“Coming from an inherently conservative and somewhat repressed culture here in New Zealand, queer liberation and expression has been more commonly expressed, like most communities across the earth, in the shadows of the night.”
PollyHill and Samara Alofa know what they’re talking about. The queer Tāmaki Makaurau-based artists have made a striking album together, AQUARIES, that’s designed for late night play, a collection of songs that proudly and loudly celebrate otherness while still furtively lurking in the shadows.
Release in November, the trippy genre-hopping sound (expect notes of R&B, alt hip hop, and minimalist club) of AQUARIES recalls London lurkers like King Krule, Grand Pax, and Tirzah, artists who hazily soundtrack the big smoke’s twilight times.
You can imagine listening to PollyHill and Alofa’s album while travelling along Karangahape Road, the historical home of Auckland’s queer community, through a city that often seems in flux with its queer identity – queer-safe alternative spaces like SOAP Dancehall sadly close but Woke Lesbo t-shirts supporting Chlöe Swarbrick will become a favourite item at Crushes – on the way to begin a night out.
PollyHill – aka Paloma Schneideman – has been on Rolling Stone AU/NZ‘s radar for a while, named as one of our Eight Kiwi Artists Tipped to Take Over earlier this year, and her and longtime friend and collaborator Alofa make for the ideal dovetailing partnership on AQUARIES: Paloma providing the alluring production, Alofa’s delicate vocals floating sweetly over the beats. The album is the ideal expression of their five-year long friendship.
Following its release, Rolling Stone AU/NZ asked the pair to shout out just some of the queer Australasian artists they admire. Read on to find out Pollyhill and Samara Alofa’s favourite queer artists; or “queer artists in my community that represent radical queer expression and solidarity with all-queer liberation.”
Pollyhill and Samara Alofa’s AQUARIES is out now.
It’s hard to go past our bestie Shaq, AKA Halfqueen, but she really did a lot for the culture in terms of opening portals to safe and thrilling spaces to express ourselves in the Tāmaki nightlife scene. ‘Inspiring’ doesn’t even do her impact justice. A tastemaker and risk taker through and through. We love you.
Rosanna is an artist, poet, performance artisan, and all-round innovator. Unapologetic but always operating from vision and integrity, the way she’s platformed contemporary Moana culture is so inspiring. It’s so important to have leaders to look to within these spaces and Rosanna is that, a visionary.
Okay, another homie but Lady Shaka really is something special. An interdisciplinary artist with a primary goal of re-indigenising mainstream music. We’ll never forget her FILTH x Boiler Room set in 2021 when she opened with the “Kotahitanga” Oceania edit accompanied by poi performance, and it was just like the most thrilling, empowering potent offering, one that fuelled a collective pride amongst the present community and wider.
BBM, our Club Daddy and big little brother. We have to do a shout out to this guy because if it weren’t for his Aries-ass leadership skills, ability to facilitate and organise safe spaces, we would not have seen much happen when it did and does, here in Tāmaki. Thanking you for your groundwork, forming solid roots for queer club nights with the Fully Explicit era, and more recently for Body Haus (queer strip night) and so much more. You’re such an inspiration to us and also just a great friend.
We’re very excited about what our darlings across the ditch are getting upto. JULAI in particular, a baddie that’s platforming their queer and POC peoples, dedicated to reclaiming spaces that weren’t ever set aside for those communities. And the flow, bars, and looks are simply ravishing. It’s not often we see queer rappers on the scene so big, BIG love and solidarity to JULAI!
Sending long distance love to Mirasia holding it down in Naarm. We met Miri when she did a little impromptu set here in Tāmaki a couple years back and have been enamoured since. As an artist, community leader, producer and then some, her commitment to the culture is inspiring, and doing it all with beauty and grace and excellent taste.