From The Pit 2021

From The Pit 2021
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I started Will Not Fade in 2014. It was a pretty bare-bones blog, but I have a knack for writing so it slowly gained a following. I didn’t really know what I was doing and it was a steep learning curve. Another music blog asked me to write a guest review for them and I noticed that my review looked way better on their site because of how they used visual elements. So I took it upon myself to learn photography.My first attempts were not good. I remember being quite embarrassed that I’d managed to get access to the photo pit for a Jimmy Eat World gig, but some friends who also attended managed to get better far snaps with their cellphone.I did some research and saved up my money. The following year I invested in a better quality camera: my trusty Canon M3. I wanted something compact and although it’s tiny, it has always served me well. Sometimes I feel intimidated, showing up to a gig with a camera that’s only half of the size of the other photographers’ lenses, but I think my results speak for themselves.I slowly improved. Going on tour with my friends in Ranges helped me test out my settings in a huge variety of venues and settings. I was able to shoot from the stage and from different vantage points because I was with the band, and I picked up lots of personal techniques through experimenting with my camera every night.Learning photo editing was another learning curve. I was finding it impossible to get decent photos in low-light conditions, so I decided to take the next step and learn some photo editing skills. It took me a while to figure out the software, and I know I still have a great deal to learn, but it took my photos up to a whole other level. I don’t know how I managed to get such good shots before I used Lightroom.I’ve been lucky enough to photograph some of my favourite bands and gain access to some amazing festivals and concerts. These days I do more photography than writing reviews. I enjoy the challenge of finding new creative ways to capture the energy that the musicians put out onstage.I’m honoured to be part of the From The Pit exhibition this year. There are some incredibly talented photographers who have contributed, many of whom I am blessed to be friends with, and a few who I featured on the blog last year. Please take the time to attend one of the exhibitions if you are able. Help us celebrate some of the incredible people in the music scene, both in front of and behind the camera. I’m proud to be part of this and I trust you’ll enjoy yourself if you can make it.Joseph James


From The Pit links:

Website: https://fromthepit.co.nz/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FromThePitNZ/

Auckland event: Monster Valley, 74 Karangahape Road

Facebook event page: https://fb.me/e/1vOnAAiDA
Opening Night: Thursday 20th May – 6pm to late
Friday 21st May – 11am to 6pm
Saturday 22nd May – 11am to 6pm
Sunday 23rd May – 11am to 4pm
Thursday 27th May – 11am to 6pm
Friday 28th May – 11am to 6pm
Saturday 29th May – 11am to 6pm
Sunday 30th May – 11am to 4pm

Wellington event: Thistle Hall, Cnr Cuba & Arthur Streets

Facebook event page: https://fb.me/e/2btS7GUJt
Opening Night: Monday 24 May – 6pm to 10pm
Tuesday 25 May – 3pm to 6pm
Wednesday 26th May – 3pm to 6pm
Thursday 27th May – 3pm to 6pm
Friday 28th May – 3pm to 7pm
Saturday 29th May – 10am to 6pm
Sunday 20th May – 10am to 2pm

Christchurch: Pūmanawa, The Arts Centre

Facebook event page: https://fb.me/e/1zNgqSH2m
Tuesday 25 May – 10am to 5pm
Wednesday 26th May – 10am to 5pm
Thursday 27th May – 10am to 5pm
Friday 28th May – 10am to 5pm
Saturday 29th May – 10am to 5pm
Sunday 20th May – 10am to 5pm
FromThePit has been made possible by the following organisations: Sony, Auckland UNESCO City Of Music, Epson, Print Art, Monster Valley, NZ Music Month May 2021, Independent Music New Zealand and the New Zealand Music Commission

Will Not Fade’s 2020 In Review

Will Not Fade Logo jpeg
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I think I can safely speak for all of us when I say it has been a rough year. Personally, I had a lot of amazing plans that got cancelled. I was planning on traveling throughout Europe, seeing the world, touring with my dear friends Ranges and attending festivals such as dunk!festival and ArcTanGent. Then a pesky virus spread around the globe and put an end to all of that. Admittedly we’ve got it pretty good here in New Zealand. We had five weeks of national lockdown around Easter time, and certainly a lot of gigs were cancelled or at reduced capacity, but we’ve still had live music for a lot of this year, which is an absolute blessing.

