Adventure is new music.
When you travel around the globe you come across all kinds of music; people tend to associate vacation with the visual sense, sightseeing, but sightsounding is just as enriching if not more so. Fresh music exposes your ears to new aural vistas just as your eyes take in the new mountain scene or rolling landscape. Whether you stumble upon a local jam band ragin’ it in a tiny French village or beat drums on the Masai Mara in Africa, musical adventures will ring in your ears long after your return flight.
When I arrived in New Zealand I had absolutely no idea what an insane reggae scene is going off on those islands. It makes perfect sense though; reggae is island music for chillin’ out and New Zealand is made up of two beautiful islands scattered with the very laid back Kiwi people. The heart of the reggae world in New Zealand is the Waikato region and the city of Wellington, the cultural capital of the nation. An awesome reggae industry means a killer dub and dubstep scene as well, and all over New Zealand people are dancing and jamming to amazing music that 99.9% of most Americans have not heard of. I am about to induct you into the .01%. Get ready to bounce.
Fat Freddy’s Drop is the most well-known of all New Zealand music artists and skanks it right with a totally unique reggae and dub sound. They lay down thick swervy bass beats with an easy, ambulatory nature that creeps along purposefully under the smooth vocals of lead singer Dallas. His voice is like a bell, open and with an all-encompassing tone that pulls you in, and they have one of the best female rappers around. This Wellington band dropped big time in 2005 with stellar album “Based On A True Story.” Fat Freddy’s song Cay’s Crays is named after a crayfish (NZ lobster) stand on the South Island that you will most certainly drive by if you are road tripping around the country (such is the beauty of New Zealand’s many one-road towns).
Katchafire is a smokey-sweet reggae band named in tribute to a Bob Marley song with a leader singer whose voice will make you swear you are listening to Legend. On Revival they exhort you to bounce, skank, giddy up and get away. Katchafire’s edition of Redemption Song is a hopeful, uplifting recording and their song Collie Herb Man has been mixed and remixed by just about every DJ in New Zealand, and you can find a version of the song under whatever electronic music style you like, from house to drum and bass to dubstep.
Salmonella Dub throws dance beats down from Cape Reinga to Bluff. A sassy mix of electronica, jazz influences, and shaky reggae stomps combines with uplifting lyrics to post Samonella Dub at the top of the list for Kiwi music. Dancehall Girl is an ode to the shakers on the islands and Slide just makes you want to sit back down, breath deep and savor the kickin’ mountain scenery of New Zealand for another hour or two.
Other New Zealand reggae and dub bands to check out include Kora, Pitch Black, The Black Seeds, Trinity Roots, Shapeshifter, Herbs, and Cornerstone Roots. Go on a new music adventure and experience the inspirational qualities of New Zealand’s finest artists. I will see you on the dance floor.