Drax Project: Your New Favorite Band
By: Caroline Rohnstock
Hailing from the streets of New Zealand, the four piece of Drax Project has come onto the scene with a unique, pop sound featuring funky bass lines and even a saxophone. The friends started busking on the streets for fun and some extra cash, and ended up becoming a well-known act around their town. When Ed Sheeran was touring stadiums in NZ, the band got the opportunity to open for him, and since then have gained incredible momentum. Having just come off a Europe tour supporting Camila Cabello, and released their first EP, “Noon” this year, the band is definitely making strides into the scene. Now working on their new projects following the success of their single, “Woke Up Late”, the band took some time to answer questions about their crazy journey from busking to stadiums, and their future plans.
HEM: How was it to play big venues opening for Ed Sheeran and Camila Cabello?
DP: Before playing with Ed Sheeran, the most people we had played in front of was about two to three thousand, which was a lot for us. Going out on stage in Auckland and seeing 35 to 40 thousand people was completely insane. I think we were all a bit nervous but the nerves disappeared quickly when we started playing. It felt like a normal gig, just the four of us jamming on stage - to an absolute sea of people. It's crazy that Ed does that every time!
The Camila tour was the first time we had really left New Zealand as a band and we're forever grateful to her and her team for the opportunity to play music all around Europe in sold out venues. It's a tour we'll never forget!
HEM: What can we expect from the new album? Do you have a release date in mind?
DP: Hopefully some fresh bangers! We've been feeling more and more comfortable writing in the last year, at the core of it we're just trying to write some really good music. We've been super lucky to see a lot of the world this year and have been really inspired by that. We've been writing a LOT of music so, new music in 2019 for sure.
What’s your favorite song to play live at the moment?
DP: We all love playing 'Sidebit' live. Sam gets pretty funky on the bass and I think that tune takes a new life on stage.
What’s your writing process like, does it start with a tune or do lyrics comes first?
DP: A song could start from multiple sources, often someone comes up with a guitar riff and then we write melodies and lyrics around it. We start songs sometimes with a melody and a lyric together, and then we put chords and build the rest of the song around it. That's how Woke Up Late came together. When we start off with a clear concept or story, we tend to write better songs.
How would you describe your journey from busking on the streets to playing huge venues?
DP: We never really imagined we would be here today when we were busking; it was more of a fun way to make extra cash. We never went into the process of performing and doing the whole 'band' thing with any limitations though, so when we started to get bigger and play at festivals and write our own music etc., it felt like a natural progression. It definitely didn't feel like an overnight thing at all though; we started busking at the start of 2013 so when 'Woke Up Late' started to pick up momentum at the end of 2017, we had been working together for a pretty long time.
What artists do you draw inspiration from when writing your own music?
DP: We've been inspired by a lot of the artists we used to cover when we were busking like Justin Timberlake, Michael Jackson, Katy Perry, Kanye, Beyoncé and also any top 40 stuff. At the end of the day we just want to write good music that we and lots of other people can get into. If we listed all of our influences we'd take up too much space in the article, haha. Individually, Shaan says Frank Ocean, Matt says Shawn Mendes, Ben says SZA and Sam says Bryson Tiller
How would you describe your sound to people that haven’t heard of you before?
DP: Spicy pop
Who’s your dream artist to tour with?
DP: Justin Timberlake for sure
What are you guys currently listening to?
DP: Anderson .Paak, Lauv, Maria Carey, Demo Taped, Roy Hargrove, Louis the Child, Jordan Rakei, Travis Scott, Ariana Grande, Superduper Kyle, Getter.
What lyrics, either your own or from another artist, have impacted you/your journey the most?
Shaan - Stop This Train by John Mayer.
Ben - Easily by Bruno Major.
Matt - Broken Halos by Chris Stapleton.
Sam - Holocene by Bon Iver