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Cursed with an inability to stop writing new songs and an ever-expanding unreleased song catalogue, the songwriting team of Zed Brookes and Andrew Johnstone decided to release pairs of singles as a virtual A and B side as if they were on vinyl. This not only helps with a faster release schedule, but allows some extra context or contrast within the matching of the two songs.

In this release, “Take A Deep Breath” is a sparse and simple in-your-face production with a huge catchy chorus. It was a rapid production – the song was created as a fun refreshing relief from the tedium of editing and mixing other tracks, and most of it went down in a single half hour session. Vocals by Zed and Andrew were even sung together on the same microphone.

On the other hand “(The Strange Drifting Days of) Consequence and Time” is a more complex production and is more about texture with a lush dreamy quality. While “Take a Deep Breath” is a portrait, “Consequence and Time” is a surrealist landscape.

Both tracks can be found on the usual streaming services, and the videos on the Rhythmsticks YouTube channel. A cool video for “Take a Deep Breath” was put together by Jeremy Jones of Propeller Motion.

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Yuko 3 Plastic Smile EP Cover

Yuko 3 Plastic Smile EP Cover

Plastic Smile EP

(“Everyone wants to survive the sadness in their lives…….me too!”)


Produced by Brookes & Johnstone and Yuko 3

Engineered and Mastered by Zed Brookes.


Words and Music by Yuko Miyoshi except ‘Butterfly’ by Kohei Niibo. Spoken word parts in ‘Plastic Smile’ written and performed by Andrew Johnstone.


Vocals, Rhythm Guitar – Yuko Miyoshi

Lead Guitars – Kohei Niibo

Bass and Synths – Zed Brookes.



Plastic Smile / Butterfly / Remember Me Girl / Survive


Singer/Songwriter/Producer Yuko Miyoshi came to New Zealand as a high school exchange student and it felt to her like the right kind of place for a young woman with aspirations.

She returned to Japan, got a degree, worked in Hospital administration and made music in her spare time.

In her late 20’s she took a deep breath and decided it was time to follow her heart and set off once again for these far shores.


Johnstone and Brookes discovered Yuko busking on Queen St in Auckland and saw the potential.

Mid 2017 Yuko and her musical collaborator songwriter/guitarist Kohei Niibo joined Brookes and Johnstone in Brookes’s North Shore studio and set to work.  A few months later the ‘Plastic Smile’ EP was complete.

Back in Japan Yuko has worked on a number of musical projects including film scores. ‘Plastic Smile’ is her first solo release.

Originally known as the comparatively unpronounceable Chagchagwagwhatz, Yuko felt a new name was in order. Miyoshi means 3 in Japanese and after a while it seemed natural.

When she is not writing and recording music Yuko 3 enjoys eating and drinking (beer and wine in particular) and thinking about cats.

Yuko 3 is a native of Atsugi City, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan.

Zed Yuko and Andrew in studio

Zed, Yuko and Andrew in the studio

White Lies and Other Small Mercies (2017)

In 1985 Johnstone was pumping gas at Mobil Hillcrest on the far Southern edge of Hamilton City. Late one night Brookes pulled up in van filled with band gear. “You’re a musician?” asked Johnstone. Brookes replied in the affirmative and Johnstone said, “I‘m a musician as well.” Brookes, “I have a studio just around the corner on Morrinsville road. It’s called Tandys. You should call in some time.”

Brookes (a Scotsman by way of Auckland’s North Shore and Rotorua) was already well established and had scored Hamilton’s first chart hit of the modern era with his band Step Chant Unit. ‘Painting Pictures’ had been released on Wellington’s Jayrem label and had cracked the national top 30. An appearance on iconic Kiwi music show Radio With Pictures had followed.

Cambridge born Johnstone was with Waikato pop/rock band Three Men Missing. By 1988 both were free of their bands and looking to experiment with sound and in each other found a like mind. Brookes produced numerous EPs for Johnstone before they embarked upon an ambitious album project called The Wallflower.

Johnstone wrote and sang, Brookes engineered and produced, twice. The completed album attracted the attention of Grant Hislop founder of iconic Hamilton radio stations The Rock and The Edge and he paid for the album to be re-recorded at his brand-new “state of the art” digital studio the Zoo (built and run by Brookes).

