I N T E R V I E W
Carb on Carb
It's an early winter Friday evening and here at HUP HQ, the females of the house are transfixed to Gilmore Girls as I sit in the corner pretending not to watch while thinking of good questions to put to James and Nicole a.k.a. Carb on Carb, who, this very morn, released their first single in quite a long time. They are currently mid-tour, taking a jaunt around Aotearoa with shannengeorgiapetersen - the wheels of all things Carb seem to be well and truly back in motion so there should be lots of things to ask about...
Kia ora Kōrua! How are you both? How has the last 18 months been, were you stuck in Tāmaki Makaurau the whole time? Did anything good come out of the lockdowns for you - rest/opportunities for writing/recording etc?
We are good but also hectically busy! Nicole is studying full-time and I am working full-time and we're still doing all the music/label/Girls Rock stuff. Last year was a good reset for us to stay at home and reassess things. We did dive into writing in the all the bizarreness of the first lockdown and got heaps done, but then lost it after that haha.
Huge congrats on the new single 'Here Comes The Best Bit' it's a real banger and reminds me of the songs on your first LP (2015's 'Carb on Carb" LP) more than 2018's 'For Ages' and I don't think it's just the 'best your worst' lyrical reference. Is that a conscious thing or just how it turned out?
Nah it wasn't a conscious move back towards the first album - although I wouldn't be surprised if the new album ends up somewhere between the self-titled and For Ages in terms of vibe.
It seems to be a reflective song on your previous experiences as a band - 'painted sheets for backdrops', 'take a breath between the sets' - is there a yearning for something that once was? And if so, do you feel it's gone forever or is it something that's temporarily on hold?
It's definitely us reflecting on highlights of the band so far. At the time we were having a lot of discussions about what the next steps of the band would be, would we should aim for and what we should forget about. And we kept coming back to the DIY community and house shows as the most special parts. It's something that has been temporarily on hold over the past year, but it's been back on and it was an absolute treat to play that recent run of three shows.
How has your songwriting process changed since 2015 and what is the process? I seem to remember something about there being a strict 'no jam' policy in the band. Is that still in place?
You remember right haha. It has definitely changed, now for almost every song we write the guitars together first, then Nicole works on a vocal and we add drums last and adjust.
Where did you record the new music? Is there an EP or LP to follow?
At The Stomach in Palmerston North. I (James) have recorded other projects there in the past. Our friend Harry Lilley took over a few years back and has transformed it from being a friendly and adequate community studio to one of the best in the country. Here Comes the Best Bit, and the next single Be My Mirror, (coming out at the end of July), are the first two songs we have finished in writing for the next album. So that's in the works - out 2022.
Hurrah! Tell us about the shows with shannengeorgiapetersen - how did they come to be?
We really wanted to tour NZ this year and it happened that this was the best timing for it. Then I was invited to play in shannengeorgiapetersen and they wanted to tour and they're great friends so I wanted to tour with them anyway so it was a done deal from the start.
You've toured quite a bit in the past, are you hoping to head overseas to play anytime in the next year or so?
We've decided with all the uncertainty and also with the album to be finished we'll focus on NZ and the album this year and then look overseas for the album release tour in 2022.
I noticed the other day that Nicole is playing in Deb5000 - tell us about that.
Yeah, she's loving it! She's enjoying just playing bass - not having to worry about songwriting or carrying that burden of it being your creation - just rocking out! They played a Halloween show last year where the band was made up of a giant cockroach, Edward Cullen, Mr. Bean and Dave Grohl - it was out of it haha. They're putting out an EP this coming Friday too!
James, any more plans to do more Capsul or How Get music/shows?
Capsul...nah I'm letting that one lie. How Get on the other hand is coming back - we have an EP recorded which we are going to release and play some shows around. All of the lyrics are in Te Reo which is an exciting new journey for me. Has been delayed due to an injury but expect that the second half of the year.
A bit more light-hearted stuff if you're up for it...what have you guys been listening to lately, anything we absolutely need to be listening to?
