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Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand | INDIE

Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand | INDIE
Band Pop EDM


This band hasn't logged any future gigs

This band hasn't logged any past gigs



"Shout It Out"

Last week Lil’ Chief Records announced the release of Pikachunes’ stunning debut album by streaming the entire thing on their Bandcamp page and giving away the single ‘Nervous’ for free. Miles McDougall’s recent relocation to Auckland (from Christchurch) has seen him hook up with the indie label, run by The Brunettes’ Jonathan Bree. Pikachunes’ album is the first of two future electronic based releases from the label, the other being Princess Chelsea’s debut, due for release in early 2011.

It’s hard to fault Miles’ work, both live and on record. He’s been able to connect with audiences across the country, playing clubs, dance parties and punk shows. His set supporting Casiotone For The Painfully Alone in November 2009 was one of my favourite performances of the year; playing to an audience previously unexposed to his electro-pop, he managed to capture the crowd as well as any established touring artist. His self-titled debut album captures that same live energy, given a slick polishing by Jonathan Bree. It’s a brilliant dance record, combining house beats, electro synths and McDougall’s sexy baritone, which connects with an audience able to relate to similar experiences of romantic grandeur. ‘Just A Boy’ and ‘Nervous’ both plot the relationship between a shy boy waiting to hear from a slightly detached lover, with choruses that flow into social commentary. ‘New Friend’ highlights Miles’ ability as a beat maker, using pulsing electro beats to create a party tune that’s both groovy and awash with heavy club thuggery. The entire album is a flawless piece of work, track-listed perfectly.

Pikachunes’ debut album is out November 22 on Lil’ Chief Records. - Einstein Music Journal

"In His Own Electronic World"

Hailing from Christchurch, now living in Auckland, Miles McDougall filters his childhood memories through a modern disco-pop lens with his laptop, drum machine and voice-driven solo project Pikachunes. He talks to Martyn Pepperell about the influence of early electronica, video games, a skateboarding accident and why moving north has been creatively conducive.
Speaking from Dunedin, Miles McDougall’s first allusion to his childhood memories comes out as ready justification for his ‘Pikachunes’ alias.
“I grew up playing Pokemon with Charlie [Ryder] from Bang Bang Eche. We were in primary school together and I remember he handed me a [Nintendo] Gameboy with Pokemon Blue on it. It pretty much took off from there to be honest with you, and ever since then I’ve had this kind of childlike obsession with Pokemon.”
The seminal Japanese video game turned cartoon series, told the story of a teenager named Ash Ketchum’s journey though the fictional world of Pokemon, assisted by a cute lightning throwing creature named Pikachu. Alongside a childhood love of the music of New Order, Talk Talk and Kraftwork, this character served as primary inspiration for McDougall’s Pikachunes project.
“I think my strongest musical influences probably came through things my parents were into when I was growing up,” McDougall continues. “They were heavily into that sort of early electronic sound.”
After high school McDougall attended jazz school in Christchuch as a drummer.
“I played in jazz bands and a funk and soul band. I was really just focusing on my drum kit, to get through my qualification.”
Following a severe skateboarding accident in February 2009, everything changed.
“I had go to hospital to get my elbow repaired, which involved a lot of surgery and pins and plates and things like that and I was unable to play drums,” he reflects.
Still able to use his right arm, and with ample time on his hands, McDougall began to shift focus to the technical side of digital music production, learning up on software and drum machines. Heavily dosed up on morphine, one night he found himself drifting into a hazy dream state where the name Pikachunes tellingly emerged.
“I woke up, thought that was a pretty cool name and went with it,” he laughs. Playing a few solo shows in Christchurch, McDougall’s music caught the attention of a then active indie dance act called Tiger Tones, who he eventually joined, and early this year, relocated to Auckland with.
With Tiger Tones since disbanded, McDougall remarks that he has since been able to focus on getting his solo project off the ground and finding fans, decribing the experience as having been, “… a good platform for me to get Pikachunes out there”.
In Auckland he has made useful connections and friendships, eventually leading him to Jonathan Bree of Little Chief Records, which has just released his debut self-titled Pikachunes’ album. An exercise in musical retro futurism, the record, driven by McDougall’s disco-popesque production, is also directed by his obviously Kiwi accented new wave style vocals, fuelled by lyrics reflective of situations he has found himself in since leaving Christchurch, an event he sees as a key creative catalyst.
“I thought it was going to be really difficult [moving], but the music scene in Auckland has been pretty embracing,” he enthuses.
And to this end, outside of his solo work, McDougall has found himself becoming the dance remixer of choice for a bevy of Auckland-based bands, including the likes of earnestly literary rock act Tono and the Finance Company and synth goth duo Cat Venom.
In his words, “really loving” the remix thing, McDougall sees being able to take his hand to music he likes and offer his own spin on it as a very special opportunity, “… a whole different ball game” from the processes he goes through working on his own material.
And speaking of his own process, having built the basis of a coded vernacular within his own production style, he now plans to go further, fleshing his music out into a fully realised internal soundworld.
“More recently the whole idea of the music I’m producing has weirdly enough been an influence on itself, which is a pretty strange way of looking at it,” he explains.
“I always write my lyrics last, so I will write a song out and write some lyrics, maybe scrap the lyrics, but the ideas from that song will influence something else and maybe the lyrics will continue on to another song.”
Bathed in the faded memories of eight-bit computer game soundtracks and the glimmering synthesisers that ruled the early ’80s, as Pikachunes, McDougall delves ever deeper into his mind, constantly searching for the perfect beat or lyric that will lead him some place higher.

