TimeOut looks at five young Kiwi artists hitting the big time in creative fields overseas.
Samuel Van Grinsven
Writer-director Samuel Van Grinsven's debut feature film Sequin in a Blue Room has been selected to premiere this weekend at the 2019 Sydney Film Festival. The film follows a 16-year-old boy whose obsession with hook-up apps leads him down a dangerous path. Starring Jeremy Lindsay Taylor (Puberty Blues) and Anthony Brandon Wong (The Matrix), it's a queer coming-of-age tale from a rising young voice.
Born in Christchurch, Van Grinsven's father was a live music producer, which sparked his interest in theatre and directing as he travelled around New Zealand with bands from an early age. The 26-year-old studied a Master of Arts Screen at the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS), researching the New Queer Cinema movement. It was there that he received mentorship from Australian director Rowan Woods (Little Fish). His short films have been screened at festivals internationally; Sequin is his first feature-length film.
Caren Pistorius has been quietly building a strong career in independent Hollywood dramas, starring alongside Oscar winners in memorable supporting roles. Her latest sees her playing Julianne Moore's daughter in Gloria Bell, a tale of a free-spirited divorcee in her 50s (Moore) stumbling through a new-found romance. Pistorius told the Herald last year it was "the best experience I've had", saying Julianne Moore is "incredible to watch, alive and really inspiring".
Pistorius, once a familiar face in local theatre productions, broke into Hollywood with the 2015 western Slow West; before then, she'd performed in the Auckland crime drama The Blue Rose and the Australian comedy series Offspring. Since Slow West, she has starred alongside Rachel Weisz in Denial, Martin Freeman in Cargo and Hugo Weaving in Mortal Engines – all while remaining based in Auckland. "I like LA," she told the Herald, "but I find it a bit claustrophobic being in the industry 24/7… I quite like just being a bit more removed than that." Her next role is in the Australian thriller High Ground alongside Simon Baker, expected later this year.
The Melbourne-based electronic duo Fortunes is made up of producer Barnaby Matthews and singer Conor McCabe. The two friends went to high school together in Hamilton but didn't meet until they had both independently moved to Melbourne, striking up a friendship at a house party over karaoke.
After releasing music on Soundcloud, Fortunes signed with Future Classic records – the Sydney-based label that manages alternative electronic artists such as Flume, Nick Murphy and Flight Facilities. They've played Laneway Festival and a number of New Zealand tours, releasing four EPs of heartfelt, expertly produced synth-pop along the way. Matthew's beats are dynamic and infectious, while McCabe's lyrics are strikingly vulnerable and beautifully queer. Their latest, Disc Read Error, features a stunning tribute to Karioi, McCabe's childhood māunga near Raglan.
Dancer Nicholas Tredrea studied honours at the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance in London and has since carved out a dynamic career as a dancer and model. He worked with Sam Smith in the video for One Last Song and recently helped choreograph the video for the re-release of Rewrite the Stars, a hit song from The Greatest Showman, for pop stars Anne-Marie and James Arthur (which has now garnered a casual 178 million views). He worked with famed choreographer Suzette Brissett on the clip, who has worked with artists such as Dua Lipa and Little Mix.
Tredrea just finished a stint on the West End with choreographer (and fellow Kiwi) Mark Baldwin, and has toured Europe, the UK and China with multiple dance companies. Somehow, he's managed to find time to model on the side – including walking in London Fashion Week and modelling for brands such as American Apparel and Adidas, as well as designer Jack Irving, who has created multiple garments for Lady Gaga.
Kiwi Jordan Rakei has built a strong following in the UK and abroad with his blend of soul, jazz and electronica music. Hamilton-born, Brisbane-raised and now London-based, Rakei garnered attention with his early EPs before breaking through with his work on a track on Disclosure's sophomore record Caracal, which earned him a Grammy nomination.
Recently, Rakei signed with UK label Ninja Tune – the label that represents acts such as Bonobo, TOKiMONSTA and Thundercat – which is releasing his third album, Origin, tomorrow. He sold out his London show in under an hour and is heading home to New Zealand for two headlining shows in August – one at Auckland's Powerstation on August 23 and at Wellington's San Fran on August 24.