ALASKA | NZ indie alt-folk band of wise owls and clever bears

I would like to introduce you to a young, unsigned Kiwi indie band – ALASKA – have a listen to their song Manitoba…

Alaska have an EP (released in June 2009) and Single (a remake of Manitoba from the EP in May 2010) available at Bandcamp for free download, they tag themselves as: acoustic alternative folk, indie folk & alt-folk. Alaska have been one of my most enjoyable finds this year, I am continually enchanted by their music and as they intrigue me I asked Alaska’s John Bristow a few questions:

How long has Alaska been together?

Since about February of 2009. Though we had a 5 month hiatus just after the EP was released, as Romelli (Violinist) was in Peru.

How and why did you form?

We took a trip to the beach. That is honestly all we can think of!

What is the origin of the name?

It was just the first thing we thought of, and no one said they didn’t like it, so it stuck.

Your music has a sense of maturity to it, yet I believe you are a youthful band, am I correct?

Thank you. Yes we are young. We range from 19-22.


Where are you based?

Auckland, New Zealand.

Where have you played and do you gig often? Others planned?

We’ve been putting on shows at a small church. It’s got a nice feel to it. We’ll be putting on shows there over the summer.

Releases other than Bandcamp? Others planned?

We’re releasing an album. Right now we’re writing / tweaking and doing pre-production. Hopefully we will start recording in the next few months.

Who recorded the EP and Manitoba? Who did the Artwork?

Christian’s brother Daniel Brenndorfer recorded the EP. Dave Baxter (Avalanche City) recorded the single. Stephen Czerwonka does the artwork for the releases, as well as most of our show posters.

Some clever instrumentation, and at times complex arrangements weave through these songs – although never crowding them – who is responsible for this?

I think we’re all responsible. It’s definitely a joint effort.

Can I hear Accoustic Guitars; Violin; Xylophone; Drums and Mandolin on the recordings?

Yes, although it’s a ukulele, not a mandolin.

What other instruments are played and by whom?

Christian Brenndorfer-Zucchiatti – Guitar/Vocals

Romelli Rodriguez – Violin/Ukulele/Melodica/Vocals

John Bristow –  Melodica/Pianoca/Glockenspiel/Vocals/Percussion

Alice Crowe – Harp/Cello

Elliot Francis – Percussion

With the songs we’ve written recently there are a few more instruments, including Cornet, Accordian, Viola, Mandolin, Double Bass, and Clarinet.

There is a lot of drama and imagery in the lyrics, in Sun and Moon for example:

“…you’re the fire that heats this room… and it’s so damn cold without you… you’re the sun and I’m the moon…”

And in Manitoba – an apparent tragedy of circumstance, rather than youthful angst, has both boy and girl looking for the same thing – but destined never to be close…

He: “…you’re like a book that I can’t put down, for months and months it gets harder to try and forget your face, and every time l get close, I seem to lose my place…

She: “…you’re like a book that I can not read, for months and months I’ve been tryin’ to see what’s behind those eyes, but every time l get near dear, its seems you’ve got something to hide…”

Who writes the lyrics?

Christian writes the lyrics. Apart from the second verse in Manitoba (Romelli) and the second verse in Still (John).

Download all of ALASKA’s music for free at Bandcamp


Hello Riley | one-to-watch

The three young women of Hello Riley have described their sound as “a warm-house fire”. Certainly it is a feel-good sound, relaxed and comfy, but chirpy & jaunty too. They currently have an EP Daughters of Eve for sale at Bandcamp, and have profiles on Myspace and Musichype. Corinne Tan as made a sweet little video for Summer Day, the song featured here.

Hello Riley also feature on the latest Musichype NZ Indie Mix Tape LP – for good reason – there is a maturity and individual character to their song-writing and musicianship. As they are still nippers and unsigned, they are certainly one-to-watch.

Peta Edmonds (Vocals and Guitar), Carlie Dyer (Drums) and Catherine Ellis (Guitar/ Bass) make up Hello Riley and are currently based in Auckland, New Zealand

Hello Riley (Pic: capture from video by Corinne Tan)