www.myspace.com/pikachunes - NZ Musician


Two of the up and coming acts from boutique label Lil’Chief Records join forces for a one, two of glockenspiels and laptops.

On stage is Chelsea Nikkel, all dressed up for The Neverending Story complete with AURYN medallion. Princess Chelsea isn’t quite the Childlike Empress but her soft vocals do convey a sense of childlike naivety, even if the lyrics are a bit more knowing. The backing band includes members of Chelsea’s other groups and their duets are set highlights. TeenWolf’s Bradley Artesque on ‘Positive Guy Meets Negative Man’ tells of a South African’s love of bongos, and later Jonathan Bree of The Brunettes chides his squeeze for her twice a week smoking habit. Bree also contributes vocals to closing number ‘Overseas’ - an O.E. ode that conjures up the oddly ritualistic behaviour of Kiwis attempting to leave the nest. All in all, a well thought through exercise in tweeness.

Next up is the elegant electronics of Pikatunes which despite Lil’ Chief’s reputation is entirely tweeless. That reputation is well deserved but in truth Lil’ Chief is really only concerned about pop props and Pika clearly has the tunes. Although the record this gig is the release party of can seem a bit flat at times; right now live at Mighty Mighty this is music that makes sense. In the cold light of day the chat up line “do you want my photo/do you want my chromosome” on ‘Metronome’ is almost meaninglessly absurd but when on a sweaty dance floor, while still remaining a bit chucklesome, it’s a sweet simplification of lust. It’s not exactly emotronica but emotion - as usual in most good dance music - is very much to the fore, allowing the crowd to do some wallowing in nostalgia while still moving their feet.
- Groove Guide

"Pikachunes feat. Princess Chelsea"

Here’s a Christmas gift from Lil’ Chief Records; a collaboration between Pikachunes and Princess Chelsea. The label has been relatively quiet in recent years, but the release of Pikachunes’ debut album in November and Princess Chelsea’s debut due early in the new year has seen the label’s mid-decade buzz return. On ‘Castle On A Cloud’ their imaginations collaborate as much as their musical arrangements do, with Chelsea’s mythical fascination being echoed by Miles’ wilful self exploration. The synths are heavy with reverb and the drum machine lays out a simple beat, but it’s more about the vocal collaboration which sounds witch-y and slightly out of time. It’s a short number, aimed at drawing attention to Lil’ Chief’s newest recruits.

Princess Chelsea has also recently collaborated with Golden Axe, you can hear that song over at Beko Digital. - Einstein Music Journal

"Pikachunes: Live Review"

While many of Auckland’s hipsters were at The National’s sold out gig on Friday night, there was a smaller yet eager group of cool kids loitering outside Tabac waiting for Pikachunes to take the stage.

