August 28, 2013

NZ Musician review

NZ Musician's Martyn Pepperell reviewed my book in their Aug/Sept issue... thanks!

"These days Auckland musician, graphic designer, DJ and writer Peter McLennan is probably best known for the social and cultural commentary he offers up through his dubdotdash twitter handle and blog. Between 1992 and 2003 however, McLennan was a freelance journalist for a number of now defunct and still-running magazines such as Pavement, Selector, Lava, Rip It Up, North & South and yes, us here at NZ Musician.

Earlier this year, McLennan collected up close to 40 of the more crucial music articles and interviews he wrote over that time, compiling them into this slim yet illuminative volume, I Believe You Are A Star: Interviews with New Zealand musicians, DJs and artists.

Being titled after a Dimmer song of the same name, McLennan kicks things off with an awkward yet interesting discussion with Shayne Carter, conducted just prior to the release of Carter's ‘Dimmer’ album of the same name. From there he surveys the ’90s and early 2000s of New Zealand's indie rock, hip-hop, soul, electronica and dub reggae scenes, more often than not catching now prominent names on the cusp of rises which, viewed retrospectively, often have a certain inevitability about them.

Amongst other gems, we hear from P-Money during his first interview in which his father actually felt like he was reading about his son; the sadly departed Darcy Clay dreams of travelling to Africa; and the heavily tattooed (and then dreadlocked) Tiki Taane recounts the day he wandered around Dubai in shorts and a t-shirt.

McLennan is a thoughtful listener and observer, and a writer who misses little. With I Believe You Are A Star he gives us the opportunity to reflect. A segment of our musical underground invaded the mainstream, and McLennan was there, documenting some of the pivotal shifts, when and as they happened."

July 9, 2013

Book reviews

Esteemed DJ/writer/record label boss Stinky Jim has reviewed my book on his blog, read on...

"Been meaning to spout something about this for a hot Sandringham minute, but it’s taken this long to get round to it. Full disclosure demands that I state that I consider Peter a mate, and sometimes colleague on the decks or typewriters or suchlike, and this tome has a couple of interviews/features with me and RTM associates, so – y’know unreliable witness! 

"However, as much as I have protested in the past that there really is no need for any more books on recent NZ music (and generally maintain so) I think Peter’s is well worthwhile, and the exception that just kind of proves that rule. Lots of interviews and features, decently written by someone who knows the score – what more could you wish for? The price is nice too, stupidly nice, follow the links and school up." 

A review of my book  from Grant Smithies, Music Editor, Sunday Star Times...

"In this collection of brief, insightful interviews with musicians, producers and DJs, many first published in magazines sadly now defunct, Peter McLennan has given us a valuable addition to the burgeoning shelfload of books examining contemporary NZ pop music.

A musician and DJ himself, the writer’s own ego and opinions are largely invisible; he is more interested in canvassing the views of his subjects than presenting his own, making the book feel more like oral history than critique.

Result? Calmly and in their own words, musicians tell us about their creative process and ponder the difficulties of getting your music heard in this little country of ours.

With a stylistically diverse range of performers and the earliest interviews carried out two decades ago, “I Believe You Are A Star” gives an overview of sounds, scenes and careers that have changed phenomenally since the original pieces were written.

Many of the musicians are interviewed at pivotal points in their working lives- some caught in the updraft, others trudging along a creative plateaux, a few in decline, two now dead - which makes for fascinating reading when the reader can fill in the gaps as to where these performers went next.

From noise rock to electronica, reggae to hiphop, te reo Maori music to chart pop, much ground is covered on McLennan’s magical mystery tour, and you’re only too happy to tag along for the ride."

And from Philip Matthews, in The Press/Dominion Post, Saturday July 6th...

"It's always good news when New Zealand rock music is taken seriously as cultural history rather than ephemera or commercial failure. Exhibit A: The excellent Audioculture website that launched in May. Exhibit B: Books such as this, which compiles magazine articles written by music journalist Peter McLennan between 1992 and 2003. 

The title is borrowed from Shayne Carter's first album as Dimmer, and McLennan's 2001 interview with Carter opens the book. It's a good way to set the scene for the pieces that follow, which are about the difficult business of making music in New Zealand as much as they are about the creative output. 

