At a record shop off Karangahape Road, Marama Davidson and James Shaw required the Auckland Central MP’s guidance on music.
It takes Marama Davidson barely 10 minutes to find Troy Kingi’s record in Flying Out this afternoon. “I have a big crush on Troy Kingi,” she says. She gathers a heavy pile of records including Fat Freddy’s Drop, Tami Neilson, The Beths and Dudley Benson. “I have a deep love for our own Kiwi music… no one sounds quite like us.” Supporting local is right in the Green Party’s lane, but is that really the extent of her musical taste?
Soon after she admits to not actually owning a record player. This is definitely a campaign stop, not a casual shopping trip.
On the door of Flying Out is a fresh poster of Chlöe Swarbrick, the local MP, delivered just yesterday. The real Swarbrick arrives while Davidson is still deep in the records, and she adds Marlon Williams and Avantdale Bowling Club to the pile. Swarbrick doesn’t hesitate to point out the second is her “absolute favourite of all time”. She does have a record player.
Davidson continues to be overjoyed at just about every record in the Aotearoa section, no matter what genre or era. Even admitting a crush on Troy Kingi doesn’t reveal much about her musical preferences, as he is on a crusade to produce 10 albums of 10 different genres. And besides, a crush is not necessarily the same as liking someone’s music – they might just be hot. “Too many good things,” says Davidson, still flicking through the racks. The pile of records keeps growing. Is it really possible to love all Kiwi music?
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Humans do tend to be ashamed of their music tastes. We call the things we love most “guilty pleasures” in the hopes of not being cringe. In the face of a camera and a whole record shop to browse through, getting stuck into local music and giving only absolutely glowing reviews is a very safe move – in other words, it’s a politician being political.
In recent years, music tastes of politicians have been scrutinised. When Jacinda Ardern and Anthony Albanese swapped records, everyone immediately zoomed in on the covers. Ardern’s choice of a selection of Flying Nun records was effortlessly cool, but Albanese was exposed as being the exact opposite when Ardern’s partner Clarke Gayford commented “Midnight Oil, Spiderbait and The Finger????!!!! What is this, 2004???” on her Instagram post. It is unclear what impact this had on trans-Tasman relationships.
Back at Flying Out, while Davidson fawns over every Kiwi musician ever, James Shaw is looking a little out of place in a crisp suit, shirt, and brown leather shoes. When invited to browse, he reaches straight for David Bowie (which happens to be directly in front of him) and it definitely looks like he’s doing so to look busy rather than actually searching for music he likes. Perhaps the pressure of having to reveal his music taste to approximately three journalists and potentially every Spinoff reader is too much. Swarbrick comes to the rescue with Successor by Anthonie Tonnon, “This one’s for you,” she says, showing off its sleeve and explaining that one of the songs is about trains. “Alright, very good,” replies Shaw, and grabs the record for safety.
Under the close watch of her press secretary, and with a retail assistant’s guidance, Davidson puts Dudley Benson’s Zealandia on the instore record player. “This is our Dudley,” she says of the musician, bar owner and avowed Greens supporter. After the first track, she rips open the Troy Kingi record and that is slapped onto the player. She glides her tan leather block heels across the wooden floor in glee, but soon enough the music has to be turned off for a 1News interview with Shaw in the back of the shop. Standing next to the band t-shirts, he’s grilled about the decline of the left block in the polls.
A cluster of non-interviewees including myself, Davidson, Swarbrick and the retail staff huddle quietly by the front door, listening. Shaw keeps to his line, repeating it several times in just as many minutes, “We are just focusing on our campaign.” He also at one point says “golly” and reiterates the Green Party’s “positive policies”.
Swarbrick nods along,“it’s gonna be great and we are gonna pay for it by taxing the rich,” she whispers. “There’s an appetite for transformation.”
For Flying Out’s Sophie Burbery, having the three Green MPs come to browse is a “highlight of the past few months”. She has always been a left-leaning voter, and at least for this election won’t be hosting any other political parties – their music tastes, or lack thereof, may remain unknown.