around and find one that gels with you. Regular doses of motivation and inspiration can help keep you on track. 



Once you've figured out your why, and your how, making our goals public is often an effective way to hold ourselves accountable and stay focused.  This can work for a bunch of reasons, but if we openly declare a goal, we're often more likely to try harder to achieve it.  You don't have to make it your Facebook update every day for a week, but talk with your partner and tell some people close to you. They might be able to give you a shoulder to lean on when you've had a tough day, or offer to do alcohol free things with you,  if you want to miss an event you know is going to be explicitly boozy. 

All this said, don't stress out too much  if you slip up. While you should be honest with yourself, and others you've included on your journey, accept that change is hard, especially around something like alcohol. If you slip up and fall off the wagon, dust yourself off and  try again. Revisit why you want to change in the first place. You wrote that down, remember? Refine your strategies to relax and socialize. It can take a few times around to make a change stick, the important thing is to keep trying. Every attempt at positive change gets us a little bit closer to where we want to be.  

If you've changed your habits around alcohol, please feel free to share them, I'd love to read what's worked for you!










'Tis the Season to...be mindful of your mental health.

RICHIE

So it appears Rodney Hylton Smith, better known as Roots Manuva, is having a really terrible Christmas if his at times nonsensical, rather upsetting Twitter feed is anything to go by.  A constant stream of soul bearing about his relationship, random abuse, and increasingly strange tweets have been steadily coming out on his timeline over Christmas and Boxing day.   

Maybe he got hacked,  or indeed he's having a break down during what's both a festive but also high stress time of year, either way it got me wondering about mental health. It also made me think back to a Christmas after a significant relationship ended, when the emotional struggle was real. Waking up alone on a day that used to be full of multiple family visits, food and friends reduced me to tears  and Christmas was far from joyous. The cloud hung over me for a couple of weeks, as the change in routine that comes with summer left me with time on my hands to over-think everything to death. So, with all this in mind, I headed to google to see struggles were common for this time of year and sadly it seems they are. 

According to the Victoria State Government's Better Health Channel states that 'Stress, anxiety and depression are common during the festive season.'  Like most mental health services, they  advise simple things to keep on top of your game, all pretty standard tips for mental health, but worthy reminders nonetheless, so here you go. 

 When we are sad, or anxious or stressed we all reach for things to numb those feelings. For many, it's alcohol and other drugs.  While they can make a shitty day seem fun, they don't actually do anything to help in the long term.  If you choose to drink and use other drugs, make sure it's sensibly and infrequently, and not to expressly escape undesirable feelings. If you're worried about your own or someone else's drug use, you can find information and links to help here.

When it comes to eating, while a blow out on Christmas day is expected for most of us, don't over eat too often during the summer break. Maintaining a healthy diet and weight is great for your your mood and can work towards preventing symptoms of lethargy and irritability. And make sure you keep moving. Exercise as we all know makes us feel better, physically and emotionally. It doesn't have to be some insane Cross Fit work out, (though that is a good time), just go for a walk or a swim or shoot some hoops. That shit is fun! 

Human connection is vital for our well being, but as our families might get smaller, people move overseas and our friends become involved with their new kids and can't hang out like they used to, the holiday period can be a lonely time for some. While your normal crew might be out of town, use the opportunity to try and schedule in some time to see friends, family and loved ones that perhaps you haven't caught up with in some time. Skype makes the world small, if everyone is out of town, call a homie up in New York. If you're feeling down or anxious, talking is a great simple way to help you process things. Problems can seem so huge in the confines of our head, but when they are out in the big wide world, they often seem smaller and more manageable. And don't forget, if you're more than a little blue and struggling with something that feels serious, there are always great trained people who can listen to you and help at places like Lifeline .

So, if you're feeling shit, there are simple things that can make you feel better. Talk. Move. Connect. Ask for help if you need it. I hope Mr Manuva gets some, or at least the log in to his Twitter account back. 

Our Summer Of Discontent

RICHIE

I started writing a gushy post about all the amazing heavy bands I was excited to see in January, only to have my hopes and dreams to sing along to old jams and enthusiastically nod my head to new ones shattered with the news that Australia's Soundwave festival has been cancelled. All the bands that were set to play were spring-boarding from Australia to play shows here, but without Soundwave, that's not financially viable for them; so heavy music fans will have to thrash YouTube videos to get their fix. It'll keep us out of the sun I suppose, which is great if you've a penchant for fair skin and wearing black. Silver linings. 