In the end, you do it for love not money, and the same idea might apply to publishing: several of the magazines that these stories appeared in have since hit the wall and McLennan's book was independently published in the same DIY spirit that informed much of the music."

You can buy the book at Conch Records, Real Groovy (Akl), Slowboat Records, RPM Music (Wgtn) and online from, and also on Kindle here.

June 26, 2013

Seeing stars

photo: James Hancox

I did an interview recently with Mike Alexander of the Sunday Star Times. He put a short snippet of that in his music column  a few weeks back, and the full interview went up online this week. Read the Q&A below.

Stars in the making

Culture vulture and freelance journalist Peter McLennan has written extensively about New Zealand music for Real Groove, Rip It Up, Pavement, NZ Musician and North and South.

He recently published his first book I Believe You Are A Star - a collection of articles he wrote between 1992-2003 on some of New Zealand's most influential music makers including Che Fu, Bailterspace, SJD, Sola Rosa, Hinewehi Mohi, Dawn raid and Mark de Clive-Lowe.

"I get to meet some fascinating people writing these pieces," McLennan says.  "I feel very lucky to have met them - that is part of the reason why I got into magazine writing.  I wanted to meet these creative people and find out their process and they turned out to be I'd want to meet anyway."

What's taken you so long (to write a book)?

I've always wanted to do a book and now thanks to the internet, anyone can. You aren't reliant on getting the official seal of approval of a book publisher, much in the same way a musician who can get organised can harness the internet to get global distribution, via Bandcamp or iTunes, without needing a record deal. You still need to produce a book that other people want to read, of course.

Given that most of the articles are more than a decade old, why now?

I had previously collected some of them on a website dedicated to my writing, and this is like a compilation of some of the best pieces. I helped out a friend doing the cover design for their self-published book about 2 years ago, and after seeing how good the finished product turned out, I wanted to tackle my own book. I dug thru my archives (magazines, floppy discs, word docs) and came up with the local music angle. I used's self-publishing service Createspace. There's no upfront costs, or minimum number of books you have to order, And it's stocked in Amazon, so it's available worldwide. And on e-book/Kindle.

The interviews cover about a decade (1992-2003) and they also neatly fit in with the rise of NZ music locally, in terms of wider recognition and radio airplay.

I didn't plan that bit, that was just a happy accident. Back in 1992, local music was less than 2 per cent of commercial radio, by 2003 it was hovering near 20 per cent. Our own music was no longer invisible on radio.

What inspired you initially to start writing about music?

I started out writing about film, as I'd studied that at art school. I shifted into writing about musicians and DJs, and kept writing freelance as a side gig for a long time, mainly as I enjoyed getting the chance to meet musical peeps who I'd want to meet anyway, and got to pick their brains about their creative process.

And learning how to write well and tell their stories in their own words was really enjoyable.

One of the best reactions I got to an interview I did was from P-Money (in 2001), who told me his Dad liked the interview I did with him, 'cos it was the first interview his Dad had read that sounded like him.

Have you ever felt intimidated or nervous going into an interview situation?

Shayne Carter was a bit intimidating, but that was probably because he didn't send out advance copies of his debut Dimmer album, and made me sit with him in Sony's windowless boardroom and listen to the album in full, before doing the interview.
And of course, he's an alt-rock superstar, so there's that too.  As far as asking fanboy questions, I think that's perfectly okay. You gotta ask the obvious questions sometimes. Just don't make them your first questions.

As someone who has been very pro-active in chronicling the origins and history of rap and hip hop in New Zealand, what's your take on where things are at in 2013?

Music is pretty cyclical by nature, so after local hip hop peaked in mid 2000s, it dropped off by the end of that decade. Now it's back on the upswing, thanks to talented cats like David Dallas, Homebrew, Supervillians RMC, Ladi6, @Peace, Tipene, and more. Hip hop is still a hugely exciting genre for me, even though it's 30 years old now.

June 20, 2013

Talking book

Auckland City Harbour News. Click to enlarge

I've done a ton of interviews in the past few weeks about my book, highly enjoyable. Was chatting with Chip on BaseFM, Max on BFM, Charlotte on KiwiFM, Nick D on GeorgeFM, Murry on Radio Ponsonby, and the folk on Caffeine and Aspirin on Radio Active.

