High Stakes Records

High Stakes RecordsHigh Stakes Records are making their mark on the New Zealand dancehall scene in a big way with their original productions and work voicing both local and Jamaican artists.  NiceUp talks to Tiopira from the High Stakes crew about what’s on the musical horizon and where the New Zealand dancehall scene is headed.

First up, can you give us a bit of background about the High Stakes crew?  Who is in the crew?  When did you form?  What were your beginnings?

High Stakes is me and my bro, Simon Howden. We started up High Stakes in April 2007, I kinda envisioned us being another boring Maori reggae band, but this other boring Maori reggae band came out with the same name as us, gutted! So we went with High Stakes instead. Our first few tunes were shit, my fault entirely, so I went and brought a Triton and tried doing something a little more original and modern.   (more…)

Ghetto Vibes International

Ghetto Vibes InternationalNew Zealand has another addition to the growing sound-system scene with Ghetto Vibes International.  NiceUp talks to crew founder, DJ Maniac, about his musical beginnings in Zimbabwe, how he built his own sound-system and the music his crew are spreading around Auckland city.

Can you give us a bit of history about yourself and your crew?  How did you form and how/when did you get your system?

Zimbabwe is one of the countries where reggae music is just as big as it is in Jamaica! My interest in the music started way back . I remember the days when I used to record from the radio reggae music onto an audio cassette and play it at the back of our house having what we used to call backyard bashments. (more…)

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Yung Shottaz

Yung ShottazFor the past year, Auckland-based, Yung Shottaz crew have been bringing their own blend of Zimbabwaen-influenced dancehall and hip-hop to the NZ massive.  NiceUp talks to the Yung Shottaz about how they formed, what they’re currently working on and their plans for 2009.

Can you give us a bit of background info about the crew? When did you form?  Where are you all from?  What brought you all together?

The Shottaz crew consists of Ashford ‘Swiss Dubbz’ Magaiza(21), Kudzai ‘Hlats’ Hlatywayo(24), Batsirai ‘Da Bem’ Machakaire (21) and Max ‘Amazin’ Muvezwa (21).  All of the crew are from Zimbabwe and we met in New Zealand at a few Zimbabwean social gatherings and soon found out that we had a lot in common i.e. sports, drinking (love of the green bottle) and of course a passion for music (especially dancehall). So we formed in early 2007. (more…)

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Mike Fab debut 7″ release – Wang East

Mike FabMike Fabulous has been an innovator of the NZ music scene for many years, being part of groups such The Black Seeds, The Scribes Of Ra, Recloose, Deva Mahal and The Five Pleasures, Samuel Flynn Scott and The Bunnies On Ponies, Age Pryor, Fly My Pretties and The Tone Moons.  Mike talks to NiceUp about his latest project, his debut 7″ vinyl release.

Can you give us a bit of background info about yourself and what you’ve been up to musically?

I’ve been a musician now for around 15 years! I play a variety of different instruments to varying degrees, do the odd bit off DJing and love being in the studio producing and engineering. I’ve been involved in heaps of bands in the Wellington music scene over the past 10 years, and I’ve just shifted to Dunedin for a change of pace. It’s nice! (more…)

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Musically Mad – A Doco On UK Reggae Sound System Culture

Karl Folke and Andreas WeslienThis July, a landmark documentary about reggae sound-system culture was released.  ‘Musically Mad’, a film directed and produced by Kalle Folke and Andreas Weslien, dedicates itself to shining light on UK sound-system culture by taking the massive into the heads and hearts of the singers and sound-men, the backbone of the UK roots reggae scene.  (more…)

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Vital Sounds Hi-Fi

Vital Sounds Hi FiThis Friday 27 June sees the country’s first custom built reggae sound system launched at Bar Bodega – Vital Sounds Hi-Fi – run by long-time reggae selector, DJ Manray.  NiceUp spoke to Manray about the process of building a system, future plans for the sound, and what has inspired him to forward reggae music in Aotearoa. 

When did Vital Sounds form and can you give us a bit of history about yourself and the sound?

Vital Sounds was formed in early 2003 after spending time with the Roots Foundation who I served my deejaying apprenticeship with. Vital Sounds has featured a range of selectors and MCs including Topknot, Ras Stone, Danny Lemon and The Mighty Asterix just to name a few. (more…)

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Dubwize Sound

Messenjah and Snypa Levi2008 has already been a landmark year for Christchurch-based group, Dubwize.  This May, four years after the release of their previous two albums, To The Control Tower (2001) and Reality Chant (2003), the crew released their third album, the debut solo offering from lead-vocalist, Snypa Levi – The Sojourner.

The album was the first release from their own label, Reality Chant, which was established six months ago.  As Messenjah explains, ‘I decided that I wanted to keep using the brand as my record label as it suits what we are all about – promoting reality in this time, when we are exposed to so much fantasy and disillusion through mainstream media, television and music.’   

Dubwize are comprised of three key members – Gabriel ‘Messenjah’ Calcott (producer, sound-engineer and selector), David ‘Snypa’ Levi (vocalist) and Nava ‘Confucius’ Thomas (keys, bass, production).  They also work closely with a selection of vocalists including Raggadon (Eskimo Squad, UK), Tuff Enchant, Iya Fari and some of New Zealand’s top session musicians.    (more…)


J-StarI’m doing about 60 shows in New Zealand, we’ll be playing at people’s houses, caravan parks, retirement villages. They might get one record each, but hey, it’s a show right. You know how it is, I do about 80 press-ups every morning when I wake up, so I must be doing about 80 shows?’

J Star is a funny guy, a not so typical geezer from the UK with a joke for every occasion. You wouldn’t expect any less though from a man who forged his musical reputation through bootleg records and DJ sets that blend all the best elements of classic hip hop and early rockers reggae into an explosive cocktail of good vibe party times. ‘I dunno man, I like that kinda sound, old reggae, funk, jungle, hip hop, reggae with cornflakes, reggae for toothpaste, reggae with TV and I made some big party records people really like. I think as fans of reggae and hip-hop we love seeing those two worlds collide.’ he says. (more…)

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