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]

 

 

Talking to Jamie Lawson about life on the road with Ed Sheeran

 

With an incomparable support slot on Ed Sheeran’s current 46-date tour, Jamie Lawson is conquering arenas around the country with emotional new single ‘Fall into Me’. We sat down with Jamie for an interview before he hit the stage.

 

FAULT: You’re in the middle of a tour with Ed Sheeran, how’s it going?

JL: Yeah, at St James’ Park tonight – it’s crazy.

 

Did you ever think you’d be playing at such large stadiums?

JL: Not really no, it was never on my bucket list really. We’ve got Hampton Park, St. James’ Park and Wembley next week. Then the Principality Stadium the week after.

 

You’ve played Manchester and Glasgow already, how were they?

JL: Yeah they went well, crazy. Everything’s been great; was nice to play in Ireland but it’s great to be back in the UK which meant I got to go home for a few days which has been great. 

 

Give us an insight into a tour day with Ed, what happens?

JL: There’s a lot of sitting around waiting for things to happen. I’ll take you through the day; we have a soundcheck on the first day of the run so we leave for the venue at around 11am, and go straight to the catering and have some food, because the food is amazing. Then we go and soundcheck, we run through all the songs and today we tried out a new song which is cool. Now we’ve got a few hours to kill before we go on. We’re on about half 6, before Anne-Marie. We’ll stick around and have some food and watch Anne-Marie and then watch Ed. Then we’ll try and get out before everyone else leaves because it’s just mayhem when 50,000 people all try to leave the stadium at the same time.

 

Do you get to sit down all 3 of you, to chat about how the show was?

JL: Yeah kind of, we do. I made a huge faux pas in Glasgow by mentioning London in the night so that was amazing, I don’t know how I did it; I’d already mentioned Glasgow about 50 times and then for some reason London came out. We talked about that and they were both incredibly shocked by [laughs]. But yeah we have drinks and all the crews get together and have a chat about how life is on this sort of thing.

 

On social media you’ve posted that you’ve been working on writing new songs, can you tell us more?

JL: Yeah I have, yeah. So the last few days we’ve been in Glasgow and been in a house where we set up in the living room. We’ve been rehearsing new songs and kind of recording them in a very basic manner, just to demo them and see what they sound like. One of those songs we’re sound-checking today with, it’s really nice to hear how it sounds in a big, big venue to see if the sound works in that sort of environment. Some of the songs don’t but this one did. That’s what we’re doing really, trying to use the down time the best we can. It will be more likely that I write a few more songs in August to October and then record in November and December time, with hopefully a new record out by next April, something like that. Fingers crossed that I write the right songs, thats always important. [Laughs]

 

You released your latest album last year on Ed’s label, how has the reception been?

JL: Pretty well in terms of people liking it, it’s definitely my best record to date. I know Ed liked it a lot so I think it was pretty good. Saw that since the tour started it’s gone back into the iTunes chart which is nice and so has the ‘Jamie Lawson’ record. That’s pretty cool. We’re reaching new people everyday because of the arena.

 

Has your new single ‘Fall Into Me’ been received well on tour being on the setlist every night?

JL: Yeah it has, it’s the one we open with actually. It does the job to make sure people get up and get ready to start clapping along and that they’re in for a night to remember, you know. It’s the song that kicks the whole evening off so it needs to be a big song to do that and it seems to do the job well.

 

How do you prepare to go on stage?

JL: It feels very different to one of my own shows. Even though we only play for half an hour I need to get ready a lot earlier so I actually start 2 hours before; singing and warming up in the dressing room and getting into the mindset of what I’m going to do. You kind of have to build yourself up to such a level where you’re at the end of your show already before you even start. So it’s really weird and it wipes you out even though it’s only a short time. I don’t know how Ed does it to be honest, he plays for an hour and a half, so he must be absolutely exhausted.

 

Going back to your roots, is there a dream venue you’d like to play?

JL: Well I originally did Shepherds Bush Empire in London and that was definitely one of my dreams coming through. That was one of the venues I always wanted to play so that was great fun, I loved it. It was a great tour in March, really enjoyable. We played a few lovely venues in here and in Europe as well. But now that I’ve done that, I’ve got my eyes set on the Royal Albert Hall next. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to that level but that would be cool, in such an iconic place, you know? If we ever get there that would be a dream come true.

 

Any fears on going out to a crowd of over 40,000 people?

