GRAEME JEFFERIES AND THE CAKEKITCHEN HISTORY
The Cakekitchen - A short review of the bands eighteen year history. To put faces to names and how people looked (more or less) at the time check out the initial pictures in the Gallery part of the Homepage. For the sake of brevity we´ve had to skip over some things fairly quickly (or we´d be here until the cows came home), but here, nevertheless is the story of what the band known as "The Cakekitchen" has done so far, and who´s been in it when it did it. How they´ve managed to hop from one log to the next, without falling into the water and just what there was to see and experience on the other side of the river...
Formed out of the ashes of pioneering early 80s New Zealand music collective "This Kind of Punishment" The Cakekitchen led by head baker Graeme Jefferies has made quite a name for itself over the years, releasing 9 full length albums, a few EPs and some 7"s along the way. Graeme has reinvented the band on several occasions and has also based it in a few different countries. At one time or another the group has set up operations in either New Zealand, England, France, Holland or Germany and has achieved a sort of red eyed five in the morning legend status amongst a small but dedicated group of people as to what it´s actually done and how it´s achieved it.
Offically kicking off in early 1988 "The Cakekitchen" first started as a two piece guitar, vocal and drum project with drummer Robert Key agreeing to help Graeme play a series of live shows at the Rising Sun Tavern on Aucklands notorious "Karangahape Road" to promote the then new release on Flying Nun Records "Messages For the Cakekitchen". The 2 piece format (an idea used by The White Stripes to great effect years later) evolved into a more easily palateable 3 piece lineup with the inclusion of young Auckland bass player Rachael King. Together they toured New Zealand 3 times, recorded two albums worth of material and made a healthy impact for themselves before calling it a day and going their seperate ways in April 1990. Graeme relocated himself to London, reforming the band with fellow "Kiwis" Keith McLean and Huw Dainow while Robert toured the world playing drums in a slilt theatre group and Rachael stayed in Auckland for a while before winning a ticket to London in a radio competition.
Together Keith, Graeme and Huw made the "Far From the Sun" album, toured France, gigged in England and drove some 5000 miles around America playing shows at the legendary CBGBs and Maxwells as well as other key cities like Chicago and Boston. It was a rags to riches story with everybody going home barefoot or at least with a hole in their sock. Graeme had spent most of his remaining money on a mail out to over 30 different record companies and had just lost his job in London when he got a positive response from Ken Katkin at Homestead Records of New York ( a label founded on the brains and good taste of Gerard Cosloy and Chris Lombardi).
Legend has it that Graeme was down to his last 20 pounds when he got the letter from Ken.
Amazingly enough, Kens´ letter has survived the journey and is actually accessable to read in the memorabilia section of the Homepage. Homestead provided just enough financial muscle to float the band for a couple of years. Tim Adams of "Ajax Records" in Chicago also took an active interest in the band and, as well as re-releasing the "This Kind of Punishment" back catalogue also issued on CD and LP another version of Graeme´s (then deleted) "Flying Nun " solo album "Messages for the Cakekitchen". Two very cold English winters took there toll on the group and they closed up shop with Graeme relocating to France, Keith getting married and returning to New Zealand and Huw staying in London for a while before moving to Australia. Keith, Huw and Graeme also had the honour of being the first New Zealand band ever to play the prestigious "Tegentonen Festival" at the Paradiso in Amsterdam.
Happy to be out of England and begining the year with a free short term apartment in Paris, Graeme (almost by accident) teamed up with French multi instrumentalist "Jean-Yves Douet" and the two of them nailed the idea of the two piece line up back together and began playing shows in Europe that were organised by concert promoter "Dirk Hugsam". This line up of "The Cakekitchen" made the critically acclaimed "Stompin Thru the Boneyard" and "Devil and the Deep Blue Sea" and what they lacked in personal, they more than made up for with hands, legs and fingers, managing at one time or another to play 6 different instruments during the course of their sometimes over two hour long shows.