My highlights of the year so far have been Babyteeth's EP, the EP from Canadians Arm's Length and the Kudaranai 1nichi/Anorak! split.
Which of you is the best cook and what's the speciality?
Ooh...definitely used to be me but I have gotten a bit lazy. Nicole makes a vegan butter chicken that is quite renowned.
Who is the sportiest Carb?
I don't think either of us would qualify as sporty, but we're both pretty into tramping now.
What's the best show you've played?
I thought this was a very hard question, thinking of my favourite, but actually its easy because its the objective best rather than my favourite - its gotta be Camp A Low Hum! We weren't even very good back then haha but damn what a festival.
And same question but the weirdest gigs (if it's not playing HUPs first show that afternoon in 2015 to very young kids I'll be amazed!)
Haha that was funny show to be sure, definitely in the top 10. Perhaps our show in Changsha, China - at that point (and maybe still) the biggest venue with the craziest light show we've ever played, with an audience of just the staff. Our cardinal rule was broken that night, we jammed on stage with God Bows to Math (the band we were touring with) and the sound guy who was just standing on stage doing the sound on an ipad. Pretty fun though.
Last one - if you could arrange a show anywhere in the world which three bands would play, where would it be and what would are we all drinking?
Ok...this is a fun question....its in Canberra...with The Hotelier and Attic Sky's and we are drinking Cole's Express coffee.
I N T E R V I E W
By Indira Neville
Please note this article refers to suicide which may be distressing for some people.
This is quite a tricky thing to write. It is about my friend, and musician Pat Kraus. In both contexts I want to be respectful but also I’m writing for the world so it needs to be interesting. And I want it to be strong and positive and definitely not soppy.
Because it is tricky I’m going to ease into things and start by describing how Pat and I sit on the floor of his house and have a cup of tea and agree on the parameters of the interview this piece is based on. The interview is prompted by his new release, Chocolate, Candy, Love and Dreams.
I tell him I’d prefer not to discuss stuff that can be found elsewhere – his discography, what labels he’s been released on, how old he is etc. Not that this isn’t interesting, it just exists already in a squillion places. I ask if we can instead talk about the why and how and what of the album, especially the healing aspect referred to in the liner notes. He agrees. Result!
An obvious starting place is the word ‘healing’. I wonder what he means by it. Pat’s response is emphatic and honest, “I was desperately trying to keep myself alive and I asked myself ‘what will help me?’ and because music is all I can do, the only answer was making music”.
The desperation was related to the loss of his friend Reuben Winter to suicide in September last year, and Pat’s Ankylosing Spondylitis. Ankylosing Spondylitis is an unfixable painful double-whammy autoimmune and inflammatory condition with a side order of chronic fatigue and depression. Pat was diagnosed in his early twenties and says for a long time he felt angry and closed up, “I wouldn’t talk about it…just tried to ignore it”.
The friend Pat lost helped him change this perspective, “Reuben had Fibromyalgia and was really good at speaking openly and honestly about it. It was significant and it made me want to be like that…he taught me that being open is healing for you and others”. He continues, “So I lost a friend but also a role model and it was a massive loss”.
Chocolate, Candy, Love and Dreams is about Pat’s grief and coming to terms with his illness but ultimately his belief in the potential of life, “I decided I want to be alive”.
The music reflects this transformative optimism. Pat has been Kraus for over twenty years and talks about how mostly he’s made “dirty” sounds with “distorted guitar and blown out drums”. He considers his past releases valid but this time made a conscious decision to do something with an “optimistic spirit” and “that sounds like clean linoleum”.
When I listen to the album I hear this. For me the tunes are joyous and helpful and conjure up an image of being inside a cave full of bright pink glowing crystals. It’s a very nice place to be. I describe this to Pat and he is happy because audio-wise his aim was to make “sound environments that you can hang out in”. He tells me the songs are actually short snippets of longer meditative “zoning-out” things.
