Mi-Sex at the Lady Hamilton Nightclub 1978
|Genres||New Wave, rock|
|Years active||1978–1985, 2011|
|Past members||Steve Gilpin
Phil "Smarty" Smart
Mi-Sex (also spelt MiSex) was a New Zealand New Wave rock band active from 1978 to 1984. Led by Steve Gilpin as vocalist, they were best known for their singles "Computer Games" in 1979 and "People" in 1980.
Mi-Sex evolved from the band Fragments of Time, a band which itself formed from members of earlier bands Father Thyme and Think. The band centred on a trio of performers: Steve Gilpin (vocals), Murray Burns (keyboards), and Kevin Stanton (guitar/vocals).
Gilpin had earlier performed in New Zealand, and had won the talent quest in 1972 (second place in the same show was Shona Laing).  Invercargill-born Burns was influenced by progressive rock bands such as Yes, whereas Stanton's influences veered towards heavy metal.
In 1977, Gilpin formed a band with former Father Thyme members Alan Moon (keyboards) and Don Martin (bass/vocals). They recruited two extra members for their new band, Fragments of Time - Phil "Smarty" Smart (drums) and Kevin Stanton who originated from the late sixties and performed at Aucklands leading Night Club the Montmarte with his brother (Drummer) Ron Stanton and (Bassist) Martin Mailley. The new band continued in the mid-'70s hippy style of Father Thyme, but soon ditched this sound, influenced by British New Wave and pub rock. This change was accompanied by line-up changes, with Moon being replaced by Murray Burns and Phil Smart also leaving, replaced briefly by Steve Osborne and then Richard Hodgkinson. Between them they concocted a quirky futurist paranoia-themed blend of New Wave, punk, and pub rock, amalgamating some of the textures common to Britain's Tubeway Army and Ultravox with those more associated with The Stranglers. At around the same time, they changed their name to Mi-Sex; this name was taken from a Ultravox! song titled, "Mi Sex" (1977). They released their first single, "Straight Laddie" (originally intended simply as a demo), during 1978.
Early New Zealand performances included the Wellington Technical Institute and Dr Johns (Ray Johns), on the same day with demo recording at Dellbrook studios in Tawa, and the bus breaking a gearbox on the Ngauraunga Gorge section of motorway.
In August 1978 the band headed to Sydney, where they quickly became a major live drawcard. They were soon signed to the Australian division of CBS Records by the label's then A&R manager/House producer Peter Dawkins, himself an expatriate New Zealander who is best known for his productions with another former NZ group based in Australia, Dragon.
Their first single for CBS, "But You Don't Care"/"Burning Up", was released in Australia in June 1979 and their debut album, Graffiti Crimes was issued in July 1979 to coincide with their national tour as the support act for Talking Heads. The LP included their biggest hit, the synthesizer-driven "Computer Games", a Burns/Stanton composition released in Australia on 1 October 1979. The single went to No. 1 in Australia, made the top 5 in New Zealand, and also charted in 20 countries including Canada and South Africa.
The follow-up album, Space Race sold well and produced another big single, "People", but the band were unable to maintain their early momentum and two later albums failed to produce the same popular interest. Mi-Sex disbanded in March 1984.
Gilpin remained in Australia, working with bands such as Under Rapz. In November 1991, while returning to his home after a gig, he was seriously injured in a major car accident, and lapsed into a coma from which he never recovered. He died in Southport Hospital on 6 January 1992
The "Culture" controversy
Mi-Sex gained considerable publicity during 1980 thanks to then Prime Minister of New Zealand Robert Muldoon. The New Zealand government had slapped a 40% sales duty on records, much to the objection of the New Zealand Arts Council, record retailers and record companies. On 21 April, Muldoon claimed that popular music was "not culture", stating that "The records sold in this country are not Kiri Te Kanawa's, they are 50 to 1 those horrible pop groups and I'm not going to take the tax off them."
Mi-Sex were due to start a major New Zealand tour five weeks later, and - sensing an opportunity for publicity - invited Muldoon to attend their Wellington concert, an invitation which he accepted. The Prime Minister attended the concert and met with the band after their performance, but the sales tax remained.
Mi-Sex received three awards at Australia's 1979 TV Week/Countdown Music Awards: 'Most Popular Album or Single', 'Best Australian Single' and 'Best New Talent (Johnny O'Keefe Memorial Award)'.
In 1999, "Blue Day" was covered by Eurodance-pop artist Nicolette. Released in New Zealand by Universal Music, it reached number 20 in the charts. While the version horrified some purists, it was well received by the band and Nicolette subsequently collaborated with Colin Bayley on several songs.
|1979||Graffiti Crimes||CBS||6||New Zealand||463031 2|
|1980||Space Race||1||New Zealand||SBP 237442|
|1981||Shanghaied!||-||New Zealand||SBP 237701|
|1983||Where Do They Go?||-||New Zealand||MX 203364|
|1988||Mi-Sex EP||CBS||-||New Zealand||651091-7|
|1985||'79-'85||CBS||-||New Zealand||SBP 8117|
|2007||The Essential Mi-Sex||Sony||-||New Zealand||B000NJLPUW|
|1979||"But You Don't Care"||Graffiti Crimes||33 (NZ)||-|
|1979||"Computer Games"||Graffiti Crimes||5 (NZ);
|1980||"People"||Space Race||3 (NZ)||-|
|1980||"Space Race"||Space Race||19 (NZ)||-|
|1980||"It Only Hurts When I'm Laughing"||Space Race||-||-|
|1981||"Falling In and Out"||Shanghaied!||48 (NZ)||-|
|1982||"Down the Line (Makin' Love on the Telephone)"||-||-||-|
|1983||"Only Thinking"||Where Do They Go?||-||-|
|1983||"Blue Day"||Where Do They Go?||36 (NZ)||-|
|1983||"Five O'Clock (In the Morning)"||Where Do They Go?||-||-|
Note: All New Zealand chart figures are from the New Zealand national sales chart.
- Eggleton, D. (2003) Ready to fly: The story of New Zealand rock music. Nelson, NZ: Craig Potton Publishing. p. 85. ISBN 1-877333-06-9.
- Dix, J. (1988) Stranded in paradise: New Zealand rock'n'roll 1955-1988. Wellington: Paradise Publications. ISBN 0-473-00639-1. p.233-234.
- Dix, J. (1988) Stranded in paradise: New Zealand rock'n'roll 1955-1988. Wellington: Paradise Publications. ISBN 0-473-00639-1. p.237.
- "Top 40 TV". Televisionau.com. Retrieved 2008-12-21.
- "Countdown Show no.:235 Date: 19/4/1980". Countdown Archives. Retrieved 2008-12-21.
- Nicolette | Artists at muzic.net.nz
- Dix, J. (1988) Stranded in paradise: New Zealand rock'n'roll 1955-1988. Wellington: Paradise Publications. ISBN 0-473-00639-1. pp. 342-343.