First-ever recipients of ‘outstanding’ Asian music funding unveiled

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Husband and wife duo Lauren and Matt Barus perform under the stage name Terrible Sons
Husband and wife duo Lauren and Matt Barus perform under the stage name Terrible Sons. Image: Terrible Sons/RNZ News

By Blessen Tom, RNZ News journalist

Fifteen artists have been selected as the inaugural beneficiaries of NZ On Air’s New Music Pan-Asian funding.

The initiative, the first of its kind, aims to support the Asian music community in New Zealand.

The fund was established due to a lack of equitable representation of Asian musicians in the country’s music sector, says Teresa Patterson, head of music at NZ On Air.

“Our Music Diversity Report clearly showed the under-representation of Pan-Asian New Zealand musicians in the Aotearoa music sector,” she said.

“This is reflected in the number of funding applications we received for this focus round.”

The funding provides musicians with up to $10,000 for recording, mixing and mastering a single, some of which can be set aside for the promotion and creation of visual content to accompany the song’s release.

“We received 107 applications for 15 grants, which is outstanding,” Patterson said.

‘Wonderful range’
“The range of genre, gender and ethnicity among the applicants was wonderful. We received applications from artists who identify as Chinese, Indian, Filipino, South Korean, Japanese, Indonesian, Sri Lankan, Malaysian, Thai and Iraqi.

“The genres varied from alternative/indie and pop to hip-hop/RnB, dance/electro and folk/country.”

Phoebe Rings members Crystal Choi, Simeon Kavanagh-Vincent, Benjamin Locke and Alex Freer.
Phoebe Rings members Crystal Choi, Simeon Kavanagh-Vincent, Benjamin Locke and Alex Freer. Image: Phoebe Rings/RNZ News

Six of the 15 songs that secured funding are bilingual, featuring Asian languages such as Cantonese, Korean, Japanese, Malay and Punjabi.

Patterson believed this variety would “really help to reflect the many voices of Aotearoa New Zealand” and add to the vibrant cultural music mix experienced by local audiences.

Swap Gomez, a drummer, visual director and academic lecturer, was one of the panel members responsible for selecting the musicians for the funding. He emphasised the challenges faced by Asian musicians in New Zealand.

“What was awesome to see was so many Pan-Asian artists applying; artists we had never heard of coming out of the woodwork now that a space has been created to celebrate their work,” Gomez said.

“This is the time we can celebrate those Pan-Asian artists who have previously felt overlooked by the wider industry.

“Now there is an environment and sector where they can feel appreciated for their success in music. As a multicultural industry, developing initiatives such as this one is more crucial than ever.”

NZ On Air has announced that funding opportunities for Asian musicians will continue in the next financial year.

“The response we have had to this inaugural NZ On Air New Music Pan-Asian focus funding round has been phenomenal,” Patterson said.

“It tells us that there is a real need, so NZ On Air is excited to confirm that it will return in the new financial year.”

The full NZ On Air’s Pan-Asian New Music recipient list:

  • Amol; cool asf
  • Charlotte Avery; just before you go
  • Crystal Chen; love letter
  • hanbee; deeper
  • Hans.; Porcelain
  • Hugo Chan; bite
  • Julius Black; After You
  • LA FELIX; Waiting
  • Lauren Gin; Don’t Stop
  • Memory Foam; Moon Power
  • Phoebe Rings; 아스라이
  • RESHMA; Kuih Lapis (Layer Cake)
  • tei.; sabre
  • Terrible Sons; Thank You, Thank You
  • Valere; Lily’s March

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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