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 Magazine Weekly Playlist – XYLØ

xylo

Los Angeles Brother/sister duo XYLØ first captured our attention this summer with the decidedly dreampop single “Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea,” with singer Paige’s meandering vocals backed by lush synths and piano chords. Their music is dark yet hopeful, simultaneously capturing all of our ambitions and regrets. We asked Chase and Paige to put together some of their favorite songs and the result is a mix of classic tunes (Bruce Springsteen) and a few more recent hits (Rihanna and Selena Gomez), proving that their musical tastes are as diverse and richly layered as their own productions.

CHASE 

Bruce Springsteen – I’m on Fire

“This is soundtrack for a warm summer night drive, it has this tension and sexiness. He has such a commanding presence to his vocals (almost has me convinced I should have sex with him). I love the atmosphere the synthesizer adds, it almost doesn’t fit, wait…it totally fits. Brilliant.”

Lana Del Rey – Young and Beautiful
“I love the song writing, it’s so somber. She’s so vulnerable, it’s almost pathetic, but it’s ok because her voice is so darn cute. Lovely strings as well.”

Rihanna – Bitch Better Have My Money
“This is a great song to listen to while sitting in LA traffic to help distract you from the living hell your experiencing. Trust me.”

PAIGE

Disclosure – Magnets ft. Lorde
“I love the lyrics and the picture they paint….’smoke and Sunset off Mulholland…’
I would listen to this as I’m putting on my make-up for a night out. #amiriteladies !?”

Selena Gomez – Same Old Love
“This is a laid back tune, yet it has a really sassy vibe to it. Which is a common trait of our music. It’s a signature Charli XCX melody performed by a sultry Selena.”

The Smiths – There Is A Light And It Never Goes Out
“Personally , I believe that this is one of the best love songs ever written. A hopeful song for a hopeless soul. The pleasure, the privilege is mine…”

XYLØ on Socials:
Facebook
Twitter
Soundcloud

FAULT Future: Flo Morrissey

 

Flo Morrissey is a chanteuse who sits somewhere between a Lana Del Rey penchant for romantic nostalgia, the bohemian power of Florence & the Machine, the whispered and mystical vocals of early Björk, and the effortless charm of Jane Birkin or Stevie Nicks.

At only 20, her sound and lyrics are incredibly well-honed, born of influences her contemporaries haven’t heard of and a detachment from pop culture that has made her incredibly unique both to listen to, and to look at.

Having just released her debut single ‘Pages of Gold‘, and just finished her first tour in the UK supporting The Staves, we sat down with Flo to talk cinematic sounds, the world around the artist, and the power of not always saying yes…

Flo Morrissey (2015), by Kurtiss Lloyd

Flo Morrissey (2015), by Kurtiss Lloyd

How are you finding the tour so far?

I’m loving it – it’s my first one so it was quite daunting to start with, doing something new every night for people who haven’t necessarily come to see you! But it’s great to be playing with The Staves because the audience is there to really listen.

In terms of your biggest performances so far – SXSW, Green Man, etc. – it seems like you are really selective when it comes where to play. Is that the case?

Yeah, it’s just the way my path has gone. I think it’s down to the Internet- I started putting up my demos at 14 and never really did shows in pubs or clubs like other acts. I was just lucky that my manager found me online. I think people say yes to too many things nowadays, and it takes away the special nature of actually doing a show.

Is the live aspect something you enjoy, or is it something you find daunting?

I enjoy it more and more because I’m still new to it – but you never know how you’re going to feel after a show. One thing could change and you wish you had done it differently. But I want to perform more and I’m excited to do more shows. It’s just hard in the beginning! When I go on the road, I’ll hopefully have a multi-instrumentalist to play with me so it will be a little less daunting and lonely.

Beyond the live show, is sharing the actual music something that makes you feel vulnerable?

I don’t really think about it until after, when I realise how weird it can be to speak about the songs. I’d rather people had their own interpretation of it. It’s nice to think that someone else might get something from it as well.

Flo Morrissey (2015), by Kurtiss Lloyd

Flo Morrissey (2015), by Kurtiss Lloyd

The individualism of your music and vision is clearly close to your heart. As you grow as an artist- being signed and managed and touring in the UK and beyond- is it harder to retain that sense of self?

