Christine White (Kai Tahu: Wairewa Marae, Banks Peninsula)
It began with the extended family sing-alongs (the crooning voices of her grandmother’s 12 brothers and sisters singing the likes of “You are my Sunshine”), then the grandiose, evocative and purposeful melodies of the pentacostal Baptist movement and school choirs/orchestras before moving through the raw, smoke-filled, beer-smelling couches, gay/lesbian festivals and bars, hometown pubs and city cafes of 1990s New Zealand. The visceral power of melody combined with a strong back-beat and the evocative twang of the electric guitar.
And so began The Christine White band – an energetic three piece that began it’s days in the live music culture of the infamous Java Jive (Ponsonby, Auckland).
Along with other vibrant and hungry musicians like The Blue Buffoons, Karen Hunter and JT Band to name a few, they frequented the jam nights in the bustling cafe, which became home. The band delighted the locals, won Gluepot Battle of the Bands, recorded a single, toured, went through three drummers, and ended their time with a live recording at National Radio’s Helen Young Studio complete with a brass section.
Christine began a parallel career in music teaching and delved into writing musicals and music for children’s theatre (having composed for Tim Bray Productions for 10 years now). She developed an appetite for non-traditional music-making through exposure to groups like STOMP and the work of Auckland sound artist extraordinaire Phil Dadson.
The solo recordings then came – firstly, the eclectic progressive folk EP ‘Staircase’, then the acoustic ‘Pure White’ album and finally the studio produced follow-up ‘Pirouette’.
A degree in Sonic Arts Composition at Victoria University brought about a massive shift in Christine’s approach where sound became a compositional tool allowing her to explore creative process more deeply.
Thus began the period of performance art using bowling balls, contact mics and electrical signal with composer Chris Black, and sound installation – a machine piece installation in a chocolate factory with composer Jason Wright.
Christine also developed an instrument called The Workbench. It utilised the Black and Decker workbench as a platform in which to attach a metal plate and contact mic. Oven grills and wine racks were then bowed, plucked and scrape in folk performances with Hinemoana Baker, and also with Ariana Tikao and Mahina Kaui.
Christine explored composition technique using collage, abrupt editing of sounds and poems, graphic style composition (using visual images from automation to inform sound and arrangement), and experimental noise recordings with Derek Champion.
All of these daliances, sonic wanderings and techniques culminated in the recent release of the album ‘when the things that heal us hurt us and the things that hurt us heal us’, along with a method of personal integration, healing and understanding based on the power of metaphor when combined with journalling, therapy and songwriting.
Christine now wants to bring both the album and the method to the world for anyone who is drawn to raw, heartfelt music and the accompanying discussion around creativity, expression and healing.
And that’s what a long-arching journey looks like.
Photo credits (where known):
Janieke de Graaf