It’s such a crazy Squeeze.…

Anoth­er spo­radic post in a blog that I’m not sure any­one reads any­more giv­en the lack of posts.

But, damn, I’ve been busy. Busier than at any time in my life. I’ve writ­ten more words than I’ve ever writ­ten — school and uni includ­ed — and yet I’ve more or less ignored these pages, where I’ve done much of my writ­ing in recent years because time is some­thing I’ve real­ly not had options on squan­der­ing on the friv­o­li­ty of tak­ing time to relax by blogging.

And no, I’m not try­ing to be a mar­tyr or elic­it sym­pa­thy. It’s voluntary.

What it is is this, which was announced a month back. And rather than expect­ing any­one to read through a press release issued by a gov­ern­ment relat­ed enti­ty I’ll post the first few paragraphs:

NZ On Air today announced fund­ing for a new web­site telling the sto­ry of pop­u­lar New Zealand music. Made by the peo­ple who were there, Audio­Cul­ture will map the NZ music land­scape, con­nect­ing peo­ple, record­ings, places, scenes and record labels from the ear­ly twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry until today.

Until now there has been no sin­gle place to go to find out about NZ music. Infor­ma­tion, record­ings and his­to­ries are being lost. Led by site Cre­ative Direc­tor and music doyen Simon Grigg, Audio­Cul­ture will work with artists, his­to­ri­ans and music indus­try peo­ple to tell the sto­ries of our music over the last hun­dred years from the first record­ing in the 1920s.

Audio­Cul­ture will con­tain reviews, discogra­phies, inter­views, bio­graph­i­cal infor­ma­tion, back­ground arti­cles, images, record­ings and music videos, dis­cus­sion and com­men­tary from fans and artists.

So, yes that’s me and appar­ent­ly I’m a ‘doyen’ — I did­n’t write it but the Free Dic­tio­nary tells me it means ‘A man who is the eldest or senior mem­ber of a group’, which I take to mean some­one who is about to put out to pas­ture — soon — and they need to find some­thing handy for him to do in the interim.

Yup, me, a ‘doyen’ (as defined) with time on his hands. For some rea­son, I had­n’t men­tioned this project in detail here before, the rea­son most­ly being the mas­sive work­load I’ve hap­pi­ly invent­ed for myself and sev­er­al oth­er ‘doyens’ — not least Mur­ray Cam­mick who’s the edi­tor — and younger aspir­ing ‘doyens’ (it’s not just old men telling sto­ries I promise).

I talked about it all with Trevor Reekie here (link­ing to it as I’ve not done it here to date but I thought it was a good inter­view and I do rather enjoy talk­ing to Trevor about most anything).

As any­one who knows me is like­ly well aware, giv­en that I’ve ear­bashed whichev­er mis­for­tu­nate was in range, this is a project I’ve been push­ing for since time began, and it’s been a long obsessed slog — the scari­est part of which was the bit when some­one said yes, as they have now. How­ev­er I’ve always believed it’s too impor­tant not to do — we have been until now, pri­vate ama­teur enter­prise aside, as a nation utter­ly hope­less at pre­serv­ing our musi­cal lega­cy and noth­ing nailed that more for me than the heinous fact that at the last music awards when it was nec­es­sary for the organ­is­ers to get a writer in to con­coct a piece explain­ing to the spon­sors who exact­ly Toy Love were.

It’s the rough equiv­a­lent of hav­ing to explain to an Eng­lish­man or woman who The Sex Pis­tols were. Such a thing real­ly would not have been nec­es­sary — they just know, unlike the cor­po­rate spon­sors in NZ who sim­ply don’t. I’m not sure if that says more about their (most­ly for­giv­able) igno­rance, or about our poor record­ing of the his­to­ry involved (unless you hunt the often extra­or­di­nary blogs like Mys­terex, 5000 Ways or Dub­dot­dash), but they could be for­giv­en if  you’d tried to extract their worth from the Toy Love wiki which is nigh on use­less as is huge parts of the rest of that site’s doc­u­men­ta­tion of our New Zealand musi­cal cul­ture and past.

