Lil' Chief Records

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Lil' Chief Records
FounderJonathan Bree
Scott Mannion
GenreIndie pop
Country of originNew Zealand

Lil' Chief Records is a New Zealand–based indie pop record label formed in 2002.[1] Operating from the Auckland suburb of Mt. Eden, it was founded on releases by The Tokey Tones and The Brunettes. The label's roster now includes a collective of pop artists such as Jonathan Bree, Princess Chelsea, The Ruby Suns, and Edmund Cake.[2]



Lil' Chief Records was founded in New Zealand by indie pop musicians Scott Mannion and Jonathan Bree in 2002.[1] The two men had met that year in Marbecks Record Store in Auckland, where Bree was working at the time. They discovered they were both bedroom recording artists who shared a number of influences.[1] Likewise, both were having difficulty finishing their respective albums and finding a label, particularly since the trend in New Zealand at the time was towards guitar-based rock bands.

They decided to form their own label[3] to focus on "100% orchestrated pop music from the New Zealand music scene,"[4] citing Factory Records, Flying Nun, and Creation Records as inspiration. Lawrence Mikkelsen, a friend of Mannion's and an early supporter of the label, volunteered as the label's "post master general" and archivist.

Initial releases[edit]

The label's first release was the debut LP of Bree's band The Brunettes. Released October 2002,[1] Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks was a joint release with EMI New Zealand. The album received a glowing review from Allmusic,[5] as did the label's second release, The Brunette's 2003 The Boyracer EP. Bree produced both albums.[6]

The label soon set up its headquarters in the Auckland flat[1] of Gareth Shute, a local writer and musician who had befriended Scott Mannion. Dubbed 'The Ghetto,' the large flat's rooms and graffiti-lined garage became a regular rehearsal space, as well as a recording studio for many of the label's future releases. As of 2013, it continues to be the location of operations.

The next two albums on the label were released simultaneously in 2003. Caterpillar and Butterfly by The Tokey Tones both featured and were produced by label founder Scott Mannion. Members of The Brunettes guested on some of the tracks,[7] and when playing live The Tokey Tones have since relied on a revolving cast of musicians from other Lil' Chief Records bands, such as The Brunettes and The Ruby Suns.[8] The New Zealand Herald stated "There has been nothing quite so tasteful, fully realized or confident in Kiwi pop," about the releases.[9]

Later that year indie pop band The Nudie Suits released their album Songbook on the label. Frontman Mark Lyons was both Bree's cousin and had been a mentor in Bree's formative years.


The Ruby Suns released their debut album on LCR in 2005

In 2004, the band The Ruby Suns was formed when Ryan McPhun moved to Auckland from California and started playing in The Brunettes and The Tokey Tones.

In 2005 Edmund Cake released his solo album Downtown Puff on the label, which was followed by Shaft's debut LP Open Sesame and releases by Alec Bathgate and The Ruby Suns. The label's community of musicians also formed a cover band called Disciples of Macca, which focused on solo Paul McCartney and Wings material.

Shugo Tokumaru's first release on the label was his sophomore album L.S.T. (2006)

Also in 2005 the label released Now We Are Three!!!, its first compilation, which featured tracks pulled from its previous catalogue. The compilation was positively received with a review stating "Lil Chief Records is a label to keep on eye on."[4] A second compilation, Greetings From New Zealand, followed in 2007.

By 2006 the roster had expanded to include artists such as Lawrence Arabia and his band The Reduction Agents, Shugo Tokumaru, and the band Voom. Radio New Zealand did a feature on the label in August 2006, when Andrew Clifford visited their Auckland headquarters.[10]

In 2008 the label was written up in the UK's Sunday Times in the article ”New Zealand, pop Mecca? A new wave of bands is set to expand your horizons”. Also that year The Ruby Suns were named among the "best new music" in Pitchfork, while Lawrence Arabia toured with Feist.[11]

In May 2012 the label released the compilation These Shaky Isles, with tracks going back ten years in its catalogue. As of 2013 label continues to release indie pop bands, such as the all-girl project The Gladeyes and Princess Chelsea.