The album is made on a synthesizer, “You programme notes and chords and the synth spits them out and you can vibe on a loop for as long as you want to. Then you start hearing things and it evolves”.
Almost all of Chocolate, Candy, Love and Dreams was created while Pat was in bed with chronic fatigue so the synthesizer is also a practical thing. It fits on the fold-out tray. He has mixed feelings about making music while in repose, “it’s positive in that it’s forced down-time but I can still feel productive. But also I’m working when I should be resting”. He describes himself as “a workaholic with chronic fatigue”. Even when his body isn’t working his brain is going pow pow pow! It’s not ideal.
Pat has to spend around half of his time in bed and often this makes him frustrated, “If I was healthy I’d play live and tour all the time but I can’t so I record. For better or worse music is really literally my life. I found a thing I can do and I wanna do it. I don’t know what else to do with myself”.
His music is loved and appreciated by many and feedback on Chocolate, Candy, Love and Dreams has been positive. He was nervous about its reception, “It’s so different. I wondered if it was going to fit in my music community bubble”. He adds though that he likes it, “I usually like my own music”.
I end the interview with daft question, asking him what song he’d sing on American Idol. He laughs and says it’s a “horrific idea. Singing in any context is terrifying to me”. Then he goes, “They would put me as one of the comedy bad ones at the start. And I don’t need that”.
Need to talk?
1737: free 24/7 phone and text number
Lifeline Aotearoa: 0800543-354
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508828-865 (0508TAUTOKO)
Outline (LGBQIT+ help for all ages; 6pm to 9pm any evening): 0800 OUTLINE (0800 688 5463)
Youthline: 0800376-633, txt 234 or firstname.lastname@example.org
What’s Up (for 5-18 year olds; 1pm-11pm): 0800942-8787
Kidsline (aimed at children up to age 14; 4pm-6pm weekdays): 080054-37-54 (0800 kidsline)
I N T E R V I E W
Nick Walsh / Eliza Webster of Never Project Space (Kirikiriroa)
Arpie caught up with Nick and Eliza of Kirikiriroa's Never Project Space ahead of their one year anniversary celebration this coming weekend. Read on to find out how the first year of this amazing space has developed, some personal highlights to date, and the plans for the future.
Congrats on the one year anniversary! I bet that's gone quick. You guys must be stoked with how the first year has gone?
Thank you! We are. It’s been a whirlwind of a year so it’s nice to take a minute to take stock.
How has the space developed in the first year compared to how you planned it?
It’s developed alongside the plan pretty closely, I think. The idea was always to create a space where art and music could co-exist and that’s exactly what we’ve done albeit with a bit of tweaking along the way…things like opening the Never store, or starting to do regular poetry readings (‘Sodium Glow’, in collaboration with Mayhem Literary Journal) have all happened really organically.
Beyond that, the past year has also seen a lot of new faces inhabit our five studio spaces. We’ve got a really nice mix of people/different creative disciplines happening under the same roof now which is something we’ve tried to cultivate.
On a personal note, both Eliza and I now have studio spaces of our own at Never, so we’re hoping we’ll be able to take some time to work on our own artistic practices - something which has been tricky to manage with everything else going on! It seems like a pretty common trajectory that people heavily involved in arts facilitation let their own creative practices fall by the wayside. We’re trying not to fall into that trap...
I was initially surprised to see Die!Die!Die! play there - was that always part of the master plan or was that a bit of an experiment, (and if so how did it go)?
I suppose the D!D!D! show was a bit of an experiment in a way... we initially intended on Never being more of a space for electronic or folk music and not so much louder ‘rock bands’ just due to the nature of the space itself (i.e. ostensibly an art gallery, not a music venue).
The D!D!D! dudes hit us up about performing and it was a pretty difficult prospect to turn down. Initially there was a bit of trepidation but we figured it would be kind of a trial by fire; if we can host one of the loudest bands in the country, then anything else is going to be easy in comparison!
The show went really well! It was a packed house, the band killed it (as they always do) and they sold a shit tonne of merch. Happy days!
