The alternative techno DJ talks Aotearoa’s underlying darkness and how it drives artists to create and make change. 
lede mr meaty boy

When you look across a dark basement nightclub at the figure dancing and sweating behind the decks, Mr Meaty Boy probably isn’t who you expected to see. 

Bea, the person behind the hyper-masc DJ name, is a multidisciplinary artist working across music, theatre and education. On any given weekend, Bea can be found playing their experimental club tracks at gigs and festivals across Aotearoa. But Bea is increasingly drawn to the grey surroundings of their part-time home, Christchurch – a city that’s become the unlikely home to many artists and ravers.  


VICE chatted to Bea about the diverse underground music scene in Christchurch and how it’s fed by Aotearoa's darkness. 

VICE: Who are you?

Mr Meaty Boy: My names Bea, my iwi are Ngāti Porou and Ngāpuhi. My birth name is Bernadine, which I reckon I'll use when I’m a really old lady. I was Bernie for a while. And I think my name has changed in different seasons of who I've been creatively.

But yeah, I'm an artist. I'm Indigenous. I believe in the power of creativity to bring joy and light into the world when it can often be quite a dark place.

Where did the name Mr Meaty Boy come from? 

I didn’t feel like I was being political, but I really wanted it to be the most masculine name and take the piss out of the fact that, at the time, it was mainly men being booked [to DJ]. So I was like, it would be cool if I was Mr Man or Mr Sir, and then it was my friend that said Mr Meaty something. 

We landed on Mr Meaty Boy and I was like, oh my gosh, because that’s the name of the burger joint in Eagle Vs Shark. It’s probably one of my favourite movies still, but that was a really important film to me when I was younger. Taika obviously being an amazing role model and lesser known back then. 

I think to me there were too many connections there to not do it. It's so stupid but I do love when people turn up to the gig they're like, oh shit that’s a chick, like, oh my god that's completely thrown me off, bro.


How would you describe your sound?

I’ve used alternative club or experimental club to describe it – techno, but like, brown or BIPOC or queer peoples have made the music, and to me I think you can hear it inside techno. I feel like you hear who made it.

I feel exactly the same way watching movies where you're like, I just know this was written by a woman, or someone who’s queer.

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What do you consider to be your influences, whether that's other people or sounds or places?

Erykah Badu, Tirzah… and Rick Rubin, he's an old school hip-hop producer, like one of the first and one of the only white guys in the mix. He’s produced for Jay Z, Adele, Johnny Cash – really genre defying people. 

But I don't look up at too many people in a very direct way because that often makes me feel constricted.

And a place that influences me is Gisborne. That's where my family is from and when I go back there I have this really crazy sense of belonging. That place knows me and when I stand inside of it I just feel humbled. In the city, you can get so caught up with who you are and what that means. Gisborne doesn’t give a fuck about who you are. 

Where are you based right now? 

I’m in Pōneke, but I go to Christchurch every two weeks as I often get work DJing there.  That's my music home. Like, that's where I do my music projects and that's where I feel the most inspired musically.


I’ve noticed there’s been what feels like a mass migration of people moving to Christchurch. What’s there for people in the music scene?

Christchurch is my muse. It’s a love-hate thing. 

There's something deeply disturbed about Christchurch. I don't just think it's the earthquakes. I think there's a lot of racism and homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, you name it. 

But because of that, I also think good things and positive, joyful movements have to happen. It's so grey that the creative shit has to be pushed through the cracks.

It's attractive because there's this need for something good to happen all the time, so I think when you do something there, it feels meaningful because people really need it. 

And how long has that kind of rave belt been going on in Christchurch?

Way before my time, from what I’ve been told there's been waves of this since like the ‘80s. I think it just ebbs and flows there. 

There's something really special musically in Christchurch, and I don't want to be woo-woo, but it's probably a spiritual thing. Some of our greatest New Zealand artists have come out of Christchurch and there's got to be a reason. So yeah, I think it's sort of magical in that sense.


In Aotearoa in general, what are you wanting to see more of in music and what are you loving? 


There seems to be a shared common understanding in the last couple of years, that there is a need for diversity. And it's not diversity to help people. It's diversity because if we don't have diversity, everyone loses.

I think at one point I really felt like me and a few other people were just talking to a brick wall in terms of like, hey, what's with everyone booking the same acts or the same types of people? And people are starting to realise that it's not about not booking men and or not booking just white people or not booking whatever. It's about, if we have diversity in our scene, everyone wins. Everyone gets to experience the joy that comes with difference.

In the last couple of years there's been a massive movement of us – everyone included, not just brown people – thinking about how to see the Treaty through in a club setting.

There are some amazing, talented tangata whenua [people] coming up in the club scene in Christchurch. They're doing such a wicked job and change has been able to happen actually quite easily. I think that moving forward and decolonising, even just slowly like this, is so joyful. It’s such a special fucking little scene. 

I think that's such a perfect way of putting it of like, everybody getting to experience the joy of difference. 

Yeah. And I think there's still some people who are defensive because they think that we're saying we shouldn't book men or we shouldn't book white people or whatever. But it's not about that at all. It's actually how it would benefit them too, and it's a good business model to be diverse. A no brainer.


So I'm excited about that and I've had so many great conversations and arguments about it. 

It's fine if some of them are negative. A lot of them are. There's a lot of crappy, shitty stuff rearing its head at the moment. And that brings me joy too because I just think it's so good for it to come to the surface. In politics as well, there’s a push for people to say what their ideas are and clarify them. And I think it's good because then we can see for real what's going on.

And what’s coming up for Mr Meaty Boy that you’re excited about?

We’re gonna do another Routine Magic course in Christchurch. Routine Magic is a DJ course in collaboration with MAINZ, the school of music down there. They've got an amazing facility that has all this DJ equipment and so as a solution to the problem of diversity that they have, they said can you make a DJ course? So AJ Honeysuckle and I designed a course for BIPOC and queer peoples, with Māori and Pasifika as the focus. We already did it once and the demand for that course was so high. There have been so many DJs who came out and they're all in their DJ careers. So we're doing one more of those in October.

And I’m releasing an EP with… what’s their name… protectionspell. That’s my partner, but they change their name all the time! Now it’s protectionspell. And that’s with Echo Train who are a fucking amazing, tiny little record label in Christchurch. 

Rachel Barker is a writer / producer at VICE NZ in Aotearoa. You can find her @rachellydiab on IG and Letterboxd and see her film criticism on Youtube