Will Saunders - "The universe is sort of at your fingertips"

Every month we commission a different artist to design our weekly gig guide posters and for the month of August/Hereturikōkā we have the pleasure of working with local artist Will Saunders. Will is a cartoonist and illustrator who specialises in incredibly detailed hand drawn work. He’s also a musician and has been part of the fabric of Karangahape Rd since the 90s. We caught up with Will to talk about some of iconic 90s publications he was involved with, his art process and his band.

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NOTW: It's always exciting when we get an artist who does everything by hand. In this current age of digital art, what's your continued attraction to the hand drawn medium? 

Will Saunders: The physical act of ink on paper being defined by hand is something I’ve always loved from art to writing. It’s almost like a small part of the individual’s actual life energy is captured in some way - I think it’s the same with painting - and I don’t find it in the same way typing on a computer, for example. Also the immediacy of a line seems more definitive, and totally unique when you know you can’t easily type ‘undo’ if you want to alter or erase it.

I’ve always thought that if you have access to a piece of blank paper and some tool you can utilise to create something that has never existed before, the universe is sort of at your fingertips.

For me, that’s always allowed a kind of freedom for anyone to create whatever worlds, words, space, time, imagery and existence they can possibly imagine - and make it real - if only on paper. 

“oH No Not again”

“oH No Not again”

But then that in itself is real so the whole thing still kind of blows my mind…

Having said all that I do of course colour my posters digitally - as I’m still getting used to painting. But hopefully one fine day I can approach something similar to the fantastic  artwork hand-drawn and hand-painted for the NOTW ‘Boog’ posters…but hey - we can all have a dream right?!

Poster for Space Your Face - a St Kevin’s Store in the 90s

Poster for Space Your Face - a St Kevin’s Store in the 90s

NOTW: A lot of your work has always had music and musicians at the core of it. How does music influence your visual art? 

WS: The rhythm and timing of sequential comics always correlated with the same parts of the brain as music for me I think, and I’ll still find myself painting or drawing in time to the music I always have playing.

As far as the amount of musicians and music that has appeared in what I’ve done over the years, I think it’s probably a by-product of being interested in, and around music for a long time. Bands will commission posters or album art and publications will ask for music related imagery. 

I find drawing portraits really hard so I’m lucky in the fact I’ve not often had to draw people who’s music I don’t like. 

There’s is one (once) over-rated hack - who I always thought was just a plagiaristic chump - that I did a cover of. His stupid puffy face was a hard one not to make fun of.

Will Saunders limited run Neck of the Woods stickers

Will Saunders limited run Neck of the Woods stickers

NOTW: And like a number of the visual artists we work with, you're also a musician. Can you tell us a little about the different bands you've been involved with?

WS: My first band played in pubs around Whanganui when I was 14 and I started playing guitar and writing my first original songs around the same time. When I moved to Auckland I always loved jamming with whoever would put up with me thrashing away. 

When I moved to the U.K busking was often handy in getting some coin and I began recording on a Tascam 4-track cassette machine. I put an ad in the NME and put together a band called Siren. When I moved back to Aotearoa the plan was to ‘settle down’, but things didn’t work out that way and I formed The Quick and the Dead.

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After that I began recording and releasing solo music under my own name. Then formed bands Bearhat and after that The Lowest Fidelity.

All of the bands gigged regularly and recorded music (available on Bandcamp) and I’ve been very fortunate that everyone I’ve been in bands with has always been a wonderful human and a friend as well.

My latest band is called Trepidations and our next gig will be Friday 13th September at Whammy Backroom…

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NOTW: I left high school and moved to Auckland in the mid 90s and remember sending numerous copies of The Fix - the quintessential gig guide you were part of - to my friends in Wellington as indisputable proof that Auckland was so much cooler. Would you say those gig guides were influential in nurturing that music scene / nightlife culture at the time? 

WS: Ha ha! Wellington definitely has cooler weather last time I checked!

It’s quite hard for people to think back to pre-cellphone and internet days and imagine how things were…It’s pretty staggering how much has changed. 

But yeah posters, gig guides and printed zines etc were the only link everyone had to what was going on so I’d certainly agree they played quite a large part.

From Tearaway Magazine’s Legal Advice page

From Tearaway Magazine’s Legal Advice page

NOTW: And speaking of iconic 90s publications - you were involved in Tearaway too! At the risk of sounding like we're yelling at clouds, are kids these days missing out by not having something like Tearaway delivered right to their school desk every month? 

WS: These days I only find myself yelling at scattered e-scooters when I trip over them while looking at a particularly interesting cloud…so times have certainly changed…

Tearaway was a great thing to have at the time - run by a small team in Whanganui with hearts in the right place, and the letters we received showed just how much it was loved in it’s printed form.

As culture has changed I hope that there’s a way new generations can access valuable information like that somewhere and utilise it within the current blizzard of online insanity we all face these days.

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NOTW: You've already seen Karangahape Road go through a lot of changes since the mid 90s. I'm curious to know how you feel about the upcoming "Revitalisation Project" on K' Road? 

WS: Does it actually need ‘revitalising’? …Sounds a bit like a snappy buzzword title for the inevitable creeping gentrification that will eventually take over everything, everywhere, anyway to me. But life is change and it’s going to happen regardless of how anyone feels, so I’ll probably only have an opinion on it when it’s already happened and I’ve been priced far out of Auckland. 

When’s the protest against it scheduled for?..Do they need a poster done? …hit me up!

NOTW: What’s your perfect night out on Karangahape Road?

WS: Playing a gig, having a dance and some laughs, then playing more music with nice people enjoying life.

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NOTW: What projects are you working on now / have coming up next? (musical, visual, whatever you want to plug!) 

WS: After a recent run of the Flying Out Shlipp comix art show last month then painting their street sign, and along with the NOTW poster and sticker projects this month I’m gonna have to figure out something to do next…I’ve had two solo e.p’s out this year too, so other than writing, gigging and recording with Trepidations no real plans - but something always seems to pop up.

NOTW: And lastly, what are you currently listening to while making art?

WS: bFM is always on basically but some tunes that have been hitting the spot recently include:

Tiny Ruins - How Much

The Beatles - Anytime at All

David Byrne & Brian Eno - Strange Overtones

Minnie Riperton - Les Fleurs

David Bowie - Scary Monsters album

Death - Keep On Knocking

Stereolab - French Disco

Beach House - Zebra

Trans Am - Play In the Summer

Marvin Gaye - Sunny

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - There She Goes my Beautiful World

Follow Will Saunders on Instagram and Facebook and browse his huge archive of work on his website

Ryan Hendriks and the need for common unity on Karangahape Rd

For the month of July/Hōngongoi and just in time for Matariki, we had local artist Ryan Hendriks come on board to take over our weekly gig guide posters. As part of The Grow Room collective, Ryan is one of the artists who keeps the original soul of Karangahape Rd thriving. We caught up with Ryan to talk about making both music and visual art, Matariki and the future of Karangahape Road.

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We were excited to see your first poster of the month featured the Matariki constellation. What does Matariki mean to you?

I have mixed emotions towards Matariki, a contrast of misunderstanding and acceptance. Either through coincidence or something else, Matariki has synchronised with me metaphorically a lot throughout life. I guess the best I can explain what it represents to me is the planting of new ideas, dreams and aspirations.

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Most people will know you more for your music - both Badcrop and your solo projects - have you always made visual art alongside your music?

Not really at all, a few posters here and there but art for me has always been another way to express and meditate on something, not so much as a shared medium.

Badcrop in St Kevin’s Arcade. Photo: Locapinay

Badcrop in St Kevin’s Arcade. Photo: Locapinay

What visual mediums do you prefer to work with?

I love using the computer, taking ideas and combining them with other mediums. A mix of photoshop and photography is most likely my preference. Although doing printmaking at school was always enjoyable when I had access to the equipment.

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Given what you and The Grow Room have been through, I wanted to ask how you feel about the upcoming Karangahape Rd “Revitalisation” project?

I’m interested to see how K Road develops, it seems only a stones throw from what it used to be and I still see familiar faces around but I guess at the end of the day it will always be the people on the street who create the dynamic. The community and it’s common unity is important. I would like to see the people come together again with Art and Music at the forefront rather than alcohol and food but in a capital based environment it may be a stretch to expect.

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You recently spent time in Europe. Did that provide any inspiration for your art process?

It definitely changed my process because my personality, understanding and ambition shifted. The reason behind my art has changed in parts yet also stayed the same in parts. I have always taken time with my projects because I want them to be dense with ideas rather than spread thin.

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What's your perfect night out and what would you like to see more of in the nightlife culture of Auckland?

The perfect night out for me is when people are out to support live music no matter the genre, like I mentioned before I think the culture is a direct reflection of the community so if we can come together with support for one another then no doubt when it is your time to perform then the support will be reciprocated. Even if it is smiling at a homeless person or giving a dollar to the street performer, every artist matters, even if no one knows them.

What other projects are you working on now?

Currently I have a lot of music in the pipeline with a few different producers. I think the next project I’m releasing is with a few of the homies from the grow room, Watch out for ‘The Crop’.

Follow Ryan Hendriks on Instagram and check out his album Old Zealand below:

Naawie Tutugoro wants more womxn! more sisters! more diversity!

This month Grey Lynn born and raised artist Naawie Tutugoro is taking over our weekly gig guide posters and putting out some limited edition Neck of the Woods stickers. Naawie describes her practice as “autobiographical, referring my upbringing in suburbia, notions of hybridity and conditions of diaspora”. As well as her indepedent work, Naawie works as part of art collective The RES_, recently completed a huge project at Snickel Lane and is on the verge of wrapping up four years at Elam. We caught up with Naawie this week to talk about growing up and finding space in the city, favourite Karangahape Road spots and her tips for navigating art school.

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Intuition is everything. Fuck Grades. Assert Yourself. Don’t try to make Art. 


You said something in an interview about your Snickel Lane piece about loving shared, public spaces. Do we need more shared spaces on Karangahape Rd? 

Āe. Shared, public spaces are for the intermingling, the daydreaming and the reflection in a landscape filled so much monopoly. Somewhere like Karangahape requires such spaces to relieve the tensions and disparities caused by what I would describe as a kind of insidious gentrification. Such spaces foster community and connection.   

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Let’s see more womxn! more sisters! more diversity! in the music scene and gig line-ups ... we don’t want to go down to Britomart and Queen street to find a foggy,  laser-tag-type spot riddled with fuck-boys and baby giraffes. It’s not safe and sure as hell ain’t a vibe.


Your photography focused Instagram account @brwn_grl_lenz tells a compelling story of inner city life. Does the city inspire your work?  