I picked my label because they completely let me do what I want to, and I don’t have to compromise. People have this idea of the music industry as this place where you always have to say yes, but you really don’t. I still do my own Facebook and Instagram, and I wouldn’t want that to ever change.

How did you start writing music?

I started putting stuff on Myspace when I was about 14. I used to sing more classical music at school, but I started playing guitar and it was just more fun! So I made my own recordings, and my own videos, and put covers online. I was this 15 year-old girl acting as my own manager, sending my music out to blogs and it just felt really natural.

In that vein of being your own manager, it seems that your vision is really all-encompassing? Is it important to you that all the elements are cohesive in that way?

I think it is really important to have a kind of world around the artist, but then you can’t think about it in that way. I just try to be natural about it.

How do you see yourself going forward? Pages of Gold, (the upcoming single), marks a shift towards a much bigger sound.

I am really open to experimentation and a lot of the songs on the album have big string sections. I’d love to bring a live band on tour because a lot of the songs are quite cinematic and I’m glad it went that way. It could have been a real folk record but I always wanted to have this more cinematic sound.

Flo Morrissey (2015), by Kurtiss Lloyd

Flo Morrissey (2015), by Kurtiss Lloyd

How was the process of recording your album in LA over the summer?

It was quite lonely at time because LA is just such a huge place. It was the longest I’ve ever been away from home but my manager lives there which was great, and I get along so well with Noah, the producer.

You are quite a quintessentially British artist- what do you see as the differences between making music in the US and the UK?

It was quite inspiring to be there because they won’t say no- they had this kind of “you go girl!” mentality (laughs) and it was actually really good for me! They strive for a lot and it’s so easy, and English, to be self-deprecating but it helped in music terms to have that empowerment on hand.

Do you feel the music industry has been really supportive so far?

I’ve been so lucky but I try not to think about it too much! I sometimes feel like my music is maybe not that accessible, especially with just me and a guitar because it’s so vulnerable and raw. It won’t appeal to everyone but I strangely like that. Usually the best things are the ones that have flaws.

On that note, what is your FAULT?

I worry too much!

Flo Morrissey (2015), by Kurtiss Lloyd

Flo Morrissey (2015), by Kurtiss Lloyd

https://www.facebook.com/FloMorrissey

All photographs by Kurtiss Lloyd

BRIT Awards 2014 Nominations Announced

Disclosure and Bastille lead the way with four nominations each, while Critic’s Choice Awards winner Sam Smith has also just topped the BBC Sound of 2014 poll.

Disclosure

Disclosure

The full list of nominees for this year’s BRIT Awards was announced on January 9, to coincide with the broadcast of ITV teaser show ‘The BRITs Are Coming’, hosted by Nick Grimshaw.

Disclosure look set to clean up at this year’s ceremony, held at the O2 Arena on February 19. The duo have been nominated for British Group, British Breakthrough Act, British Single (with White Noise) and Mastercard Album of the Year. Joining them in the four-nomination stakes are Bastille, who are also touted for British Single and British Breakthough Act, while FAULT Featured artist Ellie Goulding and One Direction follow close behind with two nominations each.

Bastille_13700_thumb_580_326

Bastille

“We’re completely blown away by four nominations!” says Dan Smith of Bastille. “When we started the band, we never thought we’d be recognised in such a way so the whole thing is an awesome surprise.”

London Grammar, who are nominated for British Breakthough Act alongside Bastille, called it a ‘huge honour’.

New to the music scene last year, Passenger and Lorde are also up for British Single and International Female Solo Artist respectively.

ellie goulding - FAULT 15 Style section cover

Ellie Goulding – as featured inside FAULT Issue 15

Confirmed to perform on the night are Arctic Monkeys, Katy Perry, Bastille, Bastille, Rudimental, Bruno Mars and Ellie Goulding, who herself won the Critic’s Choice award in 2010. “I remember how important and exciting the BRITS were to me as a child,” says Goulding. “I’m so happy and grateful to be a part of it again this year.” More performers are yet to be announced in the run-up to the ceremony.