JL: No, not bothered about that really; it’s surprisingly easy. [laughs] It probably shouldn’t be but it really is. It’s more about loving it rather than knowing it, it really is about the enjoyment of it and feeling very at home on the stage. It’s always been that way for me for whatever size that stage has been, I’ve always felt comfortable. I don’t know if thats a rare thing or not but if you know the book by Tracey Thorn, ‘Naked at the Albert Hall’; talking about how frightening it is but it’s always been the opposite for me. I’ve always found it very easy.

 

What is your FAULT?

JL: Probably a thousand, I wouldn’t know when to stop counting. The biggest thing in my career that has set me back is what they would call ‘networking’. Speaking to other people and meeting the right people, that sort of stuff. I’ve never been any good at that so I don’t know if that’s a fault. Talking about yourself positively all the time is a little arrogant but some people are very good at it, but I never have been. The album was out in Ireland 5 years previously before Ed put it out. But I never met the right people and I guess you just wait until someone good comes along and for me it happened to be the biggest pop star on the planet, so that was lucky. [Laughs]

 

 

You can catch Jamie Lawson and his band as the tour rumbles onto Cardiff’s Principality Stadium on the 21st June for 4 nights before heading to Amsterdam Arena on the 28th June for 2 final nights. New single ‘Fall into Me’, taken from his latest album Happy Accidents (Gingerbread Man Records / Atlantic Records UK) is out soon.

Interview by: Stuart Williams

FAULT Magazine Attends The Brit Awards 2018

 

Last night, we attended The Brit Awards 2018 to cheer on what seemed to be a FAULT Magazine reunion with so many of our previously featured artists up for awards. Little Mix, Dua Lipa, Paloma Faith, Alicia Keys and Liam Gallagher were all nominated this year alongside FAULT favourites Loyle Carner, Rag ‘N’ Bone Man, Ed Sheeran and many more. We’ve said it many times, but 2017 was indeed the year of the British breakthrough acts, in 2016 not many newcomers could achieve 100k sales but won’t you just look at what can happen when studios invest in young talent…!

Loyle Carner, Stormzy, Sampha, Dua Lipa, J Hus, all unknowns two years ago but fast forward to today and all can carry their headline tours and are billed as headliners at numerous festivals this year…And of course, made the nominee list at this year’s Brit Awards.

Justin Timberlake was the opening act inviting Chris Stapleton on stage for a heart-wrenching performance of their hit “Say Something”. Other highlight performances of the night included Sam Smith’s emotional rendition of ‘Too Good At Goodbyes’, Dua Lipa’s ‘New Rules”, Kendrick’s car smashing ‘“FEEL.,” “HUMBLE.” and “New Freezer” and Rag’n’Bone Man and Jorja Smith performing ‘Skin’.

Issue 27 cover star Liam Gallagher gave a touching tribute to the victims of the Manchester Arena bombing which shook the music world back in May of 2017. Performing Oasis’ ‘Live Forever’, it was hard not to get emotional. While Liam might have missed out on picking up the award for British male solo artist, his performance will live on as a talking point whenever people refer to Brit’s 2018 for many years to come.

Moments after collecting his award for British male solo artist of the year, Stormzy took to the stage to show just why he was deserving of such a prestigious award. We’ve reported on Stormzy’s performances at ‘The Mobos’, ‘The Mercury Awards’ and Reading Festival and while all were great, nothing solidified him as an artist of the people as much as this one. Opening to a familiar “Gang Signs and Prayers’ backdrop, his performance began with a never before heard verse aimed directly at Theresa May and her poor handling of the Grenfell Tower fire which affected so many. His words “What you thought we forgot about Grenfell” still echo in our ears, and we only wish he could have sworn on national television to fully commit to the “Tell the Dailymail they can suck my…” for full impact. Stormzy transitioned into an emotional as always rendition of “Blinded by your grace” before ending the show with an energetic and crowd-pleasing ‘Big for your boots.”

Our primary takeaway emotion from this year’s Brit Awards is a strong feeling of pride. Looking down the list of nominees, it’s great to see just such a diverse range of talents. This isn’t just pandering or tokenism either, as Gorillaz mentioned in their winner’s speech “we are a small island” but look at just how far and wide the voices of British talent has travelled this year. In short, another great year for British music, British artists and The Brit Awards.

 

Find the full list of winners below!

