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]

 

 

FAULT in conversation with Warpaint’s Theresa ‘TT’ Wayman

Words: Jennifer Parkes

 

Have you heard of TT? The moniker may not be too familiar right now, but you’re almost certain to know of Theresa Wayman, founding member of iconic indie rock band Warpaint, and otherwise known as TT.

 

While the group’s psychedelic dream pop has enticed and entranced fans for the past 14 years, last month saw Wayman release her own offering, LoveLaws, under her two-lettered alter-ego. But this is no band break-up – Warpaint shows no signs of slowing down, with several tour dates in the diary for 2018. FAULT caught up with Wayman in between shows to talk more about her debut solo offering, the challenges facing women in the music industry, and dream festival line-ups…

 

So, you’ve just released a solo album, which is pretty exciting! What made you decide to do that alongside Warpaint?

I just needed to be expressing more than I can do in Warpaint; it’s been 14 years being in a collaborative process, and I wanted to experience being on my own and having more control.

 

Did you approach this album differently at all to how you approach creating an album as a band? What were the challenges in that?

I didn’t have to do it in any specific timeframe, so I was able to indulge myself and question things more. It was scary to do that at times, and I worried I would never make it to the end – sometimes it seemed like I could keep questioning forever, but I figured it out!

 

You examine love and relationships in a number of ways across different tracks, but I’m also intrigued by the album’s title ‘LoveLaws’ – how did that come to be?

I thought of that title as a good concept to build an album from. I was feeling ruled by love and romance, and also seeing love as being a fundamental of life in so many ways. It seemed important to write about it.

 

Who would you say your influences have been, both in your own music and as a band? 

First and foremost, my music is always influenced by my emotions and mood. I tend to go into starting a song feeling blind, like I have no idea what will come out of me until I see it on the page. But then I start to hone it and let influences in, like Al Green, Sade or Trip Hop like Portishead and Massive Attack. Also current artists like King Krule, Rihanna and Adele, and that song ‘Get Free’ by Major Lazer.

 

How do you feel Warpaint’s sound has developed over the last 14 years?

I think Warpaint has gone in many directions over the years; we’re becoming more concise with our arrangements and clearer in what we’re saying. We used to jam a lot and write together in a room, but we did less of that on this last album – I think we’re into the idea of going back to that again, just because that old way now seems like something new and different.

 

 

It’s impressive that, as an all-female four-piece, Warpaint has stood the test of time in a notoriously misogynistic industry – how have you dealt with challenges that you’ve faced over the years in this respect? 

I think there’s more freedom in the indie-rock world for a girl band to exist, and not feel as much pressure and expectation to be something appealing to men. I think that’s a lot more common in the pop world.

 

I’ve generally felt very welcomed by our male peers, although there are times I’ve felt excluded from “the boys club”, like I can’t be a part of some technical conversation or ask questions. But I think the guys that act like that are the most insecure, and ultimately want to exclude women just because they just don’t know how to talk to them or don’t feel attractive to them.

 

Are there any new artists that you’re into at the moment you think we should keep an ear out for?

Kali Uchis, who I’m sure you’ve already heard of! And Dick Stusso – he’s from Oakland, he’s a really great singer/guitar player/overall musician, and he’s self-produced.

 

You guys have a few tour dates  over summer, including playing at All Points East Festival – are there any bands you happened to catch while you were there, or at other festivals?

Yes! War On Drugs at All Points East, and I saw Bjork and Fever Ray at Primavera – they were absolutely incredible!

 

If you were to host a festival, anywhere in time and space, what would your dream location and line-up be? 

Probably on the beach somewhere in the Caribbean. It would be Bjork from the Homogenic tour, so that she’s playing songs from debut and post too, with Portishead, Nirvana, Al Green, Kendrick Lamar, Fever Ray, Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, and Bob Dylan playing all my favourite songs from over the years (I would get to choose)… the list could really go on and on!

 

Lastly, something we ask all of our guests, what is your FAULT?

I can be really stubborn and not let things go, and I always need to be right. I’m working on it!

 

LoveLaws is available to buy now – visit ttlovelaws.com for more info.

