Music seems to be black and white: Either you're a pop singer whose songs are written for you and lack all forms of honesty and vulnerability (or you may not be pop but still sound trashy - I'm looking down the barrel of my keyboard at you, Falling In Reverse. Which, y'know, is just standing, Radke. But I digress) or personal honesty and vulnerability are the be all end all of music.
But that's a stale, one dimensional, and completely untrue way of looking at it.
The Jimmie Driftwood inspired country singer-songwriter who self recorded and released the debut Lies Your Momma Told You out of a garage in Northland.
Elliot Brown, who goes under the nom de plume of Eli Driftwood as part of the Driftwood Project, is the grey in this black and white conspiracy of broke folk singers and rich pop stars.
"I try not to write anything that has any personal meaning at all," he says without the usual pussyfooting. "I make up stories from observation [and] I try to avoid working with emotions."
He writes for his own kind of radio, one that doesn't exist but plays out in his head: "...all [of] my songs have been written in the car. I ask myself what I would want to hear on the radio at that moment then I write a song in my head, so in essence I write songs for myself."
If Lies Your Momma Told You was a radio station then it'd be firmly planted in the strong backbone of our DIY industry which has lost out to what's perceived as our -god only knows why - gold age of the 70s and 80s.
(Brown's swipe at New Zealand music isn't to be missed it cuts like a lash and is particularly pointed: "I personally consider most mainstream New Zealand music, since time immemorial, to be embarrassing. Anything IRD plays when they put you on hold is awful. Just because something is dated doesn't give it value.")
To be clear: He's sure as hell not an average bro who espouses his views and then packs an almighty sad when people don't care. Brown's planted firmly in the position of artists should be ready to bleed in the streets and isn't one to be lured by opportunity if it smells like the defeat of doing it his own way.
"People should be grateful if anyone at all likes their work. This may be stating the obvious but I deeply disapprove of the constant seeking ofapproval that some artists indulge in...Some artists are outright wankers who clearly believe the public owes them praise or sympathy or money. Artists are supposed to be prepared to die in gutters and mingle with the poor like Vincent [Van Gogh] did."
Brown waxes poetical: "The bloody tears of the angels will not bring the second Deluge if one of your songs or paintings never gets appreciated."
There's more to art than sucking up to the machine of free exposure and people that are gunning to make you poor while you make you them thousands. Sure, it sounds cynical, but ultimately, as Brown says, there's no gas money in playing free shows and exposure is painfully unquantifiable.
"Playing every show that gets offered to you is a terrible mistake I used to make. People will try to make you feel grateful for the privilege of giving them a free show. You make the venue thousands of dollars in drink sales [and] you end up without enough gas money to get home..."
It's a poignant reminder of exactly the world that New Zealand's artists live in. A work for free get paid in gratitude system. What's refreshing about Brown is that he'll let you know it and he calls bull if he sees it coming from a mile off. He's found the almost evanescent 'more' that comes with art: doing it because you love it, not because it'll make you rich.
"I'll be damned," he says being, as defiant as ever, "if I sign to any label that's going to do for me nothing I can't do by myself. I don't need the help of a label or manager to stay poor, I'm doing pretty well being poor by own efforts."
You'd be wrong to be read him as a martyr or another of the disaffected, disillusioned woe is me musicians who are hoarding on the edges and slamming the industry. Brown's the kind of guy that's doing it because he loves it and, dare I say it, sees the woods through trees.
Lies Your Momma Told You is free ("notwithstanding it would be an exercise in futility for me to make the attempt to be commercially viable, I have always released my music for free dispersion...") but he does welcome donations in money, beer and cigarettes.
Ultimately though, if you can listen to his music in it's entirety while you're drunk, it's mission accomplished.
Eli Driftwood are playing June 27th at The Golden Dawn in Ponsonby.
In the mid to late 90's, when grunge began to wither away and MTV strived to find the next easy to access label to attach to new batch of up and coming rock bands, global attention started to shine on the Alt Rock scene.
The I Love The 90s Tour returns to Auckland next year March 23rd at Auckland’s Spark Arena, with a completely off the chain lineup featuring classic Hip Hop crew Naughty by Nature. Vin Rock from the Grammy Award winning rap group speaks fondly of this country and love of our people.
