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What started out as a way to get more homegrown tunes on the radio all the way back in the year 2000 is now a fully-fledged, 31-day celebration of the talent produced right here on our shores. It is an anticipated event on our cultural calendar, and one that artists from up and down the country, established and fledgling alike, get whole-heartedly behind.
This year’s theme is Level Up, all about shining a light on the up-and-comers set to be our next big stars. It is supported by a range of events designed to help artists upskill and advance to the next level of their careers, such as Synthonics Electronic Music Production workshops run by RDU 98.5. There will also be gigs, new releases, music documentaries and other special events throughout the month, so ways to get your groove on are basically endless.
If you need an extra helping hand, check out our playlist of New Zealand music below. It’s got old favourites and new bangers, everything you need for a feel-good roadie, barbie, or chilled-out Sunday afternoon.
Music released between 2020 and 2022
‘Why Oh Why’ L.A.B, L.A.B IV
Almost all of L.A.B’s cruisy, reggae-influenced tracks are infectious and feel-good, perfect for long summer days and gatherings with friends. ‘Why Oh Why’ is no exception, a soft and heartfelt love song that doubles as a surefire earworm, bringing the goosebumps just as surely as the grooving.
‘Foxbright’ Reb Fountain, IRIS
Reb Fountain has been on an unstoppable upwards trajectory in recent years, despite the hurdles brought about by a global pandemic. Her new album IRIS elevates her to still new heights, combining her trademark folk-punk sound with her soulful, stunning voice that feels both intimate and anthemic. ‘Foxbright’ is both mesmerising and brooding, something to make you feel things while you sip whisky in a dimly-lit bar somewhere.
‘Dreamswimmer’ Mā, Breakfast with Hades
Mā is an emerging talent with a background in theatre sound design that gives her debut album an irresistibly immersive feel. Her euphoric neo-soul album opener, ‘Dreamswimmer’, is the kind of track you can tip your head back on a sunny afternoon and totally lose yourself in.
The ultimate roadie beats
'Wandering Eye' Fat Freddy's Drop, Based On A True Story
There’s just something about this banger from Fat Freddy’s Drop that makes us want to salute to the epic good times with a bunch of our closest pals. Is it the funky electro-reggae vibes? Or the fact that John Campbell makes a cheeky cameo in the music video? Who knows, and quite frankly, who cares? ‘Wandering Eye’ is one of those staple songs that you can play on repeat and never get sick of. The song cemented the seven-piece band as a force to be reckoned with in the music industry and the band has gone on to produce some of the slickest reggae-infused, rootsy-dub songs that will grace your ears.
'Groove Again' Katchafire, On The Road Again
The lads from Katchafire not only have some serious street cred to their name, they’re also bound to feature on many a playlist thanks to their 10/10 reggae and funk beats. Their hit ‘Groove Again’ off their 2010 album On The Road Again is a true roadie classic – in fact that whole album is a godsend for when you’re tasked with DJ duties in the car and are unsure of what to play next. Chuck it on when you’re boosting it on the open road for guaranteed good times.
'Don't Forget Your Roots' Six60, Six60
What would a roadie be if it didn’t have a bit of Six60 on there? The Dunedin natives have taken the world by storm since they broke onto the music scene with their song ‘Don’t Forget Your Roots’. It’s a fitting title for their song as the five-piece formed while attending the University of Otago and subsequently took on the name Six60 after their flat’s address. The band try to frequent their old stomping ground as much as possible (while they’re not off tearing up the stages abroad) and Dunedin always holds a special place in their heart as does the aforementioned song in our hearts.
Get your nostalgia on
'Slice of Heaven' Dave Dobbyn, Footrot Flats - The Dog's Tale
No matter where you are, be it stuck in 5pm traffic or off on an overseas excursion, as soon as Dave Dobbyn’s seminal 1986 song ‘Slice of Heaven’ hits the airwaves, a sense of nostalgia is tapped to take over you. The sweet melodies of Dobbyn’s tune will most likely find you swaying in time or belting out the three titular words that deserve their own star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
'Victoria' The Exponents, Prayers be Answered
If your name was Victoria, you probably felt hella special knowing that: 1. It was the title of The Exponents 1983 song; and 2. Heartthrob Jordan Luck was repeating it over and over in his deep husky voice. Not only would you revel in the fact that your friends would look at you and mouth Victoria in sync with the band when they played the song but you probably felt some deep-rooted and spiritual connection to them. All that aside, ‘Victoria’ is a classic and without fail can always get a room up and dancing.
'Gutter Black' Hello Sailor, The Sailor Story 1975 - 1996
Hello Sailor’s ‘Gutter Black’ found favour among Kiwi crowds when it became the opening song on one of the best New Zealand TV series, Outrageous Fortune (arguments will be had if there is disagreement about this), and it ultimately became synonymous with the antics of the motley family. It’s a song that we believe is worthy of a feature on our throwbacks because: 1. It was released in 1977 (serious throwback material); and 2. We love it. Enough said.
Cruise into the weekend
'How Bizarre' OMC, How Bizarre
We don’t know about you, but as soon as we hear OMC’s ‘How Bizarre’, we get this insatiable urge to stop what we’re doing and jam out to this iconic ’95 tune. Cemented as one of the greatest New Zealand songs of all time – straight fact thanks to the Australasian Performing Rights Association – the song also won the award for Single of the Year at the 1996 New Zealand Music Awards.
'Poi E' Pātea Māori Club, Poi E
If you aren’t familiar with this song, then pack your bags and book a one-way ticket outta New Zealand. Simply uttering the phrase ‘I don’t know this song’ in public may see you getting some serious side eye, looks of utter disgust and maybe even some profanities hurled your way. OK, no we lie, you’ll most definitely have profanities hurled your way. Written by Māori linguist Ngoi Pēwhairangi and performed by the Pātea Māori Club, ‘Poi E’ was a No.1 stunner on the Kiwi music charts and was a way to promote pride among Māori youth in a popular format. The hit also found favour among the Brits when Pātea Māori Club toured the big UK – three minutes and 57 seconds of pure Kiwi music bliss.
'Always On My Mind' Tiki Taane, Past, Present, Future
One of the OG members of Kiwi band Salmonella Dub, Tiki Taane has been experimenting, performing and producing music for the better part of two decades. No stranger to the scene, he’s credited with bringing a powerful live performance to his gigs. Fun fact, he’d start the first part of the gig mixing the set then jump on stage to perform in the latter part. His 2008 album Past, Present, Future went double-platinum on Recorded Music New Zealand and the hit tune ‘Always On My Mind’ served some serious ‘lax vibes. We can’t help but smile when those opening bars start to play.