BY DANICA BRYANT

If you take one of those old school internet chains, bin the tacky obligation and add a Tupperware of talent, then you’ll get #tagyourfolks – 22 artists covering each other’s songs during NZ Music Month.

How did the #tagyourfolks initiative start?

I don’t know many people who had a great 2020. My partner and I were quarantining while we watched gigs getting cancelled left, right and centre, and we found ourselves really craving a community. I was also feeling so sad for anyone who was working towards a release, and had to feel months of prep fold like a card house under their feet. The idea sort of started brewing in March, and by April we were working on three covers of local artists (Hazza Making Noise, Odds & Ends, Echo Children). They all agreed to carry on the chain, and we just got so much joy out of watching new connections form. These days it’s a little more curated, but the intentions are the same.

How are the #tagyourfolks artists selected?

It’s open to anyone to apply, but we’re definitely prioritising kiwi artists. I’m hoping it’ll keep growing each year, and maybe one day we can have two or three chains running at once. One per region, perhaps? I put quite a lot of thought into matching the artists with people I think will bring something special to the track, but will also generate meaningful connections. 

What are the main goals of #tagyourfolks?

Being an independent musician can be a little like shouting into the void. You pour everything you have into a collection of songs, and it can feel like the only person listening is your mum. Don’t get me wrong, my mum is a great listener, but you know what I mean! I guess there are a few goals. Firstly, it is so special to find out what someone else hears in your music. Underscore’s cover of my track “Kids Like Me” last year just brought me so much joy. Every songwriter deserves to feel that.
It’s also so lovely to see meaningful connections form – South For Winter speak so highly of Geoff Ong, and I know Fathom and Rewind Fields have been chatting music over the last few weeks. 

What makes a good cover song?

Hmm… That’s a good question. I think for me a cover is worthwhile if it brings out something new in the song. Perhaps there’s an additional hidden meaning that can be brought out by a genre shift or slightly different delivery. Shana Grace is an expert at this – I’m really looking forward to her dreamy interpretation of Hazza Making Noise’s synth-rock track. 

Why is NZ Music Month so important to our industry?

All your big time favourites started at the local pub. It is so so important to support the little guy, and make space for new artists to build an audience. One thing I really admire about the NZ music industry is that they put a lot of mahi into uplifting smaller artists, and NZ Music Month is just one of the many awesome initiatives.

What are the best parts of working in music in New Zealand?

I am so flattered by this question! I’m actually just a humble English teacher that stays up past their bedtime for gigs. What I do really love about getting amongst is the little whanau you find at Cassette9, Thirsty Dog, MoveSpace, and all the other favourite venues. I am so lucky that for a fistful of coins I can have the best night in any one of those spaces, and bump into a dozen familiar faces on the way.

Follow along on Instagram at @tagyourfolks

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