Bring Me The Horizon

First up, Bring Me The Horizon were scheduled to return to Auckland touring their amazing new album 'That's The Spirit' on January the 21st, but melancholic hearts the city over are more despondent than usual, now that they've postponed the show to an as yet later date. 

Soon after that, West Fest was bringing an amazing line up to Auckland on January the 30th, but that's highly doubtful now due to Soundwave's cancellation. All the Australian acts have cancelled, and I'm picking the other internationals will too. Sweden's reformed Refused were who I was especially looking forward to seeing in New Zealand for the first time. Their latest album Freedom, is an awesome return to the stage. It's been 17 years since they released their ground breaking 'The Shape of Punk To Come', and their June 2015 release picked up where they left off with genre blending song structures and politically charged lyrics. But alas, chances are we won't get to see them this time around. Le sigh. 

Bridgeport Connecticut's Hatebreed would have been on the same bill, returning to New Zealand for the fourth time. They've crushed some smaller club shows on headlining tours here over the years, and slayed the crowd at the Big Day Out 2005, so it would have been a fun time to see them again. Whether they have a new generation following them in Aotearoa I'm not sure, but I know a lot of people who would have got baby sitters to see them again. 

NOFX were headlining the bill, again no strangers to our shores, last headlining a show with Bad Religion in Auckland back in 2009.  Whilst interviewing vocalist Fat Mike and him being a cock put me off the band; I'm certain their loyal following of punk rockers would have turned out en masse to see them.  

Rounding out the show were local boys done good Antagonist A.D, a reformed Bleeders, Saving Grace and Dawn of Azazel. It was set to be an awesome show that ticked a lot of boxes for a lot of people, but chances are slim it'll eventuate now. 

Still, my inner emo gets to sing along to some screamy jams when Asking Alexandria plays the Power Station on April the 5th. Buried In Verona and Bless The Fall support them, so it's a show that'll be sure to be popular with the kids and is set to sell out.

Recent well populated shows from Parkway Drive and Amity Affliction in October and December respectively have reminded me that there's still a passionate following for heavy music in New Zealand (well, Auckland at least), and a new generation of fans that mosh away their angst and growing pains.  

All this makes me wonder why radio ignores the demographic. Bring Me The Horizon, Parkway Drive and The Amity Affliction have all had a lot of chart and commercial success in Australia and further afield but are ignored here. Zane Lowe's taste making Apple Music show Beats One, debuted the singles and gave a lot of love to Bring Me’s That’s The Spirit for examplebut no one here seems to want to rock the boat in a seemingly risk adverse environment. That said, everything is cyclical and trends are cyclical, so hope springs eternal that a station out there might see the light. Gotta keep that PMA right? 


When Oprah came to town

AROHA

A couple of months ago I was invited by Swisse (the supplements and skincare company) to attend a day long wellness retreat, the details of which were kept secret from the small group of women attending until we arrived at a beautiful lakeside location in Coatesville, Auckland.

There we were treated to an outdoor yoga session, guided meditation, a facial using Swisse's skincare products, a consultation with a naturopath, a delicious and nutritious lunch and a juicing demonstration. The crew from The Centre in Kingsland played an integral part in pulling many of the elements together and it was an incredible day.

At the end of the activities, we were given gift bags and an envelope and were told that inside, there was a special surprise. I honestly couldn't imagine how the day could get any better. That is until I opened my envelope to find an invitation to "An Intimate Cocktail Experience with Oprah Winfrey". Like the other women, I could hardly contain my excitement and we all descended into fits of squeals.

Swisse Wellness Retreat

Swisse Wellness Retreat

Fast forward to the day of the Oprah live show in Auckland and my social media was abuzz with excitement. There was speculation among our Swisse retreat group that we may even get to meet Oprah herself, a concept which had this usually cool as a cucumber broadcaster with years of experience in interviewing famous people, experiencing slight conniptions.

Here's the thing - I was never an avid watcher of the Oprah talkshow, I wasn't wildly impressed by the wealth, or the fame. I was however, acutely aware that this woman was self-made and had risen to success by being authentically herself. For championing kindness in a cut throat world, where she could have floundered for being too soft, too female, too black. Oprah fought through real adversity with a steely determination and self-love, when the world was telling her she couldn't succeed. This is what got the butterflies going in my tummy.

