Mellow band totally juiced

Fresh from their European tour, Mild Orange (from left), Jack Ferguson, Tom Kelk, Josh Reid and...
Fresh from their European tour, Mild Orange (from left), Jack Ferguson, Tom Kelk, Josh Reid and Josh Mehrtens, plays U-Bar on Friday. Photo: Cam Hay
Mild Orange shuffled on to the Dunedin scene in early 2017 with a sultry mix of soft indie-rock and a splash of Mockasin creaminess. And then a Ukrainian YouTube music influencer shared their self-produced debut single Some Feeling and almost overnight their popularity exploded. Now that single has more than 12 million plays.

Back in Dunedin from a massive European tour, they're entering the next chapter after their debut which involves a quick tour of Aotearoa before heading overseas again. For Josh Mehrtens it's kind of like a dream come true.

"We all met at [the University of] Otago and it was always our dream to, by the time we graduate, to have everything in place to just go and do music full-time. And I guess we've stuck true to that. Now we're devoting all of our time to the music and creating more cool experiences.

"I'm just super grateful that we get to keep doing this, and a lot of it comes from all the support we've had from the fans from around the world."

Those fans came out in droves for the band's tour of Europe in May. They played Hungary, Ireland and pretty much everywhere in between, and found fans just about everywhere.

"I think it was 21 shows in 30 days, which was pretty full on. Before that the most we'd ever done was like two shows in a row. But it was so awesome, we met so many cool people. I can't really put into words how cool it was.

"Going to the other side of the world, and places that their first language isn't English and hearing the songs sung back to you was just such an incredible feeling, like people know the lyrics.

"And talking to people about their experiences with the album how they found it and how it found them. There's a lot of really nice people we meet through doing what we do."

So what is it about Mild Orange's sound which attracts people? It's probably the mellow, laid back, and honest vibe - it's the perfect antidote to the hectic reality of modern living. It could also be the earnest lyricism.

"I've grown up a lot on what my parents played so Burt Bacharach, Randy Newman, Norah Jones ...

"From a songwriting perspective, I guess I've always listened to things from the '60s and '70s and I've been open to talk about love and all these sorts of themes through listening to someone like Burt Bacharach, who I completely idolise."

Next up for Mild Orange is another huge international tour, this time the Americas and Canada, including a slot at the RadioBosque festival in Mexico City alongside Underworld and Hot Chip.

But despite their explosive popularity, the band is still sticking to its DIY roots. Josh is just putting the finishing touches on the second album from his bedroom studio in Arrowtown, and it was recorded at Josh Reid's family bach at Riversdale Beach in the Wairarapa.

"We hunkered down there for a while and it was a really good lifestyle, and a lot of the good times have gone into making the album."

Expect the first single from that album "in a few weeks". In the meantime, you can hear some of the new tunes at U-Bar "where it all started" on Friday, unless it sells out before then.

 - Fraser Thompson 

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