Zed Brookes

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O Sweet Cacophony associated art, 2016

Since the early 1980s, Zed Brookes has been a singer, songwriter, guitarist/bassist, prominent local audio engineer and award winning producer. His involvement in Hamilton music started in 1983, as a live sound engineer and as frontman and principal songwriter for Step Chant Unit. Prior to this he was involved with the Rotorua bands Zener and The Diodes and The Lemmings (1981-1982).

Brookes completed a Diploma in Audio Engineering at Harlequin Studios (Auckland) in 1983, managed two Waikato branches of Tandys Records between 1984 and 1985, and in 1985 Step Chant Unit's single Painting Pictures hit the New Zealand Top 40. Also in 1985 Zed set up Tandys Studios and the record label Just Teasing. He was the manager, in-house engineer and head producer for Tandys Studios and Just Teasing between 1985 and 1992.

During the late '80s and early '90s he continued to focus more-so on production work than as a band member. In 1990 the Just Teasing V1 compilation was released by Tandys Studios of Just Teasing artists recorded between 1987-1989; included were Step Chant Unit's Doesn't Time Fly and a solo track from Zed known as Ugh!! Wipeout??!. In 1991 he played on (and produced) Book of Martyrs' Purified Seven Times, and performed as a studio/session musician on numerous other recordings from Tandys Studios.

In 1992 he designed and built Zoo Studios, and began working as a producer for both Hark Records and Rock 93 FM. Between '92 and '93, as the manager of the Zoo, he transformed Zoo from an adjunct of The Rock into one of the Waikato's top studios. During this time his production credits included Dead Flowers, Bilge Festival, Knightshade and The Narcs. In 1992, Brookes also edited the short lived Hamilton music magazine Zone.

From 1993 - 1995 his list of production credits extended to include Exploding Poppies, Blackjack, Love and Violence,Tim Armstrong, Bad Jelly, King Biscuit and Tetnus, alongside continued work for Jacqui Keelan Davey, Knightshade and The Narcs. In 1993 he received awards for Best Production (for Tim Armstrong's song My New House), Engineer of the Year and Biggest Contribution to Waikato Music at the Waikato Rock Awards. In 1994 he co-wrote, engineered and produced the Jacqui Keelan song Parihaka with Keelan and Andrew Newth, which won Waikato's Best Song award, and in the same year he once again took out Engineer of the Year, along with Producer of the Year.

In 1995 he again returned to the stage and studio as a frontman and songwriter for Schrödinger's Cat, produced the award winning Blackjack album Kicasso d'Muse, and began working in composition for TV and film. Schrödinger's Cat's Don't Matter spent time in the Top 13, received national playlisting on B-net stations, and even appeared in the soundtrack to the TV series Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, while their self-released EP Joe's Brain (2000) sold out in one night at the release party at JBCs. Between 1995 and 2000 Zed's soundtrack work included the Thundercats Racing video and numerous independent short films including Stiff by Joe Citizen, whilst continuing to produce local bands including Stone Babies, Rumpus Room, Scooter, Moofish, Tweeter and Jhana (featuring Mark Tupuhi of Schrödinger's Cat).

Step Chant Unit, 1985

In 2000 Zed performed as a member of Moofish alongside Rhonda Johnson and Chris Johnson, and appears on their album mOoFiSh (which he mixed, and which also featured session performances from Grant Brodie and Scott Brodie). In 2000, Last Time by "Zed Brookes" appeared on the compilation Acoustic Magic.

In the same year Schrödinger's Cat underwent a lineup change and became Wonderbug until 2002. This band became increasingly the vehicle for the other main songwriter in the group Mark Tupuhi. In 2001 they appeared on TVNZ's Good Morning and recorded a limited self-released EP. Songs from the latter were incorporated into Tupuhi's next band, St Lucy. Zed continued to play as a member of St Lucy between 2002 and 2004, appearing on the EPs Loyal? and Bio-Psycho-Social.

At an academic level, Zed Brookes' work in sound and associated media studies as a researcher, developer, designer, advisor and lecturer since the mid '90s to the present day has been vast. Since 2002 he has set up a new audio/production company, Brookes Audio Design, where production and recording projects have included Katchafire, Midge Marsden and Bullfrog Rata. In recent years he has played as a member of the bands Bug Unit and DMZ. In 2005 Schrödinger's Cat and Wonderbug reformed briefly for live performances at the Circle Jerk.

In the 2000s Zed was involved with a solo project under the Bemuzed banner, and recorded under the moniker Mr Zeberdee. In 2016, he released an album using his own name, titled O Sweet Cacophony.