Even so, I’ve found it hard for a multitude of reasons. I decided to retire from running the blog earlier in the year. But I have some spare time now that I’m on holiday and I enjoy writing these end-of-year summaries, so I’m back in action for this one last article for the year.

My top albums of 2020

The Beths Jump Rope GazersThe Beths – Jump Rope Gazers

As I mentioned, New Zealand has still been able to have concerts and gatherings for a lot of the year, so this has allowed a lot of NZ artists to stand out a bit more on the world stage. Benee is an example of one artist who has garnered international attention and success. The Beths are another group who have gone from strength to strength. Many of us fell in love with their self-deprecating powerpop with debut album Future Me Hates Me, and follow up record Jump Rope Gazers is just as brilliant. It’s more of a slow burner than FMHM, but still proves just as irresistible and catchy after a few listens, and an easy pick for my top album of 2020. The Beths are also great live and I was delighted to catch them live again this year after a number of postponements. They’re in such demand that they played 5 packed out shows over three days in Wellington, and I imagine they could have even pulled enough of a crowd to play a few more shows too.

Caspian On CirclesCaspian – On Circles

Caspian’s last album Dust and Disquiet is phenomenal. They blew my mind playing that material at dunk!fest in 2018 and I was so upset that I couldn’t see them play again this year after my travels were cancelled. On Circles may not quiet measure up to Dust and Disquiet, but it’s still a solid album, just in it’s own way. It’s a more reserved offering, but this seems somehow appropriate for the times. There’s two songs with singing –  Kyle Dufrey of Pianos Become The Teeth lends his voice to one track, and Phil Jamieson’s singing on the titular track is sublime and soul restoring. Something else I love about this album is the interesting tones and timbres they’ve gone for. Maybe they’re in alternate tunings, maybe it’s effect pedals, I really have no idea. But these tones, coupled with some cello and violin on a few tracks, make for unusual yet enticing listening.

Into It Over It FigureInto It. Over It. – Figure

Regular readers won’t be at all surprised by this inclusion. It’s no secret that I’m a big IIOI fan. They were the first act that I flew overseas to see live. And the last album, Standards, was a great. Figure is a logical continuation of Standards. Brilliant songwriting, great playing. The drumming is complementary and they’ve continued their exploration into interesting tones.

Biffy Clyro - A Celebration of EndingsBiffy Clyro – A Celebration of Endings

Again, this should come as no surprise; Biffy Clyro have been my favourite band since I was a teenager. I almost slept on this one though – I pre-ordered the vinyl record and due to covid related complications it still hasn’t shown up. Warner said they’d send a digital download but never did (same case with their last record Ellipsis too, up your game Warner!) After a few months of waiting I figured that maybe I should do some hunting. I eventually got a copy of the album downloaded and I’m glad I did because it’s been on steady repeat ever since. Biffy have always trodden a fine line, making a point of being weird and alternative (at times inaccessible even, especially during the earlier albums), yet at the same time playing stadium rock and writing songs that earn mainstream radio play (more so overseas). And somehow they’ve managed to continue down this path with success. There’s less of the bland radio fodder that featured heavily on Ellipsis, and they’ve managed to evolve and push their style whilst style true to their distinctive Biffy sound.

Other music worth mentioning

distance

Sam Butler released two great solo EPs this year. I reviewed the first EP, over time.

Saint Speak

A side-project from Spencer of Tides of Man, lullabies for his newborn.

Spencer Gill with Tides of MAn at dunk!festival 2018

Spencer Gill with Tides of Man at dunk!festival 2018. Image: Will Not Fade

Jakob – “HAARP”

A great lost b-side from the post-rock titans.

Lakes

Lakes released my favourite album of 2019, and dropped a few remixes, covers and other tracks this year. This 7″ is my pick of their 2020 offerings.