 

Clean Bandit – Exclusive Online Cover Shoot and Interview

Clean Bandit, formed of Grace Chatto and brothers Jack and Luke Patterson, are known for their inescapably catchy hybrid of electro-classical-pop. The band, which originated in Cambridge, won a Grammy for their song, ‘Rather Be’ and have had three number one hits in the UK to date, a figure that will no doubt continue to climb as they release new music.

We caught up with the trio following their exclusive shoot for FAULT’s online cover, to talk about their upcoming sophomore album, dream collaborations, love of touring and not letting the pressures of success get to them.

GRACE – Top: River Island, Trousers: Aphid, Shoes: stylists own / JACK – Suit: New & Lingwood, T-Shirt: River Island, Shoes: Converse / LUKE – Jumper: Cheap Monday, Trousers: River Island, Shoes: Converse

‘New Eyes’ was released three years ago and you’ve got a follow-up album in the works. Can you tell us anything about the focal themes?

Grace: I think the first album was a lot more lighthearted, whilst our second album, with the lyrics anyway, are more serious. Some of them are about breaking up, like ‘I Miss You’ and ‘Tears’, which will both be on the album. The music is still quite dancey.

Jack: I think other acts find it easier to put out a larger volume of music at a time but as we produce and write all our own stuff, and we also produce and make the music videos, it just takes us so much longer to create each piece of music, so we’ve really been focusing on that the last few years. We were touring our first album for a really long time as well. But our second one is in the works and it’s nearly done. Hopefully early next year.

You’ve previously said that you focus on making individual songs rather than making music as a collective body of work. Is this the approach you’re continuing with?

Luke: I reckon so, yeah. It kinda suits the way we work. We’ve been getting into the video side of things even more since the last [album]; making things even more extravagant working with bigger crews, trying not to limit ourselves.

Grace: A lot of our singles have been quite different styles but one thing that unifies this album is the way that we made it. It was much less produced from the beginning. With the last album, we would think about the sounds and make them on the computer but with these, it was more about the piano and voice firstly, then thinking about all the electronics afterwards.

Jacket, Topshop – Tee, River Island

You’ve collaborated with a number of British solo artists – from Anne Marie and Louisa to Jess Glynne – all of whom, at the time of working with you, were still up and coming. Did you choose to work with these singers because you feel it’s important to help nurture homegrown talent like yourselves?

Jack: All of those people are just so talented in their own right. We’re always looking for amazing voices to either write with or record and perform songs.

Grace: We always try to think about what voice will work best with the song we’ve got. We took ‘Rather Be’ to Jess Glynne and quite a few other singers as well to try out different voices but it worked best with hers. ‘I Miss You’ was different because we wrote it with Julia Michaels and it’s a very personal song to her. We heard Zara Larsson singing at a festival a few years ago, showed her ‘Symphony’, she loved it and came on board with it straightaway. It totally transformed the track. It’s exciting when someone brings a whole new personality and vibe to a song.

GRACE – Top: Monki, Trousers: Monki, Shoes: Jimmy Choo / JACK – Top: Coach, Trousers: Jack’s own, Shoes: Converse / LUKE – Top: Urban Outfitters, Trousers: Luke’s own, Shoes: Converse

Who would you absolutely love to work with?

Jack: Beyonce, Lana del Rey, Drake, Kendrick Lamar…

Luke: Stormzy.

Jack: Frank Ocean.

Grace: Miley Cyrus, Bruno Mars, Bryson Tiller.

You’ve got a big US tour lined up for next year. Do you enjoy life on the road?

Grace: I love it. It’s really cathartic thing for me because I love travelling and seeing real people react to our music in real time. There’s no feeling like it. I also love playing with other people.

Luke: I love being out there. I love dedicated time to tours when you know you’re going to be away for a month and you can really get into the zone.

Jack: Weirdly it’s only on tour that we find a routine. When we’re back in the UK what we’re doing is so disjointed.

Grace: Having a tour manager that looks after us all is like being on a school trip; telling us where to go, what to do [laughs]!

Jacket, Issey Miyake

Which are your favourite songs to play live?

Jack: ‘Disconnect’, our collaboration with Marina and the Diamonds. Some good keyboard moments in there.

Luke: It’s still ‘Rather Be’. We’ve changed it up a bit and have some insane key changes at the end of the song which just take it up a notch.

Jack: We like to remix older tracks as well when we’re playing live.