When we arrived at the Swisse cocktail party (hosted in a private room above the stage at Vector Arena) we walked past the stage where Oprah would perform and was at the time, doing a meet & greet session with some prize winners. Swathed in emerald green, we all paused and drew an excited breath as we saw her, before being quickly moved on by security into the party.

At the Swisse cocktail event with Antonia Prebble

At the Swisse cocktail event with Antonia Prebble

The room was full of well known New Zealand sporting people, actors, political peeps and broadcasters, including Hillary Barry, who couldn't contain her genuine fangirl excitement when recently interviewing Oprah for TV3.

I've heard a few people make comment about Hillary's interview saying it was cringeworthy, but I actually really appreciated her just owning the damn fact that she adored this woman and it was undoubtably one of the biggest moments in her broadcasting career. After years and years of trying so desperately not to make mistakes, to not be a total goober with guests and to always be "professional", it's only in recent years that I have fully realised people like it when you're real. 

My thoughts were confirmed were Oprah walked in the room, serenaded by Sol3Mio and took her seat alongside Hamish McLachlan (an Australian sports broadcaster and Swisse ambassador). She immediately cracked a joke and put everyone at ease. She wasn't posh, she wasn't pretentious, she was just there to hang out and answer a few questions about her life, and she was clearly enjoying herself.

Hamish McLachlan & Oprah Winfrey

Hamish McLachlan & Oprah Winfrey

When asked who she was most excited to interview in her career, she told a great story about meeting Paul McCartney for the first time at age 39 or 40. This was huge for her because since she was young she'd been in love with him and had visualised them marrying with daily prayers; "think about Paul, think about Paul, Paul think about me, I'm trying to reach Paul". When she finally got to interview him, she was so nervous because she had this dream that she was going to marry him. She liked to be spontaneous and never used to prepare her questions for interviews, so when they sat down she asked him "when I was a kid I was just thinking about you all the time, did you ever feel me thinking about you?". 

Later, after posing for a photograph with Bronagh Key (the Prime Minister's wife) we all realised we weren't going to get a chance to do awkward hand gestures in an Oprah selfie, so we went to our seats for the show. Vector Arena was packed, the warmup DJ was playing all the hits including Patea Maori Club's "Poi E" and OMC's "How Bizarre" and the crowd was pumped. Oprah entered the room and thousands of people (predominantly women) rose to their feet, clapped, cried and shouted words of adoration at their hero, here in New Zealand for the first time. 

For over 2 and a half hours, Oprah spoke about her life, including the years of sexual abuse she experienced as a child and her teen pregnancy. She talked about being raised by her grandmother for the first 6 years of her life and the white family that her grandmother worked for. Her grandmother would frequently tell her, "all I hope for you, is that you get kind white people to work for, like I have".

She reflected on the key moments when she made decisions based on intuition and her "inner voice". Referencing God frequently, she may have freaked out the non-religious in the room. I myself am non-religious, however I do feel that there is more to this world than that which we can see, and I am a firm believer than you can achieve that which you truly believe, so her words resonated with me.

Oprah spent time with Auckland iwi Ngati Whatua and was impressed by Maori spirituality and our connection to the land. There was so much more that I wished I could have shared with her about New Zealand, including the recent statistics released about how 29% of kiwi children are living in poverty. I wondered what she would have said knowing this, what words she would have shared with our leaders, and with our Prime Minister's wife when they spoke. What would she have said to a young person stuck in a cycle of poverty? When asked earlier at the cocktail function what she would have told her 15 year old self (who was at the time in a very bleak situation), she said "you will get through this".

The show itself was very much based around personal empowerment; being authentic, listening to your inner voice, and allowing failure to be your teacher. All of the principles that she spoke about are ones which I have read about previously at length. After a career and relationship meltdown 3 years ago, I read self help books, started keeping a gratitude journal, writing regular affirmations and tuning into (and sometimes using) my intuition. My life at that time improved considerably and most of the affirmations I was writing started to manifest in my day to day life. In many cases, it wasn't until months later that I realised that I had in fact, achieved my goals. 

Even in the grandiose context of a live stage show presented by this woman with a giant personality, an army of PR behind her and millions of fans; she reminded me of some key principles which have helped me, but taught me more through relating these to her own stories of success and failure. The one thing she said which really stayed with me, and which was the first thought I had upon waking the morning after the show was this; "you can be a much better you than you can be a pretend anybody else".

Kia ora Oprah.