Had a great time on TV's U-Live with Connor and Eli, charming young lads.

Here's an interview I did with RadioLive's Wallace Chapman - Wallace and I used to co-host an arts show on BFM called the Culture Bunker, back in the day. Top bloke.

Made it into the Ponsonby News, Sunday Star Times, NZ Herald's Timeout, and the Auckland City Harbour News. Hoorah! Got a copy yet? It's only $20.

Ponsonby News - click to enlarge

May 27, 2013

My book launch was fun!

I had the launch for my first book I Believe You Are A Star on Saturday afternoon, up at Conch Records in Ponsonby. Lots of friends and family came out to support me and buy my book, it was great!

We had pineapple lumps and assorted lollies, tasty beer thanks to the folk at Hallertau, and a wicked DJ set from BaseFM's Dylan C, spinning all-nz vinyl, mixed impeccably. It was a fun time. Thanks to everyone who came along. And thanks to the staff at Conch for hosting it. Love your work. [Photos by Justin Redding, Frances Chan - cheers!]

You can buy the book at Conch Records, Real Groovy (Akl), Slowboat Records, RPM Music (Wgtn) and online from, and also on Kindle here.
Dylan C, DJing all-NZ vinyl. Wicked set!

BaseFM's Chip Matthews and friends

On Kindle...

My friend who lives in Las Vegas sent me this photo last week. She is reading my book on her Kindle, while, riding the bus. Yay for the internet!

May 24, 2013

Book launch tomorrow!

Me and my book. Photo: Grant Apiata

My book launch is on tomorrow, if you're in Auckland, come on by! Here's some info....

'I believe you are a star' is the book debut for local musician/DJ Peter McLennan (Dub Asylum/Hallelujah Picassos/BaseFM). Come and help him celebrate the launch!

The book is a collection of magazine interviews written between 1992 and 2003. McLennan talked to locals just starting their recording careers (P-Money, Stellar, SJD, Black Seeds), through to established artists (Salmonella Dub, Shayne Carter, DLT, Bailter Space) and more.

Books will be available for sale on the day (only $20!), the author will be signing copies, and DJ Dylan C will be playing a special all-NZ vinyl set. The first 25 copies sold at the launch come with a free mix CD of recordings mentioned in the book. We also have complimentary beer thanks to the good folk at Hallertau. Swing by!

You can buy the book at Conch Records, Real Groovy (Akl), Slowboat Records, RPM Music (Wgtn) and  online from, and also on Kindle here.

May 20, 2013

Book out today!

Cover photo of Pitch Black - Tony Nyberg. Design - Peter McLennan


(202 pages, official publication date May 20, RRP $19.95 from Slowboat Records, RPM Music (Wgtn), Conch Records, Real Groovy (Akl), FlyingOut mailorder (NZ) and More outlets soon. Also available on Kindle

I BELIEVE YOU ARE A STAR is a collection of magazine interviews written between 1992 and 2003 by Peter McLennan. He talked to locals just starting their recording careers (P-Money, Stellar, SJD, Black Seeds), through to established artists (Salmonella Dub, Shayne Carter, Bailter Space). They are fascinating insights of where these artists were at, and provide a look into their creative process.

The book launch will be held at Conch Records, 115a Ponsonby Rd from 3pm, Saturday May 25th, with special all-NZ vinyl DJ set from Dylan C, and complimentary beer  from the good folk at Hallertau. Books on sale on the day - first 25 copies come with a free mix CD of recordings mentioned in the book. Read about the artists and listen to them at the same time!

Before starting his blog Dubdotdash in 2003, Peter was a freelance magazine journalist for a handful of magazines, including Real Groove, North and South, NZ Musician, Rip It Up, Pavement, Selector, Planet, Lava and Stamp. This collection of interviews draws together some of the articles he wrote and is focussed on local musicians, DJs and artists.

There's some interesting threads in these interviews, like Stellar discussing their sizeable album budget and comparing it to what Straitjacket Fits or JPSE got, then Fiona McDonald having a similar conversation round her album budget, citing JPSE and Stellar.

There's Tigilau Ness (Che Fu’s dad) talking about how he got sent to prison after the 1981 Springbok tour protests, which is a pretty heavy story. Tigilau got chucked out of school for refusing to cut his afro, how staunch is that?