The following artists have released albums through Lil' Chief Records as of March 2019.[2]


The following list is organized by catalog number, which is a roughly chronological number system established by the label.[12][13]

No. Artist Title Year
LCR001 The Brunettes Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks 2002
LCR002 The Brunettes The Boyracer e.p. 2003
LCR003 The Tokey Tones Caterpillar 2003
LCR004 The Tokey Tones Butterfly 2003
LCR005 The Nudie Suits Songbook 2003
LCR006 Edmund Cake Downtown Puff 2004
LCR007 The Brunettes Mars Loves Venus 2004
LCR008 Shaft Open Sesame 2004
LCR009 Alec Bathgate The Indifferent Velvet Void 2004
LCR010 The Brunettes When Ice Met Cream 2005
LCR011 The Ruby Suns The Ruby Suns 2005
LCR012 Various artists Now We Are Three!!! 2005
LCR013 The Nudie Suits Sweetacres 2006
LCR014 The Reduction Agents The Dance Reduction Agents 2006
LCR015 Lawrence Arabia Lawrence Arabia 2006
LCR016 Voom Hello, Are You There? 2006
LCR017 Shugo Tokumaru L.S.T. 2006
LCR018 Shaft Down At Your Life 2006
LCR019 The Brunettes Structure & Cosmetics 2007
LCR020 The Ruby Suns Lichen Ears EP 2008
LCR021 The Ruby Suns Sea Lion 2008
LCR022 Little Pictures Owl + Owl 2008
LCR023 Pie Warmer The Fearsome Feeling 2009
LCR024 The Brunettes The Red Rollerskates E.P. 2009
LCR025 The Brunettes Paper Dolls 2009
LCR026 The Gladeyes Psychosis of Love 2009
LCR027 The Ruby Suns Fight Softly 2010
LCR028 Pikachunes Pikachunes 2010
LCR029 The Eversons The Eversons E.P. 2011
LCR030 Princess Chelsea Lil' Golden Book 2011
LCR031 The Gladeyes Shadows Explode 2011
LCR032 Wet Wings Glory Glory 2011
LCR033 Cool Rainbows Whale Rocket 2012
LCR034 The Eversons Summer Feeling 2012
LCR035 The Eversons With A Little Help From Our Friends 2012
LCR036 Pikachunes Miles 2013
LCR037 The Ruby Suns Christopher 2013
LCR038 Jonathan Bree The Primrose Path 2013
LCR039 Sheep, Dog & Wolf Egospect 2013
LCR040 The Icypoles My World Was Made For You 2014
LCR041 Wet Wings Willow Peak 2014
LCR043 Princess Chelsea The Great Cybernetic Depression 2015
LCR044 Jonathan Bree A Little Night Music 2015
LCR045 The Eversons The Eversons present The Emilys: Super Awesome Cartoon Band 2015
LCR046 Various artists Waiting For Your Love: A Tribute To The Reduction Agents 2016
LCR047 Princess Chelsea Aftertouch 2016
LCR048 The Ruby Suns Sprite Fountain 2017
LCR049 Jonathan Bree Sleepwalking 2018
LCR050 Princess Chelsea The Loneliest Girl 2018
LCR051 Scott Mannion Loving Echoes 2019
Various artists Greetings From New Zealand 2007
Various artists These Shaky Isles 2012


  1. ^ a b c d e "Lil' Chief Records". Amplifier NZ. Archived from the original on 21 October 2008. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Artists". Lil' Chief Records. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  3. ^ "Interview: Jonathan Bree of the Brunettes". Neotonic Records. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  4. ^ a b Town, Lisa (12 September 2005). "Various Artists: Now We Are Three!!!, 11 Gems from New Zealand's Lil Chief Records". Left off the Dial. Archived from the original on 1 February 2006. Retrieved 17 March 2013.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link) archived at the
  5. ^ Maso, Stewart. "Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks". AllMusic. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  6. ^ Sendra, Tim (2003). "Boyracer EP". AllMusic. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  7. ^ Baillie, Russell (30 August 2003). "The Tokey Tones: Caterpillar and Butterfly". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  8. ^ Sendra, Tim. Allmusic
  9. ^ Reid, Graham (23 August 2003). "The Tokey Tones: Caterpillar and Butterfly". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  10. ^ Clifford, Andrew (25 August 2006). "Lil Chief Records". Radio New Zealand. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  11. ^ "UK Sunday Mega Paper praise NZ Music Label Lil Chief". 20 May 2008. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  12. ^ "Discography". Lil' Chief Records. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  13. ^ "Discography Bandcamp". Lil' Chief Records. Retrieved 14 May 2019.

External links[edit]