Arc Life

Excellent ‘home-grown’ indie formed by the arc life trust, an arts organization that formed out of the arc cafe in central dunedin. releasing a number of aptly titled compilations each year (usually with a specific focus, i.e. ‘arc life’ was a live album, ‘arc beats’ more electronically-aimed and accompanied by a cook book.. of all things).

They’ve been a brilliant resource to up and coming musicians in the south, releasing loving-produced small run release and promoting them from the cafe, and allowing musicians free-access to their in-house studio (above the cafe itself). now run by mike hex (of the hiss explosion) and featuring a plethora of different artists on their quickly growing catalog (Mestar, Cloudboy / Demarnia Lloyd, Bible Black, Sola Monday, David Kilgour etc etc).

Sadly in early 2004, label coordinator Mike Brassell (aka the well-loved Mikey Hex, lo-fi legend and member of squirm, the Hiss Explosion, Ape Management etc) passed on, leaving studio engineer Thom Bell to take over the reins of the studio. I had the privilege of interviewing Mike in January 2004, and organized the Christchurch memorial to him, which was well attended by friends, band-mates, and loved ones (and followed up by an even larger scale event in Dunedin).

Compilation Discography

  • music of dunedin [1998 arc001]
  • arclife [1999 arc005]
  • flying way too high [2000 arc007]
  • arc beats cd and cookbook [2001 arc011]

Contact Details

  • Arc Cafe website [official website]
  • Arc Cafe manager email [email contact]
  • +64 3 474-5135 [phone number]
  • +64 3 474-1135 [fax number]
  • Arc cafe, 135 high St, Dunedin, New Zealand

Arch Hill Recordings


Small Auckland-based independent label that sprung up out of Flying Nun Record’s corporate changes in the late 90’s and run by (former Superette bassist) Ben Howe to release material for his own band Fang, along with associated other musicians (fellow ex-Superette members Dave Mulcahy and Greta Anderson, and Jim Laing’s Lanky).

Characterized by having quirky pop moments (Pine released their debut in 2002 on the label) and a simple / flexible approach to recording, they’re a promising label to look out for.

In June 2004, Arch Hill Recordings announced that Kiwi music legend David Kilgour would be releasing his latest album (tentatively titled Frozen Orange) in September of the year, adding to a band roster that now also includes Ghostplane and Australian outfit Dappled Cities Fly.

Arch Hill Recordings also offer their recording facilities for non-label artists, with reasonable charge out fees. Arch Hill Studios record digitally onto Pro-Tools24, but has a well used selection of off-board analogue pre-amps, EQ, compressors, effects and other equipment.

– Arch Hill Studios

Using a pretty standard Pro-Tools/Focusrite/Genelec monitors setup along with what looks like a pretty good selection of microphones, along with solid-state and valve compressors and effects, they currently (July 2004) offer an NZ$50 per hour engineer-included rate, or NZ$350/$400 per weekday/weekend day, which isn’t bad for an Auckland-based studio.

Compilation Discography

  • Introducing Arch Hill (2001, AHR006)
  • The Hill Is Alive – Compilation 2 (2003, AHR009)

Contact Details

  • Arch Hill (Official Website)
  • Ben Howe (Label-Head / Email Contact)
  • +64 9 360-0772 (Phone Number)
  • Arch Hill Recordings
  • 331 Great North Rd
  • Po Box 68-194
  • Newton
  • Auckland
  • New Zealand (Postal Address)



Capital Recordings

wellington-based independent label with a broad range of musical styles, formed by brent gleave and jason harding (aka dj clinton smiley) in late 2001. though capital’s initial focus seemed to be geared toward electronic artists, with the back to back releases of jazz combo twinset’s it’s a summer feeling and the debut of flash harry (aka barnaby weir of popular reggae outfit the black seeds) capital recordings started to show some diversity, a positive step considering the label isn’t opposed to issuing vinyl releases.
they’ve since signed wellington rock outfit stylus77, the acclaimed phoenix foundation debut, and released the shayne carter produced dimmer-heavy for good soundtrack, along with a growing number of releases in the earwork electronic series and further electronic releases from the likes of datsun stereo, jet jaguar etc.
compilation discography
picks in bold

  • earwork002 [2002 CREC1001]
  • capital base [2002 CREC1002]
  • earwork003 [2002 CREC1003]
  • earwork004 [2002 CREC1004]
  • capitalrecordings artists – #05 [2003 CREC1005]
  • compilation [2004 CREC1015]
  • for good soundtrack [2004 shayne carter and others CREC1017]

contact details
if available

Celebrate Psi Phenomenon

campbell kneale’s (aka birchville cat motel)) fast growing cd-r label, a prominent force in the new strain of new zealand underground labels, along the same line as root don lonie for cash corpus hermeticum. based out of lower-hutt, campbell’s mostly cd-r releases have spread internationally, with outfits such as armpit and lugosi helping to establish this unusual label. celebrate psi phenomenon releases have no set agenda, though kneale has always been a ‘challanging’ musician, attempting to push the boundaries at any given opportunity.
compilation discography
picks in bold

