The Dunedin Sound

What is the ‘Dunedin Sound’?

Dunedin has always had a strong music scene. Its heyday was the 1980s - early 1990s, when ‘Dunedin Sound’ bands and the Flying Nun record label rocked local and indie airwaves. The influence these bands exerted on the New Zealand music scene was huge and continues to this day. Outside New Zealand, Dunedin’s Flying Nun bands made waves in America and Europe.

Inspired by the punk and new wave explosion of the late 1970s, bands such as The Enemy (fronted by Chris Knox) and The Clean formed in Dunedin. The Clean was especially pivotal, inspiring both a multitude of young bands and the Flying Nun label. Although started in Christchurch and later based in Auckland, the label’s spiritual home is Dunedin.

Besides The Clean, trail-blazing early '80s Dunedin bands included The Chills, the Verlaines, Sneaky Feelings, and Look Blue Go Purple. A host of other bands were released on Flying Nun. During the 1980s the ‘Dunedin Sound’ grew in stature and popularity - both in New Zealand and overseas. “The Chills are the second-best band in the world”, said REM guitarist Peter Buck in the late 1980s.

More bands added to Dunedin's reputation for innovative, original music. The late 1980s saw Straitjacket Fits, Snapper and the 3Ds playing thrilling live gigs and recording on Flying Nun. Bands like Chug and High Dependency Unit broke new ground in the 1990s.

The ‘Dunedin Sound’ bands and records are a major part of Dunedin's musical heritage and something Dunedin-ites - and fans worldwide - can be proud of.What is the ‘Dunedin Sound’?

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