I did a wee interview with NZ Education HQ about The New Zealand Music Commission Musicians Mentoring in Schools Programme... click here for the original link, or you can read it here below...
ICELANDIC-born, New Zealand-based singer-songwriter Hera, has toured the globe for many years playing her unique music which has been influenced strongly by dual emotional investment in both of her cultures.
Hera has a gold record in Iceland, and has been named 'best female artist' at the Icelandic music awards in 2003, and her song 'Makebelieve' was a finalist in the United States song writing competition.
For many years she has been involved in NZ Commission’s Musicians Mentoring in Schools Programme alongside artists such as Jon Toogood, Maisey Rika, Chris Mac of Six60 and Julia Deans, who have shared their expertise in songwriting, instrumental and vocal technique, recording technology, and music industry insight.
Believing in the Programme and what it does for Kiwi students, Hera finds inspiration working with emerging talent.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO TAKE PART IN MUSICIANS MENTORING IN SCHOOLS?
I chose to take part in Musicians Mentoring in Schools because I believe it’s a wonderful programme. Creating and performing original material is a very powerful and personal thing, it can be scary.
I love seeing the students let go and start using music as a medium of expression and release.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN INVOLVED IN IT?
It’s been so long I think I’ve lost count...maybe about 12 or 13 years now?
One of my first sessions was back at my old high-school; since then I’ve been all over the country and have worked with students from 4-years-old to university students, spoken at seminars, have run adult workshops as well as one-on-one writing sessions.
It’s an awesome programme to be a part of.
WHAT KIND OF WORK DO YOU DO WITH THE STUDENTS?
I run songwriting workshops, but it’s quite broad really.
I do an introductory session and talk about the music industry and what it means to be a performer, stage-fright and collaboration.
The kids have a huge opportunity being in school around peers with different interests - I try to encourage an environment of support and cross-promotion, tell them to get together to work on a project; find each other and make use of the resources available; for example a music video or recording collaboration, band-poster creations, photography, social media and website design.
I like to look at lyric writing and trying to encourage the students to find new ways to say things, think about what you’re putting out there, write and re-write.
The opportunity to share your work with the world is literally at your fingertips - it’s also important to let go and have fun with it.
WHAT DO YOU FIND MOST REWARDING ABOUT BEING PART OF THE MENTORING PROGRAMME?
I recently went back to a school I mentored at just over a year ago, and seeing what the students had done in the meantime was awesome.
They were writing more songs and performing regularly - the difference was amazing to see and hear.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNT YOURSELF FROM BEING INVOLVED?
It's a great reminder to have fun and try something new, inspiration is definitely an infectious thing and it’s great to be in and help create that supportive environment where you’re not afraid to let go and sing the wrong note, just roll with what comes out and keep playing with ideas.
It’s healthy to be silly.
HOW DO YOU THINK MUSIC EDUCATION IN NZ SCHOOLS CAN BE IMPROVED?
I think it’s changed a lot in the 17 years since I was a student, wonderful to see ukuleles being used, I think that’s a great first instrument for a singer/songwriter.
There is always room for improvement but it’s absolutely great to see where it is going, with things like the mentoring programme with the number of experienced and talented mentors available, in different areas of the music industry and with such a huge variety of styles, and there’s a real opportunity to cater to students with a keen interest in music and performance.
Wow it's been a while!
So much has happened since I last wrote and there has been so much to write about, that I just haven't known where to start.. so I never started! I'm planning on fixing this and catching up on things here...
I'm back in Iceland on a bit of a whirlwind adventure at the moment, will write and post more about this soon, I've mostly been sharing bits and pieces here on the facebook page...
Click here for a live song and interview at 'Rás2' - the interview is in Icelandic but the song starts at about 09:20
Here below are a couple of live videos from the Bali spirit festival in 2015...
That went by way too quickly... We landed in New York last night after two weeks in Iceland, I managed to catch up with some of my friends and family to say goodbye but it's never enough time, even when there's more of it.
It's been such an amazing couple of weeks, we somehow managed to cram it full of goodness and in between shows, Iceland put on it's finest outfits...
We visited my grandmother's sister Gulla and stayed with her in Hveragerði on our way to Selfoss. She took us for a lovely walk and told us stories among the elfstones (where the elves live) in the forest.
