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French For Rabbits: Brooke Singer interview

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The ending of the personal relationship between band founder Brooke Singer and John Fitzgerald might inform much of their new album The Weight Of Melted Snow, but as break-ups go, it seems to have been rather amicable.

In fact, French For Rabbits vocalist Brooke Singer is almost apologetic that the split was not more explosive . “Yeah, it was totally amicable which is not very exciting for you guys,” she laughs down from the phone from Wellington. “It was totally fine: we broke up, we ate some nachos and then went for a bike ride. Now we are friends.”

Nevertheless, the split was something that Singer wanted to address on the dream popsters’ second full-length album The Weight Of Melted Snow, which is out this month. It also explains the long wait between their new record and their acclaimed debut Spirits, which was released at the end of 2014.

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The Bats: Robert Scott Q+A

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The Deep Set is unmistakably a Bats album, stacked with their now trademark jangle-y pop. As singer-guitarist Robert Scott notes: “We don’t want to reinvent the wheel.”

Why would they? Formed in 1982 in the aftermath of the first break-up of The Clean, The Bats have quietly established themselves as one of Flying Nun’s best known acts and have retained the same line-up of Scott, Kaye Woodward (guitar), Paul Kean (bass) and Malcolm Grant (drums) throughout their 30 year plus existence.

Below, Scott talks about the secret of The Bats’ longevity and why they are unlikely to do a leftfield turn and make a reggae album.

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Shapeshifter: Nick Robinson finds Stars in alignment

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Shapeshifter are back with their sixth studio album Stars – and for Nick Robinson, their new record finds their love of both electronic beats and live instrumentation in perfect alignment.

“We are kind of in both camps,” admits the synth/bassist admits. “We are a band, and we sound like we do, so it makes sense to portray ourselves on the record. But in saying that, the album is written as an electronic album and usually would be mainly [electronic] apart from the synths we use.”

So on Stars – the Kiwi dance maestros sixth studio album – live instrumentation melds seamlessly with the electronics.For example, Robinson says the band used a number of old synths from the ‘70s and ‘80s; they had no MIDI function, which meant they weren’t able to go back and tidy up any mistakes.

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Devilskin: Paul Martin interview

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It might seem that Devilskin appeared out of nowhere with what turned out to be their very accurately named debut album We Rise, which debuted at No. 1 in the NZ charts in 2014 and has gone on to become a platinum seller.

However, the hard rocking Waikato had been honing their craft for four years before venturing into the studio, so there were no second album nerves for the band when it came to delivering their eagerly awaited studio follow-up (in between Devilskin released the concert album/DVD Live At The Powerstation).

Be Like The River was recorded at Modern World Studios in the UK and reunited the band – Paul Martin (bass), Nail Martin (guitar), Jennie Skulander (vocal) and Nic Martin (drums) – with producer Clint Murphy.

Below, Paul explains why they were spoilt for choice when selecting tracks for the new album, the importance of retaining their independence and why Devilskin is a family affair.

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The Naked And Famous: Alisa Xayalith Q+A

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Simple Forms, the new album from expat Kiwi electro-popsters The Naked and Famous came after a period of personal upheaval in the band, including the splitting up of singer Alisa Xayalith and her partner Thom Powers.

Given the trauma involved in the lead up to the recording, you could be forgiven for thinking it will be a dark and gloomy trip. But while the lyrics are not short on short heartbreak, their third LP Simple Forms is probably their poppiest album yet and is packed with their trademark euphoric anthems.

Below, Xayalith opens up about how close the band came to splitting up and why she finds songwriting cathartic.

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Hopetoun Brown interview

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Anyone who has caught Hopetoun Brown live will have been blown away by the punch and verve of their two-pronged brass attack.

But while the new album from Tim Stewart (trumpet/trombone) and Nick Atkinson (bass clarinet) retains the exuberant busker vibe of their live work, the former Supergroove bandmates relished the chance to stretch their wings a little on their sophomore set Look So Good, which is released this month.

Part of that is down to the fact that the record features an expanded line-up of singers and musicians, including old friends such as Tami Neilson and Marlon Williams, Lawrence Arabia drummer Al Deverick and fellow horn players Finn Scholes and Kingsley Melhuish.

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Aaradhna Q&A

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Truth & Soul is not only the name of Aaradhna’s new label, but can also be seen as a statement of intent from the New Zealand singer.

The ‘soul’ speaks for itself – like her award-winning Treble & Reverb (2013), her latest Brown Girl offers a classy, modern take on classic R&B and funk – while the lyrical content of the record is very much drawn from her own life and experiences.

Below, Aaradhna talks about the production process and catching up with fellow Kiwis in Los Angeles.

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Maya Payne Q&A

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Nineteen-year-old Maya Payne is the latest New Zealand electro pop artist to make inroads into the international market.

The Christchurch teenager has been singing since she was six and she made her recording debut in 2014 with the single ‘Fragile’.

However, she is probably best known for ‘If Only’, which has now racked up more than 1.6 million plays on Spotify and is used the music to the trailer for the video game Real Boxing 2: Creed.

With the release of her debut EP The Lucky Ones, Payne talks about her growing international following, her first songwriting experiences and the people she would most like to work with

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Pacific Heights: Devin Abrams embraces Stillness

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Pacific Heights is the solo vehicle for Wellington-based songwriter and producer Devin Abrams, best known as one of the founding members of iconic Kiwi dance outfit. The Stillness is his third solo outing and features get appearances from the likes of Louis Baker, Deanne Krieg and Drax Project’s Shaan Singh.

Below he talks to us about how the album was shaped by his own personal turmoil, why he loves working with emerging talent and his new career as a university lecturer.

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Jordan Luck interview

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Their debut album may have been a while coming – but Jordan Luck says the band didn’t waste any time once they set about recording it.

Back in January, Jordan Luck Band guitarist Joe Walsh informed the band that it was time for them to release their first album – he even went as far as say that it should come out on April 29 and would be backed by a nation-wide tour to coincide with New Zealand Music Month.

And that’s exactly what has happened. Not Only…But Also – the title was chosen from suggestions submitted by fans during a presale of the record – is in stores now and JLB are on the road promoting it.

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