I N T E R V I E W
Ngamihi Pawa, Photographer
by Ian Duggan
Photographs by Ngamihi Pawa
Hamilton has had a succession of great band photographers. Most recently we have seen a lot of Ngamihi Pawa attending gigs, with her awesome photos appearing on Hamilton Underground Press’ website, Undertheradar.co.nz, and elsewhere. We caught up with Ngamihi to talk about who has inspired and influenced her, and the bands she has photographed.
HUP: Ngamihi, I have seen you taking photographs at a number of gigs, including many for Hamilton Underground Press. How did you get into taking photos of bands?
Ngamihi: My partner is my inspiration. I tagged along to all these shows he wanted to go see. I didn't even know who some of them were at the time — don't hate me for not knowing who the Flaming Lips and Throwing Muses were, I was mainly there for the free drinks and to have a good time! We were living in Australia, and the very first band I photographed (non-published) was Dimmer. It was from there I started to enjoy the live music scene. I was immersing myself into a lot of different genres such as Indie, Punk, J Rock, Folk and Metal. A lot of bands I got to shoot were from New Zealand including the likes of The Bats, Headless Chickens, Shihad, Tiki Taane, The Verlaines, The Brunettes and Liam Finn. We returned to New Zealand in 2012 to raise our son and It wasn’t until the end of 2014 when my son was older that I decided to pick up my camera again.
HUP: In March, you took photos for ‘Undertheradar’ at the Jesus and Mary Chain gig at the Powerstation. How did that opportunity come about?
Ngamihi: I am lucky enough to be a photo contributor to online sites such as your own, undertheradar.co.nz and muzic.net.nz. It can be difficult getting media accreditation to big shows without the help of these sites. The JAMC show came about through my contacts with UTR, who published the shots. It is a real honour to get to shoot legendary bands such as JAMC, J Mascis, Slash, Gorilla Biscuits and Jeff Tweedy.
HUP: Have there been any photographers that have inspired you, or have influenced your work with respect to your band photos?
Ngamihi: There are two recent photographers who have inspired me. One who is local and pushes the boundaries with flash — Matt Henry Photography. I love his work and he's given me a few tips on how to use camera flash. The other is Manuwino Live Photography, who is a French music photographer who uses ambient lights to his advantage and his black and white photos are awe inspiring.
HUP: Are there bands that you have photographed where you felt the results were particularly good?
Ngamihi: My first ever big assignment for Undertheradar was the 2015 Slash ‘World on Fire’ tour at Claudelands Arena. The stage felt 12ft tall and when the bright lights came up I kind of freaked. I was not used to so much light on stage and it was also my first time hearing Devilskin, who blew me away. I walked away with some great shots of both bands and I even had a guy who wanted to use one of my photos for a painting.
HUP: You have taken photos of bands from a variety of genres. What are your favourite bands, from Hamilton and elsewhere?
Ngamihi: Some of the Waikato bands I have shot recently that I enjoyed were Medusa Glare, Sterling Archer, Deathnir, The Recently Deceived and just recently El Jay Hall. Some of the out of town bands include Bakers Eddy, Skinny Hobos, Brendon Thomas and the Vibes, Eb & Sparrow and Alien Weaponry.
HUP: Your photography is not just a hobby; you also run ‘Ngamihi Photography’. What sort of photography does your business cover?
Ngamihi: My full time job is as a freelance photographer, which covers music, portraits, corporate events, weddings and I am now branching out into videography.
Check out Ngamihi’s website here: http://www.ngamihiphotography.com
And her Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/ngamihiphotography
I N T E R V I E W
Joseph Scott & Robert Forrester - On flatting, the design process, and doing whatever the fuck you want.
By Eliza Webster
In advance of their upcoming show A Collection of Works at Skinroom in Frankton (opening Friday the 8th of April), I figured, what an opportunity to get to know the guys behind the work. Joseph Scott and Robert Forrester have turned up in the last couple of days with armfuls of branches and I’ve caught them lugging cinder blocks and chain up the stairs. In amongst the advance of displaced nature into the gallery have arrived some delicate works of copper wire and paper plates that balance the larger pieces beautifully, and they keep on coming! This show is set to be a ripper - come and join us in the chaos.
How long have you been working together? Have you worked together before?
Robert: How long ago did you move in?
Joseph: Late 2014? This is the first time, oh we did Trees At The Meteor together last year, so that was the first time. But yes, we spend a lot of time just sitting around talking, experimenting with stuff. We’re always constantly rearranging and making installations in the house.