How have you found the public's response overall to what you are doing at Never?
Incredibly positive! There seems to be a lot of good will in the community for what we’re doing. I think that’s probably partially due to the simple fact that Kirikiriroa has only a small but mighty community of venues to support the arts, which is something that people have been making noise about lately.
Beyond that, Never is just a really unique space to be in. We design the space for each event to be a welcoming and unintimidating place to be.
Shout outs to everyone who supports us! We love ya.
How has the location benefitted or hindered Never would you say?
Obviously being in Frankton means we get less foot traffic than we might if we were in the CBD but we wouldn’t have it any other way!
We love the atmosphere of Commerce Street and the community around it. It’s a really unique little pocket of Kirikiriroa with miles of history and character.
The usual Friday night trajectory is to hit the Frankton Pub (Aleways Inn) after a Never Show. I think it’s cool to be able to provide a night out for people that is centered in a different part of town.
What are your top 3 events from the first year at Never?
What does year two hold in store, more of the same or anything new?
Our goal this year is to keep building on what we’ve been doing. Lately we’ve started to bring other people on board so people can expect to see some new faces around the place.
In a lot of ways we feel like we’re just hitting our stride. Last year was about making a splash and saying yes to everything. Eliza and I barely knew each other before we started Never so we’ve had to do a lot of learning on the fly and figuring out how we work together as people.
More than just a business or a venue, we see Never as an art project in and of itself, so there’ll always be new things happening whether that’s doing more offsite shows, new faces, changes to the space, etc. We’re both pretty restless people and we take pride in keeping things fresh. Watch this space!
And the one-year birthday party, this coming Friday...tell us all about it!
It’s gonna be a big one! Open studios, open bill.
A lot of people probably don’t realize that beyond the gallery and store, Never is home to five studios with 10 residents practicing their crafts behind usually closed doors.
Currently we’ve got photographers, screenprinters, book publishers, a fashion designer, painters and musicians. Many of these people are integral to the running of Never so we thought it would be a good chance to open up the doors and let people check out the studios and the rest of our space.
Then from 7pm there’ll be a series of short “rapid fire” (10-15 minute long) performances from local musicians, poets and even a stand-up comedian!
The idea is to encourage people to take the plunge and perform live without the pressure of having to perform a traditional set length of 45 minutes to an hour. This is a format we’ll be doing more of in future.
Finally, we’ll be cranking up the speakers and having a boogie until late. Tell ya mates!
Never Project Space's One Year Anniversary is this Friday 18th June - koha entry - open studios from 6pm, open bill from 7pm, 123 Commerce Street, Frankton, Kirikiriroa.
I N T E R V I E W
Luca Garcia Ferrari of Universal Authors
I'd been seeing and hearing an awful lot about Auckland/Hamilton based indie rock trio Universal Authors on my socials in the last few months so thought it would be timely to fire some questions at them and find out what all the fuss was about.
Kia ora Luca! Tell us all about Universal Authors - who are you and where are you based?Universal Authors is currently made up of Aidan Scott-Nanthasack (guitar, vocals), Noah Page (drums, backing vocals), and Luca García Ferrari (bass, backing vocals). At the moment Noah and I are living in Auckland, working and studying respectively, and Aidan is studying in Hamilton. So if you average the locations out, we’re currently based in Pokēno.
How did you get together?
The band started when Aidan got a couple of people together to jam, and asked me to join on bass. We wanted to play in Smokefree Rockquest, but two of the members were too old, so we got Noah to join in on drums. From there, after a couple of lineup changes, the current one remained and we’ve been working as a trio since.
What are your biggest musical influences and what are you listening to at the moment?
That varies a lot for each of us! I’m influenced a lot by progressive rock, punk, and argentine rock nacional, and as of late I’ve been listening to music with fretless bass (Paul Simon and Serú Girán, to give some examples) and more Rock Nacional (Soda Stereo, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs). Aidan is influenced by bands like Arctic Monkeys and Nirvana, and he’s been listening to some shoegaze and dream pop, like Slowdive, Beach Fossils, and Cigarettes After Sex. Noah gets to listen to a lot of flash new bands thanks to his job at Depot Sound, like Dead Favours, Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown, and The Blue Stones, and his inspirations are bands like U2 and poppy acts like Lazuli Vane and El Jay Hall.
