Andre Upston Profile

Gareth Shute
23 Feb 2020

Andre Upston has been at the recording desk at Radio New Zealand for over 25 years, capturing live sessions by the top rung of local acts. His experience in running RNZ’s Helen Young Studio in Auckland in the late 1990s and early 2000s led him to record albums with many artists, including Bic Runga and Anika Moa.

Upston grew up in a musical family – his grandmother’s piano stood in their lounge and his father had been a pianist in jazz band The Rhythmics in the 1960s (Upston came to dread his own lessons on the instrument). In his teens, Upston was the student called upon to set up the music equipment for school discos. When he started attending concerts, he used his cassette player to make rudimentary open-air recordings. This led to a raft of tapes documenting acts such as Elton John, Dire Straits, David Bowie, U2, and Simon and Garfunkel. 

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Humphreys and Keen album recording work sheet (2004).
Photo credit: Andre Upston Collection
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Andre Upston in the RNZ control room, 2020.
Photo credit: Dan Cook
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Major Flavours ZM showcase, 2003. From left: Mareko, Taaz, Savage, and DJ Sir-vere. 
Photo credit: Andre Upston Collection
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Credits page on the self-titled 1998 Peter Stuyvesant Hit List album, recorded by Andre Upston at Helen Young Studio, RNZ, Auckland and distributed by BMG. 
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Andre Upston standing in the control room of Helen Young Studio, RNZ Auckland. Ian Greenstreet and Dominic Blaazer of Auckland band Smoothy are at the desk.
Photo credit: Steven Shaw collection
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Andre Upston in foreground recording a RNZ Live session at RNZ Hobson St, Auckland with Tami Neilson, 2016.
Photo credit: Claire Eastham Farrelly
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Neil Finn at Auckland Town Hall, 2015, with drummer Chris O'Connor in background. Recorded by Andre Upston for RNZ.
Photo credit: Andre Upston Collection
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Aerial - 'Come Around Again' (2004)
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Andre Upston preparing to record Bic Runga at Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland, 2011.
Photo credit: Brian Mahoney
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Tadpole live to air, Helen Young Studio, RNZ, Auckland, 13 May 2002.
Photo credit: Andre Upston Collection
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Aldous Harding performs 'Party' for RNZ, 2017
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Score from Bic Runga live with the CSO (2003)
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Scribe, Camille Guzzwell, Brendan Smyth at Helen Young Studio, RNZ Auckland, 2003.
Photo credit: Andre Upston Collection
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Smoothy - The Shock of the Smooth (PopGun) - an album recorded by Andre Upston from the early days of Helen Young Studio, 1999 with musicians Dominic Blaazer, Steven Shaw and Kim "Kimmerson" Martinengo. The cover model is the late Robert Bruce, former pro wrestler, stuntman and actor's agent. Photography by Becky Nunes, design by John Piitcairn.
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Andre Upston adjusting a microphone during the recording of Dudley Benson's Zealandia album, Albany St Studios, Dunedin, 2015.
Photo credit: Joshua Thomas
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Anika Moa - Love In Motion (EMI, 2010). Engineered and mixed by Andre Upston, who co-produced with Anika Moa. 
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Live At Helens (2001) - Live-to-air recordings between November 1997 and May 2001, including Dave Dobbyn, Strawpeople, The Mutton Birds, Che Fu, Garageland and Bic Runga. Engineered by Andre Upston at Helen Young Studio, RNZ Auckland.
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Anika Moa in the control room, demoing songs for In Swings The Tide, Western Springs, Auckland, 2006.
Photo credit: Andre Upston
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Andre interviewing Elbow, Sydney, Australia, 2007.
Photo credit: Emily Upston
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Anika Moa, setlist from Live at Helen's broadcast, 2000.
Photo credit: Andre Upston Collection
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Shapeshifter with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra at Christchurch Town Hall, 2006. Engineer Andre Upston.
Photo credit: Andre Upston 
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Bic Runga - Birds (2005). Produced by Bic Runga, recorded by Andre Upston.
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Watch: Goodbye Helen Young Studio, a video montage
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Rick Bryant in Helen Young Studio with the Jive Bombers, 2003. Recorded and produced by Andre Upston for RNZ Music.
Photo credit: RNZ
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Helen Young Studio June 2004 log book - Chris Knox with a cast of hundreds.
Photo credit: Andre Upston Collection
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Steven Shaw playing bass for a Smoothy recording session, Helen Young Studio, RNZ Auckland, c 2002. The computer-operated rotating baffle system can be seen on the walls behind.
Photo credit: Steven Shaw collection
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Soundcheck for ‘Revolutions’, a 2017 Auckland Arts Festival show at the Spiegeltent. Pictured are Rob Ruha, Jon Toogood, Warren Maxwell, Moana Maniapoto. Audio is on RNZ's website.
Photo credit: Andre Upston Collection
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Rackets set list, Kings Arms 2015, engineered by Andre Upston.
Photo credit: Andre Upston Collection
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The Brunettes' Heather Mansfield with a brass section, Live at Helen's, April 2003. On saxophone is Eamonn Deverall, on trumpet Richard Cotman; both played with One Million Dollars. 
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The Jive Bombers horn section in Helen Young Studio, 2003, with Kingsley Melhuish, Mike Croft, Chris Watts. Recorded and produced by Andre Upston for RNZ Music.
Photo credit: RNZ
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Jon Toogood, Pacifier Live at Helen's, 2003.
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Phil Knight, Pacifier/Shihad, Live at Helen's, 2003. Engineer Andre Upston.
Photo credit: Andre Upston Collection
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Anika Moa singing in the kitchen of her Western Springs home while the band tracks in another room for In Swings The Tide, 2006.
Photo credit: Andre Upston
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The Chills, Cricketers' Arms Wellington setlist, October 1985.
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Instruments belonging to Smoothy guitarist (and later, Tim Finn) Iain Greenstreet, mid-session in Helen Young Studio, RNZ Auckland 2002.
Photo credit: Steven Shaw collection
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The self-titled 1998 Peter Stuyvesant Hit List album, recorded by Andre Upston at Helen Young Studio, RNZ, Auckland and distributed by BMG.
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Trivia:

Upston has also recorded many overseas acts during his time at RNZ, including Jimmy Barnes, Ryan Adams, Calexico, Suzanne Vega, and Paul Kelly.

Upston believes the biggest band he’s had in the current tiny studio rooms at RNZ was the 13-piece Lemon Bucket Orchestra. He says six-piece funk act Collision was equally challenging since they had their full set-up and two camera operators filming them.

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