Let’s go back to the end of the 80’s just after the stock market crash had done it’s damage and lavish entertainment budgets had turned into instant coffee with cheese and crackers.

At this time the now burgeoning NZ music industry was barely breathing but then there was still a vibrant independent music scene, loads of practice rooms in inner city warehouses, gigs to play, EP’s to be made and you could still put your own handmade posters up in the middle of the night.

The APRA awards were a tiny affair frequented by a few crusty musicians in some low key bar and the NZ Music Awards were considered by us youngsters in our early 20′s to be totally stale and commercial and run by a bunch of old guys that used to be or wanted to be muso’s…


I had been in an all female band called Cassandras Ears for about 5 years and we were just winding it up when I was approached by WEA (Jeremy Freeman) and asked if I would like to sign a record contract and make a record.

Youth + Promise = Absolutely and would love to thanks.

Tim Murdoch the General Manager for WEA (Warner Music) at the time had an open door policy, he said, “You are a musician, you are the reason I have a job, visit me anytime. Musicians are very important people around here.”

Of course Tim Murdoch and Jeremy Freeman have moved on and out of the industry but not before they helped me make It’s my Sin and convinced Warners Australia to pay for half of my second album Tremble…thanks guys.

Let’s skip forward to the end of the 90’s

I was back in NZ and pretty much a little bit over living in Australia, cash advances and a promise. It was about this time I parted company with WEA records now Warner Music. It was on reasonable enough terms, they didn’t see how they could make money out me and I didn’t want to be a musician anymore so it was goodbye.

But as a last hurrah before I entered, what I call Suburban Purgatory for the next ten years I managed to rustle up a few dollars to record Melusine.

Melusine for me was a rather exciting song to put down.

It’s was such a unique and unusual song and what made it even more exciting was that I made that recording on my own terms with my own finance.

I recorded Melusine at Beaver studios with the help of Wayne Bell, Simon Holloway and Anthony Gold. We also recorded a second track called Love Me, which is, sort of quirky in it’s own simple way and did a couple of remixes with the wonderful Greg Churchill.

The making of the Melusine video.

When I was making music in the 90s, one of the compliments I often had paid was that my music had a lot of ‘balls’. I tried really hard in those formative years to be one of the boys. No one was asking me to be that way it’s just that woman in the music industry were rare and I didn’t really have any one to model myself on so I found the easiest way to get on was to ‘harden up’ and loose the girly traits.

Of course it took a trip to France to make me realise that being one of the boys wasn’t my natural state and made me rather miserable – but that is another story, which I will get around to telling one day.

Tracey Tawhiao, who directed this video, suggested we meet at her home in Titirangi and work through a few ideas. After a few hours of hilarious chitchat, copious cups of tea and the swapping of ideas we settled on transformation.

The video represents the freedom I felt when I found that I could be very strong but could also retain my feminie ways.

In the video I start off as one of the boys and end up being a glamorous woman. On the way I get naked – anyone who knows me understands that this was extremely hard for me to do in front of the camera – before this video I had never been prone to showing skin, not even skinny dipping on a deserted beach at night time. It was the first and last time I would go there.

As Tracey so rightly pointed out recently – “you were lucky you could do that video before you had kids”. Ah yes, before kids rearranged my internal organs and thus my shape forever.

Melusine suggests that life is continually changing and growing as we learn new things about ourselves. You cannot harness this change nor do you ever know where it will take you. It is very much like the sometimes florid and sometimes still murky water that Melusine lives in.

He came out of the water and took me for a swim
with a glint in the eye and a flick of the fin
But I was so afraid of going under.
And I know that sometimes we should just get wet

And I know that
I loved you
No one else
Nobody else wear you shoes.
It’s the things you know before everybody else
with your slippery scales and underwater view.

Bigger Better Stronger
I’m sure that’s what you said.
Benevolent and generous that’s who.
And I know that
sometimes we are not ready

And I know that
I loved you and nobody else
No body else can wear your shoes
It’s the things you know before everybody else
With your slippery scales and your underwater view

Chewing alabaster till the words run dry
I couldn’t find the watering hole
although I did try.
You see cause I loved you
Nobody else
Nobody else can wear your shoes.
It’s the things you know before everybody else
With your slippery scales and your underwater view.
He came out of the water and took me for a swim
with saline dream and a tasselled seam
And then he turned around and went back under.

Melusine Copyright © Jan Hellriegel. Songbroker all rights reserved.