Watch Sam Smith perform new single ‘Money on my Mind’ on ‘The BRITs Are Coming’, January 9

 

Full list of nominees:

British Male Solo Artist
David Bowie
Jake Bugg
James Blake
John Newman
Tom Odell

 

British Female Solo Artist
Birdy
Ellie Goulding
Jessie J
Laura Marling
Laura Mvula

 

British Group
Arctic Monkeys
Bastille
Disclosure
One Direction
Rudimental

London Grammar

London Grammar

British Breakthrough Act
London Grammar
Bastille
Disclosure
Laura Mvula
Tom Odell

 

British Single of the Year
Bastille – Pompei
Calvin Harris and Ellie Goulding – I need your love
Disclosure – White Noise
Ellie Goulding – Burn
John Newman – Love me again
Naughty Boy – La, La, La
Olly Murs – Dear Darlin’
One Direction – One Way or Another
Passenger – Let Her Go
Rudimental – Waiting All Night

 

MasterCard British Album of the Year
Arctic Monkeys – AM
Bastille – Bad Blood
David Bowie – The Next Day
Disclosure – Settle
Rudimental – Home

 

International Male Solo Artist
Bruno Mars
Drake
Eminem
John Grant
Justin Timberlake

Lorde

Lorde

 

International Female Solo Artist
Janelle Monae
Katy Perry
Lady Gaga
Lorde
Pink

 

International Group
Arcade Fire
Daft Punk
Haim
Kings of Leon
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

FAULT Presents: Our Top 20 Albums of 2013 (part 1)

Along with the celebrations that come with ringing in the new year, there is always the inevitable “totting-up” of the year gone by. With that in mind, we at FAULT have put our heads together and come up with our eclectic, eccentric and (hopefully) excellent list of our favourite feature releases of 2013 – from the debuts that demanded to be noticed to the follow-ups that showed us who we can’t forget.

It’s not always the case, but last year was a particularly rich one for music lovers, which made it tough to narrow down our choices. We eventually settled on 20 of our personal favourites – mostly because we thought that most of you would get bored by a longer list!

In no particular order, then, here’s our first set of picks for 2013’s albums of the year. Part 2 will follow later this week – be sure to keep an eye on FAULT Online:

 20. Lorde – Pure Heroine

lorde

The outspoken and wise-beyond-her-years New Zealander unveiled her debut album amid a flurry of press claiming she’d denounced the likes of Demi Lovato, Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez for portraying women in a negative, over-sexualised manner. Her thought-provoking lyrics and sparse, sometimes dark, electro-pop sound immediately set her apart from the heavily visual (and sexual) gimmicks employed by some other young artists. A must-listen antidote to manufactured pop.

Lorde – ‘Royals’:

 

19. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Specter at the Feast

brmc

BRMC’s seventh album showed a mellower side to the band, with the energy of previous hits such as ‘Spread Your Love’ in something of a short supply. It works, though – they display a surprising tender side in ‘Lullaby’ and pull off this new, gentler sound very well. Calming down might not be what we expected of them after we witnessed them recording at Cobb Studio for FAULT Issue 9, but ‘Specter at the Feast’ may well be one of their best offerings yet.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – ‘Firewalker’:

 

18. Disclosure – Settle

disclosure

Kicking off the proceedings is arguably one of the best debuts seen in recent years. Featuring the likes of Aluna George, Eliza Doolittle and hotly-tipped purveyors of artfully depressing aural beauty London Grammar, ‘Settle’ provided many a summer anthem and saw the duo nominated for a Grammy. Despite their tender ages of 22 and 20, brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence showed an impressive grasp of effortlessly cool minimalist dance-pop.

Disclosure – ‘Latch’:

 

17. Pearl Jam – Lightning Bolt

pearl jam

With ‘Lightning Bolt’, grunge stalwarts Pearl Jam proved that the murky sound of Nineties Seattle is no distant memory. They demonstrated that they’re still as relevant today as they were when their game-changing debut ‘Ten’ was released in 1991, with this set of twelve fresh tracks, showcasing a hint of lo-fi cool but plenty of their signature raw attitude and rich melodies. As if that wasn’t enough, each track has its own artwork in of-the-moment flat illustrative style.

