'Music nerd' unearths forgotten Flying Nun recordings

Student William Daymond is a self-confessed music nerd who has landed the perfect internship helping to examine and describe the collection of iconic record label Flying Nun.

Man sits facing camera with a laptop and desktop computer behind him with the image of a cassette tape on the screens.
Photo: Jay Buzenberg, Alexander Turnbull Library.
William’s internship for his Master of Museum and Heritage Practice programme at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington is part of a multi-year project by the Alexander Turnbull Library to preserve and digitise its Flying Nun collection.

He is immersing himself in the collection which includes demos, radio live-to-air and live recordings, outtakes, alternative mixes, and interviews, some long-forgotten or unreleased. This has revealed some hidden or forgotten gems which may appear on a future Flying Nun project.

Flying Nun director Ben Howe contacted William after seeing a National Library Facebook post about his work. “When we found out what William was doing, we wanted to make use of the opportunity to look at projects around the interesting things he was unearthing in his internship,” says Ben.

“The preservation and digitisation of the Flying Nun collection at the Alexander Turnbull library serves as a kind of music archaeology where people like William can find forgotten stories, music, and experiences. It is exciting to have William working on the collection and being able to feed his findings back to us.”

“So far it has been a wonderful experience,” says William. “It has been fascinating listening to unreleased demos, rough mixes, and live recordings of bands that I have admired for years, but also getting to know material from artists that I’m unfamiliar with. Discovering long forgotten songs, and in some instances lost bands, has been a highlight of my studies.”

William first found Flying Nun Records and their back catalogue aged 14 and learned that many of the early Flying Nun bands had more songs than those which had been studio recorded. That led to him collecting live recordings of the bands in question.

“My knowledge and passion grew from there. If there was a recording of The Chills in Palmerston North in March 1985 that I hadn’t heard before, I wanted to hear it immediately, to see what the quality and band performance was like and if there were any unreleased songs on it.”

That knowledge and passion paved the way for this internship and the resulting opportunities. William himself sought out the internship, contacting the curator of music at the National Library of New Zealand, Michael Brown.

“William, as the dedicated Flying Nun aficionado he is, had noticed some discrepancies between the audio and metadata taken from the cassette housings,” says Michael. “He got in touch, proposing to update the tape metadata as part of his Museum and Heritage Studies internship”.

As part of his internship, William will write a blog about his work for the National Library website which will be published later in September.

“Flying Nun has a large roster of recording artists, and a dedicated following around New Zealand and the world. Blogs and social media are an important way for the Library to engage with the Flying Nun community,” explains Michael.

William has also been employed by the independent Flying Nun Foundation, a Charitable Trust which works to preserve Flying Nun’s heritage, to create a database to record discoveries Flying Nun ephemera—audio, posters, and more.