The 'Indie' Music Scene in Dunedin, New Zealand From 2010 to 2017: Scene, Music Making and a DIY Ethos

Author: McMillan, Paul Andrew

Date: 2017

Publisher: University of Otago

Type: Thesis

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University of Otago


This thesis examines the practices of contemporary musicians located in Dunedin, New Zealand. The thesis studies the period of musical output between 2010 and 2017, focusing on bands that are related to the then emergent independent guitar pop music scene, and related bands outside of this specific scene. An ethnographic approach was selected, in order to support the descriptive research goals of the study. The methodology utilises insider research paradigms, autoethnography, participant observation, journaling, and interviewing. From this data the thesis presents five case studies: [1] a study of covers musicians; [2] the recording of four Ragged singles [3] a study of three venues in the city of Dunedin; [4] the recording and release of the Males album None The Wiser in December 2015; and [5] the recording and release of the Julian Temple Band album Ceiling in the Sky in 2015. The thesis utilises these case studies within a triad of interrelated fields of practice in indie music; these practices are live music and performance, the recording of music, and the releasing of music. Through my analysis of this data I suggest that indie musicians in the Dunedin scene at this time are subject to countervailing forces of economic dependence, geographical isolation, and a complex independent “ethos” built around multiple aspects of the scene; this ethos is built around favoured ‘do it yourself’ or ‘DIY’ practices. I ultimately argue that the legacy of the historically significant “Dunedin Sound” movement from the early 1980s is overemphasised in both academic literature, and mediatisations of the current scene, and that a ‘DIY’ ethos and the practices of Dunedin musicians that structure this ethos, better explains the culture of the music scene between 2010 and 2017. The expression of a DIY ethos, and the use of related practices that shape it, reveals the extent to which DIY attitudes profoundly impact the performance, recording, and release of indie music from Dunedin. The thesis serves to develop these methods so that they might be later used to analyse indie scene politics, performance, and identity formations in New Zealand, and by extrapolation, related music scenes based around DIY approaches. The study was limited by operational factors outside the control of the research, that narrowed the selection of female participants; this would be required to be addressed in future work.

Subjects: Indie, Dunedin, NewZealand, Music, McMillan, NZ, Musician, Identity

Citation: ["McMillan, P. A. (2017). The ‘Indie’ Music Scene in Dunedin, New Zealand From 2010 to 2017: Scene, Music Making and a DIY Ethos (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy). University of Otago. Retrieved from"]

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