The city 'commissions' me ... taking photographs is an exercise to look at the space differently. It is more the apparatus of the film camera if I'm honest, like remembering the apparatus of the film camera throughout colonisation... The 35mm photography has emerged out of my research process of reflection; looking back into the past through photographs - the nostalgic/melancholic/reminiscent vibe is the basis is my obsession... There is the amnesia caused by the digital climate too. Of course, how the city disseminates into the suburban and rural and vice versa is a compelling subject to me. Everything from the wairua of these environments, the material associations, characteristics and where they fuse into one another, and so on. Growing up in Grey Lynn then living on Waiheke Island and more recently the central city has created a lot of fluctuation and dispossession in a sense. The movement around these spaces has set up a “commuting” framework in my work - a frequent bidirectional motion in the central business district. Just call me the teleporter haha...

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Not a lot of artists get the chance to manage a whole art project - including promo, budget, etc. How has the Snickel Lane project informed your work going forward? 


Well firstly, involving others was important. It was kind of inevitable as certain aspects of the project were out of my skill range. I had been part of a mural project a while ago that involved the public so with the Snickel Lane project I wanted to continue a kind of informal engagement to deter from the commercial formality of it all. I saw another side to Beauracracy and realised it isn't all that bad. It can be about network positivity. In that same vein, I was able to employ my creative friends to come down, pick up a spray can or paintbrush, and hang out. Working on-site was so cool, being totally submerged in this laneway that was an office, studio, and worksite all in one. Depending on the nature of the project, large scale pieces require basic maths. Overall, this project informed a 'keep calm and have fun' approach in my work moving forward. Oh, and not to use the word 'stress' - otherwise it shows in the work.

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What is your ideal night out in Auckland and what would you like to see more of in our nightlife culture? 


Ok, ideal night out would be: Beef Rendang at Uncle Man's post cruising to a couple of exhibition openings and most likely drinking too much, then having a smoke in Myers park topped off with a worthwhile boogie and a kebab at 3 am. 

Let's see more womxn! more sisters! more diversity! in the music scene and gig line-ups. Let's see more dancing, dance floors and places that encourage dancing - to good quality music -  because I don't think I only speak for myself when I say that we don't want to go down to Britomart and Queen street to find a foggy,  laser-tag-type spot riddled with fuck-boys and baby giraffes. It's not safe and sure as hell ain't a vibe.

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What are your favourite K’ Rd spots? 


All of it, 2-3 years ago. The Grow Room, Fuzzy Vibe and Lowtide. days... they were pivotal. The op-shops and their low price racks! Nowadays it is hard to say but of course, I'll make a shoutout to 'Everybody Eats' kaupapa, Samoa House Library, Charlie's Karaoke Bar, the dairy that hooks it up, Neck of the Woods and Verona of course.

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We’re all, obviously, very inspired by music over here at Neck of the woods. What’s on your drawing/painting/art creating playlist right now? 


Fanau Spa: Fanau Spa (Album)

JessB, Church Leon: Bump Bump

Connie Constance: English Rose (Album)

Doja Cat + Rico Nasty: Tia Timera

Shiraz & LSJ: Rap for Sport (Album)

Cleophus, MELODOWNZ, Jono Das: Lucifer

Marco McKinnis: Silence

Kelsey Lu: Blood (Album)

LB: Comin' and Goin'

Keith., LB, Lester: Backyard



We’ve worked with artists who’ve never studied art at a tertiary level, art school graduates and artists who’ve left art school part way through. You’re graduating in September. Do you have any advice for artists wanting to go the same route? 


I am in the last week of my 4 year Fine Arts degree at Elam and I am feeling so many different emotions about finishing. 
My advice would be along the lines of keeping an open mind going and asking for help is totally normal. Sleep Hygiene is key! You are responsible for your education so be kind to yourself and how you manage to compromise. 

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Working within an institution can be hard and - communication and transparency are integral - like email your tutor if you have a question. Essentially you are paying for this education, so demand it and make it work for you! In regard to indigenous methodologies, we see conversations as a primary source of knowledge and research and it is about legitimising our presence within an institution; citing those conversations or experiences - and creating our own formulas as responsive, a kind of Institutional critique instead of conforming to a default, standard kind of research.


Intuition is everything. Fuck Grades. Assert Yourself. Don't try to make Art. 

Peace.

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Follow Naawie on Instagram here and here and keep a look out for her Neck of the Woods posters all month, and her limited edition of Neck of the Woods stickers.

















Elroy's Debut Album is Worth The Wait

Elroy started his career playing in other people’s bands - Connan Mockasin, Liam Finn, Neil Finn, Lawrence Arabia and Wild Nothing to name a few. But for the last six years he’s been slowly working away at his own music and his debut self titled album is finally being released at the end of this month. In the lead up to Elroy’s live album release party right here at Neck of the Woods, we sat down with the musician to talk about music to eat to and the six piece band bringing his album to the stage.

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You started recording this album in New York but you finished it here in Auckland. How did those two very different locations contribute to how the album came about?

I started recording my own music for the first time while I was living in New York. It was sort of an exciting thing to do in my room where I’d stay up late, learning how to record music. So, I guess New York had an influence on that. I was playing drums in my brother’s band and we all lived together in a really fun apartment so I guess maybe that definitely had a big impact. But I guess finishing it in Auckland was just because I had a chunk of time where I wasn’t occupied or didn’t have plans and thought it’d be really good to finish it. Like I said I didn’t really know what I was doing so finishing it seemed like a daunting prospect but I had some good friends help me mix it and get it into presentable shape.


Listening to the album there’s so many layers of vocals and instruments. Who’s actually on the album?

It’s just me for the most part. My friend Daniel Ward (The Sneaks, Lawrence Arabia) played a bit of guitar on one song and my dad played some keys. My friend Jimmy Metherel played some keys as well.

So, from recording most of the album yourself, how do you translate that on to the stage with a live band?

Because there’s quite a lot of arrangement going on, I’ve got a 6 piece band for the live show. I’ve got the luxury of being able to put those parts across live which is awesome. I did a handful of shows last year with a very similar lineup.


Right, like at Whammy backroom.

Yep and Whammy main room and as part of the Others Way Festival. I had a 6 piece band for those shows. They’re all close friends but also really great musicians. Jol Mulholland (Pablo Vasquez) and Justyn Pilbrow, my cousin Harper was playing and EJ Barnes plus Jimmy and Daniel Ward. It’s a stella cast. I feel very lucky to have them involved.

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You’ve also made music with Jimmy Metherel as The Hype Men …

Yeah, I have an ambition to make a record with Jimmy as The Hype Men that’s more shamelessly pop. It’s cool to have outlets and different avenues where you can indulge in styles and not feel like it’s not gonna fit the rest of the record.

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Which leads me to Pablo Vasquez cos that’s again a whole other very specific thing you were doing there.

Jol and I started playing together in New York cos he was playing in my brother’s band as well. We just started noodling around on nylon string guitars and then decided the concept of a record that was designed to eat dinner to was a nice idea. I like music that’s not trying to grab your attention, that can be an accompaniment to doing other stuff. I think that’s my favourite sort of music at the moment.


That’s interesting because this new album of yours … I don’t want to say it’s background music cos it’s not at all, it really catches your attention but I’ve been listening to it at home and it’s quite nice to have playing in the background.

Cool, I don’t find that offensive at all!


I was flicking through some tracks again on the way here and my uber driver describes your album as “lazy man’s at home vampire music”. Discuss:

I don’t know how to break that down!


Right?! There’s a lot there.

It’s in three parts as far as I’m concerned. Lazy man, I’m assuming because it’s all quite slow? So I just might take offense to that.

But he said he meant it in a very good way!

Oh good! Ok well “at home” - if it provides you with the comfort of being at home then that’s good as well! Vampire, I’m still figuring out. Hopefully that means I’ll get a single on Twilight or something.

Elroy playing drums in brother Liam’s band

Elroy playing drums in brother Liam’s band


So, the show at Whammy last year, that was your first show as just “Elroy”. How does that vibe compare to playing with your brother or dad or even in your own thing with Pablo Vasquez?

I guess it’s a little bit more intimidating just because it’s a project I spent a lot of time on and no one really heard it for so long. Being a frontman isn’t really something I’ve ever had a lust for. I don’t see myself as this super extroverted charismatic frontman. But I think there’s a nice balance you can find that’s unassuming but still engaging. I guess it’s a little different cos drumming you can’t get notes wrong.


What was your ideal night out in Brooklyn and how does that compare to your ideal night out here in Auckland.

My ideal night out in New York, and I still do this if I get to go back, is just this Japanese restaurant that has free hot sake with your meal. Then there’s a bowling alley called The Gutter that I really like. It’s a dive bar attached to a really old 8 lanes bowling alley that was transported from Pennsylvania or somewhere on trucks and then installed into this warehouse in Brooklyn.


And here in Auckland?

I haven’t been going out a whole bunch lately. I’ve been a bit of a homebody trying to make a record. But I guess … fish n chips up Mt Eden? You can’t drive up anymore though which kind of spoils that a little bit. You don’t really feel like fish n chips after a hike.

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What would like to see more of in Auckland’s nightlife?

I think there’s a real lack of cool small venues. Obviously Golden Dawn was a great hub for nightlife and bands and a sense of community. So, maybe a couple more venues for smaller bands to play and the rooms to feel full and vibey. I’m excited to play Neck of the Woods cos it’ll be different. And it feels like the whole For What It’s Worth series and community seems to be attempting to put some more good vibes into the scene.


What made you interested in doing your show as part of this series and for koha?

I like the idea of it being a “free” show. I’m not a super well established artist so the more the merrier and just getting people to hear it would be a cool start to the whole album launch. It’s a good incentive to get more people to live show and build the community up.


And of course the usual thing at For What It’s Worth is that you don’t pay when you come down, you pay after the show as you leave so you’re more umm...

Drunk?

Well ok! Definitely feeling a bit more loose with your change. But also it’s one thing getting people to buy tickets before a show but for people to have actually seen the show and be wanting to give…

And then say I like it or I don’t like it ... I like the fact that it’s koha based.


What are you listening to right now?

I’m kind of ashamed that I don’t listen to more music. I really enjoy listening to music at the beach or while I’m cooking dinner but I’m not up to date with every new release.


Oh that question is definitely not directed towards new releases. Most people when they answer are like … Led Zep.

Oh ok well, my favourite thing to put on is Shuggy Otis. That record Inspiration Information is pretty amazing. It’s good for any environment … dinner time, a boogie. My friend Rory’s just released a really great record under the name Infinite Bisous.

It’s funny, you’ve mentioned dinner time and eating and cooking .. do you enjoy cooking?

Yeah I don't make like a wide array of meals but the meals I do make I like to think I make well - mainly just pasta (laughs) but good pasta! I really enjoy cooking and I like eating. I guess like I was saying before I think music can be a great thing thing to be solely focused on with headphones on and on your own but I get just as much enjoyment when something is perfectly accompanying a conversation or a dinner or a hang.


I feel like people underestimate the importance of music to eat to.

It’s an untapped market. Essentially everyone eats dinner, if you’re lucky enough. So you’ve got 100% of the audience potentially interested in listening to your music.


And there’s nothing worse than someone putting on something too loud or full on as you’re about to eat and you’re like nah I can’t digest my food now.