The Soundsplash Festival is returning to Raglan in January 2018. Local reggae favourites Katchafire are returning to feature on the bill. We sent a few questions over to lead vocalist Logan Bell ahead of the festival.
Following 2015’s Kitty, Daisy & Lewis'The Third', the sibling trio are back stronger than ever, harnessing their ability to create pop-infused soul, blues, rock n roll and a large mix of genres to perfection, in the shape of their fourth studio album, Superscope.
Kylie Price has just released her new album Bones. Last week she appeared on theNZ Entertainment Podcast, where she sang a new song I Dont Want To Go off the album while talking shop about her dream gig to play with Ed Sheeran and her Philipino roots.
Last week I caught up withPeter Hook ahead of returning down under for Australasian leg of the Joy Division and New Order Substance tour. We had a great chat about the spirit of punk, what it takes to write a book and why shows like the X-factor are so unhealthy…
Long established as one of New Zealand’s finest acts, South Pacific reggae-soul legends, The Black Seeds are set to tour the country in September, following the release of their long awaited 6th studio album Fabric, (out today - Friday September 8th).
Jacqueline Nalpant is a Booking Agent for the Paradigm Talent Agency, and is heading to New Zealand early next month where she'll be one of the speakers for the Going Global Music Summit (Friday 1st & Saturday 2nd September at Roundhead Studios, Auckland).
Since making her musical debut with her song Drift early last year, fast attracting a solid fan base and over 1 million plays across Spotify and Soundcloud in just a few months, Madeline North, better known by her musical moniker So Below, has once again blessed us with a moodier, masterful electro-pop banger, titled Ruin.
Since forming in 1998, the Antwerp, Belgium based trio Triggerfinger have long become a mainstay on the rock scene, building a solid reputation across Europe, the US, Canada and beyond, as one of the hardest-driving and sharpest dressing bands around.
Popular metalcore group Northlane are on their way to New Zealand. The Sydney band are touring North America taking in countries like Chile and Mexico as they head our way down-under next month to play Wellington’s San Fran then Auckland at the iconic Kings Arms.
Returning to New Zealand for the first time in three years, Australian metalcore band In Hearts Wake are on their way to our shores next month for a quick run of shows supporting their label cohorts Northlane.
Courtney Marie Andrews has landed in New Zealand, and set to play two concerts this week with Joe Pug - tonight at San Fran in Wellington (Wed July 19) and tomorrow night at The Tuning Fork in Auckland (Thu July 20).
Auckland two-piece Skinny Hobos, Alex Elvis and Texas Holdom, are heading on a 5 date New Zealand tour with headliners Decades, Bakers Eddy and Dead Favours. Kicking off tonight in Hamilton (July 14), the tour will also take them to Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and finishes up in Dunedin.
Have you ever considered sharing your most personal experiences with the entire world? Well come this Friday 14th July, that’s what Emma Cameron, the rocking front-woman of kiwi band Decades is about to do, when they release their long-awaited full length debut album, The Truth And Other People, so we sat down with the cheerful front woman to discover just what truth this album reveals..
Whilst Sonny Landreth is a well known slide-guitar master, zydeco enthusiast and phenomenal blues legend, what you may not know about him, is that he is one of the nicest gentlemen in the entire universe.
He was always the boy next door type energy, that type of person you just always wanted to be around. From day one, Shay Taylor has always been one to break the mold and live life in such a vibrant and contagious manner, that no matter who he spoke to, they walked away feeling great!
Anthonie Tonnon is taking his new Extended Player and single to Australia, and to New Zealand towns that missed the first run of dates, or sold out too quickly. He’ll also be appearing at three summer festivals this February.
After a stand of three Auckland concerts that sold out in minutes in January, Connan Mockasin is hitting the road across Aotearoa for the first time in eight years this summer for a select run of headline shows.
They immediately sold out Sydney and Melbourne dates earlier this year, and now LCD Soundsystem are returning to Australia and New Zealand for their biggest headline shows ever this summer – touring February 2018!