The band also label hopped in the USA changing to North Carolina label "Merge" who helped them to tour the States again. They also started releasing material through Rough Trade Germany via the Bavarian label "Raffmond Records" run by Edmund Epple and Markus Acher. Jean-Yves and Graeme played more shows together as "The Cakekitchen" than any other line up and did concerts together in 7 different countries. They even managed to fit in a short New Zealand Tour in 1994 and this is the last time the band has played in it´s native country. Jean-Yves and Graeme finally hung up their boots after a rousing set at the "Fast Forward Festival" in Nijmegen in 1995.
Sneaking a ride back to Bavaria in Wolfgang Petters´ old band bus Graeme pondered what to do next. He eventually teamed up with Notwist songwriter "Markus Acher" after Markus offered to help with some of the drum and percussion parts for his new songs. This was the first time that anybody from New Zealand had worked with anybody from the Weilheim scence and the pair of them helped Edmund to stare the boat known as Raffmond for a long way down the Isar during the course of Graeme´s year in Bavaria. The first song they worked on together was "Down At the Cooler" and during the time Graeme was based in Landsberg they kept on borrowing the old Tascam analogue 8 track that Wolfgang owned, dragging it up the road in Markus´s car and recording stuff in the local Hausmusik practice rooms together. They began working on the songs that would end up on the album "Everything´s Going To Work Out Just Fine" in the summer of 1995, (the Wechslerhof was one of the coldest places in town during the summer) and finished it off around a year later.
Touring wise Markus and Graeme continued the two piece idea and toured with Americans "The Mountain Goats" in Germany and Austria. The Cakekitchen´s "European Tours" have always had a good amount of different nationalities on board and this has always added a lot of fun to the receipe. Markus and Graeme played live together for the last time at the Hausmusik Festival in 1996. Other musicans from the Hausmusik collective such as Stefanie Böhm and Marion Gerth also added pieces to the Cakekitchen´s Bavarian recordings with Stefanie adding some gorgeous violins to a cover of Michael Hurley´s "Wild Geeses" and Marion adding some backing vocals to the second Cakekitchen single "Little Foxes".
At this point after 16 years of virtual non stop live work and songwriting Graeme scored a job working for Rough Trade Records in Germany. He stopped touring at this point but kept writing and recording songs and played locally with good friend "Andre Richels" playing drums. During this time he also met music director "Paul Lemp" and together they recorded some of Graeme´s new material in Paul´s "Gambusa Studios" in Bochum. Over the next 2 years Paul and Graeme worked spasmodically together, sometimes transfering things from Graeme´s analogue 4 track to Pauls 8 track. These 3 very different brains eventually hatched the most obscure Cakekitchen release to date "Talking To Me In My Sleep".
It came out on the bands own label with handsome handmade packaging in a very underground style and is one of the hardest Cakekitchen releases to find. It seemed that Graeme working in the music industry had the opposite effect to what you would think it would but in reality things were looking towards a sunnier day. Paul scored the rather long and involved job of providing the soundtrack to a Leander Hausmann´s first successful movie "Sonnenallee". Paul asked Graeme to write him a title song and a piece for the love scene and they layed down the basic guitar and vocal tracks onto Paul´s Studer 8 track. Paul then wrote the string arrangements for these songs and the rest of the music for the movie with assistance from Steven Keusch.
Not much happened for a year or so but when the movie finally came out it went Top 5 and was a huge success for a debut. It was seen by over 5 million people in the first year and the CD of the soundtrack sold over 20 thousand units. Sonnenallee is still regularly shown on television and in the cinema in Germany and is also available on DVD and video. It is a humourous story about life and love in east Berlin before German reunification and Graeme´s theme song offers the optimistic view of that although life in the DDR may have been hard and incredibly frustating at times the citizens there made up for these problems with a healthy attitude towards irony and life itself.
After Sonnenallee Graeme began working with Belgian violinist/celloist "Dieter Roseeuw" and with the addition of drummer "Herbert Dee" the 3 of them made a rare one off live performance at the 10th Hausmusik Anniversary Show. More live work followed in 2002 when Graeme played solo for the first time in 10 years when he took to the road with Robert Scott´s "Creeping Unknown Package Tour". The tour was a healthy 14 shows and after jamming with Robert in a hotel room in Dortmund Graeme joined his band at the end of the night to play some additional songs with them such as the classic Flying Nun Chestnuts "Tally Ho"and "Anything Could Happen". The traditional two piece Cakekitchen line-up was even resurrected for a couple of the shows on this tour when at the Münster and Köln shows Herbert joined Graeme on stage for the entire set.