Well it seems like Spotify playlists, a lot of them that are popular are in that alt-chill bracket, which as much I hate the name, I probably would fall into that category. So hopefully I can ride this current wave of chill-alt (laughs).


And people can listen while they eat pasta and have deeper thoughts.

Or you know, just have it as a little gentle massage in the background. It doesn’t have to be…


Life changing mind altering?

No, if you like it then you can go and listen to it in headphones and have an experience.

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See Elroy and an incredible six piece band perform his new album live at Neck of the Woods on May 29th before it’s even been released. Entry is free but we ask you to give a koha as you leave after the show.

Check out the Facebook event page for the full line up and more details.

Follow Elroy on Instagram and Facebook














Homo House is taking over the Woods

Auckland’s biggest gay club night, Homo House, is coming to Neck of the Woods for the first time this weekend! We sat down in the club with DJ and event planner Jordan Eskra to talk about the gay party scene in Auckland, how he keeps people dancing till 4AM and our favourite Beyoncé tunes.

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Welcome to Neck of the Woods! Is this the first party you’ve thrown on Karangahape Rd?

No, the first party I did on K’ Rd was two years ago at Good Times. They made so much money that night they decided to turn it into a gay bar. But I don’t think they really understood how much it took to promote… I brought in all  my own gear, turntables, DJs…


Oh, so that’s what happened to that! Did you ever come to K’ Rd back in the 90s?

Well I only moved to NZ in the early 2000s.


I’m trying to think what was going back then…

Family had just opened, Urge … there was still a variety of clubs.

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Do we need more gay clubs in Auckland?

I think gay partying has changed so much. Loads of the guys who come to Homo House only come to my parties. They don’t go out at all, and lots of them take the Monday off. I don’t think we could sustain another gay club.

Do you think it’s a population thing?

It’s a population thing, it’s changing times. Gay clubs are closing all over the world. But gay parties and gay takeovers are on the rise.

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Why do you think that is?

Well, predominantly where the gay clubs used to be have now become “premium” neighbourhoods. Plus a lot of things like social media, apps, there’s a whole lot more avenues gay people can meet each other. But also straight clubs are vastly more accepting now.


Accepting of the gay community?

Yes in some aspects. I mean, my boyfriend and I probably wouldn’t kiss at a straight club but at our parties it’s shirts off… so the gays can be flamboyant and gay at straight clubs and for the most part be okay, especially in places like Ponsonby but you go down to Britomart and it’s pretty…


It’s not as safe?

I mean I did a gay party at a bar downtown and we had no issues inside but at 4 in the morning we had non stop issues on the street. The guys would come outside wearing little skimpy outfits and people are yelling out “fag” or whatever. In 2017.

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Which is why we’re so hard out with our security team and making sure they’re really protective of people on the street.

Yeah I’ve been doing parties for a long time and never had one issue ever, you could get away with almost no security in the club.  Everyone’s super respectful. But out on the street it’s different.


I was thinking about our Safe & Sound policy - one of our big focuses is that if we remove someone cos they’re too trashed we make sure they get into an uber or they’re with a friend. It doesn’t stop at the door.

You know, this is our first time at Neck of the Woods but I’ve taken over straight venues all over Auckland and I’ve never not had an issue with venue staff working their first gay party. You guys seem to be a lot more clued up in terms of language. The staff I’ve met are actually excited for Saturday … I’ve had to tell venues I wouldn’t come back to do another party unless they changed staff because there were straight guys who couldn’t handle gay men flirting with them.

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So all the DJs you’ve brought over are gay?

Yes, except for two - Moto Blacno and Freemasons. But if you went to any gay club in the late 90s, early 2000s you would’ve heard Moto Blanco or Freemasons remixes.


Wait, so what is it with remixes and gay club nights?

Freemasons was the biggest DJ I brought over. For the first 10 years of the 2000s you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing his remixes. Some of them were the first official remixes of Beyoncé, Lady Gaga … there were really big Whitney Houston remixes.

Jordan Eskra with Bobby Blanco

Jordan Eskra with Bobby Blanco

So, these house remixes of pop hits are a big part of your own sets?

Most of my sets are pretty poppy and fun. You can go pretty heavy between 1AM and 2:30 but to keep the crowd on the floor till 4AM you really need music they know.

Stuff they can singalong to…

They gotta be happy! That’s a very rough formula of the night.

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Neck of the Woods and Homo House both have the same “no dresscode” dresscode policy. I know why that’s important to us. Why is that important to you?

Because there’s no where in Auckland where guys can wear what they want and feel totally free and comfortable and encouraged and not judged. People often come from big lavish pre-parties in big groups. And sometimes these groups will be in matching outfits - all in light up shoes or sailor outfits. A lot of our community ask if we can throw parties at certain venues in Auckland but actually some of those venues won’t agree to no dress codes, they won’t agree to unisex toilets.


Who’s your dream DJ to bring over here?

I actually have a couple that I’ve been working on so I can’t say! But I’d like a venue where I could produce a show. Like, I had Zoe Badwi perform at my winter pride party in Queenstown. That was quite fun to put on a full 15 minute show with dancers and everything as part of the party.

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So, who’s your dream performer to bring over?

Well, Beyoncé is my number one performer. I never play a set without Beyoncé.


Good policy! So what’s your favourite Beyoncé song right now? Because I know for me it changes a lot depending on my mood.

Countdown. Because of Homecoming! That part that goes from Hold Up to Countdown…

Such a great transition!

That was the moment in Homecoming where it finally went into her poppy stuff. I mean, the first part was great but we needed a bit of gay!


What’s the big difference between Homo House and just straight house?

The vibe! Straight parties can be kinda agro. And it can be very cliquey. Whereas at the Homo House parties there’s a common theme for everyone. If you were to just sit here on Saturday night and really watch you would not be able to tell who was friends with who.  It’s just this big smattering of gays all over the place.

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Presales have already sold out to this Saturday’s Homo House party but there will be a limited amount of door sales available so get here early!

Follow Theta Project on Facebook for more gay events happening in Auckland.
















Meet Our May Artist - Francine Besas

This month Wellington artist Francine Besas is designing our weekly posters plus a run of limited edition Neck of the Woods stickers. Besas is a self-described “analogue” artist now stretching her considerable talents into the digital world. We talk with the self-taught artist about her work with Shakti, the musical inspiration in her illustrations (Besas is also in Wellington band Sangria Nights), rediscovering a love for art via dropping out of design school and that age old fight for financial reparations for your work.

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Welcome to the Woods Francine! Give us the scoop on your home town. What's your perfect night out and what would you like to see more of in the nightlife culture of Wellington?

I’ve had a couple of really fun nights out recently. One night was cocktails and a gig with friends, another night was a movie date (Avengers: Endgame- it was amazing) then casual drinks over a game of pool. I think Wellington pretty much has it all, but I’d love to see even more Asian vegetarian cuisine. Something like Aunty Mena’s but BYO.

From Francine Besas’ collection of Neck of the Woods stickers

From Francine Besas’ collection of Neck of the Woods stickers

You've created artwork for Wellington band Hex, made art directly inspired by songs and drawn some really cool pictures of musicians for your Shakti fundraiser. Can we look forward to seeing you working with more musicians in the future?

I really hope so! Music is a part of everything I do. I am moving to Melbourne in a few months and getting to know a whole new city’s worth of local bands will be a treat. And it’s MELBOURNE. I’d love to do more gig posters. Maybe for Courtney Barnett one day, hopefully. All of her posters are so cool and colourful and done by an incredible range of illustrators.

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What shows or exhibitions have you been part of so far?

I have only been in one exhibition – a group show called Pigment in 2017 at Matchbox Studios on Cuba Street back when they had a gallery space at the back of the retail store. It called for paintings of any medium and I submitted watercolour series which celebrated the unique animals, plants, and cuisine of The Philippines, where I am from.

Unfortunately, my one & only press mention was being on the front page of Stuff News/Dom Post in April 2018 because I wanted to speak up against Matchbox and its owner, Cherry Holahan, for failing to pay artists who have exhibited works there. I am one of many artists whom they still owe money to, to this day.

 A year on, I am still looking into the situation. The latest update is that Matchbox Studios Ltd. is in process of being removed from the NZ Companies Office, and with its removal will go their liability to pay their debts to artists… That’s all dreary stuff (not to mention terribly discouraging for artists who were young, students, or new to exhibiting like me), but I would say the experience was a huge turning point for how my art developed in 2018.

 Aside from that, I had a drawing featured in Monster Valley’s December 2018 issue of their magazine Black Lagoon. And while I did not submit for it, I created promotional works for Shakti’s first ever fundraising art auction/exhibition also in December - it raised about $3000 which was put towards their services helping migrant and refugee women.

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We really love your watercolours based on life in The Philippines. Has that combo of coming from The Philippines, but living ages away in New Zealand helped to develop your style? Also, do you have plans for more Filipino food related content cos some of us would be really into that.

Thank you! Yes, my relationship with my cultural identity weighs into all areas of my life, including my art and the subjects I choose to depict. I have nearly always been away from The Philippines- my family immigrated to America when I was 3, then to New Zealand when I was 11 and we’ve been here ever since. Apart from one holiday to The Philippines when I was a teenager, I haven’t truly experienced life there. Like many children of immigrants, I’m disconnected from my roots and am trying to reconcile.

The watercolour series was me exploring unique things from my country as a means to reconnect. Even with food- I’m vegetarian. That’s pretty un-Filipino. Actually, the balut (fertilised duck egg, which I would never dare eat) was the most fun thing to paint. I’m very open to painting more Filipino food! It’s always delightful to see the reactions of people who are familiar it.

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Which of your projects have helped to develop your style or focus?

Last year I had done some commissions here and there, some of which were tattoos. I really aspire to be a tattoo artist so at the time I was very concentrated on making flash-style work and it was amazing to see some on skin. I also got to make a tour poster for Hex’s American tour which was awesome.

I wouldn’t quite call them a client but things changed when I had begun making work to fundraise for Shakti. I will always continue to promote them. I’m dreaming & scheming collabs, though nothing is set in stone except for the fact that the work I want to make will continue to help and support minorities.

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What did working with Shakti mean for you on a personal level?

The other year I was invited to a hui for Shakti where they discussed why they need funding. There were speakers who themselves were survivors of domestic abuse; Shakti helps victims who are trapped by old-fashioned social constructs of their cultures and in a country completely foreign to them.

As with trying to reconnect to my Filipino heritage, one day I began to think about what it means to be a woman of colour altogether. In all my life I never felt like I had been ‘owning it’, so to say. Though there are confusing identity crises that come with being an Asian who has integrated into white/Western culture very early in life, it is a privilege to be able to navigate that culture with ease and share my voice. It’s important to me to be proud of being a woman of colour in that landscape and to help women of colour to the best of my ability.

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What advice would you have for anyone else who's struggling with navigating that tertiary art education space - as so many of us do!