Or Shayne Carter, explaining why he didn’t want to send out advance copies of his debut album as Dimmer (after making me sit with him in the Sony boardroom and listen to the album in its entirety), and me suggesting that if I’d had the album before the interview, I could've written some pertinent questions. To which Shayne replied with words to the effect of “Oh, I didn’t think of that.”

Peter says “I got to meet some fascinating people writing these pieces. I feel very lucky to have met them - that’s part of the reason why I got into magazine writing. I wanted to meet these creative people and find out their process, and they turned out to be people I’d want to meet anyway.”

Other interviews include... SJD, Pitch Black, Sola Rosa, HDU, Darcy Clay, Graffiti art in Aotearoa: DLT, Otis Frizzell & Dan Tippett, Roger Perry, Dawn Raid, Kog Transmissions, Subliminals, Solid Gold Hell, Weta, Hinewehi Mohi, Mark de Clive-Lowe, Phase 5, Jakob, DJ Sir-Vere and the ITF DJ champs  PLUS: articles on the Aotearoa Hiphop Summit 2001 (and a NZ hiphop timeline), and the state of NZ music videos in 1992, and 1999.

The book is published independently by Dunbar Noon Publishing, thru the print on demand service, Createspace. Book and cover design by Peter McLennan.

May 3, 2013

Interview chatter

Photo by Trevor Reekie

I did a fun radio interview with Radio NZ's Trevor Reekie recently about my book (out May 20), you can catch it tomorrow...

"RADIO NZ ; Sat May 4th 2013 – MUSIC 101 – just after 2 pm.
Two well respected Auckland-based musicians are releasing their self published books soon via Amazon's Createspace as a book and e-book … think of it as Bandcamp for authors. . - now anyone can publish a book

Peter McLennan (ex Hallelujah Picasso, DJ, Dub Asylum, video maker and journalist) who has curated his book “I Believe you are a star” and Gareth Shute (musician, award winning author, academic and one of the main men in the L’il Chief label) about his book ‘Concept Albums’ talk to us about how the age of the rejection letter is changing - just like the recording bizz."

ADDED you can listen to the interview here....

March 15, 2013

Darcy Clay

Today marks 15 years since Darcy Clay died. I was lucky enough to meet him a handful of times - firstly to talk about directing a music video for him. Trevor Reekie (Antenna Recordings  his label) put me onto him, as Darcy had got an NZ On Air music video grant. He had some great ideas - doing a big song and dance number down Queen st - but eventually decided he'd rather work on some recording instead and ditched the music video. Later I got to interview him for Pavement magazine, see below. The following interview will be included in my book I Believe You Are A Star, out May.

Darcy Clay: He’s evil?!

Published in Pavement, August/September 1997

Having already conquered the pop charts, twisted Auckland musician Darcy Clay now has his sights set further afield.

"I wouldn't mind going to Africa and spending some time with the lions," he intones. "I'd like to travel. Music is not the greatest thing in the world. It's one of them but it's not the only one, as far as I'm concerned. I want to get into Pavement magazine and I want to be on the cover of Time." Well, he's halfway there then.

Darcy Clay has taken the airwaves by storm. His infectious pop ditty Jesus I Was Evil has been all over student radio for a while and now, with the release of his six song CD of the same name, he's set to become a household name. Maybe that sounds a tad optimistic for a song recorded at home on a four-track but the CD is already cutting through the NZ top 20, debuting at number 18 and rising to number 5.

The Clean hold the title as the last New Zealand band to make the charts with a DIY four-track recording back in the early-'80s. But what's behind the enigmatic man who came up with the great auto-racing couplet: "I used to crash parties and Maseratis. Jesus I was evil!" I ventured out to deepest Grey Lynn, the cutting edge of home recording (Chris Knox, come on down!) to find out.

When I arrive, Darcy is standing in front of his piano pounding away, playing along intently to a tune on his Walkman. We adjourn to his front porch for a quick chat in the face of a damn crisp early evening.

Why avoid the traditional recording studio route and record at home? "It's good. You can record at any time of the day. It's cheap. There's no pressure. And you're alone. I like that. You don't have to talk to anybody, just suit yourself."

What's it like being famous now?

"I don't know. I'm not famous. John Lennon's famous. I guess being known, it makes it easier. People are more willing to lend you gear."