Grace: ‘Rockabye’ and ‘Birch’.

GRACE – Dress: Amanda Wakeley, Shoes: Stylist’s own / JACK – Top: Levi’s Jeans: River Island, Shoes: Filling Pieces / LUKE – Shirt: Paul Smith @ Finnicks Trousers: All Saints Shoes, Jimmy Choo

You’ve had three number one hits in the UK so far. There must be quite a lot of pressure to keep producing chart-toppers. How do you stay on top of your game and not let this get to you?

Luke: There’s a lot of collaborations that go on that are all about the fame game, but our mentality is just to write a quality tune rather than remixing something just for the sake of it.

Grace: We just try and make songs that we like rather than making what we think other people will like.

Jacket & Jeans, Topshop / Shoes, Grace’s Own

What is your FAULT?

Grace: I’m bossy. It can get on other people’s nerves but it can also help get stuff done.

Luke: What’s my fault?

Jack: Your fault? You’re a bastard [laughs]!

Luke: That’s not my fault, that’s your fault!

 

Find Clean Bandit on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

Words: Aimee Phillips

Photography: Jack Alexander

Styling: Holly Ounstead

Make-Up: Elaine Lynskey using MAC Cosmetics

Hair: Narad Kutowaroo using Unite Hair

Styling Assistants: Ellie McWhan and Jordyn Antunes

Special thanks: Burlock

Sundara Karma – Live at Brixton O2 Academy

Reading four-piece Sundara Karma played their biggest ever headline show on 5th October to a delirious crowd at Brixton O2 Academy. Comprised of vocalist/guitarist Oscar Pollock, drummer Haydn Evans, bassist Dom Cordell, and guitarist Ally Baty, the indie pop/rock band has been making music since the tender age of fourteen.

With support from Willie J. Healey and The Magic Gang, the quartet kicked off their gig with gothic number ‘Another Word for Beautiful’, before launching into the more upbeat crowd pleasers ‘A Young Understanding’ and ‘Loveblood’.

The evening saw the band play the entire ‘Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect’ album, intertwined with a few old favourites such as ‘Flame’, ‘Run Away’ and ‘In the Night’; much to the delight of their captivated fans, who sang along with Pollock word for word on almost every track. The androgynous frontman even jumped into the crowd during ‘Vivienne’.

“Is heaven such a fine thing?” Pollock sang on ‘Olympia’, bathed in the blue luminescence of the stage, which shifted to red as the gig progressed, three white orbs glowing behind him. 

Ending their set with ‘Explore’, Drummer Haydn Evans cast his sticks into the crowd before the band exited the stage to a fittingly roaring applause.

Sundara Karma’s lyrics might be about the trials and tribulations of youth, but their evolved sound offsets their young years. Filled with entrancing guitar riffs and soaring vocals, a live show with them is not to be missed.

Words Aimee Phillips

FAULT catches up with Oh Wonder upon the release of their sophomore album

In just three years, songwriting duo Oh Wonder – made up of Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West – have gone from a self-releasing online sensation to an internationally-touring band signed to Island Records with over 4.5million monthly listeners on Spotify. Now, they’re back two years later with their bedazzling 12-track sophomore album, ‘Ultralife’. We caught up with the duo to talk about their evolution since their self-titled first album, staying grounded, emotional music, and weird fan experiences.

 

What was the inspiration behind your new album, ‘Ultralife’?

Josephine: We’ve been touring constantly for the best part of two years, which has been incredible because when we started with this band, we just conceived it as a writing project, it was never going to be an internationally touring thing! ‘Ultralife’ is totally inspired by that shift in living and the new routine we have, which is just bizarre. You’re away from everything you know all the time. A constant adventure.

 

How do you feel you have evolved musically since your self-titled last album was released?

Anthony: Being on the road, we’ve played with musicians on stage and it made us feel we really needed to convey that on the record track.

Josephine: We brought our live band into the studio – our bassist and our drummer – and they’re all over the record. So much of the record is live takes of the four of us jamming. We hope that we’ve injected a lot more of the raw, live energy that really comes to life at things like festivals.

Anthony: The first record was very mellow so this time we wanted to give it more life.

 

 

What is your creative process when writing songs?