And two albums not released in 2020 that I listened to a lot

Dave Hause KickDave Hause – Kick

You may know Hause as the singer of punk band The Loved Ones. It’s almost a cliche how punk singers start solo projects along these lines (Think The Revival Tour). Kick is a great album, hopeful and defiant in the face of oppression. It’s in the vein of singer-songwriter, even country styles, something a bit more chilled out, but still with rock roots.

MetavariMetavari – Be One Of Us And Hear No Noise

I have no idea how I came across this album but it just hit the spot. A perfect blend of ambient and electronica. I’ve needed more calming music like this a lot this year.


The state of things in 2020

I’m terrified of the ongoing implications of what will happen to the music scene as a result of this pandemic. Musicians who rely on touring and selling merch for a living suddenly don’t have an income. Venues can’t get by because people aren’t allowed to attend gatherings. No venues means no places for bands to play. And it doesn’t just affect musicians, there’s the roadies and drivers and lighting techs and sound engineers and a whole industry suddenly without work.

Many musicians are resorting to livestreaming performances. [Here’s one that my friends in Ranges did for WherePostRockDwells]. Some people have been able to monetise livestreaming these performances. We will see if this becomes comomonplace in the future.

We all know that streaming is not really the answer forward. Sure, it is a revenue stream, but they pay such a pittance per stream that it’s a joke. Bandcamp have stepped up with Bandcamp Fridays, monthly events that they choose not to take their cut on any music and merch sold in order to help the musicians and labels who need the income so badly now. And it appears to have worked, with millions of dollars worth of transactions happening every Bandcamp Friday.

Thankfully we still have live music here in NZ for the time being. I’ve been paying to a Patreon for our local venue Valhalla because I know that without venues, we won’t have a live music scene.

Live music in 2020

I didn’t see many international acts this year, for obvious reasons. I did see Queen at the stadium (it was a bit of a spectacle but I’m glad I didn’t pay much), I saw Yawning Man at Valhalla, and a few metal bands at Obey The Riff festival at Panhead Brewery in Upper Hutt. My own band also opened for Sebadoh at a sold out show at San Fran in Feb, which was pretty awesome.

Yawning Man at Valhalla

Yawning Man at Valhalla. Image: Will Not Fade

My best gig of the year was The Wellington Sea Shanty Society at Breaker Bay Hall. It’s exactly what it sounds like. I drank a lot of rum and sang pirate songs. My friends and I all agree that it was our collective best night out since The Beards.

Newtown Festival was one highlight. I spent most of the day there taking photos at the Ferguson St Stage for The Mousai.

Happy Valley at Newtown Festival

Happy Valley at Newtown Festival. Image: Will Not Fade

Some of my favourite Wellington bands at the moment are Happy Valley, Planet Hunter and Adoneye, and I managed to see them all play a few times.

It’s a real shame that Spook The Horses had their European tour cancelled, but I was stoked that they asked my band to open at their album release and they killed it. They livestreamed the night if you want to go back and watch it.

Spook The Horses album release at Meow

Spook The Horses album release at Meow. Image: Will Not Fade

A real indication of how much things have changed is when I went to see local speed metallers Stälker recently. It was packed. Certainly a big change from reduced capacity shows that I’d been going to a few months earlier. The mosh pit was pumping and you couldn’t move because everyone was squeezed together so tightly. I used to live for nights like that, but it felt so uncomfortable after avoiding being too close to others for most of the year.

Stälker at Newtown Sports Bar

Stälker at Newtown Sports Bar. Image: Will Not Fade

2021

It’s hard to say what next year holds for us. Guns n Roses have announced a stadium tour in NZ. Is that too ambitious? Only time will tell. Hopefully the covid vaccine is effective.

Beastwars have held an Obey The Riff festival at Panhead Brewery in Upper Hutt over the past few years and it’s been successful. I’ve heard rumours about the potential lineup for 2021 and I’m excited about that. I’m not holding my breath about seeing any acts from overseas anytime soon though.

In terms of releases, I’m looking forward to a new Amy Shark album, and hopefully Adoneye release their debut (bass player Jesse is recovering from wrist surgery). There may also be a live DVD from Opium Eater (Jesse’s other band) and Glassblower are dropping their debut grindcore album. My own band Secrets of the Sun will have an album out at some stage early next year too. Sora Shima are coming back so I’m hoping to see them again, and fingers crossed for some new music.

