Last year 18-year-old Elleana Dumper graduated from Ignite - a training programme for young people with a passion for music and events. On completing the course, she wrote this piece in the Spinoff on why placing R18 restrictions on gigs denies young people the chance to experience the self-expression, connection and escapism that live music often provides.
Elleana is now studying for a Bachelor of Commercial Music at Massey University. She recently spoke to Kiwi singer Theia about the importance of live music and her upcoming gig for Seamless - a series of all-ages concerts run by CRS and Spark.
***Seamless is being held this Friday, August 18 at the Tuning Fork in Auckland
Although we are in the digital millennial age of streaming, as a keen punter myself, there is nothing quite like the experience of attending a live show as a teenager. What was one of the first gigs you went to?
I was helping out at fashion week as a teen, maybe about 15 years old, and Ladi6 was performing. With her psycheldelic clothes, grooving out to her music in a packed theatre at the top of the runway, I was completely entranced. That was probably one of the first shows I saw.
Who did you look up to musically growing up?
Anyone who was enigmatic and idiosyncratic was inspirational to me. Usually they are present in both the fashion and music scenes and love to push the boundaries. Many of those artists continue to influence me now.
What steps have you taken to get to the position you are now?
Taking time to craft the sound I want then seeking out people who are passionate and understand me and my vision. When you have a ride or die team, you’re supported and held on the high and low days.
As an emerging artist, what does performing a show like this mean to you?
I always hope people identify and connect with my music and the lyrics. To have the ‘yes’ moment, that it’s been made for them. Also that they’ll have a great time, be able to dance, to feel, to reminice and forget.
Many young people use music as an outlet for things such as expression, belonging or healing - you have mentioned that your EP is like your journal, a sonic recount of your life experiences for people to relate and engage with. What is the significance of music in your life?
Totally. Music is cathartic, a companion, a counsellor and essential to maintaining my sanity. I could not function without its presence in my life.
You have just finished up your EP release tour playing in a variety of R18 venues across the country, do you think it will be a different atmosphere with the presence of under-agers? Is there a certain behavioural stereotype of youth when it comes to live shows?
I love the energy and hype of youth. Shows are always the best when everyone lets go and totally gives themselves to the music and revelling in the noise and the high.
Shows like Seamless are active examples of New Zealand’s inclusive and tightly-knitted community which is something to admire, it must be an awesome feeling knowing that you are contributing to the all-age scene. They definitely play a positive role in the way young performers and young audiences approach music and their place within the industry. Was this something you wish you’d seen more of growing up?
For sure. It would’ve been amazing to have seen shows with cool artists that are on par with over 18 shows. It’s dope when acts like Ariana come for all ages and they are top of the line, beautifully curated productions. So it is an honour to be part of an initiative to bring live shows back to the under agers.
You've been curated on a roster with some great local upcoming acts - is there anyone you’d like to collaborate with on a release?
I saw Merk open for Leisure at The Crystal Palace and he was so groovy, so I imagine he’d be fun to collaborate with.
There is already a lot of positivity surrounding this show which is likely to increase off the back of it, what should we all expect from you for the rest of 2017?
I’m performing at the opening of Fashion Week which I’m super excited about. Then off to Singapore for some shows and travelling and writing!
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