How does the songwriting process work in Universal Authors?
A lot of songs generally come together from jams. One of us brings an idea we’ve been working on to the rehearsal room, and we layer our own parts on top. If it speaks to us, we work in it more to turn it into a song. Once the instrumental is sorted out, Aidan tends to figure out a melody over it and writes lyrics for it (though I’ve written lyrics for some of our songs, and sometimes I give him a bunch of writing and he adapts it to make it fit).
I've noticed you've been playing a lot at (all-ages Auckland venue) UFO, have there been many other gigs of note so far?
Several! UFO is a fantastic venue and the people there are great.The first time we played there was one of our best shows - we had about 120 people in there and everyone was super into it - moshing, crowd surfing, the whole nine yards. The opportunities to play at Bridge City BeatDown and Powerfest were awesome, too. It’s a really nice feeling to be part of a bigger event alongside everyone in the community. Watching the other bands play is such a treat as well! There are some killer musos out there.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Definitely to continue gigging! We’re also trying to get our ducks in a row to record some more music. We have a bunch of new songs that we’ve been developing and getting those out in a more “official” manner would be rad.
Sounds ace! Ok...time for some real questions...
Who is the sportiest member of UA?
Probably Noah, since he plays drums, but Aidan is partial to going to the gym, so it’s a tie between them.
And the best cook?
That’d be Dana, the unofficial member of the band! Noah makes a mean fried rice though.
Which Universal Author is the most likely to get arrested?
Aidan said it would be him or me, but I’m unsure as to what the reasoning behind that is. Definitely not something I can disclose to the public, I’m sure.
What usually causes the most disagreements in the band?
We mainly disagree about our music, the direction we should go as a band or where individual songs should go. Also about which guitar looks better.
Check out Universal Authors at the following links FACEBOOK INSTAGRAM SPOTIFY
A R T I C L E
Sensing the lift: An interview with Louisa Nicklin
with Barnaby Greebles
The Shanghai Conservatory of Music, founded in 1927 and nicknamed the "cradle of musicians", takes pride in its increasing international reach. As the oldest music school in China, it has expanded to encompass contemporary, technological, traditional Chinese, and Western Classical music. Being invited to debut an orchestral piece at its "Hearing China" concert series (one of eight chosen from around the globe), was an opportunity not to be scoffed at.
After becoming a two-time finalist in the Todd Corporation's Young-Composer's Award, and a composer for NZSO's Composer Sessions, Louisa Nicklin's expanding ouvre hit the point of a full-body writhe. Amid this success, perhaps while taking questions at the Conservatory of Music's press release, or while listening to the Shanghai Philharmonic's rendition of her psych-inspired contemporary-classical work, rumblings of a less technical nature festered.
Making the switch from classical to pop was a bold move, which at this early stage appears a fortuitous one. Nicklin's new Roundhead-recorded, eponymous full-length - her second release in this format - bristles with an introspective intensity belying her genuine, easy-going nature. Echoes of classic trip-hop chanteuses percolate via her vocal tones, backed by a delightfully raw guitar-bass-drums setup (with the occasional Lesley-driven organ or sax run), redolent more of the C86/Flying Nun back-catalogue in ballad mode. Moments of harmonic and instrumental experimentation keep the listener engaged, the result being an enchanting and emotive journey.
HUP: I've been really enjoying your quirky videos. I'm detecting some serious themes in your new stuff (she slipped down to her end, he found her...). I'm wondering how those pesky quotidian moments in the videos, like sticky wet hair in your eyes or a cat's tail swiping the mouth, tally with some of the darker themes?