 

British Female Solo Artist – Dua Lipa (presented by Millie Bobbie Brown and Kylie)

British Male Solo Artist – Stormzy (presented by Little Mix)

International Group – Foo Fighters (presented by Anna Friel and Damian Lewis)

British Single – Rag‘n’Bone Man ‘Human’ (presented by Dermot O’Leary and Emma Willis)

International Male Solo Artist – Kendrick Lamar (presented by Camila Cabello and Harry Kane)

British Breakthrough Act (Top 5 selected by Voting Academy. Winner identified by public vote promoted by brits.co.uk and BBC Radio 1) –  Dua Lipa (presented by Clara Amfo and Alice Levine)

International Female Solo Artist – Lorde (on tape) (presented by Ellie Goulding and Adowa Aboah)

British Group – Gorillaz (presented by Hailey Baldwin and Luke Evans)

BRITs Global Success Award – Ed Sheeran (presented by Ronnie Wood, with a VT from Sir Elton John)

British Artist Video Award (Live Vote by Twitter) – Harry Styles – Sign of the Times (presented by Sir Tom Jones, Jennifer Hudson, Olly Murs)

Mastercard British Album of The Year – Stormzy – Gang Signs & Prayer (presented by Nile Rodgers)

KYGO – EXCLUSIVE ONLINE COVER SHOOT AND INTERVIEW

Jacket by Frame | Tshirt by London Denim | Jeans by Zadig & Voltaire |

Kygo – real name Kyrre Gørvell-Dahll – is always on the go. When we caught up with the tropical house sensation, he was in New York, doing promo for his new sophomore album, ‘Kids In Love’. It won’t be long until he’s jumping on a plane to his next destination.

 

The 26-year-old DJ and producer wasn’t planning a career in music, but what started off as experimentation on Soundcloud has resulted in a meteoric rise to fame, billions of streams, and shows at huge festivals such as Coachella and TomorrowWorld. We caught up with Kygo to chat about mixing up his sound, his dreams to work with Ed Sheeran and never sitting still.

Hoody by Kygo Life | Trousers Kygos own

 

How has your unexpected success affected you personally and how do you stay grounded when you’re playing gigs to thousands of people on an almost daily basis?

It’s about the people you surround yourself with. I’ve kept all my old friends, my manager, my girlfriend. They keep me grounded. It [fame] doesn’t really affect me that much. I see my family, I keep busy by always traveling and playing shows. I get to do what I love for a living.

 

You popularised tropical house to the point where you were working with superstars such as Ellie Goulding and Selena Gomez. How did you arrive at this unique personal sound?

It was just through a period of experimenting. When I was studying [at university] I would play music in my bedroom all the time. I spent hours and hours experimenting with different sounds. I was inspired by [artists like] Avicii and Swedish House Mafia but I felt like everyone else was trying to sound like them, so I started listening to other stuff like deep house and found the sound I have now. It wasn’t like a plan, it was just stuff that I thought was cool.

 

How do you prepare to play live? Do you have any pre-show rituals?

I like to take ten or fifteen minutes before the show to concentrate and get in the zone. There’s always so much stuff going on and so many people around.

Jacket and T- Shirt by Prevu London | Jeans by Zadig & Voltaire

You’ve recently collaborated with a plethora of artists such on your new album; some which are well known, like John Newman and OneRepublic, but some which are still largely under the radar like The Night Game. Why did you choose to work with these artists in particular?

My label sets up a lot of studio sessions for me. They recommend people to work with. I like to be very open-minded about people I work with. Even some songwriters or artists I’ve never heard of before, I’ll just try it and see what happens.

 

Is there anyone you’d love to work with down the line?

There’s a lot of people! Always on top of the list is Ed Sheeran. I did some remixes of Ed Sheeran four years ago. The Weeknd would be cool. Coldplay could be cool. Imagine Dragons as well.

 

In what way is your new album, ‘Kids in Love’ the follow-up or partner album to your last record, ‘Cloud 9’?

I think it’s a follow-up. There’s definitely some of the same sounds in there but a little different. I’ve tried to have fun with myself and my sound and mix it up. I didn’t want to make the same album or a similar album all over again, I wanted to make something new. I’m very happy with it. Some of the songs I’d be jamming on the piano but some of the songs were demos that would get sent over that I’d feel really inspired by. With the OneRepublic track and The Night Game track, we wrote those both from scratch together.

Coat by Coach 1941 | Shirt by Diesel Black Gold | Hoody by Kygo Life | Trousers by Michael Kors

Do you have a favourite song from the album?

It’s always tough to pick a favourite as I like all the songs on the album but I think ‘Kids In Love’, the title track if I had to pick, would probably be my favourite.

 

Is it because it means the most to you?