This topic is pretty close to my heart. Full disclosure: I studied a year of Graphic Design at Massey University and I failed and it was soul-crushing. Never mind the pressure of making your immigrant parents’ sacrifices so that you could have a better future worth it. And also having racked up a student loan for nothing! It was jarring at the time to have to accept that formal study wasn’t for me, when I had been so studious growing up. But it has shaped my outlook for the better on making art for pleasure and kept me responsible for my own growth.

I would want to tell my younger self and anyone struggling in a tertiary environment that failure is not the end of the world and that formal education isn’t the only pathway in life. By all means, keep pushing yourself if you want those qualifications but also make things that you love and make you feel good, and people will see that in your work.

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So with that in mind, what have you been working on most recently?

 My most recent drawings have mostly been for leisure; I’m just trying to explore colour and animation at the moment, and hopefully developing my style and skills along the way for bigger and better things to come. Almost all of my work is musically-inspired and/or directly correlates to songs I’ve been listening to on repeat. Usually I’m trying to convey a feeling that a lyric has given me. 

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And lastly, what's on your drawing/painting/art creating playlist right now?

“Be Here Soon” - Imugi 이무기

“Everybody Here Hates You” - Courtney Barnett

“11th Dimension” - Julian Casablancas

“Television Man” - Talking Heads

“Internal Affairs” - The Night Flight Orchestra

Follow Francine Besas on Instagram and check out her website

Callum Rooney - Silk Screens and Skateboards

Meet our poster artist for April / Paengawhåwhå - Callum Rooney!

Callum is bringing his 80s design inspired work to our weekly line-up posters this month, as well as a limited run of stickers. The self-taught artist with a degree in ethnomusicology is firmly grounded in the local music scene and comes to the Woods already responsible for some great poster designs and album cover art. We caught up with Callum to talk musical inspiration, skateboard culture and the undefeated DIY aesthetic of the underground.

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So, first up, how did you get into design?

I guess I've always been into art and the main drive for that has been my interest in music and the art and design that surrounds it, be it gig posters or record sleeves. Another big one was skateboard graphics when I was younger and skating. I'm a sucker for the classic 80s skate art. I didn't get into actually designing and drawing for the publicly until I was actively playing in a gigging band and we needed merch or album art. From there I got into screen printing too, as I saw it as a way of pushing my art/design practice more and saving money doing it all in house haha!

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Who have you worked with so far?

I recently did a gig poster design and run of silk screened posters for the A Place To Bury Strangers Auckland show which was cool. I'm always pushing to do more printed one off posters for gigs as I feel like there's a real hole in that area in New Zealand. I've also recently finished the LP cover for Wellington band Earth Tongue's forthcoming record. Other clients include Garage Project, Budweiser, Samsung and lots of local and a few international bands doing shirt designs or posters, etc....

And on top of all that you’re in your own band too! Tell us a little more about that.

Ounce is a five piece band in which I play baritone guitar and attempt to 'sing'. Its a bit of melting pot of all the music we love, lots of Sabbath and Can vibes mixed with jazz and funk nuances buts its probably most described as Krautrock and Psych rock. We really dig the repetitive groove driven thing. We've just put out our debut record 'Oz' at the start of march on local label 1:12 records, limited to 300 vinyl copies.

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What's your perfect night out and what would you like to see more of in the nightlife culture of Auckland?

Usually a gig or a movie, with a few beers and a burrito haha. Considering how big Auckland is- I'd like to see more music venues outside of the inner city.


How has your love of music and skate culture informed your art?

Skate art definitely had more of an influence on me as a youngster. I guess it made me more aware of functional illustration and design that is disposable, that gets worn and destroyed on a board. It also made me aware of all the branding and packaging design of all the products and the immersive nature of brand identity. As I got older and into playing and listening to music, that kinda immersive visual identity carried on from skate art. As a teenager I listened to a lot of punk, metal and prog kinda stuff. Unlike pop music those kinds of bands weren't marketed based on their appearances, they were represented by the weird cover art on the records. Music art and design is definitely my biggest inspiration now and made me want to actively create my own stuff.

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We've been working with more and more artists who haven't been through the traditional art school route. Has your DIY philosophy given you access to the Auckland art scene?

Yea I'd say the DIY aesthetic of underground music has given me an opportunity to develop a visual art practice. I'm not sure I'd be so active without that relationship.

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Which of your projects has/have been most important to developing your current style?

I can't think of one particular project that has specifically developed my style, its been a gradual development, and I'm always trying new things. It depends on the project really. Recently I've been using a lot of digital techniques spliced in with hand drawn stuff. But if I screen print the work, it has to fit within that rather restrictive framework of analogue print. Medium and process really informs the style so its all swings and roundabouts.

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What have you been working on recently?

I had a new print in the Wrought material show, other than that, I'm always working on new merch for my band Ounce. I'm also working towards potentially collating a book of work with new illustrations and reworked older material. It may be a large format screenprinted book (kinda like those oldschool poster books) or riso or both... But I gotta figure out those kinks and limitations as it will definitely inform the content.


And lastly, what's on your drawing/painting/art creating playlist right now?

Sun Ra, Soft Machine, Can, Tangerine Dream, Neu!, Oh Sees, Funkadelic...

Follow Callum on Instagram

Unchained XL Makes Music Through The Lens of the Migrant Mind

Last week Hugh Ozumba aka Unchained XL released his new EP The Migrant Mind, and this weekend he’s celebrating the new album at Neck of the Woods with an incredible lineup of artists on support. We caught up with the former heavy metal frontman turned afro-hiphop artist to talk about the additional weight this album has taken on in light of recent events. He also schools us on the new/first wave of Afro-Kiwi musicians and how, now more than ever, we need to stop othering artists from minority communities in the music industry.

Unchained XL

Unchained XL

The recent release of your new EP The Migrant Mind was unexpectedly timely. Have the events of the last week made this EP and this weekend's gig even more important to you?

The conversations I hoped to spark around this EP are ones that have received poignant emphasis by the tragedy in the Muslim community. Mo Muse, the opening artist on the bill, is someone who has been directly affected by this event, so yes this Saturday now carries a weight that it didn’t have before. I think there will be a heavy atmosphere among the energy and joy, and it’s my hope that people will take away more than just music and a good time and be inspired to confront these issues.  

Mo Muse

Mo Muse

We've seen a lot of "This Is Not Us" and "They Are Us" and "This is Their Home Too" slogans flying around social media in the last week, yet the stories told in your music challenge these notions. What message do you hope people get from this EP right now? 

The perpetual struggle to find true familiarity and a sense of belonging is a complex, tumultuous experience. I have tried my best to communicate this and hope that it is received with fresh ears. More than ever we need empathy - not the kind of empathy that only shows up when tragedy strikes, but the kind that daily compels us to trample on our deepest and most tightly-held notions of normality, so that the entire idea of “the other” ceases to be.

“My Only Home” - off Unchained XL’s latest EP “The Migrant Mind”


The nightlife and music scene in Auckland isn’t exempt from problems with racism, xenophobia and discrimination. What changes would you like to see?  


My issue extends beyond the scene and includes industry and music media. There’s a specific tension that needs to be addressed I think - that we vocalise our support for racial minorities yet seem to sideline some of their cultural expressions in music as not being mainstream enough. That’s actually a pernicious kind of “othering”, as it’s justified on the basis of established and accepted notions of what the masses tend to like. But why should that be so? I’d like to see a broadening of what’s considered “mainstream” to include more of an overlap with “world music” (a genre which I believe is a horrendous misnomer for many reasons related to my point). That begins with changes in what kind of music our media, industry and venues decide to push. It’s definitely something that has begun, but we need more.



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Both last year’s EP Foreign Legacy and the new EP feature an impressive lineup of featured guests from Aotearoa’s African diaspora. The same goes for the lineup this weekend. What does this community mean to you? 

The community helps carry my identity, but it’s more than that - it represents newness, uniqueness and incredible potential. The local Afrikan community is a young community, and the music coming out of it constitutes a kind of “first wave” of Afro-Kiwi music. We’re still working that out, figuring out exactly what that means and how it sounds, but it’s hugely significant. We are history makers.


How does the live experience that is Unchained XL (with backing band The Shakas Boys) compare to the EP? 

Many people comment that my transition from metal to hiphop is a strange/radical one. My live performance is a bridge in that understanding - the kind of energy that comes about from us performing the live arrangements of my studio tracks has a strong semblance what you might experience at a metal or heavy rock show. But it’s still hiphop and it’s still funky - so don’t be scared by this!

What is your ideal night out? 

Supporting tight local artists, or going to an open jam night.


And lastly, what are you listening to right now? 

Right this instant Kiwi Zambian artist Mukakā. In general, Seun Kuti, Skepta, M.anfiest, Jacob Banks and Antibalas.

Catch Unchained XL at Neck of the Woods this Saturday along with Ijebu Pleasure Club, Mo Muse, Black Sunday, Funksterism and DJ Tido.

Get more Unchained XL in your life:

INSTAGRAM / TWITTER / FACEBOOK / WEBSITE

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Meet our February Huitangaru artist - Huriana Kopeke-Te Aho

Self taught illustrator and designer Huriana Kopeke-Te Aho started freelancing a year ago, working with Auckland Pride, Organise Aotearoa, Pantograph Punch, Production Shed NZ, Purplecon, The Wireless, University of Waikato, and Wellington Palestine.

We appreciate an artist who expresses what they believe in; and this month it’s all about Pride! Huriana designed our weekly posters for February/Huitanguru, as well as a set of limited edition Neck of the Woods stickers. We caught up with Huriana to talk inspiration, political art and nightlife spaces for the queer community.

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Kia ora Huriana! A lot of your work feels aimed towards uplifting communities often ignored in mainstream media and art. Has your work always been focused this way?

Āe, I started out doing design work for community and political organisations primarily, and that has really heavily informed my artistic practice. I think art is so important for getting people interested in different ideas and also a really beautiful way to engage people in political discussions that they might not ordinarily take part in. While theory speaks to the minds of people, art speaks to the beating heart of our struggles and can be a vital first step in the process of political engagement.

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Which of your projects has been most important to developing your style and kaupapa?

I think every project that I’ve worked on has contributed to my development as an artist, it’s a continual learning process and I’ve had to adapt the way I work depending on the project content or the kind of organisations I’m working for.

If I were to think of specific examples, I guess my work with Auckland Pride and Wellington Palestine have both been important in the development of my artistic style and expression in different ways. Auckland Pride was an interesting project in that the final piece was much simpler than my usual work but I had to come up with ways to create a universal image that a large audience could relate to and Wellington Palestine has allowed me to learn more about an important kaupapa that I didn’t know intimately before I started working with them.

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Many of the artists we work with are inspired by music. Can you tell us a bit about the things that influence your work?


First and foremost, I always want to create things that speak to my whakapapa and for the communities that I come from, that’s really the primary motivation/influence that drives my mahi.

