About Us

What is Witchdoctor?

Witchdoctor is a online entertainment magazine.

We write for grownups about products and ideas. We don’t write about Max Key in Hawaii, or Mariah Carey’s latest faux pas, or Justin Bieber’s latest tantrum.

Witchdoctor is NZ’s only portal for reliable, intelligent and up-front reviews of and articles about music, film, television, technology products (hi-fi, AV, gadgets, cameras and more) and associated ephemera.

Witchdoctor is about the technology that you use every day: those that you watch, listen to, look through and touch. Witchdoctor is geared towards interested, normal consumers rather than that tiny minority of tech-geeks.

Of key importance is that our reviews have integrity: they are honest, and not influenced by commercial imperatives. Space will be provided for ‘right of reply’ should product suppliers feel aggrieved by our assessments.

 

Profiles

Gary Steel

Gary Steel contemplating reality

Gary Steel writes and edits. He has been subjecting the NZ public to his withering opinions on music and pop culture since 1978, where he began his journalism career at the now defunct Evening Post (now it’s called the Dominion Post). After that painful experience, Gary published and edited scabrous Wellington rags IT and T.O.M before a brief (18 month) stop-over at TVNZ  ‘publicising’ its entertainment shows. After that painful experience, he was journalist/editor, editor, then managing editor over a six year period for NZ’s ‘most popular, ever, ever’ pop culture publication, RTR Countdown magazine. After that demoralising experience, Steel ‘retired’ into his own project: a highly specialised record shop-cum-coffee-shop-cum venue, Beautiful Music. After that financially depleting experience, Steel reinvented himself as editor of NZ technology magazine Tone, where he hung on for dear life for five years. After that (censored) experience, Steel hankered to get back to writing, and enjoyed freelancing for a variety of publications, including Metro, where he is the music reviewer, and Deals On Wheels, where he selects a ‘shiny new things’ spread each four weeks. Gary also writes for NZ music history site AudioCulture.

Gary ‘Stereonerd’ Steel reckons he’s reviewed roughly 15,000 albums over the past 35 years, and hopes that he won’t live to see the death of the most perfectly formed mass market listening experience. Not that he wants to die, you understand.

Gary Steel can be contacted at garys@witchdoctor.co.nz

 

Ashley Kramer

Ashley Kramer contemplating an espresso shot

Ashley Kramer has been a music fan for as long as he can remember, which is all the way back to the ‘70s when he first heard Neil Young’s ‘Heart Of Gold’ playing on an old valve radio. Growing up with a set of Lowther horns in the lounge cemented a lifelong love of audio gear, which evolved into a chronic case of technology adoration. Falling into a sales role at NZ technology magazine Tone freed him from an IT career and allowed him to finally wallow neck deep in the pungent world of audio, video and general consumer technology.

Kramer prides himself on never turning down an opportunity to audition any gear (especially stereo components and cameras) and in addition to innumerable expeditions to ‘take a look’, a constant stream of boxes has flowed home with him over the years. Some of the contents of those boxes have moved in to stay, much to his credit card’s displeasure. Sales is still his poison, but writing about technology is his pleasure (being a thinly veiled excuse to spend more time testing and trialling increasingly exotic gear). He remains firmly convinced that vinyl records keep him young, that room acoustics are the devil’s playground and that both full frame DSLR cameras and hand built amplifiers were put on this earth to bankrupt him.

Andrew W. Baker

Andrew Baker contemplating the far distance

Andrew grew up surrounded by music. His father was a musician, playing several stringed instruments in a pub band. He vividly remember poring over his records, taking in the smell and the wonderful covers and old band photos; all of which gave the vinyl format a sense of mystery and tactile charm he still feels today, and he’s spent years collecting music and attending gigs.

On being introduced to his first hi-fi system some years ago, a light went on brightly inside his head and he thought: ‘Yes! For years I have had this strange urge to throw lots of money I don’t really have at something – and I now know what that something is!’ And the obsession began.

He lives in a small town near Auckland in a house which he shares with his wife and two children. He fights daily with his children to get time in front of his stereo as the ‘listening’ room is actually the ‘family’ (read: TV) room, and because they are small and cute they invariably win. His wife can sniff out a new addition to his rack long before he’s even considered buying it. He’s still surrounded by music: his wife plays and teaches piano and plays organ at funerals and his kids are budding musicians. He’s mostly given up being a terrible guitar player to concentrate on listening to proper musicians through proper hi-fi systems.

He will always love spinning vinyl but the future is here and it’s looking pretty interesting…

Pat Pilcher

Pat and a pal

Shiny gadgets have long held a serious fascination for Pat, who ended up commenting on tech completely by accident. Stumbling into a gig as the tech guy on breakfast TV, he eventually fell into a brief stint as a technology correspondent at One News, and as a commentator on Newstalk ZB.

In for a penny, in for a pound, Pat was soon writing for the now defunct Tone and MacGuide magazines. Having discovered how punctuation works and that the spellchecker wasn’t the enemy, he was soon reviewing gadgets for the Herald and then Stuff. They say that you can’t keep a good team down, and when he heard that the guys from Tone had got back together for a reunion tour to craft up the digital deliciousness that is Witchdoctor, wild power amplifiers couldn’t keep him away. The rest as they say is history, and long may those shiny gadgets keep on coming.

Richard Varey

Richard is an independent science writer with education and work experience in both physical and social sciences.

He began collecting records and assembling a hi-fi system in 1972. Many iterations later, and quite a few shelves later, he has realised that his hobby isn’t going away just yet.
Originally from the East Riding of Yorkshire, Richard and family arrived in New Zealand in late 2003. They settled in Hamilton, which is renowned for its almost total absence of record stores.
In recent years Richard has been auditioning interesting new products and writing reviews for TNT-Audio. He listens to an eclectic range of music whenever he is near a decent home audio system. He claims to be a ‘musicophile audiophile technophile’.

 

Andrew Johnstone

This isn’t really Andrew Johnstone. He is a mystery.

Andrew Johnstone writes and produces music (with creative partner, legendary Waikato music producer Zed Brookes) and drives a delivery van. He is an avid gardener, former dairy farmer, and spent many years at the sales end of the food industry. Products included meat pies, meat smallgoods and chicken, an unsuitable fit for a lifelong vegetarian. Stories are now his main focus and when he isn’t making up his own he writes about the stories he sees on television and at the cinema. He is also interested in politics, the social democratic sort, and if anyone were to ask he might describe the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as his religion. His favourite books include the Tao De Ching by Lao Tzu, To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip Jose Farmer, The Physics Of Immortality by Frank Tippler and anything by Robert Silverberg. His favourite TV show is Star Trek (in all its incarnations) and his favourite films? That’s a blind alley of endless possibility, but Akira Kurosawa, Hayao Miyazaki and PT Anderson rate among the handful of filmmakers he admires the most. A child of the 1960s and the Central Waikato town of Cambridge, he now lives in Auckland, a place he reckons is the best damned big city in the world. He also lived in Fiji (Vanua Levu) for a time, and wonders if he will ever return. He might need a better paying job first.

 

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