Flying Nun: Formed at the Bottom of the World

Flying Nun: Formed at the Bottom of the World

It’s hard to imagine what it must’ve felt like as a young musician growing up in New Zealand during the late 1970s.

Being geographically isolated from the rest of the world by vast distances undoubtedly made discovering and acquiring new music a hobby exclusive to the skilled and able. This practice largely consisted of knowing which magazines had the best mail order sections, cutting and filling them out, and sending the slips in well-sealed envelopes with hidden money to England or the U.S.

Today, with the Internet connecting everybody, staying in tune with the rest of the world is a walk in the park. Spending your pocket money and then waiting for months on end for the records to arrive must’ve been frustrating. But then again, what could possibly be a better motivator for starting something for yourself?

Growing up in the middle of nowhere, forming a band, starting a record label – you’ve probably heard it before: it’s the classic D.I.Y. story. This was largely the reason why, in 1981,┬ámusic store manager Roger Shepard decided to form Flying Nun Records in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The core mission was simple: Flying Nun just wanted to “make music we like available for people we like.”

Little did they suspect, the label would become largely responsible for birthing a huge music scene across New Zealand. Initially focusing on local acts in Christchurch, Flying Nun soon gained attention for propelling the emerging music scene in the southern city of Dunedin, with its identifiable brand of indie pop.

During a period of about 15 years, the label spawned a mind-boggling amount of fantastic pop music, practically becoming a right of passage for any emerging indie or alternative act in New Zealand. Bands like The Cleaners From Venus, Tall Dwarfs, The Chills, and The Clean would come to define the atmospheric guitar sound later described as jangle pop, which resonated far beyond the subtropical topography of New Zealand.

The distinct sound of Flying Nun Records has since gone on to inspire a young generation of bands, with Australian acts such as Scott & Charlene’s Wedding, Peak Twins and The Twerps especially influenced by the jangling aesthetic.

A range of American garage rock bands such as the Black Lips and Thee Oh Sees have also cited the Kiwi sound as their musical influences. Thanks to Captured Tracks, many of the defining Flying Nun albums have now been reissued for a new and ever-larger crowd to enjoy.

In this playlist we present some of the finest Kiwi pop tracks put out by Flying Nun, as well as a handful of fine tunes by current Oceanic bands clearly inspired by the Flying Nun zeitgeist.

Formed at the bottom of the world, they were bound to be a bit different from the beginning.

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