My māmā is also a major influence in everything that I do. She was the one who taught me about the importance of storytelling, and of always and unapologetically being myself and creating work that reflects that.

Political struggle obviously plays a huge role in influencing the things that I make and lastly, so many of my friends make beautiful things, whether that be music, writing or visual art and they are inspirations in everything that I do.

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  What's your perfect night out and what would you like to see more of in the nightlife culture of Auckland?


I don’t really tend to go out that much but the most recent event that I went to was the Loud and Proud queer music festival at Audio Foundation, I really loved being around other queer creatives and I’d love to see more events like that in future.

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And lastly, what's on your drawing/painting/art creating playlist right now?

Can I Sleep in Your Brain - Ezra Furman

Mindful - K. Michelle

Respite - BEACHWARE

Be Your Girl - Teedra Moses

Mala Fruta - Ceci G

Tyler - Col3trane

The Jump Off - Lil’ Kim

Pussy Is God - King Princess

F Q-C #7 - Willow

Honey - Kehlani

On the Regular - Shamir

To Zion - Lauryn Hill

Screwed - Janelle Monae

Ladies First - Queen Latifah & Monie Love

Worship - Lizzo

Brujas - Princess Nokia

Crop That Back - Coco Solid

Rhymes to the East - Sampa the Great

Figures - Jessie Reyez

$on of a Queen - Melodownz

Vice City - Biig Piig

Shut Me Down - Haute

Where’s My Love - SYML

Soul Free - JessB

Dynamite - Sigrid

Cold War - Cautious Clay

Dancefloor Baby - Baby Zionov

Follow Huriana on Instagram








Meet our December artist - Serval Fandango

Serval Fandango - you have probably heard of him by now; taking the Auckland art scene by storm. Serval has featured his work in multiple group shows across Auckland city and Wellington. Serval studied Graphic Design and has dabbled in the odd painting job; currently painting a mural for Kiss Kiss eatery. We are lucky to have Serval with us for the month of December, blessing us all with his eye candy flair.

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Where did the name Serval Fandango come from?

Serval is my real name and Fandango is my relation to my work.
Giving you Serval Fandango.

You have really hit the art scene hard and fast since your debut show and solo exhibition in August 2017 at Olly Cafe. How did you manage to impress Auckland city so quickly?


I felt it was just me doing my thing, working on my craft and not being shy to show it.

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You have worked across numerous group shows and with some great clients such as Steinlager Tokyo Dry, Nah Zone, Resene and Red Bull to name a few; what do you believe makes a successful collaboration?

Treating it how you would a relationship.

Locally and internationally, what artists, designers and creatives do you admire?


Locally would be Swidt, Askew, Gina Kiel and Serval Fandango. Internationally Swidt, Askew, Gina Kiel and Serval Fandango.

What was the best piece of advice you have ever received?


Best advice. Persist.

Top five tracks to paint/draw to?

Ariana Grande - Thank u, next
Anderson .Paak - Trippy
Jodeci - Freek'N You
Drake -  Nonstop
A$AP Rocky - Fukk Sleep ft. FKA Twigs

Follow Serval Fandango on Instagram and Facebook or check out his website

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Meet our November artist, Sofia Drescher!

Sofia was born in Upstate New York and grew up living across Indonesia, New Zealand and London. Recently returning from a year and a half in France we met illustrator and artist Sofia Drescher through our July artist, Chippy. Sofia studied in London at the Chelsea College of Art gaining a Bachelor degree in Textile Design before achieving a masters in Illustration at the Royal College of Art.


Currently working on a new children’s book, Sofia has previously worked on three books. Her titles 'Agatha’s Men’ and ‘Arana’ have won international prizes and gained press worldwide. We are happy to have the very accomplished and talented Sofia come onboard for our November artwork.

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Born in Upstate New York, you grew up living across Indonesia, London and New Zealand. How did you find growing up in a mix of different locations and cultures?

I began moving around from a young age so it became a way of life. It was a wonderful way to grow up being exposed to different cultures and experiences, when you move around so much as a child you learn to adapt to new situations, experiences and friendships. My adventurous upbringing has shaped my art practise and way of thinking.


Living a life of travel to exotic places has been an enormously enriching experience in so many ways, but it also comes at a cost. Always uprooting and moving on leads to a loss of friendships and continuity in other areas of life and you are left with feelings of not fitting in so easily as others. The view tends to be of an outsider looking in. But I hope that helps me to observe more clearly the things which an insider might miss. And I enjoy recording the similarities and differences between cultures.

Above: Pages from ‘Agatha’s Men’

Above: Pages from ‘Agatha’s Men’

How did you find each place growing up? What were some highlights from your childhood?

My brothers and I were born in upstate New York with our parents who are both artists, we were surrounded by art and a strong creative community.

When I was 4 years old we moved to Bali Indonesia, it really opened up my mind and my love for new cultures and strange new exotic experiences. A special highlight must be when my family rescued a sick little monkey from our neighbour who had the intentions to sacrifice him for a ceremony. I named him monkey Mondo, I carried him around in a sling and nursed him back to health. His life came to a tragic end when a neighbour from the compound poisoned him. I was incredibly heart-broken but it was wonderful to have had him as a pet.

At 6 years old I came New Zealand, my strongest memories are of time spent exploring time Te Maika (near Kawhia ). There’s something about the isolation and the wildness that was really exciting.

At 15 years old my family moved to London. At first I faced a lot of difficulties placing myself in the English system, but challenges only lead you to interesting directions. My love for the arts truly found its place in London, I  immersed myself in education completing a Bachelors in Textile Design at Chelsea College of Art and a Masters in Illustration at the Royal College of Art. These years were the highlights of my time in the UK- It’s pretty amazing thing communities you build in these institutions. I met so many inspiring, talented creatives, some of whom are in fact good friends of mine now.

Do you think growing up moving around significantly shaped the person you are today?

Absolutely, it has made me far more independent and open-minded.

You recently returned to NZ after a year and a half in France, what brought you back to NZ?

As much as I loved my time in France I felt as though it was time to return- I missed my friends, the friendly nature of kiwis, the calm pace of life compared to Europe, and the warm, open community in Auckland, NZ.

Above: ‘Visa Run’ publication

Above: ‘Visa Run’ publication

Originally completely a degree in textile design, you then moved into studying illustration. Was studying again aways the plan or something that eventuate along the way.?

Drawing/ Illustration has always been a passion of mine and this is apparent within all my studies.

During my textile design bachelor’s, illustration was brought into all my projects/ brief. Specialising in screen-printing the two processes worked hand in hand. I had no intention to continue my studies as I had already been in education specialising in the arts for 4 years (previously completing a foundation degree). 

During my final show at Chelsea College of Art  I was approached by an Illustration tutor from the Royal College of art Masters program and was asked to apply to the Visual Communication program for the coming year. It was an offer I could not turn down, everything just fit into place!

You have an impressive portfolio, in particular the list of publications you have created. Can you tell us how you got into publishing and what you hope to achieve through publishing your work in physical form?

My interest in publishing all began during my first year of my masters, I completed my first book called Arana which is a morality tale adapted from the story ‘The Very Old Man with Enormous Wings’ written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. After completion I entered this book into an artist book competition which took mean new exciting directions.

I enjoyed the process of creating stories so much I continued on and self- published my second book Agatha’s Men’ in 2014  which is a book graphic short story which deals with sexual taboos and the subjugation of women in a short and sordid tale. This book received the Quentin Blake Narrative Prize and was distributed all over the world through the means of self- publishing. 

My most recent publication which is called Visa Run, it is a short series of drawings which documented my visits to Thailand and Vietnam during my stay in Indonesia in 2015. Visa Run was published by Cafe Royal books.

I find so much enjoyment in book making, It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to hold months/ years of work in your hand as a finished product. I hope to continue to share my work and also continue to push my illustration practise further. It’s a challenging area but so rewarding. 

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Currently working on a new children’s book, what do you believe are the key attributes to a successful children publication these days?

I am currently working on my first children’s book, I am in the process of refining my writing and storyboard.

There are so many children’s books published that the competition is very tough and everyone has a different take on how a book should be. Personally I think the story should be educational yet light hearted and approachable. Children have such wild fantastical minds so the illustrations need to be imaginative and challenging, you want the children to look at the pages be excited by the characters and the story line. Consider your audiences, it is important to design a book that appeals to the mother too as they will be purchasing it!

What has been your personal career highlight to date and why?

I would have to say my personal career highlight was my first book ‘ Arana’ which is mentioned early on in the interview. I entered Arana into an artist book competition called kaleid editions.

Arana was selected and exhibited in London, kaleid editions travelled around distributed artists’ books to public special collections.

Arana was bought into the collections of MoMA Library and SAIC, New York, Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection, Chicago, MACBA Library, Barcelona and the V&A Museum, National Art Library, London. and it was awarded the Best Comics From Art Books Wanted International Award Editions Lidu in Prague.

It’s amazing what’s possible when your enter your work in competitions and put your work out there!

Above: Pages from ‘Arada’

Above: Pages from ‘Arada’

Locally and internationally, what artists, designers and creatives do you admire?

There are so many inspiring artist/friends of mine in the creative Auckland circle I wouldn’t know where to start. As for International artists to name only a few;  Maira Kalman, Mr Bingo, David Hockney, Marie Jacotey, Marion Fayolle, Quentin Blake, Gaffen Rafaeli, Grace Helmer, Benjamin Phillips and so many more!

Dream Client?

Penguin books,  mikkeller,  Omnipollo

Top five tracks to paint/draw to?

Toumani Diabaté - Ruby

Khruangbin - Friday Morning

Kokoroko- Abusey Junction// We Out Here

Agar Agar - Fangs Out

henri salvador - ciel de paris

Three artists you would give anything to see perform live?

The Pixies , Four Tet ( excited about the Art Festival Lineup)& The Breeders

Follow Sophia over @sofiadrescher

Meet our October Artist, Shelley Botticelli

Shelley de Bruyn, formally known as Shelley Botticelli, is an artist and illustrator based out of Karangahape Rd. Bright off-neon hand painted tigers, dragons, flowers and bikini babes are a few of the characters that trend through Shelley's work. Her stand out style has been in surplus this year across numerous groups art shows including Good Exposure and Dynasty, live mural painting sessions and her own solo show recently hosted by Checks Downtown. Shelley explains her work is inspired by the elusive role that child experience can play in shaping creativity in adulthood, giving her works a dreamlike quality and an absence of control. She is currently a studio resident and employee over at our neighbours Monster Valley where she is exploring both creative writing and illustration.

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Over the last year you have rapidly developed as an artist locally; stretching yourself across a huge number of group shows, markets and your recent solo show at Checks Downtown. What are a few things that have driven your art forward this year?

I think a lot of it has just been natural progression, particularly because of where my work and studio are located. You meet people and collaborate and things just seem to evolve on its own. But yeah, Karangahape Road is teeming with creatives so the opportunities are always there it’s just about saying yes to the ones that come your way!

When you are part of a show, of any capacity, What do you hope to achieve each time?

