Friday, 18 September 2015 06:53

Main Divide’s music vibe

Written by 
Ed Donaldson. Photo: Dean McKenzy. Ed Donaldson. Photo: Dean McKenzy.

The makers of Main Divide wines have never been shy of dialling up the volume on flavour and their new CD is also aimed at creating noise; a subtle, jazzy, Pacific fusion vibe.

If volumes one and two escaped your listening ears, fans of Kiwi music can get lucky with the third volume of a South Island winery’s CD, which was released to coincide with this year’s New Zealand Music Month. 

The CD was produced for the hospitality trade as a low-key thank you from the makers of Main Divide Wines. It is also available as a free download to the public as well as on hard copy for those working in the trade. 

Its purpose? “It is a subtle thank you to the trade,” says Ed Donaldson, who devoted six months of listening time to devise his short list of local artists for inclusion on the new CD.

“When we were rebranding the Main Divide range a few years ago we wanted to give it a more modern look and thought it would be a natural fit to add a contemporary music theme, so in 2007 we brought out the first Main Divide CD,” Donaldson says.

It is not only contemporary, it has a strong local flavour.

All of the artists on the first, and subsequent two CDs, are New Zealanders. 

The music has overtones of soul, jazz, R&B, hip hop and electronica, and the voices will also sound familiar to those who have spent time listening to Fat Freddy’s Drop, Hollie Smith, Trinity Roots or been to local music festivals; of which Pegasus Bay and many other New Zealand wineries (Villa Maria, Alana Estate and Waipara Hills, to name but a few), have played host. 

It was important to retain a local music taste but Donaldson says one of the biggest challenges was to ensure that all of the tracks were smooth, devoid of hard edges and had a broad appeal.

“If I felt that one part of a track wouldn’t work for the whole album, then I have stayed away from that track altogether,” he says.

“I really tried to capture that New Zealand contemporary music flavour as much as possible. All of the tracks had to be good but with a wide audience in mind.”

There is very little cross over of artists between albums, with the exception of Mara TK, who is featured on three different tracks on volume 3 as well as on volume 2.

“He’d probably be the person who has shown up most across the albums. There isn’t a heap of cross over apart from him; most of the tracks are new,” says Donaldson, who says that he spent months of careful listening to come up with the right compilation before handing the song list over to Loop Recordings Aot(ear)roa. 

All of the CDs were recorded by the Wellington-based independent recording company, Loop, which was formed in 2001 as a continuation of Loop magazine.

Donaldson describes the tracks as mid tempo; “for the most part”. 

The idea was to create a compilation of chilled out music to fit a range of venues and vibes in cafes, bars, restaurants and liquor stores.

“The music has been selected to be played in that kind of environment so it needed to be easy to listen to without being cheesy to listen to.”

The family owned Pegasus Bay Winery (parent brand of Main Divide Wines) has always had a strong musical connection. Many of the wines in the Pegasus Bay stable have an operatic theme; Bel Canto and Aria Rieslings; Maestro Merlot Malbec and Cabernet blend, for instance.

The Main Divide CDs are compilations of Kiwi musicians that the winery’s second generation have forged close connections with; not only Ed, who put the CDs together, but also his brothers, Mat (winemaker) and Paul (general manager of the winery).

• The 50 minute album is called Main Divide – A journey into New Zealand music from across the Main Divide and beyond; MDV003, Loop. The download is available now on social media as a free download to everyone. Visit:


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