knox, chris

i’ve had a hard time starting this profile. a man who’s done so much for new zealand (underground) music that it wouldn’t really be the same without him – knox was responsable for so many changes in the way we think about music here in new zealand. in the enemy he proved that new zealand underground music was indeed a viable and precious quantity, absolutely illuminating the dunedin punk scene that had sprung up around his quirky (and utterly convicted) troop. when the enemy became toy love they located and conquered auckland, but were ripped apart by the complacency and vindictiveness of the big-label music scene (and apathetic aussie crowds) in australia.
knox and his fellow burned band-mates returned with a new outlook on the kiwi music way of life. he saw that creation is far more important than clarity, and with a few simple steps (purchasing a four-track recorder, a chance encounter with christchurch music-enthusiast roger shephard) set about defining the ‘lo-fi’ (a term yet later sunned) revolution of early 80s dunedin. knox then set about forming the utterly eclectic and thoroughly low-tech tall dwarfs with his fellow former toy love buddy, guitarist alec bathgate – the whimsy to his destructionary element and a high quality song-writer in his own right.
the tall dwarfs remained highly productive and totally engaging throughout the 80s, forming a cult of quirky, dark songs with bizarre naratives and eclectic touches (tape-loops and sound-manipulation became common-place early on), but in the later 80s, knox started working on his own solo material (as well as continueing to record and produce a number of his compatriot artists on flying nun). ‘not given lightly’ could be called the apex of knox’s career – his most commercial success and his most oft referred and covered ‘classic’ song, it’s also well-documented as his very first love song (and some would point out that his wife barbara had certainly deserved one by the time of its release..). so into the 90s knox stride as an icon of the new zealand music scene, alternating between the tall dwarfs and his own solo albums, just as his journalistic side was starting to bloom.
these days knox is involved at all levels of new zealand music. he is an acknowledged historic figure in the new zealand scene (even winning a silver scroll for the heart-wrenching ‘my only friend’ in 2000), a valued journalistic resource, an archivist and historian, and yet is still finding new avenues to expand his musical vocabulary, releasing a new recording as friend in 2003 that explores a new, hi-tech alley.
picks in bold

  • chris knox ego gratifaction album – songs for cleaning guppies [1982 flying nun FN ME001]
  • seizure
    [1989 flying nun FN125 / FNE30]
  • ‘not given lightly’/’guppiplus’ 12″ ep [1990 flying nun FN127] rn
  • ‘not given lightly’/’face of fashion’/’love song (part 1)’ 7″ single [1990 flying nun FN152] rn
  • ‘not given lightly’/’face of fashion’/’love song (part 1)’ 12″ single [1990 flying nun FN153] rn
  • song for 1990 10″ ep [1990 flying nun FN155] rn
  • croaker [1991 flying nun FN165] rn
  • polyphoto, duck-shaped pain & “gum”
    [1991 flying nun FN249] rn
  • ‘under the influence’/’stasis’ 7″ single [1991 flying nun FN266] rn
  • not given lightly ep [1993 communion Comm 26-2]
  • meat [1993 communion Comm 28-2]
  • song of me and you
    [1995 flying nun FN313]
  • ‘one fell swoop’/’giving her away’/’s.o.s.’/’shrapnel’/’mother’ cd single [1995 flying nun FN316]
  • ‘one fell swoop’/’mother’ 7″ single [1995 flying nun FN316]
  • songs from 1990 ep [1996 caroline CAR7528]
  • nunfest ’96 etched 7″ disc [1996 flying nun FN372]
  • yes!! [1997 flying nun FN400]
  • almost [1998 dark beloved cloud]
  • beat [2000 flying nun FN444]
  • inaccuracies & omissions [as friend 2003 flying nun FN470]

recommended songs
download from

  • not given lightlyrn
  • song to welcome the onset of maturityrn
  • my only friendrn
  • one fell swooprn

awards etc
rianz awards 1994

  • cover design of the year chris knoxrn

apra silver scroll 2000

  • song writing award ‘my only friend’rn

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