Often I don’t get any work done until a few days leading up to a show. like as soon as I commit to something I become instantly creatively bankrupt, and it’s only the stress of a deadline that’s spurs some sort of creative breakthrough, so the following days are ensued with stress and anxiety and looming deadlines. So I guess like, getting on top of my shit and sussing things out so I don’t spend the days leading up to the show being a literal nightmare to anyone who has the terrible misfortune of coming into contact with me.

What has been your favourite show or event so far?

Last summer Siobhan, Toni and I road tripped down to Whangamata for the Wabi Sabi Gallery opening. I had been in contact with Nick and Karenza online and i had never met them, but they invited us to stay with them in their beautiful gallery which was right by the beach. Nick gave us his caravan, which was located in the carpark out the back of the gallery and we woke up every morning to the sound of waves and the couple upstairs screaming at each other. They introduced us to their friends and we spent the following days drinking outside the gallery in the sun and going to bonfires and we met so many amazing people, and ended up hitchhiking home because we missed our bus.

Above: Shelley’s work at Wabi Sabi Gallery

Above: Shelley’s work at Wabi Sabi Gallery

You current work at Monster Valley with Karl and Toni, as well as residing there in the shared studios. Tell me a bit about how you came about MV?

Well first I met my lovely angel Toni which led me to getting a studio residency next door at Monster Valleys Poynton Studio and me and Karl got talking and I kinda forced him to hire me and I suspect he has regretted it everyday since.

Monster Valley is a huge part of K Road, I feel like it combines creativity and community it a really natural and friendly way - while still being a multi-dimensional business that caters to both commercial and editorial clients. I think a lot of people could agree. How do you think MV spins K Road?

Monster Valley is home to so many people. It’s become a real community and its been so cool to be involved in a place that just gives a shit about art and community and people. It’s constantly evolving and reshaping itself and I am so grateful to Karl (Director of MV) for giving me the opportunity to be involved in such a spectacular thing, and letting me work alongside one of my best friends (The amazing, spectacular one and only Toni Gill.)

With this year being so turbo for you - what are your plans for the summer months?

I’ll keep working on my book but I also think I’d like to refine my style a lot, so maybe just being a little more private about what I’m working on and trying not to commit myself to too many things. I think it’s important to just paint for yourself sometimes without having an audience in mind, I would like to start being more authentic to myself, so working privately will be quite beneficial.

The Experiment Event by Monster Valley earlier in the year was amazing, and a huge success. Congrats!  You helped organise this event. What in your opinion is the few key factors to throwing a successful event?

Being on the same page with everyone you are working with is important, and Karl and Toni are the best people you could possibly ask for. For Karl to put on a free event of this capacity is remarkable in itself, nothing would ever had happened without him, he's far to humble and there aren't enough people out there like him. And Toni is obviously an incredible graphic designer and artist, so it was a dream team really! That’s all you can really ask for.

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What are three of the biggest misconceptions people have around your art?


People think I take a lot of mind altering substances which cracks me up. But also I think people often apply more meaning to my art then they should. I get a lot of messages about the “meaning” behind my art but I just paint so I can make more sense of my reality, it's grounding and meditative and helps me work through my shit. Of course there is meaning there, but i kind of like to keep my stuff quiet. People’s minds are too busy and I think it's nice to sometimes look at something and just appreciate it for what it is and not try and force logic or opinions onto it. It’s really important to find meaning in some things, because art is used as a vehicle of expression, but personally I want my art to be used to escape the mind rather than reside within, I want it to be an external experience.

Locally and internationally, what artists, designers and creatives do you admire?

Locally there are honestly too many people to count but Claudia Kogachi’s work is staggeringly beautiful. Internationally I'm really into Paul Paetzel and Wakana Yamazaki at the moment.

Dream Client?

Gucci would be amazing its so beautiful and its worth like $12.7 Billion dollars imagine the cash you would hustle from a job like that :o

Best thing you have seen on the internet this week?

This is my mood now and 4eva.

Top five tracks to paint/draw to?

Ariel pink - baby

Al green - Full of fire

L'lmpératrice - Agitations tropicales

Frank Ocean - Provider

Delegation - Oh honey


Three artists you would give anything to see perform live?

Frank Ocean, Erykah Badu and Destiny’s Child.

Follow Shelley over at @shelleybotticelli

A chat with Shark Week from tour

Tom Wright is the man behind local streetwear label Shark Week. Along with Beach Boy, Pillow T and Josef Parties, Tom and the boys are currently on their way to Auckland from Dunedin where they played the first show of their New Zealand tour. This Friday night they take over the club for their second show before heading back to their home town of Wellington to play their final show. We caught up with Tom to chat about the mixing of fashion,  music, friendship and community. 

Above: Beach Boy in Shark Week’s summer campaign

Above: Beach Boy in Shark Week’s summer campaign

Tell us how you met each of the boys; Beach Boy, Pillow T and Josef Parties? What were your first memories of them?

My first memories of Beach Boy was before I had even met him. I had only been in Wellington for a few months and I spotted this very interesting character on the street. I actually remember thinking to myself “I bet he is amazing at  something”. A few weeks or so later I got to met him through a friend. I met Pillow T in a very similar way but through a different friend and then we ended up living together for a year or so. Then Josef Parties moved up to Wellington, he was already friends with Pillow T and  I remember him just being so eager to work! Very lucky that I’ve got these guys in my life :)

You have been based in Wellington for a few years now, what initially drew you to move to the capital? 

Yeah I think it was the start of 2014 I moved there. I was living in Mt Maunganui before hand and it was time to move to a city. I had visited Wellington a lot and always really enjoyed it and always saw myself living their one day. A few things lined up well and yeah, made the move. Wellington is awesome! 

Above: Ride - Pillow T.

You guys tend to tour once a year nation wide and play minimal shows in between. Is this something you choose to actively stick to or do you just play when the time is right?

I guess it’s a combination of both.  We want to be performing and touring as much as possible but yeah the timing has got to be right and NZ and our market is only small so their isn’t heaps on offer for continuous shows. 

Music and the artists you hang out with are seen as the faces of Shark Week. Do you think having ambassadors is important for a streetwear brand in 2018?

Hard out! Especially when they represent the brand so well. It can really only be a positive outcome. I’m very lucky to have such awesome people support the brand the way they do. But it’s a two way street for sure.  

Above: Josef Parties’ Like That (Produced and filmed by Beach Boy)

Your relocating to NYC at the end of the year, what’s next for Shark Week?

Yeah, I’m actually going next week! So this tour is really the icing on the cake and such a fun way to spend my last week in NZ with my friends. I got lots of plans for Shark Week but I’ll let them unfold instead of telling. But I really just want to keep progressing in all aspects of the business. 

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Meet our September artist, Dune Terrace!

Indi Martin-Wells creates art under the name Dune Terrace, inspired by a past illustration she drew inspired by Whatipu Beach. Indi is one of the two directors behind local art community GOOD EXPOSURE. She has collaborated with the likes of Happy Boy Eatery and Allpress Coffee, as well as being involved in numerous group shows, the most recent being Monster Valley’s The Experiment. We chat to Indi from her new spot in Orewa, where she will be basing herself for the summer.

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You have just moved back to Orewa! Tell us a bit about growing up there?

It was a time.. my friends and I would go to the dairy after school, grab a dollar bag of grape lollies, a can of Golden Pash and head to Orewa Skate Park. I built myself a long board when I was 16 so I could cruise around with my friends, I never learnt to use the mini ramp though. In summer, I would wake with the sunshine and dive into the ocean to start my day.. usually followed by a trip up to Tawharanui or an op-shopping mission with my friends. 

How do you think growing up on the coast has influenced your art?

The coast is and has always been overflowing with creative minds and positive places. Growing up in these surroundings helped me learn the importance of creative expression - the influence of my environment inspired me to create imagery from what I had seen and imagined. 

You are one of the co-founders and directors of Good Exposure? How did Good Exposure come about?

Bella Gummer organized the first show in March this year in an empty villa. She asked me to paint a mural in the hallway of the house, so I did. It was such a good show and party that I expressed my excitement for the opportunity it brought me as an artist, and the other artists involved. Our ideas aligned and we decided to curate a second show together (Good Exposure Vol.2) which was even better! Good Exposure was born out of a mutual excitement, and passion for the emerging Auckland art community!

Above: Indi's mural at Happy Boy

Above: Indi's mural at Happy Boy

You have worked across numerous group shows, before and within Good Exposure, and most recently Monster Valley’s, The Experiment. What do you count as the top traits and key values to a successful group show?

The Experiment was an AMAZING experience! It is so wonderful to be immersed in a community of like-minded creatives. I think the trick to manifesting a successful group show is the diversity of the artists. Alongside doing everything with passion, from curation to production. If you get together a group of creatives from different backgrounds and niches, it opens up opportunities for everybody involved. Diversity allows the artist to speak through their art to a variety of people, which is also a great opportunity to get out of your comfort zone as an artist. Seeing artists have their work appreciated by strangers is the most rewarding feeling as an exhibition curator. I am so excited about the summer Good Exposure exhibition!

Above: Indi painting at The Experiment

Above: Indi painting at The Experiment

Dune Terrace is your art alias, where did the name come from?

A Terrace of Dunes, a past illustration I drew inspired by Whatipu beach.

Where do you hope to take your art in the next 12 months?

I don't think I will ever stop creating content, so as long as I keep going, I think the opportunity will come - I don't like to plan too much. I live by the idea that hope can breed disappointment, so I try not to expect anything haha.

Above: Indi's mural at the first Good Exposure show

Above: Indi's mural at the first Good Exposure show

Locally and internationally, what artists, designers and creatives do you admire?

M.C Escher is a huge influence on my work, as well as psychedelic artist Roger Dean. As for local artists, I am a huge fan of Alma Proenca, Blake Gordon and Chris Dews. I spend a lot of time with my good friends and flatmates Tom & Holly, who inspire me every day to be creative! You can listen to them @the_melancholies

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Dream Client?

Donald Trump lol

Best thing you have seen on the internet this week?

This. Big mood

Top five tracks to paint/draw to?

F(R)iends - Avantdale bowling club

Old world - The Modern Lovers

Ashes to Ashes - David Bowie

Sticky Hulks - Thee Oh Sees

I'm so tired - Fugazi

Three artists you would give anything to see perform live? 

Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin & The Beatles

Follow Indi over at @duneterrace

A Good Night on K' Rd with LUCA

What does a good night on Karangahape Road involve? The variations are endless. Last year our friend Jordan Hurdle (aka LUCA of Omni Potent) decided to put together one of his own variations and launch A Good Night on K' Rd - a club night with his friends and some of the best local young artists. This Saturday we have Jordan and his crew back for their third installment of A Good Night on K' Rd to date. We caught up with him this week to chat about his love for K' Rd.

Above: Jordan himself, photo by Max Burgess

Above: Jordan himself, photo by Max Burgess

What was your first memory of Karangahape Road?

