Auckland’s Splore festival celebrates its 20th birthday this year, and the lineup is as strong as ever. RNZ Music’s Bridie Chetwin-Kelly runs through six of the best.
Splore takes place from Feb 21-24 at Tapapakanga Regional Park. Details at splore.net.
1. Unchained XL
Local rapper and hip-hop producer Unchained XL has gone from strength-to-strength since releasing his debut EP, Foreign Legacy in early 2018.
The British-born Nigerian New Zealander recently had a stint touring the UK and is currently working on a second EP.
Unchained raps over a live band about themes including spirituality, cultural identity and justice.
He’s worth seeing even if you don’t know his music – his onstage presence is like no-one else’s, reflecting the genuine authenticity and passion with which he approaches his music.
Aotearoa is lucky to call such a unique artist our own: Unchained brings a whole lot of afro-energy to his performances, which many New Zealanders wouldn’t have experienced before.
2. David Rodigan
These days, reggae and dancehall music sit firmly in the mainstream. One of the key acts responsible for their popularity is English DJ, David Rodigan.
Since the late 70s he’s taken part in sound clashes with globally renowned sound systems, and his contributions to genres including jungle, dubstep, grime and drum n bass have influenced generations of DJs.
David has done stints on radio stations including London stations Kiss FM and Capital Radio, and currently has a show on BBC Radio 1xtra. He was awarded an MBE for his services to broadcasting in 2012.
Expect a flawless dancehall, reggae/dub infused set.
3. Hollie Smith
Splore’s beachside setting will be the perfect spot to float around in the summer sun listening to the sultry Kiwi sounds of Hollie Smith.
Hollie Started out singing in bands such as Trinity Roots and Fat Freddy’s Drop, but it was the Don McGlashan-penned song ‘Bathe In The River’, from the soundtrack to NZ film No. 2 that made Hollie a household name.
Having released six studio albums and toured extensively both locally and abroad, Hollie’s career has been a long successful one.
Her latest album Water or Gold is by equal measure jazzy and soulful, and her twilight set will be one not to miss.
4. The Jungle Brothers
Contemporaries of hip hop legends such as De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest, The Jungle Brothers were the first rap group to combine electronic house music with rap.
Established in New York in 1988, they were part of what many refer to as the golden age of hip hop. Their fusion of jazz and Afrocentrism garnered attention across the world.
The group’s members, Afrika Baby Bam, Mike Gee and DJ Sammy B, were founders of the Native Tongue Collective (alongside a number of other New York rappers), which is often credited with inventing conscious hip hop.
The Jungle Brothers are a Splore choice worthy of hip hop fans from way back.
5. The Beths
If you haven’t managed to catch Auckland indie rockers The Beths yet, you’re missing out.
2018 was a really special year for the group: they released their debut album Future Me Hates Me to critical acclaim, captured attention on a global level, appearing in Rolling Stone five times, and got a nomination for NZ’s prestigious Silver Scroll songwriting award.
They capture a nostalgic, early 2000s power pop sound by combining catchy hooks and vocal harmonies.
The group is made up of Elizabeth Stokes (songwriter/guitarist/vocalist, Jonathan Pearce (guitarist/vocalist) and Benjamin Sinclair (bassist/vocalist).
Their stage presence is fun to the point of being almost silly, contrasting their occasionally self-loathing, self-deprecating lyrics with energy and playfulness.
6. DJ Marky
Almost nothing is as important to Kiwi festival attendees then a healthy dose of drum n bass. New Zealand does drum n bass extremely well (The Upbeats, Tali, Truth etc.) and the genre is a favourite among electronic music fans.
Brazilian drum and bass powerhouse, DJ Marky, aka Marco Antonio da Silva, will make his Splore debut with what will be an electric set by one of the top drum and bass DJs’ in the world.
In the early 90s Marky almost gave up DJing due to drum n bass’ tiny fanbase, but his move to London in 1997 and work with fellow DJs Goldie and Hype, launched the genre globally and kicked off his ongoing career as a world renowned DJ.