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Next Generation Garbage

Aotearoa's 'do it yourself' attitude is leaving its mark on the entertainment industry, with organisations like Garbage Records carving out their own path.


For many artists, the goal is relentlessly chasing a record deal with some of the world’s biggest and most renowned brands. 

The reality within the local and global music markets, however, is that labels look for well-established talent as opposed to directly supporting local and up-and-coming artists. It’s a void that has been left unfilled for too long.

That’s where someone like Damin McCabe comes in. He describes his label, Garbage Records as created by the next generation, for the next generation. 

“Some sides of the major label industry work for artists, some don't.

“We want to be able to release an array of independent local music to a wider audience and create opportunities for artists through that. Calling it ‘Garbage’ allows us to be comfortable in our creative ability and not take things too seriously.”

Fearless Youth

Since their birth in 2018, Garbage Records now has a team of five spread across the country, but base their headquarters out of their studio in Dunedin. 

The label itself now has nine artists currently signed, spearheaded by Kiwi rapping powerhouse Wax Mustang, as well as notable Dunedin heroes Nic and Ruben, Hot Laps and Kevin in Luv. McCabe also is under the label with his alias act ‘Jack Berry.’

The Garbage Records team. Photo: Supplied.

The team may be all under 25, but what they lack in years, they make up for in ambition, showing tenacious perseverance and enthusiasm to make a statement in the tight-knit and competitive local music market with their innovative ideas.

“I feel like we are trying to offer an alternative way for artists to have their music released on a label,” remarks McCabe. “We’re able to offer other options and a promotion/distribution network for independent musicians, that’s the goal. 

“Being able to offer a clear insight into the New Zealand independent creative community for people on the internet and around the world is something I think could help a lot of artists.”

Freestyling their fortunes

The Garbage team is driven by the mantra of ‘learning on the fly,’ continuing to educate themselves on the ins and outs of running a label as the journey progresses. Ironically, founding their own label was never the plan - the original idea was to focus on music in its purest art form, and promoting local talent out of the Deep South.

Garbage Records headliner Wax Mustang on the mic. Photo: Supplied.

“We were running events at local venues and thrift stores at our studio space throughout late 2017 and 2018. Through doing that, we met a lot more local artists and it slowly morphed into the idea of a music label.

“I don't think we knew exactly we wanted to start a label, but it made sense to try and build a platform to release the music we were making, and a way for us to learn and navigate the industry together.”

In their three year existence, Garbage has hosted gigs for their artists across the nation, as well as having their own dedicated afternoon at 2019’s edition of Rhythm and Vines, and have recently branched out outside of music, taking one of New Zealand’s rising star of comedy, Joe Daymond, under their wing. 

Having a laugh

Joe Daymond. Photo: Supplied.

Daymond’s surge to stardom came through the unprecedented times of COVID-19 lockdown, thanks to the power of social media apps Instagram and Tik Tok. Once the nation was allowed to briefly regather at events in Level 1 before the second wave of cases, Daymond took the public by storm, selling out shows at Auckland’s Sky City and in Dunedin.

“There’s too much good stuff to say about those boys and their involvement, especially over that period for me,” Daymond explains.

Before beginning work with Garbage, the 25-year old kept a close eye on the label and their work, before being introduced through Kiwi electronic duo, Sachi. It’s a connection Daymond can’t speak higher of, 

“It was probably one of the most organic ways of meeting people who I’ve had an interest in for quite a while. We had a yarn, we all went and had beers and we talked about our plans, and that’s how it all started. Their whole organisation seems to be built around developing relationships like that, and it had a huge impact on how I look at my career and my relationships. 

“I’ve never experienced anything like it, and I don’t think I ever will again. Meeting those guys would definitely be one of the biggest highlights of my year in a year that changed my life.”

Garbage goals

While the Garbage team are more than open to any opportunities as they continue to expand and build their reputation, McCabe states their primary goal remains music, particularly building their own distribution platform.

“This is something we are definitely hoping to achieve. Distribution is something many artists can do themselves these days and it can be quite broad. We want to be able to offer help an additional push to releases in different ways.

“In the near future, I think Garbage Records will be trying to strengthen a Promotion/Distribution platform and start to work more with artists! We also want to set up our own recording/mixing environment in Dunedin.

"Through ‘Garbage Presents,’ we want to do more live shows of different kinds and sizes. In the distant future, we want to be designing different products and merch, with in-store and online purchases.”

Every generation needs to find their own path -the next generation are ready to take a punt on themselves.

Written by

George Berry

20 Jan 2021

George Berry is a 22-year old Freelance Journalist and Musician.