Still the most ambitious recording project ever undertaken in Hamilton, The Wallflower (1995) sold 250 copies on cassette before disappearing from view. The two friends exhausted by the shifting tides of life went their separate ways.

In 2015 the pair met up again in Auckland. The old chemistry was still evident and in a blink the two found themselves behind the desk at Brookes’ home studio on Auckland’s North Shore talking about music. It turned out they had more in common musically than they had previously imagined.

1960’s TV themes, long forgotten advertising jingles, top forty radio, musicals (in those days every middle-class home in New Zealand had at least one cast album from a Broadway or West End show in the record cabinet) and movie scores.

While Brookes was coming to terms with his father’s Hank Williams albums, Johnstone was digging his mother’s Bacharach, Carpenters and Righteous Brothers while soaking up the Jimmy Webb and Glen Campbell songs then a fixture on Radio Waikato. Later Brookes discovered Lee Hazelwood, Devo and 1980’s British new wave synth bands while Johnstone was exploring the sounds of country rock pioneer Mike Nesmith and alt-country band The Amazing Rhythm Aces.

Over numerous rounds of tequila the pair also realised that many of their favourite tunes, both pop songs and themes had been played by the hit making L.A studio session band The Wrecking Crew and a new favourite band was added to their collective list of influences.

One day a week for the last two years Brookes and Johnstone have sat behind the console laying down tracks faster than they have been able to process them and as time has passed have watched their sound evolve and change.

Creativity does not diminish with age nor does enthusiasm and the formative sounds of one’s youth are impossible to escape and here in the early reaches of the 21st century, Brookes and Johnstone have taken that cornucopia of sound swirling about their collective psyches and have shaped it into something that continues to surprise and delight both of them.

A cinematic retro-flavoured 60’s/70’s pastiche, ‘White Lies and Other Small Mercies’ harks back to the glory days of the Wrecking Crew. Produced, written, arranged and played by Brookes and Johnstone. Lead vocal Johnstone, backing vocals Nina McSweeney and Brookes.

Thanks very much to Aabir Mazumdar and NZ Musician magazine for the great review.

See the full review here on the NZ Musician site.

“While primarily a vocal driven, synth-rock endeavour, the album fluently incorporates elements from various disparate styles of music.”

“…and while staying accessible in terms of pop music sensibilities, also borrows heavily from glitch, psy-dub and downtempo genres…”

“…[a] smart album.”

Very flattered to be compared to Puscifer and David Bowie.

Read the full review here.


“…His latest, 2016’s aptly titled O Sweet Cacophony is an exploration in international quality Electronic Pop with Rock sensibilities beneath Brookes’ whispered husky vocals and sweet backing singers. An amalgam of ideas and influences, this album is experimental and unique…

I came in expecting a rehash of the Dunedin, Flying Nun sound of old, but can happily report it’s kind of like Puscifer, a bit like David Bowie, wholly enjoyable.

It brings the collection of ideas-made-music that is O Sweet Cacophony back into the realm of art, and that’s something I can abide, being long since disillusioned by the concept of a music industry that values the hype of a product over the quality and artistic merit.

Yet, for an art project of sorts, Brookes has a very marketable sound. Spending years in a music store, and behind the scenes within the industry, you’ll surely recognise what works and what separates an ephemeral one hit wonder from good music.

An enjoyably relaxing, easy listen for those who can find it, I recommend this to people that enjoy good music that’s familiar and warm, yet comfortably detached from the mainstream.

You can find O Sweet Cacophony on the Zed Brookes Bandcamp and Spotify.”

Album Cover

Zed Brookes – O Sweet Cacophony album cover

Zed Brookes’ album was successfully released at a listening session/release party at Brothers Beer in Auckland city on the 26th September 2016. This solo album is the first that Zed has produced, despite recording or producing thousands of albums for others over his career. Based on a series of experiments in creativity towards his Master of Arts (Music) degree, this quirky groovy pop album seems remarkably slick.

The album is available for download from here or can be obtained from the usual places – iTunes, Tidal etc, or streamed on Spotify.


We are a small New Zealand-based indie label.

Here you’ll find information and tracks by label artists:

R is for Rocket

Brookes and Johnstone

Andrew Johnstone



Schrodinger’s Cat