Nicklin: I think those moments fit with the darker themes as the things I write about are all real life experiences and the videos reflect that. The videos are light hearted but I also see them as touching on everyday annoyances or feelings. [continued below]
HUP: I see you went to Shanghai in 2016 for the Conservatory of Music and had a piece premiered there. I listened to a couple of your compositions on Youtube too, which were very impressive. I’m hearing an expressionist postmodern style? Do you consider this avenue more successful than your pop offerings? You must be busy fitting both into your schedule. Do you find yourself spending more time on one than the other?
Nicklin: I'm actually not writing much classical music at the moment. Once I started getting into song-writing my compositions sort of fell to the side. I do some every now and then but it is easy enough to balance the two as I am not usually working on both at the same time. I use one as a break from the other when I lose interest or motivation.
HUP: In the writeup for your Auckland Writers Festival gig, referring to your composition work, they reference psychological phenomena as an influence. This possibly still seems to fit with some of your lyrical content. Do these ideas spill into the new album in any way?
Nicklin: When I was studying music composition I was studying psychology at the same time, so the concepts I was learning in psychology I often used as the concepts for my music. This was in quite a different way than song-writing. For example, a psychological phenomena would be the inspiration for the way I structured the harmony and harmonic development in a piece. Psychological concepts don't influence my song-writing in the same way, but I guess it is true that the themes of my music sometimes touch on things like mental illness so have a link to psychology in that sense.
HUP: Was I off mark? Are you saying the lyrics are more about personal experiences rather than dark psych-related tropes?
Nicklin: Yeah, more like that! Almost all the songs are focused around personal experiences.
HUP: Was it much of an adjustment transitioning from classical to pop? What was behind the switch? Were you always a connoisseur of brooding indie pop creeners, or did you meet others who inspired you?
Nicklin: The transition came kind of naturally. I was playing in a band while I was studying composition and got drawn into the local music scene in Wellington while I was also learning a lot about writing contemporary classical music. I started playing around with song-writing; it felt pretty separate from the classical thing, but also I was pretty absorbed in music so [it] was still related. I didn't start performing songs I had written until I moved back to Auckland. I was pretty nervous about singing in public, so that was my main barrier. It's hard to say who has inspired me or my music as I have loved so many different types of music at different times, so I think they have all had influences on what I do in different ways.
HUP: Are you thinking of the harmonic relationships in the same way you would with a classical piece or more sensing out the vibe while strumming a guitar?
Nicklin: Definitely a lot more 'sensing it out'. When I was writing classical music the harmonic relationships were a huge part of my writing process. Now, with songwriting, it is a lot more about improvising and seeing what sounds good and not forcing melodies or harmonic ideas too much. [continued below]
HUP: Do your band mates play much of a role in arranging the songs or contributing parts?
Nicklin: The way it usually goes is I will turn up to practice with the song structure, lyrics and melody and guitar part pretty much finished (but open to change), and then we will just jam it and Eamon (bass) and Mason (drums) will come up with their parts. I like to write songs that can exist solo and be enhanced by a band rather than a song that only really works as a band.
HUP: I'm envious you got to spend time at Roundhead. Was it your first time in a big studio? Did Steven Marr extract your best performing self?
Nicklin: Yeah this was my first time in a studio. Roundhead was pretty amazing. Steven is a great engineer and producer. He definitely tried to get us sounding our best. It was an awesome few days - a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. I'm really happy with the result and I would love to work with Steven Marr again in the future.
HUP: Cool that you’ve been involved with Girl’s Rock as a mentor and instrument teacher. I’ve heard that the environment there is super encouraging. Do you have any suggestions or advice to help women musicians create this kind of support outside camp in an often male-dominated industry?
Nicklin: Yeah, Girl's Rock (now 'To the Front') is an amazing environment and it would be pretty awesome if the music industry was like this all the time! I think the main ways to create this kind of support outside of the camp is to make an effort to choose different groups and artists to play at gigs. Another way is to be encouraging of each other. Playing music isn't a competition about who is best. We are all on the same team. We should be lifting each other up and I think in general the local scene in Auckland is pretty good at that.