 

What are your favourite albums of 2020? What are your predictions for 2021? Feel free to comment and share your thoughts!

 

Artist Profile: Jechtography

Jechtography
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Welcome to Will Not Fade’s Artist Profile series, where we take a look into the people in the music scene who aren’t necessarily musicians.

Jechtography

Jechtography

Who are you?

Hey! I’m Jecht and I run my own photography business Jechtography! I officially settled on the name while on tour with two Battle Of The Bands grand winners and since then I’ve shot seven international acts and 70 kiwi musicians and bands, most of them multiple times! If the name Jechtography seems familiar, it’ll be because of the many musicians and bands currently flaunting the photos I’ve taken of them on social media haha.

 

How did you start off doing photography?

It all started when I was taking snaps of my brother’s band Pale Lady with a cracked phone lens, at the time I very rarely took photography seriously apart from making the odd Instagram post. From there I started to go to more and more local music gigs and decided I’d need to invest in some better hardware, so I bought a brand new Sony A6000 and self-taught myself to where I am 10 months later!

 

Why do you photograph musicians?

I believe it’s mainly due to the influence of going to see my bro play live. I rarely went out to check the local scene beforehand and it think it was the exposure to seeing the raw talent oozing out of the Wellington scene lately that occupies most of my photography ventures lately. I’ve branched out and done a wedding and some photo shoots since starting Jechtography, but there’s a special active component with photographing musicians in a lively venue that you can’t get anywhere else, a special symbiosis between the performer and the photographer where you’re doing your best to capture and preserve the energy and emotions they’re expressing.

 

Film or Digital?

I would like to try out film sometime in the future, and upon thinking more on this question I do wish I tried taking up Photography as well as Art when I was at college (I remember we had a darkroom, so that implies film was taught right?)… but ultimately I’ve only ever had access to Digital hardware, and for now I want to shoot music gigs exclusively in digital. I’m a rather trigger-happy type of person and I want to be able to transfer shots to my phone within the same night for quick post-processing work.

 

Colour or Black and White?

Tough question. Easy answer is both, I love keeping shots in colour when the lighting crew or venues have a really cool setting to work with, and when the moment calls for it like when I want to draw attention to a facial emotion through a close-up or if there are great textures in the shot then I’ll pare it down to B & W. There is a hard answer though, and that’s when I really want to salvage a perfect moment like an iconic pose or an intimate crowd exchange, yet the photo is overblown with harsh red or blue light. I try to avoid those situations as much as possible on the fly with ISO/ShutterSpeed/AF settings but these moments don’t wait for you, you have to chase and make to with what you can get. For those photos, I begrudgingly almost always go to B & W.

 

What has been your highlight so far as a photographer?

I’ve had to reanswer this a few times sooooo honorable mentions go to Thom of Villainy saying my shot of him surrounded in gold confetti was one of this favourite shots of all time and Jon Toogood giving me a massive signal boost from an awesome acoustic show.
As for my highlight so far, I’ve got to give it to my time touring with Blue River Baby, a Wellington based Rock Soul Funk band that asked me to go on a nationwide tour as their tour photographer! I had a great time getting to know the band members, meeting new people within the industry and gaining the experience and the do’s and don’ts of touring life! It’s definitely something I’d want to do again.

Thom from Villainy, taken moments after giving me a nod to denote something BIG was gonna happen

Thom from Villainy, taken moments after giving me a nod to denote something BIG was gonna happen

What band would you most love to photograph?

My mind says Slipknot, my heart says Lacuna Coil. Both have great stage presence from what I’ve seen and I’d love to capture the grit from their makeup and costumes they proudly portray and change up every album release. This is supposed to be a single answer question so I’ll just lock in Lacuna Coil!

 

Have you got a favourite venue?

Whichever one has the better lighting!!! Jokes aside, Valhalla in Wellington is essentially my second home at this point. There’s no photographer pit so getting in close for a high profile band is tricky, especially when you’re trying to keep a steady hand with a lower shutter speed to compensate for low lighting (Korpiklanni was a cascade of dreadlock whippings for example) but it’s really great for seeing local legends in the making like PL, ELK, DSE etc.

