• Alec Bathgate

    Alec Bathgate has a remarkable at giving his indie-pop tunes a hard-edge with just the right input of fuzzed out guitar and looped rhythms. His guitar-playing career reaches back to New Zealand's seminal punk group, The Enemy. This group slowly morphed into Toy Love, whose first single received a rave review in the NME way back in 1980. However, it was when Bathgate and his bandmate, Chris Knox, decided to create their two-piece outfit, The Tall Dwarfs, that they really began to blow people's minds. The duo created a legacy among underground music scenes across the world and continue to be one of New Zealand's most respected music exports. Bathgate's solo work finally allows his remarkable guitar-work and sense for a sweet melody to come to the surface in its own right.
  • Jonathan Bree

    A self-confessed workaholic and social recluse, Jonathan spends his days (and nights) in a dingy home office attempting to run his record label Lil' Chief Records (who have put out albums by the likes of The Ruby Suns and his previous band The Brunettes) whilst simultaneously producing albums for artists such as Princess Chelsea and Cool Rainbows, directing and starring in viral music videos for duets about Cigarette Smoking (yes THAT video) and then somehow finding time to record his own material when he should be sleeping.
  • The Brunettes

    Lil' Chief's original signing - The Brunettes - craft intricate and intelligent pop songs - more often than not presented to us in duet form. Former couple Jonathan Bree and Heather Mansfield are a modern day Nancy and Lee with a twist of Gainsbourg, a dash of Blondie and a rather large dollop of the Shangri La's. The subtle chemistry between the two, both live and on record, is a rather awkward pleasure and propels their songs to an even higher level. Listener beware, beneath the surface of this kitschy carpenteresque image, lies a sinister cynicism and perhaps even a few double entendres.
  • Cool Rainbows

    Way back in March, we at Lil Chief Records were excitedly talking to everyone we knew about how we were about to release the new album by Cool Rainbows. This band is the new project by Djeisan Suskov, who used to front Trees Climbing Trees and who also happens to be a bit of a genius in the studio (lately he's been working on Artisan Guns' debut album). But like all studio geniuses, he does tend to get a bit obsessed with sonic noodling when it comes to his own work, which is probably why half-a-year has passed since we last said we were going to release an album by his new band, Cool Rainbows. HOWEVER, the time has come and we've finally managed to squeeze a single out of him. Perfect timing to ease you all into summer (if you live in the Southern Hemisphere at that is) with the drifting, melodically-hypnotic sound of Cool Rainbows. Fingers crossed there'll be more soon!
  • Edmund Cake

    Edmund Cake is certifiably insane, but he makes the most fascinating, surprising, and downright catchy pop music that you could ever hope to hear. He started out in Bressa Creeting Cake - one of the quirkiest pop outfits to come out of Flying Nun. Rather than stay with his bandmates when they formed chart-topping rock group, Goldenhorse, he decided to disappear into the wilderness. When he eventually surfaced five years later, he had brought with him one of the most unusual indie pop records that has ever been created. The album had guest appearances by some of New Zealand's most famous musicians (Neil and Tim Finn, etc), but Cake immediately managed to offend them all by not crediting them in the liner notes. Rather than build on the devoted following that he created with this release, he decided to release his next album under the band name "Pie Warmer." Nonetheless, this album was featured in a book of New Zealand's top one hundred albums of all time.
  • The Eversons

    A group from Wellington, who produce witty, punchy guitar-based pop tunes. This is the new project of Mark Turner (Little Pictures), though now he's traded in his roland sample pad for a guitar and taken his music more into the territory of The Modern Lovers and Pavement.
  • The Gladeyes

    In 2001, Jade Farley met Gwen at art school in Auckland and the pair bonded over art, music, and boys. They made an initial impression on the local scene through a succession of lo-fi EPs, each of which hand unique hand-crafted cover art-work. Their debut album, Psychosic of Love, came out on Lil Chief in 2009. The best way to describe it is to imagine that a girl-group from the fifties reformed in the new millenium and decided to take control of their own music for change. The sweet melodies remain, but the songs are turned towards biting social observation and re-appropriation - as when they take classic rock favourite "There She Goes" and twist it's subject to fit their own ends on "There He Goes." Or when they take an angular punk tune by Die! Die! Die! and re-record it as whimsical indie pop.
  • The Icypoles

    The Icypoles, four gals who call Melbourne home but might just as easily shimmy into a Godard dance scene or serve up a slice of pie at the Double R Diner. They even conjure up a cover of the saucy Twin Peaks ballad "Just You"! The Icypoles set raw sentiment to the most bare-boned of arrangements: clear, wistful female vocal harmonies give way to playfully crafted bass, guitar and percussion interplay, like if Phil Spector were stripped of his Wall of Sound and started producing Marine Girls 45s. Highly recommended for fans of Camera Obscura, Julee Cruise and The Shirelles!
  • Lawrence Arabia

