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The past decade has seen a surge of interest in New Zealand's pop culture history.

In large part that has been due to the ever-expanding audioculture website, but also through the work of people like Chris Caddick quietly getting New Zealand music of all kinds onto digital platforms, archivists and compilers such as Grant Gillanders, John Baker, Karl Lock, Alan Perrott and others.

But this year has also seen the torch shone into less explored corners of local music by the Rattle Echo imprint (avant-garde music of the Eighties) and now the compilation Kiwi Animals:Future/Primitive Aotearoa '82-'91, which Elsewhere reviewed here.

It pulled together largely obscure music from the likes of Ballare, The Kiwi Animal, Chris Knox, Drone and others who were willfully going their own way into left-field indie rock, nascent electronica, cut-up sounds and so on.

The collection was the work of Ben Stevens of Strangelove Records so we thought it timely to invite him to answer questions on compilations . . .


The first compilation album you remember buying was . . ?

I never really bought any in my early teens- I was always given dubbed AD-90 compilations from my uncle of new indie and US college rock in the early 90s

What prompted this current compilation?

Curiosity about swathes of the NZ music hinterland of the 80’s that I was ignorant of.

What one great compilation would you take to a desert island?

Blood & Fire’s Darker Than Blue

Any track you either couldn't get, or reluctantly had to drop, for the current compilation?

There was something I would have loved to have included but a relationship breakdown between a creative couple meant it was impossible.

Which period in pop music history desperately needs more compilation attention?

A very rough rule of thumb for many years seems to be about operating a rolling 30-35 cycle of musical review. Right now that means mid to late 80’s feels personally like an interesting period to explore. However its less about era’s and more about the musical lens that you apply to certain eras. There’s a killer 50s- 60s NZ rockabilly compilation out there waiting to be made…

Any interesting, valuable or just plain strange musical memorabilia at home?

Discovering there’s memorabilia in the sleeves of records you’ve bought is fun- I’ve found 70’s party invites, old photos especially random when the records have come from overseas.

Finish this sentence any way you like: The best compilation albums . . .

tell a story; musically, socially, lyrically, thematically, or hopefully a powerful combination of those things.

If you could get to compile another album around a theme, what might that theme be?

There’s still plenty of NZ musical histories to be transcribed. I’m interested in how those little sonic lay-lines flag original or interesting notions of identity, ring tones of these lands and cultures.

The three films you'd insist anybody watch because they might understand you better are . . .

Tarkovsky’s Stalker, Bad Taste, Zatoichi

The last current CD or vinyl album you bought was . . .

Violeta De Outono - Em Toda Parte, a late Brazilian psyche/ new wave record. For new releases, Virtual Shadow Ensemble- Keep your Distance.

One old song from any era you wished you had written is . . . .

Neil Young, Old Man

The compilation cover you live with on your bedroom forever would be . . .

Well not strictly a compilation, but a book cover, Love Saves the Day by Tim Lawrence , an image of New York 1970s which reminds me of the Sunday I spent at Body & Soul in NYC

Three non-compilation for a desert island would be . . ?

Mark Lanegan -- Whiskey for the Holy Ghost; Steve Heitt – Down on the Road by The Beach; Stone Roses -- Stone Roses

The artist or group you would most like to do a compilation for would be . . ?Harry Hosono’s productions

a1669188000_16And finally, is there a track on your most recent compilation you would love people to hear. And, if so, why that one?

Rupert -- Soul Brothers. First because it was miraculously dredged from an impossibly obscure Auckland tape compilation. It is off beat and interesting as such, but what really cuts through is its absolutely heartbreaking tenderness which transcends the modest means with which it was created.


This compilation can be purchased through Strangelove Music's bandcamp page here. There is a limited edition run of vinyl also.

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