by Insiders Dunedin

Back in 2010, Volunteering Otago started up a programme for high school students with a musical bent and called it The Chicks Project, after the Port Chalmers venue at which it was based. When they decided they could no longer run it, the Dunedin Fringe Arts Trust took over the running and resourcing of it, bankrolled largely by the Alcohol Advisory Council (ALAC). It was decided that Port Chalmers made access for the students, it is now based at venues across Dunedin, and the name necessarily changed to the AMPED Music Project. ALAC is now under the umbrella of the Health Promotion Agency (HPA), Independent Music New Zealand have come on board as a partner, but the premise hasn't changed through these developments: running a free after school programme teaching students about the music industry, and helping them run a series of All Ages gigs for them and their friends (who, sadly, aren't very well catered for by live music culture). Along the way AMPED has also taken bands on tour and recorded a compilation album, and it is back to do all of these things again in 2013. 

Unlike events like the eternal Smokefree Rockquest, which is fantastic, AMPED is avowedly non-competitive. There are no winners and losers, it is focused on participation and mentoring. Each of the ten acts (bands or solo artists) in the programme are given a mentor from within the local music community who comes to their practices, offers advice, makes mixtapes for them, that sort of thing. In amongst all that, a series of workshops cover everything from stage performance and songwriting through to setting up a PA and designing a gig poster, for the gigs that the students run themselves through the course of the programme. 

In my day job, I work for Dunedin's student radio station Radio One, where I have been involved in varying degrees since 2004, and an avid listener since arriving in Dunedin in 2002. The live music scene is stronger and more diverse now that it has been in that entire period. The bands involved are great musicians with both the songwriting chops, and the professional attitude, to go far with their craft, and initiatives like AMPED play a vital role in this current renaissance. Graduates of the programme include A Distant City (formerly Gunslinger), Astro Children & Toy Destruction, talented young bands that now have the skills to get their music played on the radio, to book their own shows up and down the country, to produce their own music videos. AMPED, much as it may like to, can't claim the credit for our talented youth, but it does deserve some credit for encouraging, supporting and helping channel it in productive ways. 

As of this week, applications are now open for the 2013 Project, which is being helmed by former Radio One Music Director Simon Wallace. He is currently in the process of assembling mentors and planning workshops, so that they're all set to go by July 12th (the Project finishes up on October 27th). If you're enrolled at a Dunedin high school, are an enthusiastic band (or solo artist), and want to get involved in everything that AMPED has to offer, apply to be a part of it today!


Photos From Top to Bottom: Crisis, Young With Ghosts & H.C. All Photos Courtesy of Dunedin legend Roger Grauwmeijer

Post Submitted by Aaron Hawkins


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