Pearl Jam – ‘Sirens’:

 

16. Sky Ferreira – Night Time, My Time

sky ferreira

Proving that she’s not just a poster girl for prescribed edginess, Sky Ferreira finally (after delays dating back to 2011) released her debut ‘Night Time, My Time’ at the end of October. Featuring single ‘You’re Not the One’, Ferreira describes the sound of the album as ‘up-tempo numbers that are…electronic, but come across live as pop-rock’. Not only has she been praised by the likes of Dazed & Confused and Rolling Stone, she’s also bagged herself a support slot on Miley Cyrus’ 2014 tour. Hats off for being a true all-rounder.

Sky Ferreira – ‘You’re Not The One’:

 

15. James Blake – Overgrown

james blake

Former BRIT Award nominee James Blake’s second album, featuring Brian Eno and RZA, touched down this Spring, with the lead single ‘Retrograde’ gaining extensive airplay on Radio 1. Variance Magazine named it their Album Of The Year, and it isn’t hard to see why, with its languid beats and subtle jazz overtones.

James Blake – ‘Retrograde’:

 

14. Youngblood Hawke – Wake Up

youngblood hawke inside 1

Youngblood Hawke inside FAULT Issue 16

Don’t let the fact that two fifths of FAULT Issue 16 stars Youngblood Hawke used to be Iglu & Hartly put you off. The video for the album’s lead single ‘We Come Running’ is all about saving whales, and featured an irresistible beat last heard when Black Kids were a thing. Sing-a-long indie-pop at its best.

Youngblood Hawke – ‘We Come Running’:

 

 

13. Savages – Silence Yourself

savages

Sufjan Stevens may not be a fan of the typography used on the cover of their debut, but Savages, fronted by ex-John & Jehn (featured in FAULT Issue 2) member Jehnny Beth, have given us a collection of songs that have been described by The Guardian as reminiscent of ‘the debut releases of Public Image Ltd and Siouxsie and the Banshees’. The foursome capture the spirit of punk with insistent beats and sparse, reverb-heavy guitars, all topped off with Beth’s aggressive, clear vocals.

Savages – ‘Shut Up’:

 

 

12. Little Boots – Nocturnes

Little Boots inside FAULT Issue 12

Little Boots inside FAULT Issue 12

After telling us in FAULT Issue 12 that her second album, inspired by the poetry of Edgar Allan Poe, had taken “a while and [would] be worth it”, Victoria Hesketh aka Little Boots released ‘Nocturnes’ in March. Suffice to say that it didn’t disappoint. There’s a strong Madonna-esque retro vibe and plenty of the promised spookiness with heavy use of minor keys and low, moody strings. Victoria said that she “DJed a lot over the past couple of years and that’s inspired it – things like how people react at 3am” – check out the whole interview in FAULT Issue 12, and check out the behind the scenes video from our shoot here

Little Boots – ‘Every Night I Say A Prayer’:

 

 

11. Arctic Monkeys – AM

Arctic monkeys

The opening beat to first track ‘Do I Wanna Know’ sounds like Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Fix Up, Look Sharp’, and that is reason enough to love this album. All the lyrical wizardry and gritty Northern charm you’d expect from the Monkeys are there, but with added elements such as falsetto, syncopated beats and a lot more moodiness. Not to mention the wonderfully minimalist cover art, which in a few years will probably be described as ‘iconic’.

Arctic Monkeys – ‘R U Mine?’:

 

 

PART 2 OF THIS FEATURE WILL BE LIVE ON FAULT ONLINE IN THE COMING DAYS!

Words: Thea de Gallier

Lorde releases video for third single ‘Team’

team-lorde

New Zealander singer-songwriter Lorde has captured the public imagination in recent times with a brand of heartfelt, sophisticated pop music that seems at odds with her mere 17 years.  After riding the crest of a tidal wave of indie acclaim for so long, her September/October album Pure Heroine saw Lorde cascade into mainstream music consciousness.

Her latest video for third single (and track 6 on Pure Heroine), ‘Team’ was released yesterday. Lorde described the video on her Facebook page:

“This video was borne from a dream I had a few months ago about teenagers in their own world, a world with hierarchies and initiations, where the boy who was second in command had acne on his face, and so did the girl who was Queen. I dreamt about this world being so different to anything anyone had ever seen, a dark world full of tropical plants and ruins and sweat. And of this world, I dreamt about tests that didn’t need to be passed in order to be allowed in: sometimes the person who loses is stronger. Enjoy.”

Check it out if you haven’t done so already: