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Pop CultureApril 3, 2021

Bottoms up! The best moments from Melodownz’s Kava Corner


For the past six months, Melodownz’ interview series Kava Corner has been one of the joys of the internet. Sam Brooks runs down the best moments so far from the show that likes to get its subjects just a little buzzed.

I am on the record, multiple times, declaring Anika Moa Aotearoa’s best interviewer. She now might have a contender for her title, however, because hip-hop artist Melodownz is pretty damn good at it as well. His Youtube interview series Kava Corner, in which he enjoys several rounds of kava with different New Zealand personalities, makes for the perfect, gentle binge watch.

While the topics can get fairly heavy – interviews so far have covered politics, addiction, and time spent in prison – Melodownz keeps it light and warm. He’s clearly invested and interested in the people’s he interviewing, whether he’s clearly in quiet awe of his guest (in the case of say, Anika Moa and Scribe) or just vibing with them (as is the case with Chlöe Swarbrick and Benee).

I’ve rounded out the best moments from the nine episodes released thus far, but I implore you to watch all the episodes. They’ll soothe and relax you, just like a shell full of kava.

John Campbell loves a lot of things

Is there anything more pure on this green earth than John Campbell liking things? I think not. In this episode, he admits to liking:

  • A buttery chard (but only two nights a week!)
  • Jet plane lollies
  • Hip-hop, Frank Ocean, Public Enemy
  • Saying the f-word exactly once
  • Noname
  • Kava!

I could listen to John Campbell list the things he likes for hours on end.

Joseph Parker owns his royal title

In 2018, king of British talk telly Graham Norton body shamed Joseph Parker by calling him “the king of pies”. While this apparently weighed on Parker for a while, he eventually decided to own it: he wore a shirt to his subsequent fight with Anthony Joshua with the title emblazoned on the front. Let’s kick out the Queen, replace her with the King of Pies.

(He also reveals that he plays piano, which is super charming! While we’re kicking out the Queen, let’s give Joseph Parker all of Elton John’s tour dates.)

Patrick Gower shades John Key and Mike Hosking

Patrick Gower liberally drops f-bombs throughout his interview, where he thoughtfully discusses weed (good!) and his response to the shall-not-be-named white supremacists who sought to tour New Zealand (bad!). But the best f-bomb of all comes when Melodownz asks Gower who would win in a fight between John Key and Mike Hosking:

“Nobody’s winning in that, man. Who would wanna watch those fuckers fight? It’d be the worst boxing match in history. Nobody’s winning in that, are they?” Read them for filth, sis!!!

Chlöe Swarbrick doesn’t want to leave politics to the politicians

Chlöe Swarbrick’s episode should be essential viewing for high schoolers. I genuinely learned more about the way our political system works, from the Beehive down to local boards, than I did in my first 20 years of life. She needs little prompting from Melodownz, who seems so stoked to just be in the room with her, to discuss why it’s so important that everyone engages with politics (in another Hosking burn, she says, correctly that his vote matters as much as ours). But the real kicker is this slam dunk:

“Don’t leave politics to the politicians, bro. That’s where it gets cooked.”

Honestly, just all of Nix’s episode

If you aren’t familiar with Nix, don’t close this tab – open up a new one and get watching. She’s not just a hilarious time, she’s a dedicated activist who speaks candidly about her struggles with addiction and her time in prison. Nix is remarkably open throughout, without ever letting it feel too heavy, and Melodownz is equally candid and respectful of her sharing her time and her stories with him. It shows that Melodownz has mastered one key thing that interviewers should remember: it helps if you’re interested and invested in what your subject has to say.

Anika Moa’s haunted hotel

Anika leans into her heavy-drinking, raucous persona hard in this interview, but the funniest moment of the whole thing is where she talks about a fixation of hers: Chicks Hotel in Dunedin. She fully believes that the old, stone building is haunted, which is why she sleeps in the same room with her entire entourage whenever she’s in the city. We love a woman who doesn’t fear ghosts! Christina Ricci, anybody?

Benee’s mum hates the idea of her getting a face tattoo

Benee’s mum is as much of a character throughout her interview as she is, with the singer calling on her throughout her interview. Muroki, one of Benee’s friends, asks her if she’d ever get a face tattoo. Benee rates face tattoos, but her mum is not a fan.

“You can’t wear a moko because you’re not Māori. I respect facial tattoos when they’re cultural but you’re not. You’re a white girl from Grey Lynn. Keep them on your body!” Replace Mike’s Minute with Benee’s Mum’s Minute, in my perfectly frank opinion.

Dre Skrila and Sonny Jim answer the weirdest “would you rather” ever

Each episode of Kava Corner ends with Melodownz running through quick fire questions, a segment called ‘The Kava Buzz’. The interview with internet comedian Dre Skrila and Sonny Jim has the absolute strangest question of all of them: Would you rather look 10 years older above the neck or below the belt? They are genuinely bewildered by the question, but eventually settle on below the belt – even though it would make for, and I quote, “old ass dick” – because at least you can work out.

Scribe got told off by Brooke Fraser

Scribe’s interview is another highlight of the series – especially considering how reticent the rapper tends to be in interviews. He discusses his relationship to his own fame, his time in prison and his addiction with incredible candour. Again, it shows Melodownz’ tremendous skill that the interview doesn’t feel heavy at all. One lighter moment is Scribe recalling when Brooke Fraser told him off for not meeting some fans after the show, sharing with him what her father would tell her – “Do it now because one day they won’t be there!” And now you’re thinking of what Brooke Fraser would sound like telling off Scribe, and that’s some arithmetic, isn’t it?

You can watch all of Kava Corner on YouTube.

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