    Lawrence Arabia is the pseudonym of James Milne. From 2002 to 2005, he was a multi-instrumentalist in Auckland pop band The Brunettes. He continued to write songs during this period and in 2006, Lil Chief Records helped him to release his first two solo efforts - one by his group The Reduction Agents ("The Dance Reduction Agents") and the eponymous Lawrence Arabia debut. Songs and work from these albums were nominated for a number of BNet awards and the APRA Silver Scroll. From this point onwards, the ever-resourceful Milne decided to go his own way, organising his own release of Lawrence Arabia's second release, Chant Darling. Since then, varying line-ups of the Lawrence Arabia band have toured the UK and Europe with The Concretes, Feist, The Ruby Suns, Liam Finn and Okkervil River. Milne also plays in the local super-group, BARB, with Liam Finn, Connan Mockasin, Eliza-Jane Barnes and Seamus Ebbs. He also continues to do occasional performances in Lil Chief's resident Paul Mc-Cartney tribute band, The Disciples of Macca. Lawrence Arabia has gone on to be a hugely popular musical vehicle.
  • Little Pictures

    The blogosphere went crazy for these indie popsters when the first hit the scene. This is about as sweet and happy as music ever gets. At the heart of the group was musical duo, Johanna Freeman and Mark Turner, who wrote all the music, sung all the words and played all the different bits. Mark recorded the songs. Johanna made the art with (a huge and gigantic amount of help from) Daniel Batkin-Smith.
  • The Nudie Suits

    The Nudie Suits first formed way back in 1997, following Dionne Taylor's first encounter with the magical Hawaiian steel guitar. She began learning to play the instrument and her friend, Mark Lyons, was inspired to write songs to incorporate its beauty: '...we use the steel guitar to play set melodic riffs tailored specifically to each original composition. Our sound has been given various descriptions: Hawaiian folk-rock, roots pop, alternative country-rock and perhaps most accurately - classic pop music with truly unique instrumentation.' Dionne's sister Tammy joined soon after, on violin. Since then they have worked with numerous musicians to flesh out their sound with bass and drums. Mark came up with the name, which was a reference to an eccentric American tailor: 'Nudie Cohen was a Jewish tailor to the stars who operated in Hollywood during the 1950's %26 60's. Some of his more well-known creations were Elvis Presley's gold Lame suit of 1956 and Gram Parson's marijuana leaf outfit from 1969. The eye-catching apparel produced by his small workshop soon became commonly referred to as a Nudie Suit.' The group have released two albums through Lil Chief Records - Songbook and Sweetacres. Mark remains philosophical on the band's failure to achieve worldwide fame and fortune: 'On the question of fame, an explanation of the mechanics of the music industry would take more space than is available here.'
  • Pie Warmer

    [see Ed Cake entry above]
  • Pikachunes

    Meet Pikachunes - Jazz student turned bedroom producer and Lil' Chief's newest signing. There's something charming about a scrawny white guy occupying a stage with nothing more than his drum-machine and laptop, but Pikachunes more than compensates for his physical presence with the grooving hypnotism of his music and in-between song charismatics. Stripped back to bare essentials, a typical track features one or two synths, a 70's analog bass line, and a series of reverberated vocal harmonies, all driven by an atypical disco beat. - no unnecessary frills. It's this simplicity that makes Pikachunes so appealing. However like all Lil' Chief releases, a strong pop sensibility remains.
  • Princess Chelsea

    Princess Chelsea is the project of Chelsea Nikkel, a classical pianist and former member of Auckland bands Teen Wolf and The Brunettes. Her debut album "Lil' Golden Book" is the result of three years holed up in various bedrooms composing and arranging her own aural fairy tale. Lil' Golden Book tells the tale of life growing up as a teenager and young adult in New Zealand. Deeply entrenched in the fantastical yet grounded with a somewhat sardonic wit, her she draws as much influence from Dr Dre as she does from Edvard Grieg.
  • The Reduction Agents

    [see Lawrence Arabia entry above]
  • The Ruby Suns

    Ryan McPhun is a musician who grew up in Ventura, but also spent a great deal of his youth in New Zealand (eventually moving there in his late teens). His self-titled debut album was filled with sparkling indie pop, with layers of instrumentation worthy of Brian Wilson. Next, McPhun's interest turned toward rhythm and his second album, Sea Lion, had drumbeats inspired those he'd heard in Africa and he used a plethora of acoustic instruments that were strummed and thumped to create a vibrant, upbeat feel. More recently, McPhun has begun to make more use of synthesised beats and melodies. The Ruby Suns latest album, Fight Softly, shows that his knack for creating catchy vocal melodies has stayed with him and since moving more towards the digital end of the spectrum, his scope for creating fresh sounding rhythms has expanded exponentially. The band has been stripped back accordingly and the band now tour internationally as a three-piece - a live drummer and keyboard/bass player join McPhun on stage, while he plays guitar, drumpads, keyboards, and anything else that takes his interest.
  • Shaft

