Some of New Zealand’s best party people have finally released a debut album. We asked Flamingo Pier about the places that inspired it.
The lads from Flamingo Pier call themselves a “music collective”. Yeah, they do your normal band things – they have a couple of EPs, an upcoming tour, and now a debut album. But they’re perhaps better-known for being among Tāmaki Makaurau’s best party-throwers; they’re a collection of people, places, and vibes as much as songs.
Luke Walker, Dominic Jones, and Brad Craig are all New Zealanders who met while living it up in the London borough of Hackney. They started throwing parties, and eventually brought their London-honed DJ superpowers back to New Zealand. Now, they’ve been running a self-titled annual festival on Waiheke Island for six years.
This month they released their first full album (also self-titled) and it’s stuffed full of the tropical disco good vibes you’d spin around to at any Flamingo Pier party. The music is a cheerful mix of tropical house, disco, and jazz funk – the band is inspired by artists like Khruangbin, Masters at Work and Tim Maia. The new album reflects the collective nature of their music by featuring musicians from the local scene: Julien Dyne on drums, Nathan Haines on the sax, and Kédu Carlö’s Jess Penson on vocals.
They’re strictly against dark and moody; it’s good vibes only. “By being a source of joy for others, you amplify that joy for both yourself and those around you, rather than losing anything”, said Walker. Flamingo Pier can turn any place into a party. With that in mind, we asked the lads to pick five places in the world that inspired the album.
Hackney Wick is the birthplace of Flamingo Pier. It’s an ex-industrial suburb of East London that was home to the largest concentration of artist studios in Europe at the time. We all met there in 2014, living together in an old converted Peanut Factory and quickly started throwing parties and making music together. The warehouse living situation we found ourselves immersed in had a direct influence on our house and disco obsession, leading us to make tracks like ‘Find Your Way’ and ‘Hold It’.
Once we moved back to New Zealand permanently we started a weekly club night with Frank Booker at Las Vegas Club called Pleasure. We wanted to create a regular place for people of all walks of life to dance together. We developed a taste for more soulful, classic house music while DJing there which led to tracks like ‘Eterna’ and ‘Last Call’. Karangahape Road is where we feel most at home in Auckland City. More recently we threw a series of parties called ‘Afternoon Delight’ with Frank Booker at East Street Hall where we have been premiering the new music in our DJ sets.
Most people in New Zealand would know us firstly from the Waiheke festival that we have been throwing at Rangihoua Estate since 2015 (six years and counting!). The unique setup of the forest stage where everyone dances under a canopy of native rainforest inspires the more percussive grooves on the album like ‘Cosmic Sunset’ and ‘Deeper Soul’.
Luke’s home studio in Manurewa was where much of the album was initially conceived. ‘Honey’, ‘Make You Wonder’, ‘Lost But I’m Leading’ were all written there in our evening jam sessions. We were lucky to have understanding neighbours who didn’t mind us making noise through the night. Luke grew up there and after being away in London for 10 years it was poignant to record the album back home.
2018 was a transitional phase for the band where all three of us were living in different countries. Dom in London, Brad in NZ and Luke in Bali. Dom and Luke spent a month together DJing across the islands and made friends with local electronic musicians like Dea Barandana. After the concrete jungle of London, it was a welcome change. The natural beauty and warmth of the people had a lasting impression on the music that followed. We’d love to go back and play soon.
This piece, like Flamingo Pier’s debut album, was brought to you by New Zealand on Air.
Subscribe to The Bulletin to get all the day’s key news stories in five minutes – delivered every weekday at 7.30am.