R: We have this creative space that we’ve been nurturing so that we can do whatever we like – but it’s not too unreformed. But literally we’ll just be arranging stuff in the house, pushing stuff around you know, bread tags, bits of junk. And like Box City – that started on the mantelpiece, then it got moved to the fridge, then it got too big for the fridge so it went to the lounge…I guess there is a sense in the flat that has been nurtured that is being creative and doing whatever the fuck you like is totally acceptable so long as it’s not fucking stupid. And I really think that it works, I mean it’s worked for me, and definitely worked for Joseph.
J: That was the idea we wanted to bring into here [Skinroom].
R: I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface of that. Like I mean we could come here for six weeks, easily, doing shit, crazy shit and it would just get more and more dense.
J: You bring the work in and that’s just whatever rubble we’ve got lying around, and then it’s an organizing exercise.
So it’s kind of like a design process?
J: Yeah… There was just a point where, while we were working at the flat we would just start up little installations in the bedrooms, so one day we would just set up a room, taking things and kind of curating some kind of area, and there would be a time where I would sleep in that room. We were test driving this show in the living room, so we moved everything out and painted it up and I slept in there and then I went to another bedroom and yeah, that’s where I work, so you’ve got things like that coming through – the process of shifting around, and then works from the garage and yeah different objects coming in from different places. So I’ll move round and give the works different identities and things like that.
So have you been making art forever, has that always been your thing? Or were there other plans?
J: Yeah I was always drawing as a kid and as a teenager - like I’d always be copying stuff, like off the TV. There was a point where I was studying, and because we had to, I was trying other things. And now, where I am now, Robbie has been pushing me to try more and more stuff.
R: The slave driver. I went to Hamilton Boy’s High, I stayed there till I was 15, then I went to Hillcrest High School. There was a friend of mine who was very fashionably and culturally aware way before anyone else I ever met ever: “Hey come to Hillcrest, its great!” So I turned up at Hillcrest and she left, which I though was hilariously funny. And so yeah I had a creative streak that was definitely my own and other people really noticed it… I mean I was interested in creating my own kind of stuff, like I was sewing my own clothes, oil painting and being quite flamboyant and colourful. It kind of expanded out from there; ended up in Christchurch, and it was great growing up in Christchurch in the nineties, I fell in with a really artistic crowd, played music, 2D, 3D. So to answer the question, yes. The first time I started using a camera I was about maybe 7 or 8, and then my dad threw the camera on the roof because I kept clicking it too much.
So would you say you have a specific practise now? Is there a thing you like to do?
R: Really what I want to do is teach people stuff. And facilitate them. And maybe help them find something that they are interested in doing, and then just in parallel with that, keep focusing on the things that I find interesting. And whether it’s art, or artistic, or creative.
Mr. Scott is my case I’m trying to activate and it’s been very interesting. I help a lot of people and I’m kind of waiting for that investment to come back.
So would you consider teaching as a job?
R: I definitely would consider teaching as a job, as a career choice for me, but I frankly can’t go through the hoops. To teach informally, yes. To even start something on my own away from the state then yeah. Actually I thought about starting a monastery! But more about science and art! And you go there and you only study science and art all the time.
Have you figured out your sort of practice, or are you still fiddling? Don’t plan to figure it out at all?
J: I feel like I am thinking a couple of shows ahead or something like that. I was involved with Casbah Gallery. I was one of the people doing that with Priscilla [McIntosh], Lisa [Rayner], Craig McClure, and Karl Bayly, and the deal was we each got to run a show, and then we’d help facilitate the other shows. So I spent all last year planning for that. I was constantly making things here and there, listing things. When Casbah stopped, we had to move out. I was kind of happy I didn’t manage to get that idea. I was constantly at that point: “oh there’s nowhere to show at the moment…” When I talked to Geoff [Clarke] about this [exhibition], he asked who else at the house was doing stuff, and I mentioned Robbie. So then we decided we’d do a show, and then that changed again because then there was another person working. I started thinking a bit more about that sort of workshopping thing that we’re always doing at the house, and again the idea changes. It’s good to have someone else to work off of as well, because it means you edit out, and what they do takes up the space that is missing in your work.
So my process comes together organically, it comes from staple ideas and attitudes that help me navigate themes.
So do you want to do this forever? Just keep making stuff?
J: Yeah. I mean I love it as well, even if you’re making stuff that isn’t as good. It gives you some sort of outlook on things, I like that sort of organisational conceptual stuff.
What would be your dream project?
J: I mean I like the idea of everything culminating in a really good thing, but hopefully that doesn’t happen really early on, then you fizzle out. I’d like to figure out some way of moving around a lot so you’re not always producing one thing, but you know wherever your practise is, you can look through and take care of more than one thing. You’re versatile enough to move around, interesting to look at instead of pressing the same button over and over again.