After seeing The Cakekitchen perform at the Hausmusik festival "Michael Heilrath" of Couch and Blond fame offered to help Graeme with recording some of his new material and the two of them began work on the "How Can You Be So Blind?" LP in August of 2002. Laying down all of Graeme´s rhythm guitar parts, vocals and most of the guitar overdubs in 3 days Michael then started working on string arrangements for the songs and added bass and percussion parts as well. Notwist headbaker "Markus Acher" rejoined the fold in October of that year to put drums and percussion tracks to all but 1 of the recorded songs.
Alles Wie Gross celloist "Mathis Mayr" and violinist "Osamu Nambu" quickly followed suit, working on Michael´s string arrangements and Graeme and Michael continued to bash things into place over the course of the next year with Graeme returning to Munich on several occasions to add more overdubs and supervise a lot of the sessions. They finally finished the new project in late April and having previously had an offer from Wolfgang Petters to release the recordings on "Hausmusik" were happy to deliver the finished tapes and artwork to him. Graeme has been involved with various Hausmusik things over the course of the years and it seemed a logical home for the recordings. The new album (called "How Can You Be So Blind?") received very favourable reviews worldwide and rekindled attention towards Graeme's music.
This sparked interest in live work and 2003 saw The Cakekitchen on tour again with an expanded "Bigger Than It´s Ever Been" 4 piece line up. Joining Graeme and long time string player "Dieter Rooseuw" this time around were the Steinbach brothers on drums and bass. They toured Germany in September of that year to enthusiastic audiences.Graeme then skinned the line-up down to a 3 piece and toured Germany, Austria and Switzerland the following year before dissolving the group.
2005 saw Graeme reorganising the band and playing a few odd low key performance sometimes reverting back to the two piece format first utilised with Robert Key and later Jean-Yves Douet. The Cakekitchen also released a new album that year called "Put Your Foot Inside The Door". Graeme then reactivated the seldom used one man Cakekitchen shows playing in Vienna in July and also played his first gig in New Zealand in over 11 years during September and October of that year. It was the first time he had played solo
in New Zealand since July of 1990.
2006 seems to have been one spent mostly recording new material, with the odd show here or there and Graeme also took the one man show to Denmark for the first time to play in Ärhus at the Pop Revo Festival.
In February of 2007 Graeme decided to relocate back to New Zealand
but before doing so teamed up with German drummer and "Ship of
Ara" songwriter "Groucho Kangaroo" to play some farewell shows in
Nordrheinwestfalen. The shows and the line-up itself yielded some great
things and at some point the two of them will probably get back on the horse to do something similar again, time and oceans apart willing.
Graeme then worked at Marbecks records in Auckland for about half a year before moving to Sydney
in order to reactivate a live band with former Nocturnal Projection bass player Brett Jones. This time
with Brett playing drums instead of bass. The two of them worked on a live set and new material under
the hot Aussie summer sun and the fruits of these efforts made up the bulk of the next Cakekitchen CD
“Kangaroos In My Top Paddock”. Brett has since relocated to Saudi Arabia and Graeme moved back to
In June/July of 2009 Graeme played a couple of solo shows in Russia. One at the prestigious 16 Tons Club
in Moscow and the other in St Petersburg. He also produced an album of songs for the Russian band “Dairy
High” while he was there. Most of the next three years were spent writing and recording in New Zealand.
But there were a couple of exceptions. In June 2011 Graeme played some shows in Germany, including
one with his German drummer friend Groucho Kangaroo and he also managed to play one solo show in
Wellington at Mighty Mighty. In March 2013 a new collection of songs called “Calm Before the Storm”
was released and Graeme and friend Dick Whyte put up on you tube the first of several videos they have
been making to promote the release.