Josephine: It’s totally equal and collaborative. Typically we do write at a piano and we both come forward with ideas. We never go into a space where it’s like: “I’ve written this song, what do you reckon?” We would never do that because we want to conceive everything completely together.

 

How do you stay grounded with your increasing international fame?

Anthony: Trying to have a sense of normality about your life is the hardest bit.

Josephine:  Our friends are really good at that. None of them really care that we make music. You get home and they’re like, ‘You’ve been away? Cool’ [laughs].

Anthony: We take our friends on tour as well to keep us grounded.

Josephine: Fame as a concept is not something that really appeals to us. I’d hate to be famous. You have to just constantly remind yourself that five years ago when we were playing to like six people a night in Birmingham – that in itself is amazing. To have six people come out to watch you in Birmingham is as amazing as having 3,000 people come out to watch you in San Francisco. You lose perspective really easily when in Kuala Lumpur you’re like, ‘We’ve only sold 3,000 tickets; it’s a 4,000 cap room!’ You just have to stop yourself and be like: this is amazing. Whatever level you’re at in life, it’s just about gratitude.

 

What is your favourite song to play live?

Anthony: Our song Heavy – we’ve only played it live once – we put it together last week to put on stage. We don’t really have to do anything as on the record, that song is literally just a live take of us playing.

Josephine: It’s just got such a groove! I’m just really annoyed that I have to play an instrument when I just wanna dance!

 

What was the first song you played live together?

Both: Livewire!

Anthony: It was at our first show in London in 2015. It was the first song we played and we were so nervous!

Josephine: We’d been practising for ages, trying to sing completely in unison. It wasn’t natural; it was all very robotic.

Anthony: Probably the best show we’ve played! We’ve let it slip a bit since then [laughs].

 

What song makes you cry?

Josephine: So many!

Anthony: Probably Still – The Cinematic Orchestra. Brothers on a Hotel Bed by Death Cab [For Cutie].

Josephine: I got a text from my brother the other day, who’s in Madrid currently, saying that Castle on a Hill by Ed Sheeran is his new favourite jam and when I hear it to think of him. I heard it on the radio and just because my brother has sent me this note and he was so far away, I found myself welling up in the car!

 

What song always make you feel happy?

Anthony: Mine would be Joni Mitchell – Big Yellow Taxi. It’s the morning tune isn’t it? Perfect to make pancakes to.

Josephine: Mine would be Phoenix – Listomania. Big tune. Great driving tune.

 

 

What is the weirdest fan experience you’ve had?

Josephine: There’s so many! We get a lot of people asking us to write our names on a piece of paper, then the next morning we’ll check Instagram and it’s been tattooed on them! We’ve been given loads of weird gifts like shark’s teeth that someone found at the bottom of the ocean. We’ve been given little figurines that someone’s made of us.

Anthony: Lots of paintings. Fans are like, ‘Take them home!’ and we’re like, ‘We’re getting on a flight!’ [laughs]

Josephine: We get a lot of proposals. The weirdest fan proposal we’ve had was in Brighton –

Anthony: Not proposals to us – between fans.

Josephine: He [the fan] wanted us to be there in this room whilst he proposed to his girlfriend. It was a bit odd because we came down and she was like: “Oh hello!” and he was like: “I’ve got a question to ask you,” and then she kind of said yes and then they were like, “Ok, well bye!” We just thought, why are we here? Do they want a photo? They were like, “No” [laughs].

 

What is your FAULT?

Anthony: Mine would be tanning [he reveals his burnt arms from a recent holiday and laughs]. Practice would be mine. I would be a lot better at stuff if I practised more. I always do things to a level and then I’m like, let’s move on to something else. Attention span. That’s why I’ve signed up to marathons.

Josephine: You’re trying to do the Great Wall of China. It’s hard to walk, let alone run!

Anthony: There’s a chunk of it – 26.2 miles – but there’s 15,000 steps involved. And I’ve got terrible knees.

Josephine: I am very stubborn. If things don’t go my way I don’t like it very much. I’m a bit of a control freak. Everything that you see that is Oh Wonder related has come from us.

Anthony: That’s also the secret to your success as well.

 

Oh Wonder’s sophomore album ‘Ultralife’ is out now. Find it on Spotify, Apple Music and iTunes.

Words Aimee Phillips

Photography Annick Wolfers