Jim Wisp is (left to right): Matt on bass, Elinor on cello, James vocals/guitar/keys, Hedda on violin and David on drums.

The story of Jim Wisp

Once upon a time, David McGurk and James Mason played drums and sax together in The Aviators. One weekend back in December 2010 in an old Masonic Lodge in Island Bay, they recorded the drum and guitar tracks to some songs James had been fiddling with that went on to become Jim Wisp's debut album Momentum.

A few years later, there was a very significant chat between James and a fabulous lawyer lady at a Scottish Ceilidh dance that resulted in Hedda Oosterhoff and James meeting up. After a few jams, they got all excited about the possibilities and got David back on board to play the songs from Momentum live. Hedda played her violin through two octave pedals for the bass lines, David swapped between drums and tabla and James played guitar, keys and vocals. This trio was the core for Jim Wisp's current sound, with a huge range of dynamics, textures and flavours coming from just three people. 

David went travelling around Asia on a bicycle for a couple of years, so during that time Kelly Ballard and Chris Beernink joined the band on drums and double bass. When Chris left the band, Elinor Millar joined on cello (you guessed it, playing through octave pedals for bass lines). James also spent a lot of hours learning how to wind his own guitar pickups, so he could play octave pedal bass lines with his thumb when he played guitar. Just before Kelly left to roam the world, James and him recorded drums, guitars and keys madly for two days at the Blue Barn.

Everyone was very excited when Matthew Landreth joined the band, playing actual bass with no octave pedals. Now the string players are free to play soaring melodies. James has less gadgets taped to his guitar and is generally more relaxed. David returned from his adventures and now Jim Wisp are working on turning the Blue Barn recordings into fully fledged tunes for an upcoming EP that might- just might- knock your socks off.

James dabbles in many different things and is an 'ideas man'. He sings and plays keys and guitar in the band and is notorious for building very dodgy prototype music gear involving a lot of tape. He studied composition at NZSM and is responsible for most of the weird and complicated bits in the songs.

Elinor's real name is Cellinor. She hasn't written a bio yet. From memory, her most defining moment was when she fought 16 evil flautists armed with nothing more than her Cello bow and a piece of manuscript paper.

Matt sings bass and plays bass. He was originally based in the deeep South. He works in the film industry and buys stuff for making stuff.

Hedda has played the Violin in numerous groups and orchestras in New Zealand and overseas. During daylight hours she works in interior acoustics and non-structural structural design. She is also responsible for making sure there are some bits in some of the songs that aren't weird or complicated.

David McGurk has been drumming for 20 years. He has played with several Wellington acts including popular Eastern European dance orchestra The Balkanistas (now Balkany), heavy-handed prog bands Mangle and Gruff and Planet Hunter, and funk legends The Aviators. He has also been involved in various musical escapades in Malaysia and Thailand. David spends his days as a mature student of public relations at Massey Wellington. He funds life by repairing brass and woodwind instruments at Vanguard Orchestral.

Photography by Abbie Dorrington from Big Mark & Co