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New Way to Connect with International Artists

Border restrictions have throttled our exposure to touring musicians and DJs - but they're still making the way to Aotearoa through creative partnerships.

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We may just be crossing the one-year milestone of Pandemic life, but you’d be forgiven if it felt a lot longer since life changed for everyone.

That means it’s been just over a year since relatively care-free travel was put on hold across the globe, with countless industries either still in tatters or picking up the pieces. That very much includes music and live entertainment. 

Promoters, bands, and artists have needed to re-strategise and configure ways for their music and their brand to be seen without, well… travel. Live video sessions are now becoming the norm for punters to get their visual fix of their favourite artists.

Wireless welcome

But what about the world of audio? 

Those working within the airwaves have been able to continue playing songs from local and international artists, but Auckland’s left-of-mainstream radio station Base FM took matters into their own hands to build a partnership that brings the vibe of the much-admired UK club music world direct to our doorstep.

Base FM’s Managing Director Jazz Ziedan is one of the driving forces behind Selector After Dark, anchoring the international electronic sounds to our shores in a time where they can’t perform in Aotearoa physically.

“To tap into a show and host and DJs that are coming straight from the UK was really beautiful for us, because quite a few of our people have come from the UK and have now been here for years,” explains Ziedan. 

Jamz Supernova. Photo: Tom Swiddle.

Curated by BBC Radio’s Jamz Supernova, Selector After Dark is an exclusive, uninterrupted one hour mix from a different British-based DJ airing every Saturday from Midnight (and naturally in the digital age, on demand online). 

“A huge amount of our listeners are creatives,” states Ziedan. “So for them to hear that show and to hear those tunes will be really important and quite different. We are obviously trying to give artists the avenue where they can be heard, with the idea that - eventually - we will bring them over here.”

The show’s now intertwined among up to 110 local DJs that Base FM hosts live in-studio, each playing sets as long as two hours, free to air and ad free. Kiwis are now able to reap the rewards thanks to the work of Ziedan and the British Council of New Zealand and the Pacific.

“Having that one-stop-shop for international, UK and European productions is really key for us.

We don’t tell them what to play or what to say, so they have that freedom completely. If they have a one hour or two hour show, it’s up to them. And to get that show from the UK and have someone from over there send it to us is amazing.”

Grove, one of the Selector: After Dark DJs.

NZ's electronic love affair

Electronic music continues to be a steady staple within New Zealand’s categoric discography. But it’s rise in popularity within Gen Z across the country has been unmistakable, with the DJing and Drum and Bass cultures growing at rapid rates. 

While local DJs are well supported by Base FM, Ziedan saw the benefits in giving Kiwis the much missed sounds from across the globe.

“I always find it quite outrageous how drum and bass is one of the top genres here. 

“There’s not many other stations in Aotearoa that are DJ focussed. They don’t necessarily play UK music unless it’s Top 40. So for creative and underground artists, they’re not getting played at all. For us, it’s our mission, COVID or not, to represent them. The underdogs, the DJs and producers who would play in a cool bar down the road, not the main stadium.”

Growing the reach

Base FM's Jazz Ziedan. Photo: Lee Howell.

With Ziedan and Director, Aotearoa New Zealand and the Pacific for the British Council, Natasha Beckman’s goal of securing Selector ticked off the list, their ambitions grew further, now broadcasting the show on sister station, ‘Island Base FM’ in Samoa and Rarotonga. 

“I’m really thrilled to have the show broadcasted weekly. If anything, I would love to bring those artists here and support them on the radio. In the meantime, we will push their music and their brands across Aotearoa and the Pacific.”

With two shows already in the books being well received by New Zealand’s electronic music lovers, the hope is for the impact of Selector After Dark to be felt on a bigger scale here, and for the artists being played.

“Through our avenues, we hope to give them an audience, bring them over and educate people in music. We feel it’s really important not to just be exposed to top 40 tracks, but a wider range.”

Written by

George Berry

24 Mar 2021

George Berry is a 22-year old Freelance Journalist and Musician.

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