FAULT speaks to Drax Project about opening for Ed Sheeran, busking, and going platinum

Words: Aimee Phillips
Photos: Jack Alexander

 

Hailing from New Zealand, Drax Project – comprised of Shaan Singh (main vocal, saxophone), Matt Beachen (drums), Sam Thomson (bass) and Ben O’Leary (guitar) – are ones to watch. Their fun, pop-jazz fusion music has already led to a platinum record in NZ with ‘Woke Up Late’, from their EP Noon.

FAULT sat down with the four-piece after their support gig for Camila Cabello in London to talk about their journey, writing bad (and good songs), and taking it all in.

 

Tell me about your journey – how did you get to where you are today?

Shaan: We started off busking, playing covers on drums and sax. Then we decided to add a bass player, Sam, and Ben on guitar. Then we started writing our own songs. We were doing shows but hardly any of the songs were originals.

 

Do you still have any of those first original songs in your set now?

All: No! No those are long gone!

Shaan: The development process for writing songs was very different then to what it is now.

Matt: We still know how to play it, I’m sure.

Sam: Song’s come and go.

Ben: We write a lot of bad songs! [laughs]

And some pretty good ones… ‘Woke Up Late’ went platinum in just four months.

Shaan: Since that song came out, stuff has really started taking off for us. We were able to start doing music full time.

Ben: We got some massive opening slots off that song.

 

You opened for Lorde and Ed Sheeran in New Zealand last year. That must have been amazing! How did it feel to play to such a huge audience?

Matt: Ed Sheeran was massive. Something like two or four percent of New Zealand was there. 120,000 people.

Sam: I think it was good for us because it was the first time we’d really had a full team. We spent a lot of time practicing to do as well as we could. It helped that we had three nights as well.

 

So by the third night the novelty had slightly worn off?

Shaan: The first night we couldn’t even comprehend it but by the last show, we were like, I never want to get off the stage.

Matt: We were pretty sad for a few days afterwards because it was such a big high and there was such a big lead up to it.

Sam: Social media went crazy after that. People knew the song but hadn’t really known who we were.

Ben: The Lorde gig was the first show we played after ‘Just Woke Up’ came out. As soon as we started playing, the crowd went wild.

 

How important do you think it is for emerging artists to busk?

Matt: I wouldn’t say it’s very important, but it definitely helped us in crafting ourselves as a live band before we became recording artists.

Ben: It definitely helped the way we approach playing a set. With busking, if people didn’t like what they were hearing, you wouldn’t get any money. People wouldn’t’ stop and listen.

Matt: For us, it’s all about the audience and we want people to have a great time dancing to us live.

 

What are you up to at the moment?

Matt: We’ve just released a five-track EP called Noon. We’re supporting Camila on tour [her Never Be The Same tour] around Europe. Then we’re gonna head back to LA and do some more writing.

Shaan: We’ve got some of our own shows and a festival in America. We’re not back in New Zealand until August.

Sam: We’ve been working towards this sort of thing for quite a long time and hoping that we would get to this point. It doesn’t feel like we’re unprepared.

 

The band was born out of jazz school. How much influence does your training have on your style now?

Shaan: Jazz is all-encompassing. I think all of us feel comfortable with our instruments. Even though we don’t play jazz or write jazz music right now, it gave us the comfort to know how to perform.

Sam: Wellington is known for having a really good music scene, though. There’s gigs going on all the time. You could walk down Cuba Street any night of the week and there would be four bands playing.

 

What are your FAULTs?

Shaan: I’d say our perfectionism is both our fault and our blessing.

Ben: Matt snores!

Sam: We argue over things that don’t matter like snare sounds.

Matt: Maybe that there’s four of us and we don’t know how to make a decision? [laughs]

 

 

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