  • shutupalreadydamn!: a tribute to prince double cd-r []
  • supernaut: the black sabbath tribute cassette []

contact details
if available

  • celebrate psi phenomenon website [official website]
  • campbell kneale [label head / email contact]
  • campbell knealern
  • 4 whakataki grovern
  • waiwheturn
  • lower huttrn
  • new zealand [postal address]


a recently established, internationally focused auckland-based label run by richard francis – aka eso steel. though only a handful of releases have seen the light of day so far (including japanese experimental artist kyoshi mizutani, german visual / composition artist marc behrens and francis’ own solo material), francis looks to be succeeding the releases of his former label 20 city with a professional approach to releasing far-reaching experimental music, so far of the laptop-drone persuasion.
contact details
if available

  • cmr website [official website]
  • acroma website [mail-order distribution website]
  • cmr email [label email]


not-quite defunct label based out of an auckland record store that put out several limited edition underground releases in the 90s and early 00s. one compilation of this material (fit for kings) was actually issued on us indie drunken fish.
since the closure of the crawlspace record store, crawlspace have been limited to short one-off 7″ releases and casually distribution through mail-order and the k-road market. truly worth visiting, the market is the place to go to find one-off snapper and victor dimisich band 7″s, and a variety of abstract low run vinyl releases and even imports.
compilation discography
picks in bold

Corpus Hermeticum

bruce russell’s (of the dead c, gate et al) lyttleton based label, putting out limited edition, gate-fold cds for a number of bands both nz and overseas, to a primarily overseas market. their contact point and available discography is documented on russell and paul collett’s noise as website – an invaluable resource which is also the main site for information and ordering details from peter stapleton’s medication and metynomic labels.
essentially a continuation of russell’s xpressway label of the 80s, but with an even more acerbic catelogue of dark underground music from such artists as a handful of dust, greg malcolm, sandoz lab technicians, and overseas artists thurston moore (of sonic youth), flying saucer attack and new french outfit pheromone.
compilation discography
picks in bold

  • le jazz non [1997?]

contact details
if available

  • noise as‘s corpus hermeticum mini-site [official website]
  • bruce russell [label head / email contact]
  • +64 3 328-9276[fax number]
  • corpus hermeticumrn
  • po box 124rn
  • lyttelton,rn
  • new zealand [postal address]


elevenfiftyseven are a new start-up auckland-based independent label focused on hard-core and punk outfits. starting with popular underground hard-core outfit balance, elevenfiftyseven have carved quite a name for themselves in a niche market, with releases following from dsm, missing teeth, this night creeps and the bleeders.
compilation discography
picks in bold

  • live hardcore [1999 1157 005]

contact details
if available

  • elevenfiftyseven website[official website]
  • info [email contact]
  • orders [merchandising email]
  • booking [booking / getaway touring email]
  • +64 021 295-3625[cell-phone number]
  • 1157 recordsrn
  • po box 5138rn
  • wellesley streetrn
  • aucklandrn
  • new zealand [postal address]

Every Secret Thing

every secret thing (aka est – also the name of a comic/fanzine that scott published) was a home taping label established by rob scott and incorporated a lot of his home demos (usually as electric blood, but also in many other totally unknown bands) along with ultra-rare recordings from the likes of wreck small speakers on expensive stereos, the weeds and various compilations featuring many dunedin and christchurch bands.
the label no longer produces tapes (lasting until the mid 90s), with scotts’ official solo debut being released by flying nun in 2000. their entire catalog is very very rare, due to their low-run, limited distribution approach and the relative obscurity of the labels acts.
compilation discography
picks in bold

  • songs from the lowlands cassette [1984 EST 02]
  • big southern hits cassette [1984 EST 13]
  • the hills are alive: whistle up a wind cassette [1985 EST 25 / RAITH 117]
  • the hepton festival cassette [1986 EST 28]

Failsafe Records


Rob Mayes’ mighty Failsafe Records, a committed independent label that is as part of Christchurch as a warm Nor-Wester.

The original home of many Christchurch bands who went on to big things, as well as a great many undiscovered gems who didn’t – as well as being a great resource for those bands who saw their material ignored on higher profile labels (see the ‘Biding Our Time‘ compilation).

Their ‘Avalanche‘ compilation (named after Mayes’ recording studio) is a classic, and a firm snapshot of quality Christchurch pop.

In 2004 and into 2005 Mayes formulated a series of reissues, archival compilations, live recording released as the ‘Retrogenic’ series, compiling unreleased music from the likes of 8 Living Legs, Children’s Hour, YFC and a huge catalog of Pop Mechanix material.

Around this time the Electrode off-shoot electronic label was also brought about with the release of the ‘Do Robots Dream of Electric Sheep‘ compilation.

Compilation Discography

  • Accident Cassette (1984, 002)
  • Biding Out Time Cassette (1986, 006)
  • South Cassette (1987, 007)
  • Keepin’ Secrets (2005, 079CD)
  • Accident Reissue (2005, 002CD)
  • Biding Out Time Reissue (2005, 006CD)
  • South Reissue (2005, 007CD)
  • Do Robots Dream Of Electric Sheep (Released On The Electrode Imprint 2005, ELEC001)
  • Keepin’ Secrets (2005, 079CD)

Contact Details