Wide-eyed and barely concealing my fangirling urges, I managed to get in a wee word with some of this year’s performing acts for the finals of Smokefreerockquest 2016.

The most striking thing about meeting these cool people was how extremely humble they all were, maintaining the good ol’ Kiwi spirit, while still having a confidence and charisma that could turn anyone into a doting fan. Here’s a bit of the inside scoop for you:



On the band name:

“Oh, that’s a funny story! We literally picked up a dictionary and randomly opened it up to ‘retrospect’ and we liked it instantly. It was sort of fate, in a way. And it actually fits in and makes sense… it’s a good theme.”

Retrospect by Max Sharp.

Retrospect by Max Sharp.


Cam Dawson

On the competition:

“The last time I got this far in the competition I was a lot younger and I didn’t have as big of a field of reference for my music. So I feel like as compared to two years ago my music has definitely taken a step up, and I’m looking forward to see how that goes in the competition.”

On his dream:

“It’s my ambition to really get far with the music ‘cause it’s passion for me and I wanna turn that into something successful. Whether I win or not isn’t really important – I’ll always do music, I’m always doing gigs, always entering competitions and stuff like that.”



On the competition:

“It’s been incredibly hard this year with SFRQ. We all have heaps going on in our lives and trying to pull it together has been pretty tough. At the start we were a bit complacent entering [but] we ended up doing it and we’re really happy we did. Coming together at an event like this, you end up realising how awesome SFRQ is.”

On their inspiration:

“We all have our own people we really like and play like, and as a band we all bring our parts of those artists into one. We look up to Joe’s Van. They’re really good guys and they’re really supportive.”

On the band’s future:

“We’re unsure at this stage [if AhJeez will stick together] but we all have some sort of musical ambition for the future and I’m sure that there will be some AhJeez collaborations in the future.



On their style:

“That whole sort of atmospheric, ethereal aspect we find fascinating and we try get it across. It just happens.”

On balancing music and personal life:

“Music is sort of our personal life. We can’t really escape it. All our friends do music. It kind of just happens. I mean you kinda want to keep your grades up but you know, music is our priority.”

On what’s next:

“[We are] planning on getting our EP out soon and recording for a bit.”

Daffodils by Josh Yong.

Daffodils by Josh Yong.


Half Eaten Pie

On the band name:

“When I was 12 and at Intermediate, I was in a band and one of my teachers told me our efforts were half pie and all the other children made a joke – because I was quite fat – that I had eaten the other half of the pie. I thought, why not be angsty and turn it into a band name?”

What sort of pie would it be?


Any cheese on that?

“Nah, you get bad cheese and good cheese, but you can’t go wrong with mince! Just mince.”

On the competition:

“In the previous years we’ve focused on it as more of a competition, whereas this year we focused more on having fun and just doing it as a gig, and that communicates through.”

Half Eaten Pie (3) - 31:8:16 - TWA


Alien Weaponry

On the Māori culture prevalent in their music:

“When we started singing Te Reo Māori it kind of immediately clicked with us and we were really surprised with the artistic and metaphoric lyrics you can get with writing in Māori.” – Henry

“I think a lot of people these days associate Māaori with R&B and reggae, but if you actually look at Haka for example; Haka is actually most like metal. So I thought; ‘Why not incorporate that into our music?’” – Lewis

On balancing life and music:

“We’ve had a lot of teachers tell us that we need to have a Plan B, and that’s OK you know. But don’t ever start doing Plan B when you’re still doing Plan A ‘cause otherwise Plan B becomes your Plan A.” – Henry

On Tom Larkin producing their songs:

“He’s really given us a new view on everything. He’s really listened to our songs and thought, “How can I make this better?”” – Lewis

“And he thinks from the perspective of the audience.” – Ethan

On learning to play and getting good at playing their instruments:

“We never actually had lessons and that gives us a lot more freedom in figuring out what works best for us.” – Lewis

“There’s no right way to play an instrument. If someone plays a different way, that’s them.” – Ethan

“There’s something about the non-rudimentary way we play that creates a different vibe about our music, I think. It’s cool being self-taught and being considered good!” – Henry



Iris G

On her influence:

“She’s a conductor and she’s from Mexico and the way she conducts looks like a wizard. Her name’s Alondra de la Parra.”

On her music:

“The way I write songs, I feel like it’s pre-written in my subconscious. It’s not so much a process of creating but more like discovering what’s there. The reason I was drawn to music was because I was able to tell stories to people… I was too shy to say it verbally. So the story-telling aspect of music is what I’ve loved the most. And now it’s not just about the story, but also the feelings.”

Iris G

Iris G by Alex Hargreaves



On their future plans:

“Releasing music. Just loads of gigs. Just keep doing what we’re doing and keep going. Whatever happens, happens.”

On their sources of inspiration:

“Break-ups! Also just about anything. Anything that you think is a good concept that you want to get across.”

On their sound:

“The kind of music we listen to is quite alternative and in the past we’d kind of been playing not-so-alternative stuff, so now we’re just kind of like, ‘Let’s just go all out and be weird.’”



Smokefreerockquest is all wrapped up for this year. Check out our reviews, interviews and photos from the event!

SFRQ 2016 final coverage

Smokefree Pacifica Beats 2016

Kiwi Music’s Newest Stars: Alien Weaponry interview