Interview with Stefan Neville conducted through the email in April 2010.
Kraus: What do you think are some of the advantages and disadvantages of making music in New Zealand?
Stefan: its hard to say. your questions are hard. The obvious things to mention are our small population and geographic isolation but those seem to me to be both good and bad things. For me growing up knowing therewas that rich DIY and do it your own way NZ tradition was an inspiring example to follow. I think if you do music in NZ even if you do everything in your power to be a gross tryhard popstar that you are still not really gonna make that much money. Idealisticly that could mean if you still need to make music then the only incentive is cos you wanna make really good music, but really there seem to be more and more gross idiots every year aye?. The worst things are seeing what gets supported and funded and what doesnt but thats just taste isnt it? And it bums me out too much to apply for funding so i dont anymore. So I cant complain really. And we are lucky there is even funding to apply for i spose but the stuff I like that happens here seems to happen despite funding and not because of it. Fat Freddys Drop got something like $20'000 in Creative NZ funding to tour the south island at the same time Pumice was declined $2000 to go do that artist residency in Austria. These things are just a dumb lottery aren't they.
Kraus: A dumb, crooked lottery.
Kraus: You've been making music for, what, 20 years? What changes have you noticed in the New Zealand scene in that time?
Stefan: yeah just about 20 years. fuck me days. I do remember the time when even commercial NZ music wasnt considered good enough or "commercial" enough. It seemed like the pop bands, weird bands, funk bands, noise bands and reggae bands all existed in the same neglected ghetto regardless of how good they were except for Split Enz. Ardijah would win the big awards one year and Jay Clarkson would win them the next. Now NZ music is actually commercial, a brand name. a business. money pumped into it, theres lots of smug back patting and it seems your not allowed to be critical. Everything is put in little marketable pockets, and again thats regardless of how good they actually are. I dont know what any of it means.
Kraus: Which is better to tour: Europe or America?
Stefan: Easily Europe. they feed you and value you. Its exotic and old. All those different countries all connected. Its harder to pick the wankers through the accents and languages. America is harder work tho i have lots more fans there. The wankers are more obvious. These are really gross generalisations. Can you tell Ive toured too much?
Kraus: What do people overseas think New Zealand is like?
Stefan: I dont know what they really think but theres 3 or 4 conversations you often have. The Lord of the Rings one got replaced by the Flight of the Concords one. Then theres the NZ music fanatics that think all we have here is the likes of Tall Dwarfs, Surface of the Earth and Witcyst.And they think they know everything about everything but I take great delight in telling them about Salmonella Dub and Tina Cross. Then there are those that have actually been here and just wanna list the places they went. I hate representing New Zealand. It always warms my heart to meet a Witcyst fan out there in the world tho.
Kraus: How do you find touring in New Zealand?
Stefan: I like it. a chance to see and play with friends up and down the country. See what their new bands are like. Hear their new songs. The best is taking your time. Stop and sleep on the beach and swim. Go to all the Op shops on state highway one. And when i get to where im going i know exactly how to get there. A few wankers out there too tho. ha! I should never go on tour ever again aye?
Kraus: Have you got any good tips about touring or recording?
Stefan: I dont know how I've done anything other than pigheaded perseverance. send what you do out into the void. keep sending it & keep sending it. You have to be a bit sick and obsessed. keep doing it but only if you really mean it. Im proud of the things Ive done and places I've been but to be honest i dont recommend the life that has gone with it.
Kraus: It's a shit business.