We know that there is an art to the perfect playlist, and that music can make a summer. From the memories of live music at summer festivals to the album you played on repeat throughout that road trip, music is powerful and deeply personal.
Last year we curated An Ensemble Summer playlist on Spotify, and we wanted to offer you another for 2021. This year's vibe starts off as a mellow sad girl summer (think of ‘sad girl autumn’, but the sun is shining) and ends in euphoria while dancing under the moon.
This time we’ve also invited some cool people to create a summer mixtape especially for Ensemble and you, from Kanoa Lloyd’s “thirsty, sweaty songs for your literal thirst and heat” to David Farrier’s ode to metal and pop. Whatever your vibe, we hope you’ll find your sound of summer below. Play these playlists loud, play them often, and enjoy!
Kanoa Lloyd, broadcaster
Why these songs - what’s the vibe? I put these together at the height of the insane rain and humidity. A list of thirsty, sweaty songs for your literal thirst and heat. They’re not deep cuts or anything! I don’t think a summer playlist should make you work too hard, it should be more like a bunch of favourite friends and then mayyyybe one or two that you wanna bro down with over a drink in the garden at a great house party. (If you don’t like people objectifying one another and a few swears, you might want to skip this...)
Where will you be listening to it? Probably on the couch, with all the doors and windows open, wearing my togs even though I’m miles from an actual body of water and drinking the iciest beer.
How would you describe summer in Aotearoa? Orange light.
Your best summer music memory? I am just about to turn 35 and I thank god I am too old to bother with festivals now. It gives me anxiety just thinking about them! I seemed to spend all my time finding friends, a toilet, a drink, a comfy place and not enough time enjoying the music. Now my idea of summer music heaven is having an hour to myself in the car, air con blasting, singing every word to some old faves like the ones on this list.
What’s your favourite summer song or album? Summertime in the LBC by The Dove Shack. Actually that was a pretty nice music memory, driving around Coromandel with my brother, sister, nieces and dad singing this song last summer.
SOAP Dancehall, cool Auckland bar
(SOAP will reopen on January 27)
Why these songs - what's the vibe? A short collection of some of our favourite songs to listen to whilst swanning around at SOAP.
Where will you be listening to it? Probably in a car or maybe at a bbq.
How would you describe summer in Aotearoa? Hectic but welcome.
Your best summer music memory? Those moments when a stranger brings an obnoxious boombox to the beach but ends up playing a banger.
What’s your favourite summer song or album? Good Days by SZA, and Band on the Run by Wings.
Portia Sade Prince, model, DJ, digital producer
Why these songs - what’s the vibe? These songs are high energy, some remind me of London.
Where will you be listening to it? I’m DJing on Boxing Day so a few of these will be played.
How would you describe summer in Aotearoa? Slow and scenic. There’s so much beauty in nature here; we’ve planned some camping and road trips.
Your best summer music memory? Every Notting Hill Carnival of course! My favourite day of the year.
What’s your favourite summer song or album? Risin’ to the Top by Keni Burke. Album is definitely Lonnie Liston Smith’s Expansions. Absolute non-skipper. Fun fact, my daughter was born to this album playing!
David Farrier, journalist, founder of Webworm
Why these songs - what’s the vibe? It's very obvious from this list that I am not a great playlist curator, but these are all songs that wormed their way into my brain this year. I suppose very loosely some of these tracks demonstrate how elements of metal and pop can combine in really intriguing ways. I think Rina Sawayama embracing elements of nu-metal is great, and then metal bands like Deafheaven embracing elements that are very much not metal. For whatever reason I love guitars in my music - and I think this list embraces that pretty clearly, even in certain departures (Radiohead reissued Kid A this year - and Everything in Its Right Place was such an incredible shock from a guitar driven group back in the day. It's good to be surprised).
Where will you be listening to it? I am marooned in Los Angeles at the moment and don't have a car, so I'll be listening on lots of long, hectic walks to strange parts of this strange city.
How would you describe summer in Aotearoa? It's friends and beaches and walks and a chance to - hopefully - switch the brain off from this fresh hell that is being alive.
Your best summer music memory? A childhood beach we'd always drive to, about an hour out of Whangarei. If I return I almost collapse from nostalgia. I want to cry. It just represents everything I love about New Zealand.
What’s your favourite summer song or album? I will always return to The Flaming Lips' Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. It's pure summer to me. Well that, and Slipknot's Iowa. But most people won't agree with me on the latter.