Up from the street

Drax Project plays in Lower Hutt last month. This Thursday, it's Dunedin for O' Week. Photo:...
Drax Project plays in Lower Hutt last month. This Thursday, it's Dunedin for O' Week. Photo: Fraser Thompson
Drax Project are heading down next week for an O’ Week gig at the stadium on Thursday with JessB, Peking Duk and Jordi. Fraser Thompson caught up with them before their impressive set at Six60 a couple of weeks back.

Q You started out with busking, obviously this is very different from busking. I was wondering which you prefer, the small audience on the street or massive crowds?

Matt: I guess it’s just different I reckon. I mean, busking was a cool experience when we first started because I think it was like the first time when we started getting some crowds, and people like kept coming back to watch us busk? It was a buzzy thing, like what are you doing?

Shaan: Back then it wasn’t like that serious of a band, like rehearsal, it was just having fun. We didn’t even have a name, we just called it Drax because someone was asking us "what should I call this video when I upload it? Like what are you called?". So we were like "uhh, I dunno it’s just drums and sax ... uhh Drax".

Matt: There’s probably a bunch of video of us that are just called like "Wellington buskers".

Shaan: Yeah, so when you think about it, it’s actually crazy that we’re playing today, thanks to Six60, to like 20,000 people. Like, it’s absolutely unreal. It’s been a slow build.

Matt: But also I don’t think I prefer either. I mean, it's amazing that busking was the beginning of it, but like busking was super fun, you know? Like, 100 people dancing on the street at like 2am, but this is just as fun.

Q I guess any opportunity to share your music is good?

Shaan: Yeah. I mean, back then we were just playing covers, it was just so fresh and new for us, we were just jamming on the street playing as loud as we could but like sometimes we’d busk for like eight hours straight. It was fun.

Q Now you’ve got millions of streams on Spotify, so I’m sort of curious how you ensure the commercial side doesn’t take over. How do you balance business and creativity?

Shaan: I think that the commercial side is necessary because that’s what we want to do, you know? Like if we want to be creative. Like we’re just being creative and it happens to be commercial.

Matt: We’re just so grateful that we can do it. It’s actually not that common that people can do it for a living in this country.

Shaan: I mean, for a long time we were working day jobs and trying to make the music thing happen; for, like, four years? I mean, we went to university to, like, study music, but when you go to university to study music ... I mean, I definitely wasn’t thinking "how am I going to make money off this?". It just kind of naturally happened over time, taking it seriously.

Matt: And it’s inspiring when you hear our songs off the radio and see people dancing to videos of our music, that’s kind of like a fuel ...

Shaan: And also, like, Six60 [is] super inspiring, and any musician from New Zealand doing things internationally. Like, when we were first starting, Lorde was popping off and it was like, "wow, someone from New Zealand is No1 in America?". It was just like "wow, why not, why not at least try?". And Kimbra, and like so many bands.

Q What are your future plans?

Shaan: We dropped our first album, in November?

Matt: Yeah, like October last year ... So this year is just more music, more shows. We’ll be over in LA for a bit, writing.

Shaan: Finishing off some more projects ...

Matt: Yeah, we’ve got heaps of songs in the works. It’s actually really nice having heaps of different songs to choose from instead of being like, we need songs, and having to write to finish stuff. We’ve just got so much stuff ready to go. So we’re real excited for this year.

Shaan: In the past it’s like, "we’ve got five songs, OK, let’s put them out". Now it’s like "we’ve got like 40 songs, which ones do we put together?". The creative muscle can definitely be worked on you know? And the more time we spend together and write music together the easier it gets.

Q Have you played in Dunedin much?

Shaan: We’ve played a couple of times, we played in Dunedin like years ago ...

Matt: We’ve done O’ Week stuff but we’ve only done like three shows in Dunedin.

Shaan: The first show we played was crazy, someone ran through a wall at this house party we were at.

The gig

 - Peking Duk, Drax Project, JessB and Jordi at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Thursday, February 20 as part of OUSA Orientation Week.


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