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Possum Plows: Mine (demo)

Each year the University of Auckland's School of Music holds a songwriter competition with contestants drawn from their Popular Music courses, this year there are five contestants and Elsewhere is pleased to be able to offer them the chance to answer our Famous Elsewhere Songwriter Questionnaire.

Every year the show sells out so bookings are advisable ( All five contestants will perform two original songs with their band. The generous prizes are $1,000 of MusicWorks product, from MusicWorks, for the winner plus four finalist awards of $200 each of MusicWorks product, a mixed and recorded single at Roundhead Studios, mastering of the recorded single by KOG Studio, produced by Godfrey De Grut and promotion of the single by Kiwi FM.

Five additional awards will also be announced including NZ Music Commission Best Vocalist, APRA Best Arranger, MusicWorks Best Instrumentalist, Mushroom Music Publishing Best Lyricist and NZ On Air Best Song, acknowledging the highest quality in each category.

The judging panel includes Vicky Blood (artist Manager for Gin Wigmore, ex-BMG UK), Don McGlashan (artist, The Mutton Birds) and Jason Huss (Roundhead Studios engineer).

We introduce you to Possum Plows renown for blending subversive, hypnotic, and at times, shocking rap verses with sassy hooks and percussion driven production, Possum has developed a unique soundscape inspired by video games and matters of the heart. Her lyrics function primarily as social commentary, while playfully incorporating her passion for cinema, science and story telling . . .

The first song which really affected you was . .

Don’t Panic - Coldplay

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

I adored Bic Runga when I was a kid (still adore her). Not that embarrassing, but Beautiful Collision was the first album I ever bought and I definitely looked up to her a lot. I also undoubtedly took influence from Miley Cyrus and other Disney stars like The Jonas Brothers. My sister, my friend Annisa and I even had a YouTube channel called “The Joness Sisters”...

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

Pete Wentz and Patrick Stump from Fall Out Boy. #emo

As songwriters: Lennon-McCartney or Jagger-Richards; kd lang or Katy Perry; Madonna or Michael Jackson; Johnny Cash or Kris Kristofferson?

Lennon-McCartney is the obvious winner for me. I love K.D Lang and Katy has been going steadily downhill over the past couple of years in my opinion (RE. scary cultural appropriation etc), so K.D. I’d pick Madonna over Michael too, largely because she’s had an intense presence in my mind when it comes to creating music, as a women, that has social impact or provides social commentary.

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

Choosing just 3 is v. difficult... this is what I feel today

Orion – Brayden Jeffery

Bad Religion – Frank Ocean

55 Stories – Homebrew

Melody first? Words or phrase first? Simultaneous?

I’ll start with a small lyrical idea or concept and then try to supplement / amplify it with musics. The rest of the lyrics are created / crafted once the music is complete. I utilise this process almost exclusively.

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

Does High Fidelity count?? I don’t read a lot of non-fiction (real life is scary)

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

Janelle Monae would be a dream. Or I would love to produce for / write with Lorde.

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

Not a purchase, but I got the Guardian of The Galaxy official soundtrack for my birthday and I endorse it 100%.

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

It took several conversations with several different humans for me to feel like I had correctly interpreted this question.

You’re So Vain – Carly Simon. That song slays me and every time I hear it and I wish that I had written it.

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

I've already given up on myself twice, (third time is the charm)

Threw caution to the wind, but I've got a lousy arm.” - "G.I.N.A.S.F.S." Fall Out Boy

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

Inspiration is great, but I spend more time pushing myself to write and craft ideas and sweat even if I don’t really feel like it. It’s not quality it’s quantity... wait.

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

Never in its entirety, but one song comes to mind. I started writing a piece of music, somewhat of a love song, and wrestled with it for a few weeks without really getting anywhere. Then I went through a break up and the rest of the song more or less wrote itself. It’s called LOVE SUCKS.

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)

I really should have packed my things. The Arctic’s cold, I’m going to freeze.

*i answered this at 6am

To see other young musicians in the competition answering this questionnaire go here

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