A few weeks ago a dim edi­tor pro­posed delet­ing the Wikipedia entry on AK79 — it was unim­por­tant said he/she! To who? It was and is a cor­ner­stone com­pi­la­tion for we New Zealan­ders and part of our cul­tur­al his­to­ry for so very many rea­sons, not least in that it kick-start­ed the thriv­ing inde­pen­dent record­ing indus­try we know have in New Zealand.

There was an attempt to delete The Sub­ur­ban Rep­tiles a few years back — defeat­ed by aghast New Zealanders.

Which real­ly means that if we don’t do it our­selves then nobody bloody well will. The task is rather immense and I’m at best bemused by the few naysay­ers mak­ing nois­es about the amount of mon­ey bud­get­ed in year one (and no I haven’t been giv­en that amount of mon­ey — that’s the bud­get applied to the over­all project, but you were able to work that obvi­ous bit out, right?).

Real­ly, you try and cre­ate the archi­tec­ture for an inter­ac­tive, mul­ti-lay­ered, mul­ti­me­dia site that will like­ly have 20,000 pages to tell the sto­ries that need to be told in a way that com­ple­ments and illus­trates respect­ful­ly with­in a few years for less. What do you sug­gest? Select­ing a free Word­press theme and a cou­ple of handy plugins?


And that is real­ly a big part of the point, and I’m going to say it here, and say it again, over and over — this is a mul­ti-year project and when it launch­es next June (or May — NZ Music Month per­haps) it will be but a skele­ton with a lit­tle hint of the flesh and mus­cle that will come as time pass­es. It has to have time to grow and there is a broad strat­e­gy for doing so, until — san­i­ty, health and act of god (no I don’t believe in him either but the term implies prov­i­dence I guess) — we reach a place where the writ­ers, con­trib­u­tors and pub­lic (‘cos you’ll be adding stuff as well, that’s cen­tral) have forged a site that doc­u­ments the stuff that those VNZMA spon­sors could­n’t find or sim­ply did­n’t know.

As an aside, can our lead­ers pos­si­bly find a way in the inter­im to fund — or let Kim Dot­com or who­ev­er fund — the cru­cial new NZ to world data cable? I’d like the rest of the world to see this at a rea­son­able speed, please. Access­ing NZ pages from off­shore even now can be a hit and wait ordeal at times. It’s a wee bit more impor­tant than anoth­er road.


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

buster stig­gs
November 15, 2012 at 2:07 pm

hey si what great idea, so much bet­ter than the book idea we have been toss­ing around over the years, i would be hap­py to con­tribute in any way pos­si­ble, cheers god bless buzz

November 16, 2012 at 5:03 am

Fine idea!-much bet­ter than every one hav­ing a lit­tle poke at it in var­i­ous places‑I have been get­ting my nz musi­cal his­to­ry from Radio nz “Blue smoke”-which would be a fab per­son to talk to.…

Ben Mor­gan
November 19, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Well I like read­ing your blog, espe­cial­ly when you have entries like this. 

Fan­tas­tic news — best of luck! 

Will try and con­tribute too — a first hand account of a teenag­er swim­ming around a glo­ri­ous­ly sun­ny Ori­en­tal Bay while a float­ing Toy Love blast out ‘Swim­mimg Pool’ anyone??? 

Hee hee.

November 19, 2012 at 9:41 pm
– In reply to: Ben Morgan

Thanks Ben, there will be a sub­mis­sion process for any sto­ries or accounts. Love to hear that. The whole point of the site is all of us telling our sto­ries about the music and the peo­ple who were part of it, so please submit 🙂

Grant Smithies
November 20, 2012 at 2:39 pm

I have a hard-dri­ve full of a decade or so of music rant­i­ngs and inter­view pieces, which are, of course, all yours if you want ’em. I use­da have end­less cas­settes of inter­view with NZ musi­cians, too, but then start­ed tap­ing over the bug­gers, which is a tad trag­ic, in retrospect…

April 20, 2013 at 5:43 pm

Simon, I, like every­one else who was round at that time, will help as much as pos­si­ble. I know, for a lot of us, it was the most unfor­get­table and vibrant time! Yay Zwines!

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