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In the middle of this month -- June 21st touchdown, June 25th a concert at Auckland's Town Hall -- the Beatles made direct contact with New Zealand.

The reception here 50 years ago was much like everywhere in '64, the height of Beatlemania: huge crowds, screaming, shows that people saw but barely heard . . .

It was a turning point in New Zealand popular culture and to mark the occasion the Play It Strange Trust -- CEO Mike Chunn -- has arranged concerts of Beatles' songs at the Auckland Town Hall on June 24 and 25 featuring a veritable galaxy of local stars (Tim Finn, SJD, Graham Brazier, Fiona McDonald, Jordan Luck and more) for A Strange Day's Night.

But the trust's mandate is to spotlight young songwriters through an annual secondary songwriting competition and to also put them in concert with established musicians.

So a Strange Day's Night will see a number of them sharing the stage with stars and over the next week or so we will spotlight some of the performers young and established . . .

paulWe introduce you to 16-year old songwriter Grace Brebner 

The first song which really affected you was . . .

I was 6years old when James Blunt released ‘Goodbye my lover’. I didn’t understand all the messages in the lyrics because it was an un-relatable concept to me at the time – but I guess even as children we’re still able to feel the emotions of a singer when it’s delivered well through music.

Your first (possibly embarrassing) role models in music were . . .

The Wiggles!

The one songwriter you will always listen to, even if they disappointed you previously, is?

Bob Dylan

As songwriters: Lennon-McCartney or Jagger-Richards; kd lang or Katy Perry; Madonna or Michael Jackson; Prince or Pink?

Lennon-McCartney. No contest

resized__300x424_strangeThe three songs (yours, or by others) you would love everyone to hear because they are well crafted are . . .

Imagine,   John Lennon

Piano Man,  Billy Joel

Bohemian Rhapsody,   Queen

Melody first? Words or phrase first? Simultaneous?

I tend to find they come simultaneously. This is how I get the melody to reflect what the lyrics are trying to say.

The best book on music or musicians you have read is . . .

I have never read a book about music, however, having recently met Prof Pat Pattison from Berklee College of Music I am inspired to read his book “Song Writing without Boundaries”

If you could co-write with anyone it would be . . .

Lana Del Ray, I love the fact that she doesn’t see herself as a singer/performer but a songwriter/studio singer. I love her lyrics and her expression.

The last CD or vinyl album you bought was . . . (And your most recent downloads include . . .)

Soundtrack to Wicked – I’ve loved Wicked since I saw it for the first time in Melbourne eight years ago. The sound track makes a great addition to my jogging playlist!

One song, royalties for life, never have to work again. The song by anyone, yourself included, which wouldn't embarrass you would be . . .

Bohemian Rhapsody

One line (or couplet) from a song -- yours or someone else's -- which you think is just a stone cold winner is . . .

They’re sharing a drink they call loneliness

But it’s better than drinking alone”

-- Piano Man,    Billy Joel

Songwriting: what's the ratio of inspiration/perspiration?

70% inspiration 30% perspiration

Usually, the first verse and chorus of my songs come from my experiences or thoughts- the inspiration.

From here is usually takes a bit more work to develop into a completed song!

Ever had a song come to you fully-formed like it dropped into your lap?

Recently, on a 15 minute walk, a completed choir song came to me. This is not my normal genre! The song is to be performed next month.

And finally, finish this couplet in any way you like: “Standing at the airport with an empty suitcase at my feet . . .” (You are NOT allowed to rhyme that with “meet” however) Standing at the airport with an empty suitcase at my feet . . .

I wonder if she’s still at home, or if my clothes still clog the streets

For more on the Play It Strange Trust go here.

For tickets to A Strange Day's Night go here.


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