Interview / Friendly Potential

Around a month ago the congenial crew at Friendly Potential asked me to put together a mix for their weekly radio show. Typhoon Hagibis wiped me out for a bit. But I finally got 70 minutes segued, which was broadcast last Saturday. It`d been a long time since anyone had asked me for a mix, so I was super flattered. The scheduling paired me with Inkswel – a talented chap who I interviewed way back in 2014 – so that was super nice as well. 

The show`s now up on Soundcloud, and I`ve provided a link for interested folks below. I`ve also added the annotated track-list that accompanies my part of the broadcast. It is of utmost importance to always give credit where credit is due. But before we get to that, keen to uncover more about Friendly Potential, I submitted one of its founders, Simon Wallace, to a few questions.

Friendly Potential Long Logo 80cm copy

Where are you based?

Friendly Potential is a New Zealand operation. Sam (Harmony) and Scarlett (Lauren) are in Auckland, Gus (Sharp) is in Wellington, Tom (McGuinness) is in London, and I am in Dunedin.

How long have you been running?

Friendly Potential started throwing parties in Auckland about five years ago, and the radio shows started in early 2016. We`ve all known each other for about a decade or more though. The New Zealand scene is amazingly cosy.

What made you start?

Friendly Potential started with Sam, Tom, and Gus. They were all living in Auckland putting on parties individually, and then realized that it would make more sense to work together than to compete. They all have a history in radio, and were keen to get back into it. In 2016, I`d finished as music director of Radio One in Dunedin, and wanted to helm a show that primarily showcased guest mixes. At the time, there seemed to be a lack of New Zealand radio shows that had weekly guest mixes, and there were a lot of international and local artists that we wanted to support. We all knew each other well, and it made sense to join forces. Things came together pretty naturally over a couple of conversations.

When and how often do you broadcast?

We broadcast weekly – firstly on bFM in Auckland at 1am on Saturday mornings, and then on Radio One 91FM in Dunedin at 6pm on Sunday night. We then upload the shows to SoundCloud on Mondays, lord willing.

How many people are involved? 

The whole crew is involved in the radio show, but it’s mostly me and Scarlett busting it out each week. Everyone has different roles in the parties too.

Do you have a “mission statement”?

It’s pretty simple – whether on the radio or at our parties, we ask artists whose music we love and respect to join us, and trust their vision. On the radio, we try to pair mixes to make the shows sound cohesive. We join in when we need to, but that`s happening less frequently.

What guests have you had?

At our parties, we’ve hosted Omar-S, Optimo, Kenji Takimi, Eris Drew, Roza Terenzi, DJ Sotofett, and more. We’ve also had a few guests on the radio, nearly 200 so far. Some faves from abroad include fleet.dreams, Roza Terenzi, Marcelle, Anatolian Weapons, Karima F, and Kiara Scuro. Some locals include Nice Girl, Vanessa Worm, Sandboards, Borrowed cs, and many friends of the crew. I’ve also enjoyed getting selections from personal heroes who might not typically make mixes too, such as Maxine Funke and Michael Morley.

Friendly Potential catacombs-7 copy

Can you tell me more about the parties? Are there any Friendly Potential-associated artists, or record labels?

We put on a steady run of parties in Auckland – in November we host Nils Frahm, and the second edition of our festival Catacombs. Catacombs takes place over two nights in this massive underground 1920s dancehall, it`s such a lavish space. We also run Anno Domini on the roof of the Auckland Art Gallery, and launch the open-air Beacon Festival at Queen’s Wharf in Auckland next year. Everyone in the crew has a few other projects as well. Scarlett is part of Run With The Wolves and the ninthWave Sound System, Sam puts on parties as Good Times, Tom releases music as T.Margos, and I have spent too long on a Ph.D. Shockingly, we all DJ too.

Friendly Potential catacombs-3 copy

The Catacombs event takes place November 29 / 30 and you can find out more here. You can contact Friendly Potential via Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Their radio shows are archived on SoundCloud. 

Catacombs photos by Dylan Cook.

Friendly Potential catacombs-4 copy

Which brings me to my contribution to Friendly Potential……

I have got lot of records, so when (if?) someone asks me to do a mix, I can find it hard to know where to start. I`ll usually ask for a theme, or a genre, to make it easier. You know there has to be a reason why you’re playing this record, why you’re playing it now, and why next to that other one. To a certain extent this “mix” is simply a selection of recently purchased second-hand treasure and recommendations from friends – stuff that was close to hand, stuff that I’m currently into, but below is a track-list, and why these tunes made this cut….