Any closing statements for the masses?
R: If you’re going to go study something, or you’re in the process of studying, it doesn’t really matter what you believe in, you should be learning from people that are competent. They’ll teach you how to learn, and maybe they’ll teach you how to learn in your chosen field, but they basically propel you forward. They should be ladders that take you to your place. I guess at the end of the day you have to have good teachers, it’s really important to be able to trust them. And they don’t have to be super fucking amazing on paper, they just have to be able to lead that class into productive happy stuff.
A Collection of Works opens on Friday the 8th of April at 6pm. Make sure you come along, bring your mum and dad.
Level 1, 123 Commerce St
R E V I E W
The Scones – The Trouble with Thompson EP
By Ian Duggan
A couple of months ago I reviewed The Scones EP, ‘Go Ahead, Bake my Day’, which is available via Soundcloud. It turns out, however, that this wasn’t considered by the band to be an official release at all, but merely a collection of rough recordings posted on the internet. Now, though, they give us their first official release, the five track EP ‘The Trouble with Thompson’.
A couple of songs on the EP are derived from those early sessions, ‘Scones’ and ‘The Red MG’. Scones is a great little song, upbeat and with interesting, light-hearted lyrics, which essentially makes a comparison between people and scones. The lyric “They’re Sultanas, from Foodtown” perhaps gives an idea that some of these songs have been around for a little while, with Foodtown having shut its doors around four years ago; nothing a change to its rhyming replacement Countdown wouldn’t fix, perhaps! ‘The Red MG’ I find to be another highlight, with its chord progressions and vocals somewhat reminiscent of mid-career The Verlaines. However, while some of the early songs gave a suggestion of a heavy Flying Nun influence, this is far less evident in the previously unreleased tracks here. This is a band that seems to be finding its own voice, with its own style.
Overall, this is a great collection of well-crafted pop songs, both musically and lyrically. I hope The Scones gain the following they deserve based on their outputs to date, both from Hamilton punters and elsewhere, and that they continue to keep cooking up further pop gems for a while yet.
I N T E R V I E W
The Perfect Things to Have with your Devonshire Tea
Julian White of The Scones
By Ian Duggan
On 9 April we get the treat of ‘The Scones’ playing at Nivara Lounge, hot on the heels of the release of their debut EP ‘The Trouble with Thompson’ on 28 March. We talked to guitarist and vocalist Julian White ahead of the gig about their sound, influences, history, and the ever-contentious pronunciation of ‘scones’.
HUP: You have released a few songs on Soundcloud prior to the new EP, which were tied together under the moniker ‘Go Ahead, Bake my Day’, and there appears to be a definite '80 and '90s Flying Nun vibe in there. Who do you consider to be the main influences in your music?
Julian: My musical awakening came at the beginning of 1980, when I was starting 4th form. I went from listening to Earth, Wind and Fire and ELO to early British punk and post-punk. Some of that punk influence can still be heard in parts of some Scones tunes. However, I think you are right in suggesting Flying Nun has had a big influence on the songs. Throughout most of the ‘80s and the first half of the ‘90s I listened to a lot of Flying Nun music, and was a fan of many of the bands. I would say that without a doubt the songwriter who had the most influence on my own song-writing was Robert Scott, particularly in the early years of The Bats and also his much earlier band Electric Blood (which he fronted prior to joining The Clean). By and large those were catchy pop songs consisting of basic chord structures and naïve lyrics, with the trebly jangle in the guitars characteristic of the Dunedin Sound. I love that sound and there is a lot of it in The Scones music. Also in the ‘90s I listened to a lot of Jonathan Richman. While that influence may not come through as strongly in The Scones’ music, it reinforced my love of a poppy sound and a quirky, almost cute lyric, which make up a large part of his songs. Many of his other lyrics are profoundly honest, heartfelt ones which I think take a certain bravery to convey, and in more recent years I have tried to add a little of that feel to some of my own song-writing. The final major influence on my song-writing I would mention is The Lucksmiths. They were a long-time Melbourne band who split a few years ago. I first heard them on an online radio station in 2007, when I was living in London, Canada. My ear was caught by the very strong antipodean accent, which was quite a foreign sound in London. What I particularly love about their music is the lyrical sophistication within what is still a pop song, with clever use of rhyme, uncommon words and lyrical devices such as zeugma. Whereas the lyrics in early Scones tunes are almost painfully naïve, more recently I have been spending much more time trying to develop more interesting lyrics. I also think it’s worth mentioning that I am not a very strong guitarist, so the simplicity of much of the material suits my technical abilities (or lack of them). Greg [Edwards], the main guitarist in the band, is a very good guitarist and has added a lot to the guitar sound of the band. He has been more influenced by stronger guitar riffs and more distorted sounds, from bands including the 3Ds, The Pixies and Pavement, so with the two guitars you get a clean, simple sound from me and a more grunty, musically interesting sound from Greg. Mike [Paterson] on drums has been in many previous bands. Dave [Colborn] on bass has less of a song-writing pedigree but has contributed some strong and often melodic basslines to the mix.