We crossed a waterfall to see where they have started building a 'Torfbær' at the Agricultural University of Iceland. I found myself blown away by her energy, and at 77, she was running and skipping ahead of the group up and down the icy paths. Her plan is to build a 'Torfbær' in her garden at home and Jed is eager to come back to Iceland and help.
From Selfoss, we went to Hella, where we played at one of my favourite places in the world.. Oddakirkja - a tiny church in the middle of nowhere. We arrived at the empty and unlocked church and began by knocking something while setting up and losing all power... It was a moment for the memories, in complete still darkness; but we got things up and running again and had such a lovely evening. Post-show, an audience member came back in to the venue and announced that the northern lights were in full swing, so we all temporarily ditched the CD signing and banter and ran outside. We all stood together in the middle of a graveyard and watched the sky dance with light which was a pretty surreal moment. I remembered the other reason I love to go back there - the people are just so awesome, thank you to everyone who came along...
After Hella, we drove six hours to Akureyri and played at Græni Hatturinn... Akureyri is a wonderful place to spend time in, and it was a shame to have to drive back the next morning but we had plane to catch and a long list of things to do...
On the drive, we listened to Amanda Palmer's new book: The Art of Asking - highly, highly recommend you check this out... The book is based on her awesome TED talk of the same name, and we got as far as the part where she got stranded in Iceland due to the ashcloud and I sent my very good childhood friend Indiana to the rescue! Allan and Olga finished filming and editing the book trailer while in Iceland (which Indiana features in) Allan also shot the beautiful book cover. Look forward to hearing the rest of it...
A whirlwind of rushing around after arriving in Reykjavik and I'm so thankful to have had a chance to catch up, albeit briefly with the people I miss so much from the other side of the world...
Now we're in New York, and up at stupid o'clock... off to explore! xxo!
I don't even know where to start... the days have just flown by and we're over halfway through our time here in Iceland.
It's feeling easier to remember by flicking through images, so here is a series of snapshots from the past few days
I got my suitcase back! It was lost for about 36 hours and was delivered late last night. Insurance had been pretty good and told me to go shopping for some emergency-warm-clothing while it was lost. (actually kind of awesome)
The suitcase had been opened and inspected by customs and it looked like they may have danced on top of it, because an incredibly-well-sealed-and-bubble-wrapped bottle of gin had broken and spilled all over everything... Thankfully the musical equipment is all OK, but all of my clothing was pretty smelly, had to wash everything twice.
We are here in some pretty awesome company.. this is Allan Amato (looking very Icelandic in this pic but don't be fooled...) Photo by the wonderful Olga Nunes! They are here with us, and on a pretty magical mission which we won't mention for now...
I'm in a little bit of sugar shock, have mostly gone without it for the past couple of months, but since arriving here I've been having candy for breakfast! a whole lot of it... (probably one of the edible things I miss most when I'm not here) check out nammi.is if you'd like to try some...
Jed has a few words to share too... here below xxHera
We've been in Iceland for 3 and a half days now, and I think I'm starting to settle in… It's been pretty crazy. I've experienced a lot of 'firsts' - lobster soup, Icelandic hotdogs and dried fish (which reminds me of the taste of cat biscuits, which I was very fond of as a child). I think we're saving the rotten shark and sheep heads for later.
The sun stays out for a bit longer than the 4 hours I was expecting, but it never goes very high so it always feels like the end of the day. Everyone drives on the wrong side of the road here too, which is scary, but between my awesome navigation skills and Hera's calm driving. it's a pretty comfortable and relaxed experience… definitely. Getting to know the curbs a lot too, which is nice.
Yesterday we hit up the most deluxe local spa/sauna place called 'Laugar' before meeting a whole bunch of Hera's family for dinner, who were extremely welcoming and friendly - much like all the Icelandic people I have met so far.
We're off to Airwaves tonight - there's a bit of a shindig for the artists I think, where I'll hopefully get my selfie with Unknown Mortal Orchestra.
After 4 flights, and something like 30 hours in the air + stopover time, we have finally landed in Iceland!
We went from Christchurch to Brisbane, to Los Angeles, to Seattle, to Keflavik, which is a 40 minute drive to the centre of Reykjavik, Iceland.
We saw the northern lights coming in on the plane too which was pretty special.
The only hitch has been that the airline lost my luggage, somewhere in LA I think...