William Orbit – Dia Del Muerto – IRS – 1990

Taken from the Strange Cargo 2 LP. I dug this out again for a couple of reasons. One of the tracks, The Last Lagoon, was / is a Phil Mison favourite. Phil`s been a huge help and supporter of Ban Ban Ton Ton. Sending me mixes when my numbers are flagging, and also emailing me photos of handwritten playlists he’s discovered from his 1990s tenure at Ibiza`s Cafe Del Mar. Tracks from the LP also feature on an amazing Spotify playlist put together a few years ago by Moonboots and Jolyon Green. I`m not on Spotify, but they sent me the list – which is about 600 tunes strong – and it`s something I often go back to if I`m looking for a place to start.

Propaganda – Valley Of The Machine Gods – Amontillado Music – 2005

This is also featured in that epic Spotify list. The former ZTT-ers re-imagining Martin Denny’s Quiet Village as a Sci-Fi bossa nova.

Ben Tankard – All Keyed Up (Time Capsule Seaside Mix) – Time Capsule – 2019

“Gospel-jazz” from Miami, Florida, re-edited and reissued by London’s Time Capsule crew. Due to hit shops in November I think.

Night Ark – Adolescence – Novus – 1988

Another Phil Mison recommendation. I interviewed Phil years ago about his first London gigs at Nicky Holloway`s Milk Bar and at the Cafe Del Mar with Jose Padilla. I was trying to find out how? why? way back when he was buying Night Ark LPs, while me and everyone else was fighting over Italian rave “scream-ups”. Phil wasn’t telling. All he would say was that he picked this up – from legendary London / Soho store, Cheapo Cheapo – because it has a nice cover.

Billy Cobham – Heather – Atlantic – 1974

This a pretty well known tune – lifted from the jazz drummer`s Crosswinds LP (I think Harvey used to play the title track). It`s in the pile by my decks because of Victor Sanchez. I recently interviewed Victor, who runs the Stockholm-based audiophile bar, Hosoi. He uses this record to demonstrate the quality of Hosoi`s considerable sound system.

Chris Spheeris – Desires Of The Heart – Columbia – 1987

Another one from Moonboots and Jolyon`s Spotify list. New Age. Spheeris had a couple of Cafe Del Mar “hits”. Pura Vida is also worth your time / money.

Julee Cruise – Summer Kisses Winter Tears – Warner Bros – 1992

More from Phil Mison. You can’t really go wrong with anything from Cruise / Lynch / Badalamenti / Twin Peaks. Ethereal rock and roll.

Kalima – All The Way Through – Factory – 1990

Former Swamp Children / former ACR off-shoot – turned straight ahead jazzers – relocate from Manchester to London for a final LP, Feeling Fine. The sound, somewhere between Acid Jazz and Sade. I only recently found a vinyl copy in Ochanomizu. 

AMJ VS RSD – Sky Blue Love – white label – 2016

I`ve got a lot of records. Too many records. I`ll be honest this was in a pile of things that I haven’t played for a while and am considering selling. Giving it a potential final listen it became clear that this is not a “castoff” but a “keeper”.

Mark Goldenberg – Curacao – Kitty – 1985

For reasons that will hopefully become apparent in Spring 2020 I`ve been trawling through all the Japanese releases I`ve accumulated since moving out here 13 years ago. Guitarist Mark Goldenberg isn’t Japanese – he’s American – but his records were only released in Japan. His name is on a few better known cuts, such as Love Island, but I like the Penguin Cafe Orchestra-ness of this one, from 1985`s L`Homme A Valise. This one came care of Norio Sato at Rare Groove in Osaka.

Black Dog – The Crete That Made Crete – General Production Records – 1993

This one’s down to Paul Byrne at Test Pressing. While me and Paul parted ways a while back now we’ve been working on something together this year, which will hopefully see the light of day soon. I’ve also been working on a series of essays for another project, which forced me to revisit all the writing I did for Test Pressing, all the interviews especially. When Test Pressing first started there were a series of regular posts titled “Under The Radar”. This sublime, quirky piece of electronica was one of them.

No Man – Heaven Taste (Edit) – Sähkö – 2016

Originally released on CD as a 20 minute track back in 1995, this was edited by band member Steven Wilson a couple of years ago. The biggie by No Man is the Twin Peaks / Sherilyn Fenn-sampling Days In The Trees – but this is also great. Again it was Phil who tipped me off to No Man.

Antoine Tato Garcia – Kikasso – KaRu Prod – 2019

Contemporary flamenco from France. I’m a sucker for a Spanish guitar. Growing up in South London I always dreamed of ending up in Spain. In the heady days of `88, The Gipsy Kings` Bambeleo would whisk me off, lost in romantic – totally imagined – memories of the best summer holiday I never had. I`ve always wanted to do a flamenco comp.

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