My first memory of K would have to be going to Brazil Cafe with my dad around 6 years old. For those who knew of it or remember, it was such a funky cafe. Real intimate with cool games for the kids. I seem to remember lots of music magazines, posters and art everywhere.

How do you feel K' Road has shaped the local music scene the past few years?

K’ Road has shaped the local scene to the next degree! I feel without it, so many music collectives including ourselves, wouldn’t of had the stepping stones you need to enter the NZ music scene (and I'm just talking about the Hip-Hop/Trap Groups I know of). Without spots like The Grow Room & Lowtide I wouldn’t have met the likes of Badcrop, LSJ & Shiraz and many more creatives, not just musicians!

The first time I heard of Neck Of The Woods was through a Home Brew or Average Rap Band gig. Unfortunately, I was too young to go, but knowing that the people I looked up to played there, I knew that's where Omni would soon perform. I feel the local music scene has NOTW and many other venues to thank for giving all sorts a chance to showcase their talents. From hosting vast community nights like Plug FM, also for individual acts and of course again, ourselves!

I know so many people who’s first gig was on K. It's CRAZY! Thank the Gods & Goddess’s for you and everybody on it, K’road.

Above: Franko (OMNI) performing.

Above: Franko (OMNI) performing.

This is the third Good Night on K' Road gig, when and how did the idea come about?

Well, it all happened when Hudge (Neck of the Woods music/event manager) txt me saying someone had pulled out a week before their set date. He was due to go overseas and was really needing someone to fill the gap. I believe it was a Hip-Hop/Trap night planned so I guess due to our previous gig at NOTW, he knew we had some sort of pull on the Hip-Hop scene around the C.A. Ambitiously, I told Hudge I'd do it, knowing I still needed to talk to the rest of the crew.

So I holla’d at T (Nauti) asking what he thought about it - unsurprisingly he wasn’t keen at all, since our last show had months in advance to plan. So I turned to my other flatmate Max (Uncle Hyan) asking him if he thought I could do it and if so would he help me. Hyan only sees the best in any situation so, of course it was YES. We chucked some names about and ‘A GOOD NIGHT ON K’RD’ stood out. We collectively hand-picked some DJs (Chef B, Ethan James, Ngaroma & Zoe B aka Kick Girl) we had ties with and that was it.

One week to organise and promo the night and it turned out great! We had roughly 250 people show up. Since it was a major success (in my eyes) I knew it had potential to be an annual/mid-year event. We had to plan another.

The second show, we had to make it a sell out ting (Baccyard, Omni Potent, Illbaz, Chef B, HYAN, Yancey and CHOP’D UP).

What is a good night on K Road for you?

A good night for me definitely includes some Lord of the Fries, maybe Sals  and of course bouncing between Neck and Verona. But no doubt it mainly relies on whats going down on the night, has to be Good MUSIC involved! But I love checking out new events/ artists which appeal to me, so I always find myself strolling to find out what else is happening on K’Rd. Never find myself at the karaoke tho haha.

Above: LUCA & HYAN (Jordan and Max)

Above: LUCA & HYAN (Jordan and Max)

If you were to add any three spots Onto K' Road what would they be?

This is a good question, I'd love to see more Youth Organisations/Creative spaces for artists.

The likes of Grow Room and Lowtide leaving K really brought up emotions in me, they need to be back there and definitely deserve a space on the strip. A gaming arcade spot would be sick!

What are you working on at the moment, other than organising this weekend's Good Night?

We have just secured a studio down in New Market, so we are re-recording and working on new music to release, not to mention a few music videos (finally) !

Gig wise, I haven’t started planning anything yet! But definitely putting some ideas down on the drawing board... won’t give too much away. We are also due for some new Omni merchandise as well.

 

 

Come along tomorrow night! A Good Night on K Rd 3.0 with Tony Douglas, Hyan, Baccyard, Romi, Ev Love, Vulc & LUCA. 

Meet our August artist, Msmeemo!

Leading us into August is our new monthly artist, the wonderful and talented Ngaumu Jones aka Msmeemo. Growing up in Opotiki, Ngaumu moved to Auckland six years ago to study at Elam School of Fine Arts. She's into everything from making clothes to filming, stick and poke tattoos and animation. There is no limit to her creativity. With a huge amount of mystery to her name and a whole lotta potential, we asked her to come onboard to take care of our August artwork. 

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You'RE ORIGINALLY FROM Opotiki. can you tell us a bit about growing up there?

Driving through it doesn't look like much but it’s a beautiful place filled with beautiful people. Everyone kinda knows everyone. Opo kids seem to stick together, all my friends from there all keep in touch and we catch up when we can. 

How did you find Elam? 

A struggle.

What are the main lessons and practices from art school that you implement in your work today?

I would say art school taught me how to THINK about art. Art is more than just a pretty picture. It can speak and move people. It influences the way people think and feel which is incredible.

You Dabble in many different creative outlets, What are you enjoying the most right now?

Stick and poke tattoos and taking drawing digital. Both have opened a whole new world to me.

when did you start tattooing?

Summer of last year.

Check out Ngaumu's stick & poke work at @ngamoolie

How would you describe your art in your own words?

Cosmic brain goo.

Locally and internationally, which artists, designers and creatives do you admire?

To name a few … Matisse, Hayao Miyazaki, Parris Goebel and every single one of my flatmates!

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Dream Client?

Hayao Miyazaki or Will Smith 

Best thing you've seen on the internet this week?

Isle of Dogs (the movie)

Top five tracks to paint/draw to?

OMG this is so hard to decide. Here are some random goodies from my playlist.

 - Find a Way // a tribe called quest

- Sweet Thang // shuggy Otis

- True honey buns // bahamadia

Testin me // peven Everett

-Flowers // the deli

Three artists you would give anything to see perform live? 

Missy Elliot, In This Moment and The Notorious B.I.G.

CAN YOU DOODLE US A SELF PORTRAIT? 

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Revealing BENE

Emerging from her mysterious past six months, BENE is set to perform her debut headline performance this Friday. The local teen released her debut single ‘Tough Guy’ late 2017, followed by a dreamy video for the track early this year. With both Sniffers and A Label Called Success plugs, her track ‘Tough Guy’ gained positive feedback from day one. This Friday she will perform live at Neck of the Woods, revealing her body of music, live stage presence and IRL attitude. We caught up with the Grey Lynn local to chat about where she's at.

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The gig this Friday will be BENE’s debut headline performance, how are you feeling about it?

I’m pumped! The support so far has been unreal. I have an awesome, talented group of musicians playing with me and I love the intimacy of live performance. I can’t wait to give my supporters a raw, honest show and let them in on what I’ve been working on for the past eighteen months (:

Can you tell us a bit about your musical background? What are some of your earliest memories of music?

My family has always been really musical. My mum sings, and theatre also runs in the family so I’ve always loved the idea of getting up and performing. My first instrument was the saxophone which I played from primary to high school and I also learned guitar as a child. Growing up with a wide range of music allowed me to appreciate how music transcends so many boundaries ... musicians can be as crazy and creative as they like ... hopefully, there will always be someone, somewhere who appreciates what they're doing!  Road trips always had music by artists like Aretha, James Brown, Radiohead, Beirut, Groove Armada and Bjork on repeat so I was encouraged from an early age to listen widely.  

How did BENE come about?

It all started with a few Soundcloud covers. I put them out for a bunch of mates and the response that I got, not just from them but from other artists and industry people reaching out to me, really gave me the push to give music a solid go. It was always kinda just a fantasy idea for me, and just doing it I guess paid off. I want music to be the thing that drives my life.  I find writing really comforting and a great emotional outlet. It helps me through difficult times. Because I love listening and relating to other people's music and lyrics so much It feels incredible to be able to make my own and have people respond to it positively. 

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Can you tell us a bit about the story behind the name BENE?

The search for the name was long and slightly painful as I needed something that stood out but was personal as well. So it’s simply just part of a nickname that I’ve always had spelt differently which is taken from my last name. Turns out it also means well and good in Latin which is kinda funky.

You released your debut track ‘Tough Guy’ at the end of last year, followed by the video in the new year. How did you feel about releasing your music and visuals, without playing shows yet?

I mean It was a pretty down-low release as no-one knew who I was. I felt pretty nervous as no-one had ever heard the song or any of my other music except for close family, my manager and my killer producer, Josh Fountain. 

We are excited you asked RANDA to open for you this Friday. Locally, what musicians do you admire or listen to?

I’m so excited to see RANDA play live; he has some seriously cool beats! NZ is honestly filled with musical legends and it’d be hard for me to name just a few but some music peeps that I’ve been seriously loving lately are bands like Marlin's Dreaming, Jack Berry Band and Fat Freddy’s (always!). I’ve seen all of these bands live and it’s just the best thing in the world going and feeling fully satisfied afterwards, after hearing some mad song crafting skills with lyrics that speak to me. I’m also seriously into LEISURE and having worked with crazy skilled musicians from the band  (Josh Fountain, Djeisan Suskov, and Jordan Arts). It’s so awesome that I’ve had the chance to collaborate with such talented musicians.  I’ve also been really into Matthew Young’s music too … the list goes on ... there are too many. The NZ music community is seriously popping and they neeeeeeed to be heard by the whole world!

What's lined up for the rest of 2018?

Another song and music video are coming out a few weeks after the gig. I have another possible live performance at the end of the year … and I have a heap of songs I can’t wait to release.  

Wanna come along to see BENE this Friday? More details here.

Meet our July artist, Chris Hutchinson aka Chippy!

We are super stoked to have the K Road legend and print enthusiast Chris Hutchinson (aka Chippy) working on our July artwork. Chris is an active and busy guy within the local art, illustration and print scene. If you don’t know him by name, there’s a high chance you’ve been to an event he has produced or seen his work plastered around town.

Founding Inky Palms in 2015 with his two friends, Chris continues to co-direct the space today with his partner Cait Johnson. When he’s not collaborating with the likes of The Grow Room, Blunt Umbrellas and Phantom, he’ll be at Inky Palms working on his solo projects and commissions, along with preparing for any upcoming zine festivals or events.

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Hey Chippy, How are you enjoying your day?

Hello! It’s a bit of a rainy Sunday today. This morning I went down to the Grey Lynn Farmers Market and had coffee with some friends and then spent the rest of the day milling around at home.

You are currently in the process of leaving your day job and launching into full-time freelance life. What prompted you to do this?

Yeah so I worked at this print shop in town for a couple years after Uni but I was able to quit that recently because I got a part-time job assisting local artist Hayley King aka Flox in her studio.  So it means I have most of my own time now to be at my studio working on my artwork or on illustration commissions. I’ve been doing freelance stuff at night or on the weekends for the last few years now so I feel like the only way for me to grow and take my practice to the next level is to really dedicate some time and energy to it.

Above: Chippy's ‘Rippling Sprites’ 

Above: Chippy's ‘Rippling Sprites’ 

I guess that leap is something a lot of people don’t get to do, want to do or are not sure how to go about it. How did you know the time was right for you?