We've done a little exploring, I've taken Jed on a tour of my old neighbourhood and we've officially checked in to the Iceland Airwaves festival (we're really looking forward to playing this Friday)
More blogging soon xxHera (and Jed)
Hello and welcome to the new website! this has been such a long time coming... please say hello and post a comment here below if you're having a look :) - any requests for things to add here on the new site?
would love to hear from you xx
Congratulations to Toby Ricketts Cinematography and Photography - Who won 'best emerging director' at the Documentary Edge Festival - and his film Manila: No Limitations - was nominated for best New Zealand feature!
The film has now been licensed to Air New Zealand - so keep an eye out, you can watch it on your next short/long haul flight!
Watch the trailer here below:
UPCOMING DATES BELOW:
Tauranga – August 4th - Major Toms w/JOSEPH & MAIA and JED & HERA
Cambridge - August 8th - Stables Bar w/JOSEPH & MAIA and JED PARSONS
Turoa - August 9th - Turoa Ski Lodge w/JOSEPH & MAIA and JED PARSONS
Whanganui – August 10th - Roam Cafe & Arena w/JOSEPH & MAIA and JED PARSONS
New Plymouth – August 14th - Rhythm Upstairs w/JOSEPH & MAIA and JED & HERA
Masterton – August 15th - Horse & Hound w/JOSEPH & MAIA and JED & HERA
Palmerston North – August 16th - The Royal w/JOSEPH & MAIA and JED & HERA
Wellington – August 17th - Fringe Bar w/JOSEPH & MAIA and JED & HERA
Nelson – August 21st - Free House w/JOSEPH & MAIA and JED & HERA
Lyttleton – August 22nd - Wunderbar w/JOSEPH & MAIA and JED & HERA
Ashburton – August 23rd - Braided Rivers Resturant & Bar SAM ALLEN SOLO
Dunedin – August 24 - Refuel w/JOSEPH & MAIA and HERA
Christchurch – August 25th - Dux w/JOSEPH & MAIA and JED & HERA
Invercargill – August 29th - Saints And Sinners w/JOSEPH & MAIA and JED & HERA
Greymouth – August 30th - Railway Hotel w/JOSEPH & MAIA
Westport – August 31st - Melbourne Hotel w/JOSEPH & MAIA and JED & HERA
Auckland – September 7th - Back Beat w/JOSEPH & MAIA and JED & HERA
Tickets on sale now from www.eventfinder.co.nz and from the venues
Hello! yikes it's been a long time all over again... I've just come back from an amazing, eye opening, inspiring and wonderful trip away.. It was organized quite last minute for such a massive journey. 11 of us (musicians, artists, film makers and photographers - as part of the Fledge collective) traveled to Manila to make music, art, a documentary, and to play some very special shows...
We stayed and worked with mr Tony/Ynot Piggott - a NZ born, Manila based artist, He is a man who makes things happen and consistently surprises in wonderful ways.. *check out his art here* He connected us all and is the reason for the destination...
I think if I start listing all the amazing people we met, I will get lost in a web of wonderful and undoubtedly will forget to list everything/everyone, but we were all just so blown away... the people were so warm, loving, smiley, talented, creative and awesome, the food was ridiculously yummy, the weather was.. well it was hoootttt, and wet, so so humid - I loved it. The places we visited were something else... truly a trip none of us will ever forget.
Here I am, rambling on about how amazing it is: [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TImYFS_hcI[/youtube]
We also released a bunch of documentary-style snippets on the fledgefilms site.. this is part 2 - features an unreleased song called ''come say hello'' [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGbjE5mVPMg[/youtube] check out part1 - and part3 (more to come)
Here are some pictures... This was at Earthdance Manila Festival - playing with mr Jed
Playing with House Of Mountain - photo by Alan Bacchelli I absolutely love pizza.. but I could have slept on this one!
A group photo by Alan Bacchelli - check out more pics here One more from Manila (for now) I just love the madness and happiness in this picture (+the best accessories ever) It was taken outside Kazbah - an awesome restaurant where we played and had amazing food. This is David - he joined the crew, literally last minute thanks to a wonderful stroke of serendipity... See the poster above... no, really have a look at it - this is 8 days away and will be amazing. It's a free event in the centre of Christchurch, part of the festival of transitional architecture (FESTA) - read more about the event here -
I'm in Taupo now, just played a show for a whole bunch of Icelanders who are working here, operating Týr - the geothermal drill.. Writing this at Taupo airport. I can see my guitar being loaded onto the plane now and I'm about to board..
