Christiaan Ercolano and Emerson Todd formed Auckland-based electronic duo House of Downtown and released two strong albums on their own State House label via Universal Records in 2001 and 2003.
They also released several 12-inch singles on State House and Simon Flower’s South Exit label, including the vinyl-only club hit ‘Feel It’ in 2001.
Ercolano was originally from Wellington where he was a major player in the early hip-hop scene in that city. As Crispy Fresh he was the beatmaker in Noise N Effect, and worked with the formative Upper Hutt Posse. Those roots were obvious in House of Downtown’s work, which merged house music with strong R&B influences.
Todd was an Australian raised New Zealander who met Ercolano in 1998 while working as a Trans-Tasman DJ.
As a live act – combining DJing with live performance and instrumentation – they were a major drawcard in Auckland clubland in the early 2000s.
The first album, called simply Release, reached number 35 in July, 2001, after a massive launch party at the St. James Theatre supported by George FM, both band members having their own shows on the station. Queues reached down Queen Street. It had, however, been delayed by Universal after uncleared samples were discovered and some of the momentum garnered by their live profile had dispersed.
A year later, second album Mutha Funkin’ Earth went three places higher. It was a far more diverse affair with appearances from hip-hop and R&B guests including Tha Feelstyle (who had worked with Ercolano in Wellington in the 1980s) and Tulele Faletolu. It peaked at 32.
In between the duo also also remixed Nesian Mystic’s ‘For The People’ for single release. They also provided the soundtrack to the NZ movie Stickmen.
After the second album the band split and Todd moved first to Sydney and then to Berlin where he continues to release singles for a variety of independent labels, remix, and DJ successfully.