HUP: Of the six songs on Soundcloud, two make an appearance on the new EP. My favourite track from the earlier songs, however — Blue and Green — which sounds quite like The Bats meets Goblin Mix, somehow didn’t make the cut. Is this an indication your sound is changing direction somewhat?
Julian: It’s interesting that you mention Soundcloud. Prior to our first gig in October 2012, at Static Bar in Hood St, we thought we should at least have something on the internet. We had made rough recordings at our Auckland practice rooms of the songs we had practised at that time, initially with the thought that we might turn some of them into something. In fact, we had only polished three of the songs, but decided to upload six to at least give people an idea of our sound. So some of those recordings are flawed, with mistimings and in one case omitted lyrics (from a vocally challenging part of Red MG so that my voice could be conserved for the ones we’d polished). They were never intended to be a formal release. Bake My Day was a phrase we used on the poster for the gig, and in fact the graphic on Soundcloud is part of that poster. As far as the songs on the real EP go, their selection was a democratic process. The band’s own perception of the merits of each song change over time, and if we were to choose the tracks for the EP now they might be different. But we are happy with the songs we have chosen. The basics of each of those songs were written before the band formed in 2011. Blue and Green is also in that category. I expect you will find it on our next release, whenever that will be, along with some newer songs. In terms of the band changing direction, as mentioned in the answer to the previous question there has been some change in the song-writing process and some of the content. In some of the newer songs we have tried to vary the song structures, but I don’t think there’s a major change in the overall aesthetic. We haven’t played enough to know what the real crowd favourites are, but a few different songs have been nominated by different people. Blue and Green is one of those. And don’t worry, it still appears in our set lists and you can expect to hear it live on April 9.
HUP: Tell me a little about the history of ‘The Scones’. When did you form and where did you meet the other members?
Julian: Greg and I go way back. We went to intermediate and high school together on Auckland’s North Shore. Incidentally, you mentioned Goblin Mix, who were contemporaries of ours at Northcote College. Greg and I have shared many musical adventures over the years, including a high school band called Limited Western Art and another in our first years at University in Auckland called Yorkie the Bricklayer. Neither band did anything notable, but a few of The Scones’ songs date from Yorkie days. Yorkie folded when I left Auckland in the late 1980s. For the next 20 years I moved approximately every 2 years, living in various places in New Zealand, the UK and Canada. When I finally settled back in NZ (in Hamilton) at the end of 2007 Greg was living in Germany, but when he returned in 2008 he recalled the old songs and suggested we try to revive them. We put some very rough recordings together and advertised for a drummer and bass player. Mike answered the ad, and we got together with him for a practice. That was in 2011. Nothing moves quickly with The Scones. Mike had a bass player friend who he had played with before, and who came to that initial practice, but who wasn’t able to commit to the band. So for the next few years the three of us practised when we could, and gradually polished a repertoire. We didn’t have a bass player at that time, so the bass tracks were programmed by Greg into a silver metal box. The silver metal box kept perfect time and never played a wrong note, but had no personality whatsoever. During that time Greg started playing in another band, The Imports. The bass player for The Imports was Dave, and after a while we asked if he would like to join The Scones, and happily he did, in early 2014. Dave has a great personality and is pretty much as accurate as and much more flexible than that silver metal box. We have been a 4 piece since then. We have only played live once since Dave joined the band, but recorded the EP early in 2015 and hope to play more often in 2016 and beyond.
HUP: For many people, the correct pronunciation of ‘scones’ is a major point of contention. So, do you consider yourself to be ‘The Scones’ like ‘cones’, or ‘The Scones’ to rhyme with ‘cons’? And how did this name come about?
Julian: It definitely rhymes with cons. To me the alternative pronunciation is an English pronunciation. When we first started practising together, one of the songs was called Scones. We were throwing around possible names, and our drummer Mike suggested The Scones. I felt this was appropriate. The song uses scones as a metaphor for human character, and there is a line in the song which says that “everyone’s a scone”. So I think it fits. I also feel it fits with the character of at least our earlier songs, which are pretty simple in terms of chord structure and lyrical content, and it’s a simple name. I have since found out that Mike was once in a band called “The Curries”, and another one called “Love Cake”, so maybe he has a thing for food-related band names.