Gosh it has been such a long time since I last blogged/wrote anything here.. That seems to be the way I tend to start blogs. Right, new years resolution to stop mentioning how I mean to blog more.. Re-start:
Hello people! Do you like the new website? (you can comment here, I think… I’m still getting to know my way around this) Marc Fairbairn has once again done such a wonderful job! Thank you Marc…
It has been an absolutely crazy wonderful, surprising, baffling, inspiring and awesome few months! And I thought it was time to write about at least some of what has been happening..
I have fallen into a family… They are wonderful.. It started when I was working on ‘Rattle my bones’ with Toby.. He recommended this great team of musicians who became ‘House of Mountain’ the band.. who then also became my backing band somewhere along the way, and we’ve been touring all over the south island.. House of mountain also back the brilliant ‘Happiness Stan’ and together, we’ve been working with a number of amazing people, on some awesome stuff..
(I don’t know if it’s a bad thing but I’m fast running out of descriptive words that say ‘this is wonderful’)
*this part is a very hard thing to describe but basically I went to a beautiful place for 8 days with amazing people to do awesome stuff… (Again, repeating myself..)
Mostly, we were recording and making music… along the way I also got the opportunity to PLAY GUITAR IN A BUBBLE ON A LAKE! How rad is that! We got some great photos during the trip of the many adventures that took place, attaching a few here.
Amanda Palmer came back to New Zealand! You might know if you’ve read earlier blogs or been on the mailing list, that I joined her on tour in NZ in 2010, and she was meant to play in Christchurch last year with Jason Webley – but that turned out to be the day of the earthquake and the show never happened… but this time she was here with Brian Viglione on a Dresden Dolls tour! And we opened here at the Aurora Centre in Christchurch.. There are a whole lot of photos from the show here, and here… and on the day before the show, there was a Ninja gig at ‘Occupy’ in hagley park! Lots of photos from there online too.. I’m posting a few here below.. (sorry if they are your photos and I’m not putting the right credit on them, tell me off and I will fix it.. *promise)
These pics from the Ninja gig are by the lovely Karel Robbins
I ended up playing ‘Sing’ with them, then learning ‘Creep’ by Radiohead on the spot...
We have a fun show coming up this Saturday too.. Feb 18th at Riccarton House – as part of the Belgian Beer and Mussel Festival!
It’s on every night at 7pm in Hagley park (best to get there a little earlier to score a good place to park your picnic blanket – it’s an outdoor show) and there are 2pm and 7pm shows on Saturday and on Sunday..
I think that’s it for now.. there are just too many things to say… xoHera
Kiwi’s rejoice! The Dresden Dolls reunion will be making another stop on the New Zealand leg of the tour. The cabaret punk duo will be visiting the Aurora Center in Christchurch on January 25th. This was the site of a devastating earthquake in February 2011 which thwarted an Amanda Palmer solo performance. Proceeds from the show will be donated to the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal. We’re also pleased to announce opening acts for all three New Zealand shows. Joining The Dolls onstage in Auckland and Wellington will be Princess Chelsea, while Hera with House of Mountain will be the opening act in Christchurch.
This blog has been such a long time coming... What a crazy few months it's been! We are still getting the occasional aftershock but things feel like they're finally settling down a bit (fingers crossed) If you missed it, we had another pretty scary earthquake on Feb 22nd and that changed a lot of things in Christchurch. Town is still cordoned off and there is rubble absolutely everywhere in the city centre... But it finally feels like things are opening up again - and we're rediscovering some of our favorite places opening in new locations and there are some lovely new places opening too, though it still feels a bit barren here and there are so many places that were the heart of this city, that we won't see again for a long long time.
A few things I've recently discovered that make me happy; Piko wholefoods is now on Stanmore road, Scorpio books is open again in Riccarton, the arts centre bead shop has a little shop on the corner of cranford st and innes road, and the cheesemongers are open in the arts centre :)
This whole thing also delayed the album... we started recording before the first earthquake... It has been such an adventure. I recorded 3 songs when I was in Iceland last summer, and the first song we did was 'Rattle my bones' With a string quartet recorded here in Christchurch. Rattle my bones was also the first song released (it's here on bandcamp.com) and it felt so right to let it go... after the first quake and Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupting in Iceland, that just felt like my life. - 10 minutes after I sent out an email that 'Rattle my bones' the first single from the album was out - we had the second, BIG earthquake... And now... we have another volcano erupting in Iceland! Madness...
