September 10, 2022

BIG FAN: The story behind a big-hearted gift to Aotearoa

Joel and Gemma Little to open not-for-profit music facility in Morningside.

Nine years on since the album Pure Heroine was made by Joel Little with Lorde, the Grammy-Award winning songwriter and producer is putting New Zealand on the world music stage again with BIG FAN. BIG FAN is a music space in Tāmaki Makaurau with recording studios and a live music venue all under one roof, dedicated to helping people fulfil their ambitions through music.

The world-class space, created and developed by Joel with his wife Gemma, is the Little’s family gift to Aotearoa. Fittingly, it is just around the corner from the studio where Lorde’s Pure Heroine, and Royals was born in Morningside.

BIG FAN will be run through their charitable trust, The Little Family Foundation. This not-for-profit entity will be supported in part by venue and studio hire, with all revenue invested back into the space and the work carried out there.

“Music has benefited our family in a multitude of ways, and BIG FAN is an opportunity to give something back, to reinvest in our industry and to support the future of New Zealand music. I feel like there’s a responsibility that comes with success, so I’m glad I can use it to do something like this,” Joel says.

“I want BIG FAN to provide the same sort of support network for music that exists for other industries in our country – that has made the All Blacks, our film-makers and tech sector world-leaders in their field.”

BIG FAN is one of the largest gifts ever made to New Zealand music, which could not have come at a better time given the pressures live music venues have faced even prior to the global pandemic. The inspiration for BIG FAN came about in 2018 when Joel and Gemma returned to New Zealand from several years living and working in Los Angeles. They were dismayed to learn the local music industry continued to face an old obstacle – the lack of quality space for musicians to use.

It will become a thriving ecosystem for people and music, not just providing three state-of-the-art recording studios and a 180-person capacity live music venue in the city fringe, but also offering workshops covering all aspects of music, mentoring, along with multiple educational and up-skilling opportunities.

Savina Fountain appointed as General Manager & Ignite to return
Big Fan is in great hands, with industry stalwart Savina Fountain appointed as the General Manager to fulfil this vision and run the day-to-day operations. Savina will spearhead the organisation to make BIG FAN a self-sustaining and thriving hub for New Zealand music, putting her almost two decades of experience working in Aotearoa’s music and events industries to good use.

Ignite Programme, which she founded in 2016, will be returning this year as one of the first programmes delivered by Big Fan. This innovative programme will engage eighteen rangatahi aged 15-18 in Tāmaki Makaurau with three streams on offer in 2022 – Event Management, Music Production and Event Production. Ignite is centered on the power of mentoring, with opportunities to experience and upskill to develop a solid foundation to apply their knowledge to a real-life context.

Engaging with communities and individuals throughout Aotearoa is paramount for BIG FAN’s kaupapa, with plans in place for programmes and initiatives that will grant access to the recording studios and venue, and providing industry upskilling and networking opportunities to those who would not typically have access to it. The idea is that the center will become a community space where people can both learn from the experts and inspire and encourage one another.

“We know that music can change lives and affect communities in positive ways. We also know that although Aotearoa has a wealth of talent, not everyone has the opportunity to fulfil their potential” says Savina. BIG FAN aims to be a nurturing and supportive space where this talent can grow and provides the facilities for people to gain real world experience in nearly all aspects of the music industry.

“I remember what it was like in the early days for me,” Joel reflects. “There was nothing like this and it would have made a huge difference. I was lucky that I was given the right support along the way. It’s tough for young musicians to find the support and the finances to help their development.”

Big Fan boasts three fully equipped recording studios, which have been kitted out with the same gear Joel used to produce hits with likes of artists Taylor Swift, Khalid and Imagine Dragons. The studios are designed to make the most of Joel’s global music network and be a destination for international artists, writers, and producers to come and collaborate with local talent.

“The not-for-profit aspect is important as it levels the playing field for anyone to access it no matter their financial resources,” adds Gemma Little.

For more information, please visit and sign up to the mailing list to receive updates. More details around the official launch will be announced in due course.


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