What is Dunedin Sound? New Zealand style of Indie Pop

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Dunedin Sound, as its name suggests, developed in the city of Dunedin (a university town) in New Zealand. It is a derivative of indie pop, which became incredibly popular during the early 1980s. The development of Dunedin Sound began in the early part of that decade and is thought to have been influenced by the punk rock movement of the 1970s, which was particularly popular in New Zealand.

Identifying Dunedin Sound’s Music

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Identifying Dunedin Sound’s Music. Image by audioculture.co.nz

Although spawned from other genres, Dunedin Sound has a distinctive musical identity, which can be recognized by the use of loose drumming, minimal bass line, keyboard and psychedelic guitar. The music created by advocates of Dunedin Sound is not dissimilar to traditional indie pop, but the punk influence is particularly prevalent.

The Distribution of Dunedin Sound and Flying Nun Records

Serendipitously, the development of Dunedin Sound came at the same time as the creation of student radio in New Zealand. The main universities all created their own radio stations and began to broadcast music such as Dunedin Sound, which subsequently became to be known as a form of ‘college music’. Unsurprisingly, the advent of student radio facilitated the increased popularity of the genre throughout the country.

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Flying Nun Records. Image by audioculture.co.nz

Another important development in the distribution of Dunedin Sound bands was the creation of Flying Nun Records. The New Zealand based record company was a supporter of the genre. One of the company’s most popular releases was the Double Dunedin EP, which consisted of a compilation of four bands songs. Flying Nun Records was also responsible for signing The Clean, a popular Dunedin group.

During the 1980s, other musical genres were also being developed. For example, the creation of Jangle Pop and Paisley Underground were happening in conjunction with the development of Dunedin Sound. Nevertheless, despite the competition, Dunedin Sound was an incredibly successful genre, which reached the peak of its popularity in the late 1980s.

Dunedin’s Legacy and Continued Influence

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Bird Nest Roys. Image by audioculture.co.nz

Today, the term Dunedin Sound has fallen out of usage. However, the music is still influential. In fact, Californian band Pavement has covered songs from the Dunedin Sound back-catalogue. Covers have also been recorded by both bands and solo artists, such as Superchunk, Cat Power, Barbara Manning and Elf Power. In addition, numerous artists worldwide claim to have been influenced by the genre.

Some of the most best known and most successful Dunedin Sound artists include Bird Nest Roys, Toy Love, The DoubleHappys, 3Ds, The Chills and Look Blue Go Purple


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