Yeah, it does! I’d been working on the song for over a year. When I make a track it only takes three days or a week or two, then after a while, you make some tweaks and release it. I usually like to tweak a song but it doesn’t make it much better. It’s not good to change it too much. This song sounded so big and powerful that I wanted to make sure it was perfect before I released it, so I spent a lot of time on it.

Jacket by Frame | Tshirt by London Denim |Jeans by Zadig & Voltaire

What is your FAULT?

I’m definitely always late. I can’t sit still. If I’m sitting in a chair I always have to move my feet. It must be quite annoying – not for me but for the people around me!

 

Words: Aimee Phillips 

Photography: Conor Clinch 

Styling: Dee Moran

Grooming: Graziella Vella using Becca and Kevyn Aucoin

Production: Adina Ilie

 

The Brit Awards 2017 – FAULTless Bits

 

 

This year’s Brit Awards were in no shortage of talent. From Skepta‘s unreal performance to The 1975 winning Best British Group and Katy Perry making a political statement with her performance, the upcoming year in music seems brighter than it ever has.

Wham! made a touching tribute to George Michael and Chris Martin performed a secret duet with the late musician, which resulted in the evening’s most memorable and emotional moment.

FAULT was there to witness it all and here’s some of our highlights from inside the music industry’s biggest event of the year.

FAULT Alumni Little Mix opened the show with a futuristic and groundbreaking performance, joined on stage by over 100 backup dancers.

 

Katy Perry made a stir with her controversial mock-up of Theresa May and Donald Trump while one of her backup houses accidentally – walked – off stage.

The Chainsmokers debuted a brand new single with Coldplay that no one knew about.

Chris Martin carried on to pay a touching tribute to George Michael after the former members of Wham! took the stage to pay their respects to the late musician.

 

Robbie Williams closed the evening with a round-up of his most successful tunes.

Not to say that his performance was FAULTless – but we nearly didn’t notice the glitch that forced him to cheer the crowd into singing along. We still loved it Robbie.

 

As awards season is slowly simmering down, we can’t wait to see what 2018 will bring. This year, the abundance of talent was exhuberating and it definitely set the bar higher for the year to come.

 

Coverage: Adina Ilie

FAULT Future: Sody making the most of her ‘youth’

 

Listening to Sody, it’s easy to forget how young she is in her career and life. At just 15, her vocal range and power is just as brilliant as performers many years her senior. Gaining great acclaim from her single entitled Sorry, last month we were treated to a new collaboration with Martin Luke Brown entitled ‘Wasted Youth’. FAULT sat down with Sody to find out more about her artistry, history and bright, bright future.

Has singing always been the dream? 

Yes, absolutely!

 

‘Wasted Youth’ has been on repeat in the office all day! How did the collaboration with Martin Luke Brown come about?

I was at the Reading festival last year and stumbled into a tent for his set. I thought he was amazing and asked my manager to reach out for a session. ‘Sorry’, my first single, was born from our first ever writing session and then ‘Wasted Youth’ followed! He’s my big bro AND bestie!

 

‘Sorry’ is such a powerful song with a huge vocal. Do you prefer punchy belters to the more stripped back tracks?

Everything starts stripped back for me. I write using piano so it’s always fun to build it. I love to get lost in a track I can really push myself on. Sometimes the challenge is more intense and exciting when you do a  track  stripped back for live as you feel more exposed. I think both elements should always make up any album or live show.

 

You’re at such a young age but you’re singing about love and other quite mature themes, do you ever feel a disconnect between your personal life and the themes of your music?

I’ve grown up with 5 older siblings, so when I wrote my first song at 10 it was definitely inspired by the life of others. Growing up in that environment has influenced my maturity levels and how I see the world. Now I do write most of my songs from personal experiences but if you are writing with others, a little of their experience can wash over the song too.

 

What can people expect to hear from your EP?

A small piece of my soul cushioned by bass, beats and synths! Gritty, dark, unapologetic pop?

 

What other musicians are you listening to at the moment?

Oh Wonder and Aurora. 

 

Biggest inspiration?

Definitely Ed Sheeran because I love how instantly recognisable his song’s are and how unique his tone is. On a more alternative side, I think Jack Garratt is pushing musical boundaries and his live shows are just on point plus he has the best laugh.

 

What do you have planned for the rest of 2016?

Writing, Gigs, Festivals, Friends, Food and FUN!

 

What is your FAULT? 

Clothes all over the floor… and leaving lids off EVERYTHING!

 

Sody’s EP is out now