Electric Wire Hustle

Myele Manzanza: New Zealand Music Aesthetics

Except for the reformation of Trinity Roots and what a handful of other New Zealand music artists like Myele Manzanza, Fat Freddys Drop, Electric Wire Hustle and Ladi 6 are up to, these days I’m more out of touch with New Zealand’s music scene than I used to be.

Trinity Roots live concert Australia 2015

Trinity Roots: Citizen Tour 2015

The Sound

When I was on the pulse during the past decade and more, I always thought Aotearoa (New Zealand) was a musical gem undiscovered (to their loss) by most of the world beyond Australia.

For small South Pacific islands distant from so much of the world, there seemed to be a disproportionately high number of New Zealand music artists blending flavours of soul, jazz, reggae and beats to create chilled, spacious, smooth, feel-right music with an inexplicably distinctive (and unique) New Zealand sound. I couldn’t work it out except to guess that its stunningly dominant natural environment played some part.

Myele Manzanza on The Sounds

During my recent interview with “afro-elastic soul” artist Myele Manzanza, I asked him about that sound; and to share any home-grown insights into the evolution of New Zealand music throughout his lifetime – which included years of drumming and composing with Electric Wire Hustle and working on numerous solo and collaborative projects with fellow New Zealand (and international) artists.  

Check out Myele’s response with sample sounds from some of the players in that musical evolution…

Myele Manzanza & The Eclectic live at WOMADelaide 2015

Myele Manzanza: .

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“New Zealand music out to a wider world audience”

“I think as far as the era of New Zealand music you’re referring to, in order for that to happen, I guess the thing that really broke down the door was Fat Freddys Drop – as far as getting New Zealand music out to a wider world audience. I have to take my hat off to them because of what they did and the level they did it at. I don’t think anyone of that era has gotten to the level of where Fat Freddys Drop got to.

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“a new vanguard”

You could maybe throw in Lorde, who’s stupendously big. She’s of a new vanguard/league/generation. Her success is incredible. There must be some element of influence of what’s happened in New Zealand music over the past 10 years on what Lorde does, but I don’t really bring her into this era of New Zealand music that you’re referring to. Even though it’s beats and soul, its a different thing.

“that sound”

As far as to how Ladi 6, Electric Wire Hustle or Fat Freddys Drop got here and got to that sound…when I was 14 or 15, Trinity Roots and The Black Seeds were coming to prominence (Trinity Roots reached their peak and then disbanded for some time). The Black Seeds and Fat Freddys Drop were still on their scent, but were in the community so I kind of grew up around that sound.

It might also trace back to Che Fu – he had a very big impact.

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Trinity Roots- ‘Egos’ – Home, Land and Sea (2004)

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Fat Freddys Drop- ‘Roady (feat. Ladi 6 & P Digsss)’ – Based On A True Story (2005)

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Ladi 6- ‘Walk Right Up’ – Time Is Not Much (2008)

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Che Fu- ‘Fade-Away’ – Navigator (2002)

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“Once Bob Marley hit…”

There’s obviously a very big reggae thing in New Zealand.

Once Bob Marley hit, and I think he performed in New Zealand in the early 80‘s [1979], that was a big cultural turning point; a. because his influence was so big anyway, but; b. when he came and performed he really got to know the local culture. I think there was a connection for him too because Waitangi Day (the day a treaty of agreement was signed between Maoris and the colonial population) is on 6 February which also happened to be Bob Marley’s birthday.

For whatever reason, and particular Maori and Pacific Island culture in New Zealand, people were very much drawn to Bob Marley, his message and his sound.

Bob Marley & The Wailers - Natural Mystic Vinyl - Tuff Gong Studios, Jamaica

Maybe there’s an ‘island thing’ too where the geography relates to the style. There’s something that can be related there and got taken up. There’s a reggae thing that’s been happening in New Zealand music for decades now. Trinity Roots and Fat Freddys Drop came out of that but they also had their jazz, soul, electro, dub and techno influences.

“the J Dilla-thing in New Zealand music”

It might be fair to say that whilst Electric Wire Hustle had those same influences, [we] were maybe the first to champion the J Dilla-thing in New Zealand music; that rhythmic aesthetic; that sound and style of contemporary left-field hip-hop/soul instrumentals. We latched onto that, and it might have given us a point of difference. Ladi 6 was in there as well. So were a number of other artists. Isaac Aesili –  part of a group now called Sorceress (previously called Funkommunity) was very much in that scene.

It’s interesting thinking about that timeline and the history of that – and will be interesting to see what happens next.

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Electric Wire Hustle- ‘This World (Feat. Georgia Anne Muldrow)’ – Electric Wire Hustle (2009)

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“what happens next”

Obviously Lorde is the now. It’s undeniable that whatever will come after Lorde in mainstream New Zealand music will be largely influenced by her.

But for me I think my next step is maybe taking those influences but maybe going further into the jazz thing. By “jazz” I mean improvised music that’s fluid and can move and shift as performed in the moment in real time, as opposed to pre-programmed drum machine stuff.

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Myele Manzanza- ‘Elvin’s Brew’ – One (2013)

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Even though that’s very much a big part of what I do, what I think I’ll be working on over the next few years of my life will be a synthesis of that – finding my line between the programmed electronic-thing and the improvised jazz/soul, real person, real time-thing and trying to make that my sound.

As far as where the rest of New Zealand music is headed, only time will tell.”

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More of The Sound

Start here if you want to check out more sounds and images of Myele Manzanza, The Eclectic and other Aotearoa New Zealand artists:

Myele Manzanza & The Eclectic (including father Sam Manzanza and Aotearoan soul divas Rachel Fraser & Lisa Tomlins) performing live at WOMADelaide 2015 last month…

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…or click the artist’s name for more live videos, photos and sample tracks by Myele Manzanza, Trinity Roots, Fat Freddys Drop and Electric Wire Hustle.

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…and stay tuned, because there’ll always be more New Zealand music artists added to Beaver’s world.

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E is for Electronic Music Infiltration

‘E’ in Beaver’s A to Z of Fusion goes to the sounds of electronic music for their like-it-or-not, rapid infiltration of almost every type of music in just about every part of the world since their beginnings at the end of the 19th century.

electronic music

A Shallow History of Infiltration

The history of electronic music is long and involved.  It’s not a story I’m qualified to properly tell, nor do I want to try. The over-simplified, short, sketchy version is this…

The Beatles - Moog SynthesizerFirst came the creation of electronic musical instruments like synthesizers. The Beatles weaved them into their music in the late 1960’s, as did artists before them. Pink Floyd did too, even Herbie Hancock, and countless artists since them.

The development of electronic music technologies continued, including digital audio to rapidly thereafter replace analog.

The creation of music using only electronic means became increasingly common.

Computer software advanced. Access to computers and other technologies became easier for most of the world.

electronic music

Certainly electronic music got its grips on ‘less-developed’ (ie. poorer) parts of the world sooner than the richer ones, but it eventually infiltrated just about everywhere. Seven years ago in Havana you can imagine my dismay when a young man in the technologically un-advanced, insulated Cuban bubble, proudly played me the reggaeton (an electronic-music-Evil) track he’d just finished making on his archaic equipment.

Some consequences of the world’s electronic music infiltration I’m into, some I am most definitely not.

Post-Infiltration

Nowadays it’s rare to find music made in the warm, living analog world. That’s a tragedy of epic proportions. Thankfully some artists still deliver it – most recently D’Angelo with Black Messiah, and regularly by Will Holland (aka Quantic).

Digital music consumption now dominates – another tragedy of epic proportions.

Nowadays and for a long time it’s been open to any man, woman or their dog with a computer to make music on it. It’s great that so much creativity is flowing from people around the world, but the truth is that I have little tolerance for listening to music produced wholly and solely in the electronic domain.

It’s not all doom and gloom though – the infiltration of electronic music has had its benefits too. Today some of my favorite music from around the world is by artists/groups who innovatively utilise and blend the sounds of electronic instruments into their musical mix whilst valuing and maintaining the living, human, conventional sounds.

It is the sounds of those instruments, and the people playing them, that is the living chi of music. They make the music sound and feel alive to me. They physically and emotionally connect me to the music. Without that living element, with purely electronic sounds, the music is a lost cause for my ears.

Infiltration Samples

Check out these sample tracks by a handful of contemporary artists from different countries who mix up the sounds of electronica and the living to produce killer musical results. Remember these are just super-compressed mp3 versions of the songs. Buy the music on vinyl where you can, or at least cd, to hear it in its full, living sound glory.

1. NGAIIRE (Papua New Guinea/Australia)

Lamentations (2013) - Ngaiire

NGAIIRE – Lamentations (2013)

‘Fireflies’ – NGAIIRE – Lamentations

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Check out more NGAIIRE music + footage from live shows here.

2. Flying Lotus (USA)

Flying Lotus - You're Dead! (2014)

Flying Lotus – You’re Dead! (2014)

‘Never Catch Me’ – Flying Lotus feat. Kendrick Lamar – You’re Dead! 

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Flying Lotus - Until The Quiet Comes (2012)

Flying Lotus – Until The Quiet Comes (2012)

‘See Thru To U’ – Flying Lotus  feat. Erykah Badu – Until The Quiet Comes

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Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma (2010)

Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma (2010)

‘German Haircut’ – Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma

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Check out more Flying Lotus music here and stay tuned for a rundown of his upcoming live performances in Australia.

3. Will Holland – aka Quantic (UK)

Tropidelico - The Quantic Soul Orchestra - Tropidelico

The Quantic Soul Orchestra – Tropidélico (2007)

‘I Just Fell In Love Again’ – The Quantic Soul Orchestra – Tropidélico

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Check out more Quantic tracks + footage of his DJ set at WOMADelaide 2014  here.

4. Myele Manzana (Aotearoa/New Zealand)

Myele Manzanza - One (2012)

Myele Manzanza – One (2013)

‘Elvin’s Brew’ – Myele Manzanza  – One

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5. Hiatus Kaiyote (Australia)

Hiatus Kaiyote - Tawk Tomahawk

Hiatus Kaiyote – Tawk Tomahawk (2013)

‘Sphinx Gate’ – Hiatus Kaiyote – Tawk Tomahawk

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Hear more Hiatus Kaiyote tracks + videos of live shows here.

6. Sidestepper (UK + Colombia)

(pioneers in live/electro Colombian fusion)

Sidestepper live at WOMADelaide 2011

Sidestepper live at WOMADelaide 2011

Sidestepper - 3AM: In Beats We Trust (2003)

Sidestepper – 3AM: In Beats We Trust (2003)

‘In The Beats We Trust’ – Sidestepper – 3AM: In Beats We Trust

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7. Bajofondo (Argentina + Uruguay) 

(pioneers in Latin American live/electro fusion)

Bajofondo - Mar Dulce (2007)

Bajofondo – Mar Dulce (2007)

‘Pa’ Bailar’ – Bajofondo Tango Club – Mar Dulce

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Hear more Bajofondo tracks + videos from a live show in Bogota here.

8. Roberto Fonseca (Cuba)

Roberto Fonseca - Yo (2012)

Roberto Fonseca – Yo (2013)

‘Rachel’ – Roberto Fonseca – Yo

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Hear more Roberta Fonseca tracks + videos from his live performance at WOMADelaide 2014 here.

9. Electric Wire Hustle (Aotearoa/New Zealand)

Electric Wire Hustle (2010)

Electric Wire Hustle (2010)

‘Burn’ – Electric Wire Hustle

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10. Little Dragon (Sweden)

Little Dragon - Ritual Union

Little Dragon – Ritual Union (2012)

‘Please Turn’ – Little Dragon – Ritual Union 

 

Hear more Little Dragon songs + videos from live shows here.

Little Dragon live at Oxford Art Factory, Sydney

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So musical people, what say you about the infilitration of electronic music…like it, or not?

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Electric Wire Hustle – More Aotearoa Goodness

Smooth, spacious, soulful, sexy, sublime, liquid sounds. That’s the music of Electric Wire Hustle.

Aotearoa Goodness Again

Like their contemporaries in Aotearoa/New Zealand (including Trinity Roots and Fat Freddys Drop amongst many others), Electric Wire Hustle’s music has a distinctly and uniquely Aotearoa sound reflective of its lands and it’s peoples…spacious, gentle, innovative, original sounding,  beautifully mixed blends of soul, jazz, r&b, hip hop, electronica and more.

Electric Wire Hustle Are

Electric Wire Hustle is the combined and awesome musicianship of multi-instrumentalists and vocalists Mara TK, Myele Manzanza and David ‘Taay Ninh’ Wright.

Electric Wire Hustle

Listen and Love

Check out these (shitty mp3 only) sample tracks from Electric Wire Hustle’s self-titled album. Just a taste of the sublime musical goodness in each and every other song on the album…

Electric Wire Hustle

Electric Wire Hustle (2010)

Gimme That Kinda – Electric Wire Hustle 

They Don’t Want – Electric Wire Hustle

You hear and love the distinctly sweet flavours of Aotearoa yes?  

If not, get yourself on a plane to some Aotearoa music festivals and music stores, and you’ll understand.

Time, Time, Time, Keeps On Ticking

Electric Wire Hustle’s debut album was released in 2009 and again in 2010.  Time has ticked away while they’ve toured their music at home and internationally, including in Australia at AWME (Australasian Worldwide Music Expo) 2010.  All along the way the group has had positive, revering worldwide reviews.electric wire hustle

The awesome news for the world is that Electric Wire Hustle has been in the studio recording new tracks.  The highly anticipated wait to see what new sounds they’re bringing us, is nearly over.

The band played recently at what looked and sounded like yet another incredible open-air music festival in the magical lands of Aotearoa – Rippon Festival 2014. No doubt festival audiences were treated to some new music.

electric Wire Hustle

Photo by Tim Budgen

Hopefully the rest of will get hear Electric Wire Hustle’s new tunes on vinyl, cd and live wherever we are in the world, very soon.

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