I'm so happy to finally say the album is finished :) and after everything that has happened, We decided it needs to be the name of the album; Rattle my bones. I'm so excited to hear what you all think.. it will be released very very soon - and.. since there are so few places open here in Christchurch and we have lost so many music venues - I will be doing a very special album release concert with the band in a very special place *join the mailing list for the where and when
Here is a new song, my very first ukulele song. I wrote it a couple of days before we finished recording, and it will be the final song on the album. The inspiration came from a saying we have in Iceland, if you're bored 'að drepast úr leiðindum' or dying of boredom... - we also have the sayings dying of cold, dying of thirst, dying of this and that as a measure of how awful something is - but, there is no saying for 'dying of happiness' and I thought, that would be a pretty nice way to go.
And I am very happy :)
I'm going to end this blog with a promise to blog a bit more ;) and here are some photos from the quake and another live song...
And I know it's a strange and selfish thing to say but it was so wonderful to have Jason here, the two of us were at home when the quake hit, we were about to head into town for a coffee and lunch.. We had dinner (cooked outside on the bbq) with neighbours that night, by candle light while the chaos and the sirens continued outside.
In November last year I was in New Orleans, and decided I'd really like to try a Twinkie. Thanks to movies like Die Hard and Zombieland I was curious about the iconic sponge cake. (no twinkies in Iceland or New Zealand, I heard they were awful but I really did want to try one) But I couldn't find one anywhere! We went to lots of different places and in the end I gave up. A couple of weeks ago, a box arrived in the mail. A box with 10 twinkies! I decided to share my first experience on twitter... and that's where the #nztwinkieexperience started. One twinkie related experience a day until the box was finished...
Here is a list of what happened.. #1: first twinkie ever. Live-tweeted experience #2: Shared one twinkie with an entire band ''Ed muzik and the Burning Sensations'' and tweeted their thoughts (this is where I heard about fluff, the marshmallow spread, and am now endlessly curious... next time) #3: Something went wrong and the twinkie was completely ''smushed'' in my bag, so I tried a smushed twinkie. #4: This is where I felt I had tasted enough. The first twinkie execution! (see video below)
#5: discovered that the left-over twinkie was completely devoured by the birds. (yes this one is the same twinkie as the execution, I gave one away) #6: Another execution! with very special thanks to Jack Dagger (this one was dangerous!)
#7: Made a twinkie cocktail - the Twinkie-tini ;) Blend 1/2 a twinkie with 2 shots of vodka. Muddle the juice from 1 lime. Shake together with Ice and strain into a glass. (garnish with lemon and a pretty umbrella!) Voila! (this actually didn't taste bad.. but there was a bit of twinkie-sludge at the bottom of the glass..) Thanks to Nicholas Hall for helping with this one :)
#8: I passed the experience onto a friend. To Toby at Tandem Studios, and he tweeted his experience #9: The very beautiful Magenta Diamond whipped a twinkie from my mouth! (scary)
(another twinkie execution and me in danger experience)
#10: It was a cold and rainy day, so I walked into underground coffee and they made me a Twoffee!
Extra special thanks to Bill and Sharon Stiteler for sending me the twinkies (I'm not sure they approve of the executions.. or if they'll forgive me...) and to Jack Daggerand Shelby, the Magenta Diamond, Nick the cocktail master, Ed Muzik, and Underground :)
PS: if you're not on twitter, you should be ;)
Hello everyone :) We are almost at the end of the year now and I just wanted to say hope you all have a wonderful holiday/christmas/hanukkah/celebration/relaxing time/end of year thing wherever you are! Over here in New Zealand, it's hot and summery! A very different story in Iceland at this time.. and although I miss the snow and the twinkling lights, I'm really looking forward to some family time, enjoying a nice white wine in the sun ;) and celebrating/relaxing at home...
As you probably know we have revamped the mailing list - you can sign up to the new one over here for news, upcoming tours/concerts and blogs etc..
Thank you all so much for your support with the Not your type release (you can read more about it here below on the blog - you can still be a part of the next album!) :)
I'm attaching a couple of super christmasy photos from yeeeears ago here below :) and Tim Minchin's live version of White wine in the sun, hope you enjoy and wishing you wonderful times ahead xox Hera