The compilation CD. They used to be huge in New Zealand. Every house had the latest greatest hits release, or a copy of Now That’s What I Call Music, while road trips wouldn’t be the same without a CD wallet handy full of compilations ready to soundtrack your summer trips.
One of the compilations from the early 2000s which became synonymous with summer days and lounging around the pool was Lazy Sunday.
With its iconic album art featuring an inflatable plastic blue chair, the Lazy Sunday compilation saw five albums released between 2001 and 2005, all containing a mixture of the sort of music you could see yourself just chilling out to – genres like downtempo, electro, and trip hop.
With a cleverly crafted TV and radio ad campaign, the first Lazy Sunday volume was a massive success, reaching number 1 in the charts and going platinum. This was no fluke, with the two men behind it carefully planning the sort of aesthetic they wanted when coming up with the idea. for the compilation.
David Southgate and Morgan Donoghue were working for EMI in the early 2000s and were responsible for some of the biggest compilation series of the day. This included helping release Now That’s What I Call Music in New Zealand, coming up with The Best Beer Drinking Songs in the World Ever compilation, and, masterminding Lazy Sunday.
“We knew we wanted that style of downtempo music,” Southgate told Stuff. “The name was actually from the Small Faces song Lazy Sunday. I could relate to what they were singing in the song, so we named the album Lazy Sunday to go with the music.”
Donoghue came up with some ideas for songs after getting inspired one Sunday afternoon at home. “I came in to work on Monday with six or seven tracks and I said to Dave, here is an idea, here are some tracks that I think go well together.”
The two of them then set out to create the album, a process which involved a lot of trial and error, but one that was a carefully crafted process. “It was like a few of those tracks suited, a few of those tracks didn’t, and then it was really just trying to expand on that,” Southgate says.
“I wanted a few recognisable tracks, but I also wanted people to discover other songs. It was really about discovery. That was the main thing, because people knew Massive Attack, but they didn’t necessarily know Beth Orton at the time,” he added.
The success of the first album took its creators by surprise. “We shipped a few thousand, but there were instant reorders,” Southgate says. “That didn’t happen all that often, because often you would ship quite a big number and it would take a couple of weeks for the stock to go through, but this was really taking off.”
“We had a big TV campaign. It was a summer campaign. Coming out of Christmas, we went on TV with Lazy Sunday while people were at the beach. And then Dave’s imagery and branding with the chair was just perfect,” Donoghue says. “Those chairs just seemed to be in vogue at the time. It just seemed like the perfect symbol for the music.”
The album then quickly became associated – intentionally or not – with cafe culture in urban cities like Auckland. In the days before streaming, cafes would often play the compilation on rotation, with the style of music suiting the ambience of early-2000s cafe culture.
“It might have been part of our thinking because it was a really good testing ground, a good place to be able to get people listening to it, you know, get ears on it. I think it was quite early on part of the plan to get it played in cafes,” Southgate says.
“I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything go to that extent in cafe culture. We were surprised at how well it went there,” Donoghue adds.
“We had Norah Jones, Moby, Massive Attack, Everything But The Girl, and it was really about bringing all those artists together, and it just seemed to work so well in a cafe environment,” Southgate says.
Southgate and Donoghuelook back fondly at their creation and the fact it seemed to take off with people at a time when the compilation still had a prominent place in music culture.
“People make their own compilations now,” Southgate says. “But it does amaze me how people still remember that compilation. I think the tracks still sound fantastic. I mean, you have tracks by Mazzy Star, they are just unbelievable tracks, and it was just a good way to get exposure to those artists.”
Donoghue agrees. “It worked so well, using it to break artists, you know. It was cafe culture mixed with popular culture, and it broke a whole lot of stuff. So Coldplay being on there, St Germain being on there. It was like the soundtrack to people’s lives at the time.”