Earlier this year, Janine Foster, aka Janine and the Mixtape, quietly snuck out the digital EP Dark Mind. It was a beautiful and ambient blend of songs that flew under the radar in New Zealand but overseas drew critical acclaim from high-profile music publications such as Vibe and Billboard.

It was a bold statement - here was a Kiwi artist, who had taken a big gamble packing up and moving to the United States on her own accord, doing great things.

Now Foster is being recognised at home, named a finalist in the 2013 Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards Critics' Choice Prize. If she wins, she will follow in the footsteps of The Naked and Famous and Kimbra.

Although back in Auckland to perform at the live showcase in Auckland on Wednesday, Foster has spent much of the last year based in New York and immersed in music. "I think that if you're going to do it, you need to do it big. Like Jay Z says, 'If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere'," she laughs.


The young singer-songwriter and instrumentalist has been making music since she was 14 years old and has never shied away from chasing her dream. "You have to believe you can make it happen and will it to happen.

"You know, if I want to work with Kanye, it's not impossible. You have to first of all know what you want and work backward through the steps to get there," she says.

For Foster, that's meant being hands-on every step of the way, from designing her own artwork, to producing and writing.

Admirably, it has also involved maintaining tight control of her career.

"Maybe I could've already signed a big deal and had a big pop hit out," she says. "But that's going to fizzle. It's not going to last forever because it's not genuine and genuine music is timeless. I'd rather create a lifelong career for myself. To me that's much more valuable, it's just a slower road."

The VNZMA Critics' Choice Prize showcase will be held at the Kings Arms in Auckland on November 6. Dark Mind is out now.