5 People to Watch Out for in 2012

5 People to Watch Out for in 2012

New Zealand Music Month is upon us and Isaac and I thought it was about time we made some predictions. We’ve compiled a wee list of some New Zealand artists/bands we think are going to make it big in 2012 (whether nationally or internationally), and if you haven’t heard of them already, you will soon.


Kimbra’s first single “Settle Down” made a few waves in New Zealand, and even Perez Hilton was a fan, but it was her collab with Gotye on “Somebody That I Used to Know” that really got her onto people’s radars. The song shot to number one in nine countries, certifying 9x platinum in Australia alone and prompting them to quickly claim her for their own. Surprised much? It’s been blasting from most radio stations all summer and was even covered on Glee. Her most recent collaboration with Mark Foster (from Foster the People) and A-Trak is well worth a YouTube, and has left fans quivering with excitement over what she’s going to come up with next.

Listen: “Warrior” (with A-Trak & Gotye)


Everyone knows The Naked and Famous are pretty cool. Their songs “Young Blood”, “All of This” and “Punching in a Dream” were an alty kid’s wet dream until they went a wee bit mainstream. And who can blame them? They cleared up at last year’s New Zealand Music Awards and their album Passive Me Aggressive You was certified Gold in NZ. That’s not to mention the massive North American tour that they are in the final stages of, and apparently they’re pretty awesome live. So keep your ears peeled for these guys, because they are on their way to making it big. Like, international big.

Listen: “Girls Like You”


True musical freedom without stereotypes and expectations usually only occurs at the start of careers. “Usually”, because this is not exactly what happened to Ruban Neilson, once a member of now-defunct alternative music royalty The Mint Chicks who found himself in virtual anonymity living and working on the other side of the world in Portland, Oregon. With no record labels or band mates, Neilson had a clean slate, and in his basement Unknown Mortal Orchestra was born. A jaunty, heavily psychedelic project floated on top of sampled drumbeats and freak-out vocals, his music pricked curiosity, then praise from the blogosphere, indie music labels, audiences worldwide, and acclaim from us here at home. The recent winner of this year’s Taite Music Prize, UMO is turning heads overseas, grabbing attention not just for Neilson but for our country, blazing a trail for our homegrown talent with musical integrity and flair in equal amounts.

Listen: “Ffunny Ffrends”


He’s not just that other guy from Scribe’s “Not Many, If Any” anymore. He’s the only musician to be nominated for the Taite Prize twice, with an album released for free which garnered over 50,000 downloads, and huge blog attention worldwide including a plug by a certain big-mouthed, mic-stealing K. West. Not only pushing the boundaries for New Zealand hip-hop’s international attention, he also has creative opinions when it comes to the consumption and release of music. He released an entire album for free as a digital download, and produced an interesting composition of the eventual physical release which included four more songs and an entire instrumental disc for people to interact and rap over themselves, or just enjoy the beats. He pushes the boundaries of what it means to “consume” music while producing some high class, locally-grown, internationally-heard hip hop.

Listen: “Take A Picture”


Equal parts R&B soulstress, social media princess, and beat-making-song-churning machine, Janine & The Mixtape is a force to behold. Involved in every part of her music from making the beats, to singing the songs, to recording and even booking her own live gigs, New Zealand’s own take on the highly popular R&B resurgence (effectively described in a YouTube comment as “Adele with swag”) is part of the “cyber musician” movement. Her website/blog is a computerised scrapbook, with all of her activities including cut-off parts of songs, her own videos or just disjointed thoughts straight from her to her fans, creating a sort of cyber community where it’s less artist-and-fans and more musical village. A village which may become more of an overpopulated, crowded, super-hip city of its own, floating in cyber world and weighed down by a ton of swag.

Listen: “Bullets”
This article first appeared in Issue 10, 2012.
Posted 12:51am Monday 7th May 2012 by Lauren Wootton.