    Shaft grew out of the ashes of the South Island's seminal noise-rockers, The Axe Men. Bob Branigan/Cardy decided to take his opportunity to step to the centre stage and kept the raw energy, but channeled it into a more classic songwriting approach. The band's first full length album, Open Sesame, was the fruits of over five years of hard work and it is bursting with perfectly-crafted rock gems. The long gestation of the album saw many of the band's original members move on to other projects soon after it was released, but Bob found a way to re-invigorate the group by arranging for the entire line-up of local group, The Situations, to step in as the regular line-up of Shaft (these young musicians have also stepped in as Wanda Jackson's live group, so they are no slouches!). This led to their second studio album, ..., which caught some of the energy and excitment of Shaft's live show and the group continue to be one of Auckland's best-loved indie groups.
  • Sheep, Dog and Wolf

    Sheep, Dog and Wolf is the solo project of nineteen year old multi-instrumentalist, Daniel McBride. As Sheep, Dog and Wolf, McBride creates experimental pop which blends orchestrated arrangements and layered vocals with influences that extend all the way from Norwegian Jazz (think: Jaga Jazzist), Tokyo new jazz (think: Mouse On the Keys) to Math Rock and Electronica. McBride first became interested in woodwind instruments as a three year old when listening to Miles Davis recordings at bedtime. At seven he started turning his ambitions into reality learning recorder, to prepare for clarinet which led to his main instrument - the saxophone. He spent his teen years teaching himself to a host of other instruments including drums, guitar, cello and euphonium. While still in high-school he began drumming for fiery New Zealand noisepunk group Bandicoot, and while still sixteen he began performing infront of small audiences at house parties and dive bars as well as large audiences at music festivals like The Big Day Out and Camp A Low Hum. In 2011, McBride self-recorded his first solo effort, the EP 'Ablutophobia' and self-released it on Bandcamp. 'Ablutophobia' caused a bit of a stir online and through word of mouth the EP quickly reached the ears of overseas media. All of a sudden Sheep, Dog and Wolf was being called 'a rare pearl' in the pages of Italian Vogue and finding himself being named 'a young Sufjan Stevens' by The Guardian. Meanwhile, McBride continued to develop his musical knowledge by studying composition at Victoria University and attending workshops by the highly respected John Psathas. He also began self-recording his first album over a period of two years and the result of all this hard work 'Egospect' will be released on Lil' Chief Records on August 23, 2013.
  • Shugo Tokumaru

    Hailing from Tokyo, Shugo Tokumaru was Lil Chief's first international artist. Our pressing of his album, L.S.T., contains an additional CD-Rom with english translations of all the songs and a video game that has been created from the album art-work.
  • The Tokey Tones

    The Tokey Tones are a band formed around the songs of Scott Mannion as part of his string of Plasticene Recording Projects. The group also includes two members of Mannion's previous group Polaar - Li-Ming Hu and Nick Buckton (from Voom/Side Kick Nick). The track featured here is "Love Done Me No Good" which is a duet between Mannion and Heather Mansfield from the Brunettes. Funnily enough the drums on this track were also done by the Brunettes' Jonathan Bree, who also runs Lil Chief Records with Mannion.
  • Voom

    Voom have been creating their unique brand of soulful rock for over a decade. Around 2005, founding member Buzz Moller gave the band a new injection of life by teaming up with Murray Fisher and Mike Beehre (both formerly from Goodshirt) and Nick Buckton (Side Kick Nick and previous member of The Tokey Tones and Polaar. It was this line-up that completed the recording process of their second album, Hello, Are You There?, which was released by Lil Chief Records in 2006. Even before it was released, one of the songs ("King Kong") had been nominated for a Silver Scroll (New Zealand's most prestigious songwriting award). The album went on to be listed amongst the "100 Essential New Zealand Albums" in a book of the same name written by influential rock critic, Nick Bollinger.
  • Wet Wings

    Wet Wings are Lucy and Darian. Darian was previously in Black Market Art, who released a taut, angular sounding mini-album, Kids, before promptly breaking up. He decided he wanted to put his pop melodies over some more unusual, ethereal backing so he formed Wet Wings with Lucy. Together they layer harmonies barbed with deadly hooks over skittish guitar, ghostly keyboard lines, and atmospheric samples.