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My Favourite New Zealand Artist: Amamelia on Dead Famous People

To celebrate NZ Music Month, Rolling Stone AU/NZ asked musicians to name their favourite Aotearoa artists and share what sets them apart


Frances Carter

For all of our comprehensive New Zealand Music Month coverage, head to the Rolling Stone New Zealand homepage.

Amamelia, the musical alias of Amelia Berry, seamlessly blends breakbeat-driven electronica, synth-pop, and heartfelt balladry with a sugary pop sensibility.

Her impressive second album, Bananamelia!, was released late 2022 on Auckland-based indie label Sunreturn, shining a spotlight on her distinct sound.

She followed that up with providing a song, “Jump the Moon”, to TAUTOKO GAZA, a special compilation of new and/or unreleased tracks from Aotearoa artists that raised funds for Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), an NGO working to support critical health needs resulting from Israel’s war on Gaza.

And a special personal moment arrived for Amamelia recently when she was nominated for Te Manu Taki Tāhiko o te Tau | Best Electronic Artist at this year’s Aotearoa Music Awards (alongside fellow nominee and label mate DeepState), with the winner set to be announced on May 30th.

As for her musical influences, Amamelia is a staunch admirer of New Zealand indie-pop band Dead Famous People, who first rose to prominence in the 1980s. It’s no surprise that their clever pop style and sharply written, often humorous, lyrics resonate deeply with her, shaping her own musical endeavours.

Here’s why Amamelia thinks Dead Famous People are an underrated gem of New Zealand music:

The first time I heard “Postcard From Paradise” by Dead Famous People I must have put it on repeat twenty, thirty times. Some ten year old YouTube upload with just a blurry photo of the band and one of those autogenerated title cards.

For my money, they’re the great unsung New Zealand band – every song overflowing with skittering organ lines, hyperactive bass, and at the centre, Dons Savage’s incredibly pure voice and crystalline songwriting. Still on their most recent album, the songs are funny, gorgeous, and with this heartbreaking fatalist undercurrent. And still sometimes I just put on “Postcard From Paradise” and listen twenty, thirty times.

Amamelia’s Bananamelia! is out now.