 

What do you consider your most essential piece of equipment?

I don’t think eyes would count for a suitable answer so I’ll have to say my earplugs. I can work without my tripod, I can work with only one of my few lenses but I need to preserve my hearing when I’m forced to stick near a blaring speaker to take those magic moments. I got my own future music career to think about too!

 

What kind of ear protection do you use?

I started using monthly disposable earplugs from White Cat, then when I prematurely lost them recently I resorted to looking like a tool and used my noise-canceling bluetooth earphones for a while. It totally worked but I’m sure that’s not their intended purpose, please don’t take it as an endorsement! Then for Christmas I got a pair of Alpine PartyPlugs that are wash friendly and I’ve been using them ever since.

 

Have you got any advice for aspiring beginner photographers?

From personal experience, starting with a phone camera is totally okay if you’re testing the waters and you’re not sure, but know that you will definitely need the freedom and flexibility that modern DSLR cameras can offer over flagship phones. A great tip with shooting specific musicians is that you’ll probably need to see them live a few times before you’re both in sync, if you can identify unique quirks that band members have and when they’re most likely to showcase said quirks, you’re already on the way to becoming a fantastic photographer! It all comes back to the symbiosis between the musician and the photographer, even getting to know them off stage can lead to them becoming more comfortable and showing you sides no one else will see.

 

How can people contact you if they want to use your services?

If you’re looking for a passionate photographer with a rising portfolio, you can get in contact with me via my Facebook page Jechtography or at booking@jechtography.com. My rates are usually very affordable and work on a per-head basis, less band members = cheaper rates! I’m based in the Wellington region but I have on occasion ventured out to shows, it doesn’t hurt to inquire.

 

If you’d like to take a gander at more of my photos, I upload a small selection from each set I shoot on my Facebook page Jechtography with the full photo albums on my personal website at https://jechtography.com. I also have an instagram account where I upload musical photos from the gigs I shoot… confused about what a musical photo is? Check out @jechtmania for what I mean. I also shoot the occasional video at the gigs I shoot and upload to my YouTube account Jechtmania, there you’ll see kiwi acts like Jon Toogood, Pale Lady and Hault as well as a few high ranking videos of the international metal sensation Devin Townsend doing acoustic!

Nick of Dream State Empire

Nick of Dream State Empire during a double digit second long howl, real estate given up top to accentuate his aura

Jon Toogood belting out solo

Jon Toogood belting out solo

Jessy and the Volunteers_s Jessy getting her RnB soul on

Jessy and the Volunteers_s Jessy getting her RnB soul on

Devin Townsend during his acoustic warmup world tour, incredible musician with an unbelievable voice

Devin Townsend during his acoustic warmup world tour, incredible musician with an unbelievable voice

Coridian's Dity reaching out

Coridian’s Dity reaching out, going B_W to bring more focus to his hand

Artist Profile: Garry Thomas Photography

Garry Thomas
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Welcome to Will Not Fade’s Artist Profile series, where we take a look into the people in the music scene who aren’t necessarily musicians.

Garry Thomas

Garry Thomas

Who are you?

Garry Thomas

How did you start off doing photography?

In the last year or so I’ve discovered a passion for photography. I first borrowed a DSLR from a friend and dabbled in a bit of Astro / Night Photography, and along the way started loving Landscape Photography. It’s challenged me to get out and about when I’m not feeling like it, like when i get up in the pitch black of the morning to shoot the sunrise over the city, or being the only one on a beach at 2.a.m, to try and shoot the Milky Way. I’ve booked entire holidays around the possibility of finding something new and spectacular to take photographs of. Best of all, it’s an excuse to explore our beautiful country.
Recently, I’ve photographed a few bands. Thus combining a couple of my biggest passions in the world.
My oldest passion – Music. And my most recent passion – Photography.
Throwing that together with a 15 year fascination with Photoshop, and a background in design and its a pretty freakin’ sweet way to hear some new bands, have some fun and meet some new faces.

Why do you photograph musicians?

I love music, why not help people create / document a point in time?