Two-piece electro unit Forest Spirit were first to play with their ambient, textural sounds setting a pretty mellow groove. Electro-witch house act Mellow Graves followed, pumping out heavy ‘80s synth riffs over hip hop/ R&B beats. Aside from some piercing feedback issues, I was pretty impressed by Mellow Graves – I liked the way they utilised vocals as another textural instrument and kept rhythms evolving and cycling.

When Pikachunes (Miles McDougall) took the stage, he looked a little bit lonely. Which I guess is why the guys from Mellow Graves saw the need to get up on the tiny stage and dance next to him only inches from his elbow. I can only surmise they were either good mates with McDougall or he paid them to keep him company, because he didn’t tell them to naff off as most would. Or perhaps he’s just a nice guy and they were drunk.

Despite this heart-crossing, winking-and-pointing distraction, McDougall maintained exceptional stage presence, keeping a light banter with the audience, and remaining totally unfazed by a power surge that stopped him mid-song. This was the first time I had heard the majority of his set, being only really well acquainted with the radio releases, and I instantly fell in love with ‘Just a Boy’ – cute, clever, cyclic lyrics, a catchy melody and a bass line to kick you right into next week.

McDougall’s set was pretty short, about six or seven songs in all, but he managed to sneak some new material in to his tried and true set list. He finished the night off in style: Fresh-faced, funny, eager to please, and above all, bloody clever with a great voice to boot. It was great to get the chance to see him before he heads off to London for a stint.

Posted by Elise Brinkman - Groove Guide

"Album Of The Week"

Miles McDougall has been quietly, and unassumingly winning fans with his charming and nervously charismatic live performances for a while now. It’s been my observation that, often, neigh, usually, it only takes attending one Pikachunes show to become an instant fan and fall in love just a little bit.

Nervous – the ‘lead single’ from the self titled debut, released this week on Lil Chief records – is, quite honestly, one of my favorite songs of the year; if not longer – it’s hard to tell; my record-keeping of such bold claims is somewhat lacking. Lyrically, it’s laconically exposing and honest – and Miles juxtaposes yet simultaneously compliments this exposure with an almost robotic composure in delivery; much like when people break other peoples hearts and seem like assholes in the way that they tell them – acting cold and distant – but really, all they are doing is hiding their own heart breaking. Sonically, the song mirrors the same theme – the rhythm simple and unaffected – to the point and coldly distant; but the bass line reveals there’s more going on and then moments of synth whimsy float into the mix exposing heart.

The rest of the album stands up well as a solid debut from a musician who clearly has the talent to go a long way. Other particularly strong tracks include the melancholy tinged Just a Boy and the sanguine Disco Baby – which is another glimpse into what makes Pikachunes so great – his ability to present disparate contrasts within just a few bars of a song – contemporarily euphoric and tragic in just just one line – “She’s my disco baby on a Sunday night”. New Fiend is equal parts charm and cringe – but it’s such wonderfully a self conscious and self aware cringe – “Party , party every night / Being with you makes me feel alright / Taking drugs in afternoons / sitting in the sun and drinking brews” Miles sings.

This is what a debut album should be like; it contains enough to capture and hold you attention beyond just a few listens – but more excitingly, it shares a glimpse, concurrently flirtatiously and innocently of something more to come. - review by Andrew Tidball - Cheese On Toast


"Just a Boy" digital single (september 2010)
"Pikachunes" by Pikachunes Album (November 2010)
Track listing:

1. Holiday
2. Just a Boy
3. Disco Baby
4. New Fiend
5. Nervous
6. Tonight
7. Metronome
8. You're Alright



It's this simplicity that makes Pikachunes so appealing. His self-titled debut album captures that same live energy. It’s a brilliant dance record, combining house beats, electro synths and McDougall’s sexy baritone, which connects with an audience able to relate to similar experiences of romantic grandeur. ‘Just A Boy’ and ‘Nervous’ both plot the relationship between a shy boy waiting to hear from a slightly detached lover, with choruses that flow into social commentary. ‘New Friend’ highlights Miles’ ability as a beat maker, using pulsing electro beats to create a party tune that’s both groovy and awash with heavy club thuggery. The entire album is a flawless piece of work, track-listed perfectly.