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Another Strange Year

As they all are, 2013 has been a fascinating and unpredictable year at Play it Strange.
Lorde 'We’ve been thrilled to watch her growth and success and look forward to her progress through the years.'
Barney Chunn chats to Lorde's manager Scott Maclachlan.
The Jam Bus has recorded nearly 10,000 students, performing over 1000 tracks, at over 100 schools between Auckland and Hamilton.
We’ve been impressed and intrigued by The Wireless, the web-based incarnation of the Youth Radio Network, at long last off the ground.
Mike and Barney Chunn promised this blog would bring us the evolving and exciting world of young singer/songwriters in NZ. And what a year it's been.

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Mike and Barney Chunn promised this blog would bring us the exciting world of young singers and songwriters in NZ. And what a year it's been.

They started 2013 by introducing us to a school girl, Lorde, who has proven to be a perfect storm of talent, management, songwriting craft and social impetus.

As her star continues to rise internationally, they hope recognition of young NZ artists will too.

"The proof is now firmly in the pudding that, with the right support and infrastructure around them, our school kids can take over the world!"

Mike and Barney also reported on highlights from Play it Strange Trust, including the schools song writing competition and the creative wonderland that is the Jam Bus. And they kept a watchful eye on The Wireless, the web-based incarnation of the long championed Youth Radio Network.

* * *

As they all are, 2013 has been a fascinating and unpredictable year here at Play it Strange. We’ve had an exceptional year with the songs we received for our Lion Foundation Songwriting Competition where we had two co-winners. Elena Siljic from Carmel College with her “I Don’t Know Where You’ve Been Before” and Thomas Stoneman from Avondale College in Ak with his “Sleep Deprived”. Both performed at our Annual Awards night.

As well we had our first songs from Samoan students – Catherine Falesi’i aged 14 with her song “Samoa Lo’u Tofi” and Romeo Sabbath aged 13 with his song “Be Happy With Who You Are”.

We’ve had the huge success of our new programmes (principally the Jam Bus mobile recording studio) and first-time awards. Junior Maioha award for best song written in te reo Maori was won by Opotiki College student Mereana Teka with her song “Te Hononga”.

The Play it Strange Jam Bus has been a fantastic window into the talented world of Primary and Intermediate Schools. Incredible voices, wonderful songs about hope and friendship and happiness; the innocent optimism of that age group is a pleasure to be constantly in the presence of, and the creative energy and enthusiasm, unmarred by a self consciousness, is inspiring. We’ve recorded nearly 10,000 students, performing over 1000 tracks, at over 100 schools between Auckland and Hamilton. We’ve recording solo artists as young as 6, whole school Kapa Haka groups, and choirs of hundreds of students. We’ve recorded drum ensembles, ukulele choirs, punk bands, reggae bands, marimba bands, original songs written by individuals and groups of students. It’s a creative wonderland, and we’re thrilled to be involved in it. In the end it’s in the grooves. Check out these tracks.

Mention must also go to the wonderful teachers at all the schools who are involved with the numerous Play it Strange programmes. Their enthusiasm and dedication to their students throughout the year is a huge part of what makes our programmes a success and in the development of the musical prowess of our students. Our Schools of the Year – the ones with most tracks on our CD – are Papatoetoe High School and Kaipara College. Let’s target a track form each school. (Papatoetoe High School – “Love Only Comes” written by Junior Tuiloma, Junior Teo, Lolo Tuifua and Jesse Pakipaki. Kaipara College – “Fast Track” written by Junior Frost.)

We’ve been impressed and intrigued by The Wireless, the web-based incarnation of the Youth Radio Network, at long last off the ground. So far it has proven to be a source of interesting and pertinent articles, and we look forward to seeing what will come if it in the future.

It has also been the year of Lorde, in which we’ve seen the perfect storm of talent, management, song-writing craft and social impetus launch Ella to become the biggest pop star on the planet. We’ve been thrilled to watch her growth and success and look forward to her progress through the years, and, importantly, the effect her success will have on the attitudes of record companies and the industry at large towards secondary school artists and songwriters. The proof is now firmly in the pudding that, with the right support and infrastructure around them, our school kids can take over the world!

So thanks for reading our blogs this year. We’re grateful for your time and thoughts. Enjoy the sunshine and the beaches, look after each other, and keep an eye out for more examples of the amazing talent that is so pervasive in our Primary, Intermediate and Secondary schools the country over. While there are amazing songs, lyrics and performers out there in need of a stage or a studio, we’ll be there to work with and support them as they develop their craft and hone their skills.

Happy days!

P.S The Wire has been all I was promised and more.

Written by

Mike Chunn

11 Dec 2013

Interests Mike Chunn has worked with original songs all his life from his days with Split Enz and Citizen Band through Mushroom Records (Dance Exponents and DD Smash) to eleven years as Director of Operations for APRA.

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