Black City Lights are made up of Calum Robb and Julia Catherine Parr. Based in Wellington, the producer and vocalist duo have made waves both across the country and internationally.
Robb spent 2010 lurking in the background of the Wellington music scene, until he met Parr and decided to record the track 'Collapsing Horizon'. What was intended as a one off experiment quickly became a permanent partnership.
The ghostly electronic sound of Robb’s expansive, frosty landscapes shimmering beautifully with Parr’s bold and soulful voice captured audiences in the USA for a three month tour in support of their 2013 debut album Another Life, and now UK & EU citizens on a tour including multiple appearances at The Great Escape Festival and five shows in support of The Naked and Famous.
In 2006 Edward Castelow returned to New Zealand. With personal relationships fading and a loss of connection to his homeland, Edward felt thrashed out and had an urge to create new songs that were more dynamic and carefully tailored than his previous work with band ‘Degrees.k’. The result became known as ‘Dictaphone Blues’.
The original live band consisted of members of the Ruby Suns, Heavy Jones and Reduction Agents, but recordings were primarily Castelow tracking the instruments himself.
Independent radio found favourites in early singles ‘Spooky Room’ and ‘Taken Aback’. The band have released two albums, a Limited Edition 7”, played with Okkervil River, New Pornographers, Broken Social Scene and The Pains Of Being Pure at Heart and toured NZ and Australia a few times.
The latest single from Dictaphone Blues, ‘Her Heart Breaks Like A Wave’ is in my opinion Castelow’s finest work. A ragged collective of musicians including Elizabeth Stokes and Peter Ruddell playing horns, Rebekah Guy, Simon Holden, Charlotte West, Sylvia Barnes, Catherine Walker and Cherie Moore in the chorale and Carl Redwood oscillating wildly all combine make up the sound. It’s fantastic.
“There have been a few Kiwi alt-country/folk ensembles in recent years; many of them seem to lack authenticity… there’s something utterly believable about this music; that it should come from New Zealand and channel a version of Americana.” - Simon Sweetman
Originally from Lyttelton (just outside of Christchurch),Williams has since based himself in Melbourne, Australia, like many other Kiwi musicians, “I've got a lot of friends over here, a lot of who moved after the quakes.” He echoes a sentiment felt among many New Zealand musicians, “I reached the point in my life where I've been in Lyttelton for twenty years and just felt like checking out a bit of the world. Obviously Melbourne’s got a pretty strong music scene and I figured it’s just a little further to go than Auckland or Wellington.”
Williams quickly forced himself into becoming a name to know into the scene abroad. In the first six months after arriving he played over 65 shows around the country including Mullumbimby Music Festival and tours with Robert Ellis, Jordie Lane, Sweet Jean, David Bridie, Wagons and Renee Geyer, as well as being named the "Imported Gentleman of the Year" by Herald Sun. “I just did as much as I could to get my name out there and get people onto what I was doing." “Now I’m peeling it back a wee bit and getting out to see a bit more of the country.” Really he isn't peeling it back at all, he’s about to embark on a thirty date tour across Australia and New Zealand.
Williams’ upcoming album ‘Strange Things’, recorded with Ben Edwards at Lyttelton Records is set to be “a bit of a contrast, pretty loud and schizophrenic in places. It’s got the country and folk stuff you expect but then out of the blue comes this huge sound, it’s two different worlds really.”