Clay is planning to record some new songs soon too. "I'm going to do about five or six songs at home and release them, then do an album in a proper studio. I don't care where, as long as it's with a good engineer."

And then there's that trip to Africa...

Watch: Dylan Taite interviewing Darcy, 1997. Taite: "It's like nothing you've heard before, but in fact, it's like everything you've heard."

February 28, 2013

Tiki in Dubai

Here's an excerpt from my book I believe you are a star - part of an interview I did with Tiki Taane, back when he was in Salmonella Dub. He got into a bit of strife on tour, while, in Dubai. Seems tattoos get a different reception there...

Platitudes: Salmonella Dub 

Published in Pavement, August/September 2001

If you have been wondering what happened to Salmonella Dub, two words offer an answer: global domination.

The last 12 months have been an exciting time for Salmonella Dub. Following the commercial and critical success of their last album Killervision, they launched themselves out into the big world, touring to Australia, Europe, South Africa, and the Middle East, after securing release of the album in these countries. In between all this travel, they started laying down the foundations for their fourth album, Inside The Dubplates. Soundman and vocalist Tiki says its been a year of exciting new places and strange adventures.

"I got in trouble in Dubai," he recalls, relaxing in the record company boardroom in Auckland, a long way from the political hotspots of the Middle East. "It was so hot, I went out in shorts and a t-shirt, and people would cross the road, freaking out at me, big time. I couldn't understand why. People were stopping their cars and watching me.

“I spent the whole day walking round, just going 'why are these people freaking out at me?' I went back to the hotel and the reception guy was totally freaking out, going 'oh my god, you didn't go out like that did you?' I said 'what do you mean, like that?'

“And he said, 'oh, you should cover yourself up'. I said 'why?', and it was something to do with the tattoos, the moko and the dreads, it meant they thought I was the devil, basically. When you're born, I think they believe that you should die as you were born, without any markings or anything. If you do mark yourself then you are going to spend the rest of your life on earth in eternal damnation! And then I understood.

“The cool thing was, I had a bunch of kids running up and touching me, checking me out, going 'where are you from?' I got talking to them, and they were saying you just don't get bands here, it's really hard to get exposed to anything else that's happening in the world. The kids there are really starved for Western culture. That made me realise how lucky we are. Even though we're from the South Pacific, these guys were way closer to the rest of the world than what we are, but they're still so isolated."

February 27, 2013

What's this book about, then?

Here's the front cover of my book - the photo of Pitch Black is shot by Tony Nyberg, cover design by me.

Before starting my blog Dubdotdash in 2003, I'd been a freelance journalist for a handful of magazines, including Real Groove, North and South, NZ Musician,  Rip It Up, and going back to Planet, Pavement, Lava and Stamp. Over the past year I've been working on pulling together a collection of articles I wrote during that time, scanning and converting the text, and will be publishing them via Amazon's Createspace as a book/e-book.

There's some interesting threads in there, like Stellar discussing their sizeable album budget, comparing it to SJF or JPSE, then Fiona McDonald having a similar conversation round her album budget, citing JPSE and Stellar. There's an early interview with P-Money (before he'd even released any of his own recordings), which he later told me his Dad liked cos it was the first interview that actually sounded like him!

Or Bailterspace talking about going to the beach, but the UV index being so high they had to stay in the car with the windows up. Or Shayne Carter making me sit in the Sony boardroom and listen to the first album by his band Dimmer in its entirety, as he didn't want to send out any advance promo copies.

Other interviews featured include Darcy Clay, Salmonella Dub, Sola Rosa, Dean Hapeta (Upper Hutt Posse), Kog Transmissions, HDU, Mark de Clive-Lowe, Tigi Ness, Black Seeds, Jakob, Pitch Black, JPSE, and more. Interviews done between 1992 and 2003.

Official publication date is 20 May, 2013. Book launch at Conch Records, Saturday May 25, 3pm, with Dylan C DJing all-NZ vinyl set, books for sale on the day, with the author signing 'em. Published by Dunbar Noon Publishing.

You can buy the book (RRP $19.95) at Conch Records, Real Groovy (Akl), Slowboat Records, RPM Music (Wgtn) FlyingOut mailorder (NZ) and online from, and also on Kindle here