Amelia Costello

Pixie Williams - The New Blue

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We need your support to shine the light on one of the most important chapters in the history of New Zealand music. With your help we will celebrate and save this story by producing a tribute album to inspire a new generation of New Zealanders, and prove that anything is possible if you put your mind to doing what you love. 

Seven decades ago a young, shy, Ngāti Kahungunu woman from the East Coast reluctantly agreed to record a song that would go down in history as one of Aotearoa's most seminal recordings, and securing her the title of NZ's first pop star.

The song was 'Blue Smoke'. The woman was Pixie Williams.

Origins

'Blue Smoke' was the first song to be recorded, manufactured and distributed in New Zealand: it is recognised as marking the birth of the NZ recording industry. The record was the first to be produced by TANZA - a label that was created to break the monopoly in New Zealand of the British-owned recording giant HMV.

'Blue Smoke' sold more than 50,000 copies and catapulted Pixie and the song's creator, Ruru Karaitiana, into the national consciousness. It was just the first of thirteen songs Pixie recorded in the first two years of New Zealand's fledgling recording industry before slipping quietly from the limelight.

Join us and together we will create a new legacy born from the music of Pixie Williams, 'The New Blue'.

The New Blue

We are so thankful to have an enviable team of talented producers, vocalists and musicians who have fallen in love with the project and are hellbent on reintroducing the world to the music of Pixie Williams. Each song is performed by a different vocalist, who gifts their unique talents to elevate Pixie's songs to a contemporary level.

'The New Blue' is more than a tribute album, it is a stunning addition to our musical landscape in its own right.

The Team

Executive Producer, Mike Gibson, Munki Studios (Hollie Smith, Recloose, Orchestra of Spheres) is overseeing the production of 'The New Blue' and is working with the inspiring talents of our music producers Riki Gooch and Lisa Tomlins. Riki is the creative force behind Eru Dangerspiel and was a seminal member of Trinity Roots. Lisa is the voice behind many of Aotearoa's greatest music including Fat Freddy's Drop, Little Bushman and Rhombus, to name a few. 

The musicians on the album include Riki Gooch, James IllingworthJacqui NymanMark Sommerville, and Lucien Johnson with Stroma Filmworks Orchestra providing beautiful orchestral support under the guiding hands of world-renowned conductor Hamish McKeich.

A documentary directed by Danny Mulholland and produced by Julian Arahanga (AWA Films) featuring the story of 'Blue Smoke' and of Pixie's life has been following the recording sessions. The documentary is set to be screened on Māori Television later in the year.

Why 'The New Blue'?

In 2010, in a tribute to her mother's legacy and to save her recordings from obscurity, Pixie's daughter, Amelia Costello, worked alongside the talents of Tim Fraser of Creature Design to manage the production of re-mastered versions of her mother's songs.  Together with Mike Gibson of Munki Studios, who pioneered his own restoration and remastering techniques to accomplish the task, the resulting album, 'For the Record - The Pixie Williams Collection 1949 - 1951', generated renewed interest in Pixie's music and her story.

In 2011, Amplifier identity Stephen O'Hoy wrote, "The discovery and restoration of Pixie Williams' recordings is an important event in the history of New Zealand music. It will make available to the public fantastic works that would have otherwise been lost forever."

It is fitting that in this, the 70th year since 'Blue Smoke' was released, Amelia is spearheading this new project in recognition of Pixie's contribution to our musical heritage.

These new works will allow the taonga that are the songs, and the living history of the music, to appeal to a new and diverse audience. But we need your help to make this happen!

You can help us make history!

We have been fortunate to have received $25,000 from Creative NZ to support our recording, and Massey University has given us free use of their state-of-the-art recording studio at the College of the Creative Arts in Wellington. This support has been invaluable, but we need another successful funding campaign to help get us over the line.

We need to raise another $35,000 to finish recording the artists and to cover production costs to give the album the treatment that it deserves. Resene Paints will kindly match each donation dollar for dollar, up to $5,000 which is a great start for our challenge!

Every dollar helps! Whether you can give $5, $10 or $100 - please donate today. Remember all New Zealand residents can claim 33% back on your donation. You can read more about donating through Boosted here.

Once you've donated, become part of 'The New Blue' crew and help us spread the word. Tell your Mum. Tell your mates. Tell your colleagues. Share a link to this page or our own website 

The funds raised from this Boosted campaign will:

* Complete paying our producers, vocalists, musicians and technicans for the recording phase of our project, including recording with Stroma Filmworks Orchestra, Taikura (Ngāti Kahungunu kapa haka), Al Fraser (Taonga Pūoro) and the five remaining songs which are yet to be recorded.
* Cover all the producer, technician and associated studio costs for the sound mixing.
* Pay for the final Mastering to then have the songs ready for manufacturing and online distribution.

It's not often you get a chance to become part of a story that would otherwise be lost forever.

'The New Blue' team would be honored if you would join us to ensure Pixie's songs, and this incredible New Zealand story, lives on to inspire a new generation of artists and yet-to-be discovered pioneers.

UPDATES

  • Introducing our amazing team: Mark Sommerville

    21 HOURS AGO

    Mark is incredibly gifted musical collaborator and we are very proud to have him in The New Blue team. 

    You can read more about why he is involved in the project here.

    Introducing our amazing team: Mark Sommerville
  • Introducing our amazing team: Riki Gooch

    1 DAY AGO

    Riki is living legend in the music industry. It's incredible that he chose to work with us on The New Blue project as a producer and percussionist. 

    You can read more about why he is involved here

    Introducing our amazing team: Riki Gooch
  • Introducing our amazing team: Lisa Tomlins

    1 DAY AGO

    Lisa is a true wāhine toa of the music scene. She has worked with the best in the business, and we are so proud to be working with her on The New Blue as a producer and vocalist. 

    You can read about why she chose to work on the project here.

    Introducing our amazing team: Lisa Tomlins