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December 2016
December 2016
In this issue:
Ekko Park, Ill Semantics, The Broken Heartbreakers, Lisa Crawley, Valere, Fragile Colours, No Broadcast, Hikurangi Schavarien-Kaa, Skinny Hobos, Heroes For Sale, The Lucid Effect, Chris Priestley, Delaney Davidson in Europe
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Home Brew - Setting The Bar

Author: Gareth Shute

Home Brew arrived as an internet phenomenon, developing a cult following that has seen them playing shows everywhere from the wilds of Waipu Cove to the nightclubs of Melbourne, and have gone on to become one of the most enduring local hip hop acts to emerge in recent years. Their previous independent releases; 2007’s ‘Home Brew Light’, ‘Last Week’ from 2008, ‘Summer Ale’ and ‘Taste Test’ (both in ’09), have all been EPs. Scheduled for December – but headed for a likely early January release – the currently self-titled double-album has separate sides for the humorous and heavier sides of their music, as well as being deliberately self-contradicting. Gareth Shute caught up with main man Tom Scott, and beat-maker, ‘Haz’ Huavi, to learn more about their musical origins and scope out what new directions their music is taking them in.
The Home Brew crew are not the kind of group whose singles receive high rotation on commercial radio or whose music videos get played on C4 and Juice. Yet their clip for Underneath The Shade has more hits on Youtube than any of the official videos by last issue’s NZM cover artists, Midnight Youth. They were finalists for the inaugural Critic’s Choice Award in 2010, can pack out large venues like Auckland’s King’s Arms at $20 a head and have dismissed various offers from major labels. Their performance at this year’s APRA Silver Scroll Awards also got people’s attention, with the group descending from the stage to steal drinks from Sir-vere and his cohorts at a front table.
Home Brew’s rise to prominence gives an indication of how things have changed since the massive popular explosion of local hip hop around 2004. It might not seem like it, but there are more new hip hop acts coming out of the NZ scene than ever before. The difference is that many of them promote their music through local blogs like and, bypassing traditional forms of media altogether. Home Brew have shown that it is possible to take a local internet buzz and turn it into real success.
Interestingly, Home Brew might never have started if beat-maker Haz Huavi had followed his instincts and kept ignoring the demos being sent by a stranger over the internet.
“Tom found me on MySpace and saw I had a link to the website Hiphopnz, where I was doing some beat-battling. He recorded some of my beats off MySpace, recorded over them, and sent it back to me. I was like, ‘Who is this guy?’ Like, ‘Ask me first!’ I didn’t mind that somebody wanted to rap over my stuff, but he just had a sneaky way of going about it. ”
“So for a while I never listened to anything he sent me, just kept it all in a folder labelled ‘Tom’. One day I finally listened to it and I freaked out. The guy was rapping about things I could really relate to, like his step-dad coming home and beating his mum, and things like that. That led to one of our first tracks, We Are What We Are, and we just started building it up from there.”
Haz and challenging frontman Tom Scott both grew up in families where music was a central part of life. Haz remembers his parent’s garage parties, which were fuelled by ’60s soul and ’70s funk, along with regular doses of the Doobie Brothers. His biggest influence though was his uncle.
“He had a job being a DJ at the Star Hotel, which is a pub in Otahuhu. The place was gang-related, all the Black Power guys hung out there. I used to sneak in with him when I was 16 and hold his CDs. ”
“I learnt how to do digital mixing and decided I wanted to get into it more. When I first started trying to rap I had a mate who was making beats for me, but he moved to Christchurch. So I took over… the only musical training I had was from school, where me and my brother took drumming lessons for a while. It might’ve kept me in rhythm when it came to making beats, but that’s about all.”
Brixton-born (to Kiwi parents) Tom had a stronger musical connection within his own family.
“My old man’s a bass player, so music was always in my life. I was banging on my mum’s stomach to ‘Songs In The Key Of Life’ or ‘Sign o’ the Times’, or I was in her arms in some dusty pub being serenaded by some free jazz or New Orleans’ boogie woogie, or whatever my pops was playing at the time.
“When I got to Avondale Primary we used to sit around outside at lunchtime trying to sing Boys II Men songs, banging on desks and all that. Most of the kids at my school were brought up in church and so they could sing without even trying. But I was the son of two atheists! So I’d just do the bass parts and rhyme a little bit. Then at assembly one time we spat some rap in front of the whole school – I was famous for a day. But it wasn’t like I took it seriously from then on, I was more into b-ball and Street Fighter.”
Once they had connected over the internet, Tom and Haz relied on trading parts over file-sharing websites to get their demos into shape – though they’d occasionally have ‘sessions’ in the shed at Tom’s place in Sandringham. In those early days (2007) they would just plug a basic 2-channel mixer into a laptop. This would often cause a two second delay between the music and the vocals, which Haz would have to fix by moving the tracks along to match up. Eventually they received assistance with the mixing process from their manager Glen Davison (DJ Substance), who helped refine their sound.