It was touch and go for Homegrown festival, with the rain making an appearance the second year in a row. By midday the rain had cleared, and in classic kiwi spirit we were donning our gumboots heading to the waterfront.
The setup of the stages along the waterfront meant a lot of walking was required. The crowd was small at first, with most people still sculling Jim Beam (shout out to the sponsor) at home. However, by 3.00pm the venues and the waterfront were pretty packed, with many enjoying a free show from Mac’s Brewery.
By 5.00pm, I had seen my friends fall face first into fences; had #MAKEHISTORY tattooed into my neck; and had mingled backstage with Homegrown legend Tiki Tane, who is still going strong. The clouds closed in for Homebrew’s set and the crowd turned into a bunch of drowned rats shouting “fuck John Key” and “fuck Homebrew.” There was absolutely no way we could miss Shapeshifter, and Waitangi Park was churned into a mudbath as hundreds of people jammed to New Zealand’s pioneers of drum and bass.
The lineup did not stop there with the likes of MAALA, a synth-pop artist from Auckland; Team Dynamite, the rap trio from the Young Gifted and Broke collective; and Brendon Thomas and the Vibes an upcoming rock group working with the likes of Eddie Rayner. We caught up with them after their sets to find out their thoughts on the NZ music scene, and what we can expect from them next.
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Salient: First off, how do you think your set went?
Maala: I haven’t worked it out yet, still processing. On stage it’s a different vibe and you see everyone slowly walking in, being first on the day.
Salient: So you played Auckland City Limits last weekend, how does that compare to this gig here?
Maala: For me I’m new doing these kind of shows that have this big barrier between people, so that is the similarity, trying to engage across that distance.
Salient: So you mentioned you are writing your upcoming album, how is that going?
Maala: It’s so close now. The writing is done, the production is the thing we will spend ages on. I’m really enjoying writing pop sounds, just the formula of it and hooky melodies, ones that people just can’t forget. So that’s been my focus point, people like JT, he knows how to write a pop song! It’s really coming together, first single is dropping soon.
Salient: Do you do all your own mastering and mixing as well?
Maala: I don’t, I love delegating [laughs], it’s my favourite! I like the collaborative aspect, I write with two other people. It is just less stressful because you feel like you can put out your own ideas and there is less pressure to have the complete product yourself.
Salient: So what is your opinion on the NZ music scene?
Maala: I mean, here we are at Homegrown! It’s the ultimate Kiwi Show—that should be there slogan [laughs]. The New Zealand music scene is brilliant at the moment. That isn’t just some cheesy fallback, people are writing international level pop-stuff. Not just pop, there is variety, it’s dope. Close people I work with like Leisure and Matt Young they are doing some really cool things. It’s just flying off!
Brendon Thomas and the Vibes
Salient: So first of all, how did the set go for you guys, how did you find it?
B T and the Vibes: It was fucking awesome! People grooved out and when we were walking around earlier people were like “yo what up I’m coming to the set!” It was really surprising for us because we have never been to Homegrown.
Salient: So what’s your opinion on the New Zealand music scene at the moment?
B T and Vibes: Underground is really good at the moment, it’s a shame because festivals like this and R&V are smaller than last year. Less people are coming out, but there are some really cracker bands coming through the underground scene.
Salient: Do you think festivals like this are lacking because they are trying to get those big names?
B T and the Vibes: That’s why they have stages like this to bring up the younger guys (up-coming stage), you just need to be really on your game to get the slot and that’s part of the fun too.
Salient: So you guys are working on your new EP?
B T and the Vibes: Yes, new EP will be recorded this month, we have already done the demos. It’s just a matter of picking the songs.
Salient: And you’re working with Split Enz?!
B T and the Vibes: Eddie Rayner has been really keen to jam with us, he really loves the songs. We just bust them all out and he was like I’m keen to work with you guys. It’s an honour. Yeah it’s so weird we can’t believe it.
Salient: So what other inspirations do you draw from on this EP?
B T and the Vibes: Paul McCartney and The Beatles, his songwriting really touches me, and then there is the likes of Jimi Hendrix and all that 60s stuff. Rolling Stones. John Mayer. James Brown. Marvin Gaye.
Salient: So how did your set just go?
Team Dynamite: You are only as good as your last show and we’re quite happy with that last one to be honest. It was a dope crowd, every time there is a dope crowd it makes the job way easier. I love it when we come to Wellington it’s always a mad love show, we love performing here.
Salient: What is it about festivals that you love?
Team Dynamite: Well honestly I think this is one of the first, we have played R&V but this is one of the biggest ones. We love that energy, I wasn’t expecting that kind of crowd listening and singing along.
Salient: Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Team Dynamite: Just be nervous. [laughs]. I like to walk around the room and clap my hands and just get rid of the nerves, pace up and down the room and try not to forget my words.Then you just get out there and see the fans and it just blows us away, we just feed off that.
Salient: So what is your opinion on the New Zealand music scene currently?
Team Dynamite: As far as hip-hop is concerned I think it’s in a good place. If you would have asked us this question three or four years ago I thought it was in a good place, but it’s getting even better.
Salient: So what should we expect from you guys next?
Team Dynamite: Yeah just working on the new album that’s all we care about. Sit back and enjoy the show, it’s on its way.
Salient: How is the album going?
Team Dynamite: It’s going. [laughs]. We’re still demoing heaps of shit, it’s now a process of picking which songs we actually want and trying to write some new songs to bring it all together into one complete package—well that’s the plan anyway.