Film or Digital?

Digital

Colour or Black and White?

Both

What has been your highlight so far as a photographer?

Bongzilla were amazing. Been listening to them for 13 years. Got to shoot them.

Bongzilla by Garry Thomas

Bongzilla by Garry Thomas

What band would you most love to photograph?

Tool, Nine Inch Nails, Queens

Have you got a favourite venue?

Wherever the music takes me.

What do you consider your most essential piece of equipment?

24-70mm 2.8 lens, Ear Plugs

What kind of ear protection do you use?

Decibullz custom ear plugs from Amazon

Have you got any advice for aspiring beginner photographers?

The best camera is the one you have in your hand.

How can people contact you if they want to use your services?

https://www.facebook.com/garrythomasphotos/

https://www.instagram.com/garrythomasphotos/

Garrythomasphotos@gmail.com

Hit me up and I’ll probably come photograph your band.

Planet Hunter by Garry Thomas

Planet Hunter by Garry Thomas

Delaney Davidson by Garry Thomas

Delaney Davidson by Garry Thomas

Fall Of Man by Garry Thomas

Fall Of Man by Garry Thomas

Tom LaHatte by Garry Thomas

Tom LaHatte by Garry Thomas

Artist Profile: Stella Gardiner Photography

Stella Gardiner
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Welcome to Will Not Fade’s Artist Profile series, where we take a look into the people in the music scene who aren’t necessarily musicians.

Stella Gardiner

Stella Gardiner

Who are you?

Stella Gardiner.

How did you start off doing photography?

I was originally into Lomography and experimental street film photography,and it wasn’t until much later in life that I started using a digital camera. I bought a Canon 5D and made a few low budget music videos with a friend in London. Upon returning to New Zealand I decided to use the camera for photography and on a whim took it with me to a Peter Murphy gig in Auckland. I sent my images to a media outlet on the advice of a friend and the rest is history.

Why do you photograph musicians?

Musicians bring the world so much joy. They give it their all performing on stage and I want to immortalise those moments for others to share and enjoy. Going to a gig, for me, is a cathartic experience. It’s an added bonus if I get to photograph as well.

Film or Digital?

Mostly digital although I have tried film as well but it’s tricky.

Colour or Black and White?

Both. Depends on the artist and the atmosphere or venue.

What has been your highlight so far as a photographer?

So far it would have to be photographing The Cure. For a teenager obsessed with Robert Smith this was a fan-girl dream come true!

The Cure by Stella Gardiner

The Cure by Stella Gardiner

What band would you most love to photograph?

Grace Jones. I saw her live at Camden Roundhouse in London and would absolutely kill for the chance to photograph her. She is an amazing woman.

Have you got a favourite venue?

I love Meow on Edward Street as there is always a place to get a great shot and the décor is eclectic making for super interesting backgrounds. I also love San Fran for the high stage and super awesome staff! I do miss Bodega though.

What do you consider your most essential piece of equipment?

Actually my jeans. I need a lot of pockets to hold all my stuff when I shoot haha.

What kind of ear protection do you use?

Isolate titanium ear plugs. They block loud sounds but I can still hear conversations in the crowd perfectly. It’s really trippy.

Have you got any advice for aspiring beginner photographers?

Think outside the box and be prepared for anything. Oh and ALWAYS treat the crowd, promoters, venue staff and fellow photographers with the utmost respect. They can be your biggest ally at a crowded venue.

How can people contact you if they want to use your services?

https://www.instagram.com/stellagardinerphoto/

https://www.facebook.com/stellagardinerphoto/

stella.gardiner@gmail.com

Peaches by Stella Gardiner

Peaches by Stella Gardiner

Linen by Stella Gardiner

Linen by Stella Gardiner

Julia Deans by Stella Gardiner

Julia Deans by Stella Gardiner

The Chats by Stella Gardiner

The Chats by Stella Gardiner

The Exploited by Stella Gardiner

The Exploited by Stella Gardiner

The Jesus & Mary Chain by Stella Gardiner

The Jesus & Mary Chain by Stella Gardiner

The Mummies by Stella Gardiner

The Mummies by Stella Gardiner