Recently I’ve been getting enough commissions from people that it just made sense to start to take the metaphorical ‘training wheels’ off. I’m also looking towards putting together my first solo exhibition later in 2018 so I’ll need a lot of my own time to do so. Hopefully I can build up enough momentum to stay freelancing but we’ll just have to see how it goes!

Above: Inky Palms studio, La Gonda Arcade, K Road.

Above: Inky Palms studio, La Gonda Arcade, K Road.

You have been working hard the last few years since finishing your studies. As one of the founders of Inky Palms, can you tell us a bit about how that started?

Yeah I co-founded Inky at the start of 2015 with a my mates Dirk and Oli during our final year of Uni. So our friend Hannah-Lee used to run the 203H boutique out of the space we’re in. She was moving to Berlin and needed to pass the space on. We had already been putting on a few exhibitions/workshops for a couple years by that point at spaces like YES Collective (now defunct) and so when the opportunity arose to have our own space we jumped at it.

Inky Palms has evolved quite heavily, changed residents and moved in a different direction since launching. If you were to summarise what Inky Palms is today - how would you describe it?

Yeah in the first year when I was running Inky with Dirk and Oli we were operating the space more like a gallery/venue with exhibitions every second week and even the Inky Waves rave series. It was all super fun but quite exhausting to maintain on top of a day job/University.

After the first year those two went on to pursue other creative endeavours and I began to direct the space with my partner Cait Johnson. We were able to slow down by not doing so many events and focussing on using the space to support the local independent publishing scene by hosting workshops and using our Risograph printer to make zines, artist books, posters and other printed matter for ourselves and other local creatives. It became more of a space to print/draw/make rather than to show....

These days Inky is primarily a working studio for our resident artists that include Toni Gill, Jed Richardson, Toby Morris and Renee Jacobi. On occasion, we still do Riso printing for artists and host workshops. I’m sure Inky will continue to morph and develop but in general, it just remains to be a space to get yee palms dirty and just make some stuff!!

Inky Palms and yourself are hosting a stall at the Nippy Zippy Zine Fair at the upcoming First Thursday event. How often are you involved in art and print orientated events?

I’m pretty active amongst the zine and artist publishing scene here in Auckland, it seems like something always pops up every couple months, its real fun. Always familiar faces and people are constantly producing awesome work. In the past year we’ve had the Jive Print Fair, the Indie Book Fair, Summer Zinefest and the Winter Art Book Fair. Make sure y’all come through to the Nippy Zippy it’s gonna be cozy and Auckland Zinefest is not far away either!

As a solo artist, what have been some of your favourite projects to date?

Probably my artwork for The Grow Room last year. I admire the work that those people do and I was given a lot of creative freedom. It was awesome to see my work roll out across cassette tapes, digital platforms and t-shirts etc. Also I had heaps of fun working on my group exhibition Acrylic Air Freshener at Monster Valley last year with Toni, Jed and Smiddy. Thirdly, I really enjoyed working on the collaborative Paper Paste-up Paradise mural with the girls from Jive Prints. It was made up of around 1,400 Riso printed A3 posters which we pasted onto a 50 metre wall outside the Library. It made midtown Auckland look super colourful for once. We got heaps of positive feedback from that and it was fun as working in public and talking to heaps of randoms who liked our art.

Above: Paper Paste-up Paradise collaborative mural with Jive Prints for Artweek Auckland

Above: Paper Paste-up Paradise collaborative mural with Jive Prints for Artweek Auckland

Launching into your new freelance life, where do you hope to take your work in 2018?

Hopefully this exhibition I’m working towards ends up going smoothly! I’d love to start going bigger and painting murals and hopefully get some cool illustration jobs doing packaging and other products.

Locally and internationally, what artists, designers and creatives do you admire?

There are so many people to admire these days but I think in particular my boss Flox is doing so well living off of her passion in Auckland city. Some of my favourites internationally are Misaki Kawai, Kate Moross, Stefan Marx, Luke Pelletier, Atelier Bingo and a million others.

Above: Chippy's ‘Micromash Risograph print’

Above: Chippy's ‘Micromash Risograph print’

Dream Client?

It would be sick to do some toys for Kidrobot.

Best thing you have seen on the internet this week?

Follow fruit_stickers on IG.

Top five tracks to paint/draw to?

Hugo Jay - Spent

Aphex Twin - Xtal

Yussef Kamaal - Strings of Light

Benedek - Coolin’

Baths - Aminals

Three artists you would give anything to see perform live? 

Yaeji, Toro y Moi, Bjork.

Can you doodle us a pic of yourself?

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Meet our June artists, Jess & Lew!

This month we invited artist duo, best friends and flatmates Jezz and Lew to our monthly artist programme. Alongside art, the two bond over their love for wine, 80’s babes and leopard prints.  Lewin recently moved back to Auckland from Canada, reuniting the two best friends and launching themselves as a creative duo. We caught up with the two to chat about their friendship, art and influences.

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First of all, how did you two meet? 

When we were younger our ex-boyfriends skated together and we instantly bonded over wine and illustrating. 

Being best friends who you live and work together; what are the things you both admire about each other?

Lew: I love that we’re always pushing each other to be more creative. If one of us is in the lounge drawing, the other one will always end up doing the same. We have super different styles but love drawing the same kind of subject matter so I always love seeing what Jess comes up with. 

Jess: What Lew said, plus she’s a mean cook. 

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Lewin, you are part of the upcoming art show Good Exposure 2 - What can we expect from you in that show?

I’m hoping to branch out with some larger pieces than I’m used to. 

Both studying fine arts, what did you both major in?

We both worked across multiple mediums, but majored in Fine Art. 

What are the main things you took from your studies over to your practices today?

We both took away a strong sense that we didn’t quite vibe with the Fine Art world and we both found ourselves realising illustration was more our thing. 

Working as a team how do you split and balance mixed work? 

We rough out some ideas between us and decide who does what aspect and then make it work.  

Locally and internationally, what artists, designers, and creatives do you admire?

Lew: I’m mainly inspired by tattooers, locally Richard and Sera from Two Hands and Capilli from Sunset are some of my favourites. As well as painters like Marlene Dumas, Tracey Emin and Cecily Brown, which were some of my favourites during art school.

Jess: While studying my biggest influences were Polly nor, Celeste Mountjoy (aka Filthyratbag), Egon Shiele and David Shrigley. Locally I’d say I’m pretty influenced/inspired by artists like Imogen Taylor and so many of my creative and musician pals like Ahnand Unka. 

Dream Client?

Danzig or a beer company comes in a close second.

Best thing you have seen on the internet this week?

Shredded cheese memes and tinyhat_skatelife Instagram page

Top five tracks to paint/draw to?

Funky Town- Lipps inc

Turbo Lover- Judas Priest 

Jolene - Dolly Parton

Pour some sugar on me- Def Leppard

She Rides - Danzig

Three artists you would give anything to see perform live? 

Jess: Dolly Parton, Black Sabbath & Elvis Presley.

Lew: Dolly Parton, Frank Ocean & Glass Animals.

Please doodle us a pic of you two

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Follow Jess & Lew on Instagram at @jezzandlew

Introducing NAH ZONE, our newest local youth-lead community platform

This Friday we are excited to be hosting the debut NAH ZONE Showcase. The killer local line up includes The Katayanagi Twins, Baccyard, Church & AP, N eo & Jinzo, Humbleboy & J$E, and Sugoi. So who exactly is NAH ZONE and what are they about? We caught up with their founder Jonique to ask about who they are and what’s in store for Saturday night.

Above: Nah Zone Presents: Katayanagi Twins; Rain and China. They'll be throwing down hard at our NAH ZONE Showcase.

In your own words, what is NAH ZONE?

It’s hard to pin-point what Nah Zone exactly is because it's so fluid but I would say right now it’s a youth-lead community platform where we aim to give young local creatives the support and representation they need as well as keeping them in the know with what’s going on in our local creative scene.

What prompted you to launch NAH ZONE? When did NAH ZONE begin?

Nah Zone launched last year in October but the idea had always been around, I was just both lazy and scared to put it out there. I used to rent a space upstairs at Olly in Mount Eden and that place itself was a creative hub. All types of talented creatives were running in and out of there and a lot of them never really had a platform to get their work out to a wider audience mainly because they didn’t have the support to or they didn’t fit into a specific category. I wanted to change that. I wanted them to embrace the fact that they were put in the ‘Nah Zone’.

What does NAH ZONE offer compared to other local music & promotions collectives?

Nah Zone’s kaupapa is all about putting community values at the forefront in everything we do which means we aren’t exclusive, we’re open to collaborations and we’re always trying to find new ways to push the scene forward. We have a fortnightly segment, Keep It Real, that gives people the chance to send through their life experiences and how they feel about all sorts of things with no filter whatsoever. You won’t really find that on any other music/promotion platform.

Above:  Joni the founder of NAH ZONE

Above: Joni the founder of NAH ZONE

The upcoming showcase is your first solo run gig, congrats! What do you think are the most important elements of a successful show?

Thank you! I really think it’s about communication, knowing your demographic and how you can appeal to them through promotions without necessarily saying straight up ‘buy tickets to our show!’ cause that gets boring after a while. Also, everybody loves a good meme.

You have an incredible line up, can you introduce the line up and explain why you chose them for your debut showcase?

Our line-up includes producers Baccyard (Omni Potent) and Sugoi (Climate Change/Bassment), rising rap duo Church & AP as well as former duo N eo x Jinzo who will be doing separate sets so that’s exciting! We also have Humbleboy & J$E who are frontliners for upcoming music collective, KOME, that are based in between Auckland and Christchurch.  Lastly, the infamous Katayanagi Twins - the turntablist duo who bring that feminine modern twist to our local nightlife. The line-up was chosen through an online poll - we asked our audience who they wanted to see for our first show and the response back was insane. From that, we handpicked each act we felt represented what Nah Zone is all about in their own unique ways. I think

Locally, who else are you excited about at the moment?

Music wise I’d have to say Meraki Soul, Azryd, Spyde, Dharmarat, T1R, Hurt Gurl, Shallow$ and everything GARETHXMF is doing with Peach Sessions. If we’re talking fashion, the boys from Friends + Enemies and the Kolose sisters from Hunting Ground Store are paving new lanes, it’s cool to see. 10Daniel16 is a freak of nature with the visuals as well as Serval Fandango with his eye candy flair. I’m really excited about the 312 Hub though, everything they’re doing/aiming to do is so dope. I could go on forever with this list.

After the showcase, what can we expect from NAH ZONE in 2018?

We have one more gig in July and then after that we’re going to step back a bit from events to fully immerse ourselves into the community things like workshops and open panel discussions as well improve on what we’re already doing. There’s a few collaborations with local collectives in the works right now but othe than that we’re going with whatever feels right so keep up to date with us on instagram, facebook and twitter.

Want to come along to the NAH ZONE Showcase? Buy your tickets here.