Maraetai beach

I’ve spent the last week or so in New Zealand. I’m doing the opening keynote speech at the International radio conference being held at AUT from the 11th of January, and I’ve come over a bit early so I could spend Christmas and New Year in the summer sun with my parents, sisters and extended family.

I’m reluctant to blog about it here too much – partly because I’ve been doing so many different things every day and I’d have to spend the rest of my time just writing posts about what I’ve been up to already, but mostly because I’ve already been uploading photos to Flickr and videos to Vimeo, updating statuses (stati?) on Twitter and Facebook, and doing a bit of a running commentary on my Dubber’s Not Here Right Now travel blog.

A lot has happened, and as you might expect, much of it has been outside.

But there’s something I haven’t been talking about in any of those other online places, and that’s actually the main project I’ve been immersing myself in during the bits and pieces of downtime I’ve had while here: the personal archive.

TAP Records

I’ve been going through the stored boxes in my parents’ loft, figuring out what to keep, and scanning lots of documents, ripping CDs and looking through recordings I’d left behind from the label I used to run and the radio shows I used to make.

There’s not much left here, of course, and nor was any of it particularly well-documented, which is a real shame. I wish I’d anticipated my interest in media archiving and our technological capacity to store nearly infinite data – but at the time, it was just a matter of coping from one project to the next. Archiving was not a priority.

I’ve got a couple of meetings with people who have ended up with master tapes of some of that stuff, and I’m going to see what I can do about starting to make sense of it all, and if possible, upload some of it to Bandcamp. Apart from the albums we released (“we” being me and Mark de Clive-Lowe) in the late 90s, there’s also around 4-500 recordings of New Zealand jazz artists that I produced for a couple of different radio series I made.

I’m also keen to get my hands on original CDs of a couple of radio drama series I made: Claybourne and Ashley’s Worlds. I have most of that stuff as low-quality mp3s, but again, it’d be great to track that stuff down and get it up online in the original studio quality. I was really proud of both of those shows, and it’d be fantastic to be able to make it available – again via Bandcamp – with their own dedicated pages with photographs, promotional artwork, good information about the actors, writers and so on.

Claybourne’s particularly interesting from a New Zealand music perspective, as the score was composed by Victoria Kelly and Joost Langeveld (their first collaboration – a partnership suggested to me by Paul Casserly) and much of the sound design work was by the brilliant Sean Donnelly.

I did manage to find a pile of discs that I’d used for my George FM jazz show ‘It’s A Jazz Thing’ – including interviews I’d done with Kurt Elling, The Herbaliser and others – so I’ve ripped those to my laptop – and I’ve scanned excerpts from old copies of Rip It Up and Monitor magazines, in which I interviewed the likes of Matt Johnson from The The, EMF, and Sam Phillips.

I’m really hoping to fill some more of the gaps while I’m here. I’m after CDs, DATs or reel to reel tapes of radio shows, original jazz recording sessions that were later incorporated into radio shows, interviews and photographs from the era (predominantly 1995-2000).

There’s also a 26-part 1-hour per week radio documentary series I researched, wrote, recorded and produced in 1994 for Radio Pacific called “The Story of Jazz”, narrated by Chris Parkinson. I’d be surprised if it was actually any good – but I would like to at least hear it again. I fear it’s all on 10″ reel to reel tapes, which will not fit in hand luggage – but it’d be fantastic to get my hands on it all the same.

I have my work cut out for me. I have some good leads on some of it, but any further clues greatly appreciated.