This text is from the Arclife website in 2002.
Arclife was formed when arc recorded a studio cd compilation of 18 bands in the venue, over christmas 1997. legendary dunedin sound engineer stephen kilroy made this ambitious undertaking possible by donating his time, expertise and equipment to the project. 1000 of these cds, the first arc compilation music of dunedin, were manufactured and sold. reviews were encouraging, both locally and internationally, with metro magazine even admitting that on the strength of it “the south might rise again”.
through 1998, arclife began digitally recording performances and making one-off cds for performers for free, to encourage the bands and to build up an archive of live material for a future arclife compilation release.
mestar played their first gig at arc in 1997 and began attracting a considerable following. arclife helped the band release their debut cd in 1998, which went on to sell out its initial pressing of 500 and make the band an underground nz favourite.
arclife assisted suka with the manufacture and release of their spitwinterspit cd in 1998. suka covered all the costs of cd manufacture from the door proceeds of the phenomenal release party alone. tenzin mullin of suka became arclife’s first part time coordinator.
paddy and frank from sugarbug joined peter hobbs of lesley speaker and beckoning south to form kitset and after touring the country and supporting bailterspace, hdu and dimmer at arc, the album testpot was recorded and arclife released it. this cd sold 150 copies at the release party alone and became another classic record.
an arclife live compilation cd was released on the 2nd of june 1999. this featured 15 bands recorded live at arc cafe over the last year. the initial run of 1000 sold out and became collectors’ items.
jay clarkson recorded an album herself over the course of two years, and gave this fine gem of a cd, kindle, to arclife to release on the 24th of september 1999. real groove magazine went so far as to say “this is exactly what our homebound musical taonga oughta be doing… ie: forgetting about “career” and making songs and recording the f#%king things! oh yeah!”
by the end of 1999 arclife had established a reasonable recording studio and was making it available free of charge, with an engineer, to key dunedin musicians. the flying way too high compilation, demarnia lloyd’s trace, mestar’s steamer and suka’s dancing to tibet all came about as a direct result of this initiative, while cloudboy’s down at the end of the garden, sola monday’s album, john white’s solo project, the mestar album, the renderers’ film soundtrack, brian and mary rose crook’s solo projects, and demarnia lloyd’s oamaru sessions all utilised arclife studio equipment.
arclife’s third compilation, flying way too high, was released on the 21st of march 2000. half the tracks recorded live at arc and the rest in the arclife studio, the compilation captured 18 tunes from dunedin’s underground. pavement called it “another fine audio snapshot of the vibrant musical scene that surrounds arc cafe in dunedin”.
“lloyd’s feathery soprano whispering melodies of nursery-rhyme simplicity over tense, hand-stiched backings” is how nick bollinger in the listener described demarnia lloyd’s trace ep, released by arclife on the 20th of april 2000.
mestar recorded steamer with elliott young in the arclife studio in early 2000 and released it on the 20th of april at arc, before touring nz with demarnia lloyd, promoting both releases. real groove magazine said “mestar peak again with more all-original swinging dirty guitar pop.”
cloudboy’s debut album, down at the end of the garden, was many years in the making, and finally released through arclife and loop in april 2001. this landmark album has received rave reviews, lead to many highly successful nz tours, and is now on its third pressing. cloudboy received funding from creative nz to tour europe in early 2002.
the second album from long serving dunedin electronic artist laughin’ gas was given to arclife to distribute in april 2001. merging digital backing with live instrumentation, the red sessions crosses the boundries of dub, dancehall, techno and hip-hop. a unique album featuring guest appearances from demarnia lloyd, sola monday and trinity k, real groove called it “cool, classy and very accessible”.
suka recorded a 4-song ep in the arclife studio in 2000, mixed it with hdu’s dale cotton and released it at arc in july 2001. dancing to tibet is classic suka, with styles ranging from the dark, raw and melodic kipiel to the beautiful, harmonics and barkward laden guitars of ebony oriental and the straight out rock of spitwinterspit.
valve released their debut album e minor through arclife in september 2001. valve are paul winders (verlaines), kiri winders (my deviant daughter) and jeff harford (bored games, the rip) and their debut album e minor is a stunning collection of 9 songs that range from sombre, melodic pop through to sonic guitar rock – beautifully atmospheric music that is charged with feeling and emotion.
a new 8 song ep from the clean was released through arclife in october 2001. slush fund is a collection of songs from a live recording session at marmalade studios and material from the live kfjc broadcast at the dunedin sound festival (2000). this new ep is a limited edition of 500 and includes favourites fish and quickstep. a stunning display of the power of a clean live show and the quirkiness of a clean studio session.