We chat with New Zealand pop band Drax Project on their Diamond EP.

We’re going ‘Crazy’ over Drax Project’s latest EP, so what better way to celebrate the release than to have a chat with the four-member group.

Read our latest interview feature with the group on their new five-track EP.

AsiaLive365: Hi Drax Project! Nice to meet you all!

Matt Beachen: Looking good, we’ve just released some music. We’re feeling good, it’s been a while. Feels like the ball is starting to roll again.

Ben O’Leary: How are you?

AL365: I’m good. It’s a Friday, so TGIF! [Ed. Note: Interview was conducted on Friday, July 22]

Matt: That’s best day of the week!

Shaan Singh: Sunday’s are up there as well.

Sam Thomson: Everything’s kinda downhill from midday.

Ben: We’re good, we’re good! (everyone laughs)

AL365: Congrats on the release of your Diamond EP! How do you feel?

Ben: We feel fantastic.

Shaan: It’s been a while coming.

Ben: A long time coming for us.

Sam: We’ve been holding onto those songs for too long.

Matt: Some of them took five years? One of them in particular – ‘Hollywood’.

Shaan: We’ve been playing it live in our shows, but we hadn’t released it onto streaming platforms yet. But now we have.

AL365: So these songs weren’t created during the pandemic?

Sam: They were all finished during the pandemic. One of them was written during it.

Shaan: That was ‘Mad At You’, the chill R&B one.

Sam: It’s funny, we kinda spoke about it when we were writing it. We all have partners, and when you are stuck inside a room in a house with somebody and you can’t go out and do anything, you’re kinda forced together and tensions can get really high. At the end of the day, it’s kinda hard to stay mad at somebody.

Ben: We were just gonna put four tracks in the EP, and then we wrote ‘Mad At You’ and we all really liked it.

AL365: Personally, I love ‘Crazy’. It’s upbeat, it gets you into the groove of things! But! What are you favorite tracks in the EP?

Ben: I’ll go first, ‘Fashion Sense’ is my favorite. It’s just fun, it’s a vibe. It was a lot of fun writing it.

Matt: Mine’s probably ‘Crazy’ as well. I love the up-tempo, it’s a fun song. Starts the EP off very strongly with the vocals. ‘I’m going crazy!’

Sam: Mine would be ‘Hollywood’ just because it’s taken so long for us to get it right. Now that we’ve actually got to put it, it just feels like an awesome achievement. And also, I really like playing it live.

Shaan: If I was gonna put a song on from the EP, just like if I was at a party, it would probably be ‘Hollywood’ because it just sounds good.

AL365: What’s your creative process like? Do your songs come from real experiences?

Shaan: It’s just like exaggerated reality.

Sam: ‘Mad At You’ is a great example. There was this idea of ‘I can’t stay mad at you’ that we put to one of Shaan’s melodies that he had a long time ago. Then we spoke about what that means, and we all had those experiences over the last couple of years that we put our different perspectives into that song.

Shaan: It’s not exactly what happens, you take it from an experience and you jazz it up a little bit.

Ben: Pretty much all of our songs start with a musical element, whether it’s a guitar rift or chords or a beat that’s made from a computer, we really start with the music first. Then we ask ourselves, ‘Cool, what does it sound like ?’ or ‘How do we feel when listen to this?’ And then you boil it down into a concept whether someone’s thinking ‘Oh that happened to me!’ or ‘That’s what I’ve been thinking about’. It just kinda weaves into the music.

AL365: So, it helps creatively when you work together.

Sam: I think it’s best when we start off when somebody has a small idea before we come to the group.

Ben: A direction as well if it’s like ‘I’ve got this idea and it’s roughly this tempo and this kind of vibe.’ We can get trapped and go around in circles trying everyone’s ideas.

Shaan: We’ve been writing music with each other for a long time, but usually we’re all on the same page. Like a hive mind.

AL365: In 2019, you’ve put out your debut album. It had the big single ‘Woke Up Late’ with Hailee Steinfeld. Did you feel like it was tough to follow up on that?

Shaan: I don’t think so. I think ‘Catching Feelings’ was a pretty tough follow up. I mean, looking at each song’s statistical success, that song has done really well.

Matt: It’s a funny one because you hear a lot about artists who put out a song that goes really big, and then they struggle to get another one. You find that all across the world, for example, a basketball player has an amazing first season and they can’t match up the next year, but for us, ‘Woke Up Late’ was an accidental hit. We didn’t think it was gonna blow up that big, so in a way, it didn’t feel like we put out our best work?

Since then, we’ve always strived to make better music then. There was no real pressure.

Shaan: Matt, I couldn’t put it better myself.

Ben: Some of the songs in this EP, we’ve planned to put them out at the start of 2020. I think we were gonna put more music out just before the pandemic. But then with the pandemic, things kinda died down and we’ve kinda stopped for a bit. I was nervous putting out music after such a long time.

Shaan: We wrote ‘Hollywood’ before ‘Woke Up Late’. Now, we’ve kinda had a bit of a break so we got to reflect on what we did and understand what we did in hindsight. Obviously, the pandemic was pretty hard on everyone, ourselves included to a point, but it was nice to take a moment to chill. I guess we know what we want musically out of ourselves, and now we’re writing, I think, way better music.

AL365: It took me a long time to realize your name was formed with the words drums and sax. What I also didn’t know was that you guys started out as buskers. Do you miss busking?

Shaan: I do miss busking, it was really fun.

Matt: It’s fun, there was no pressure. For me, drums for six hours was really good practice.

Sam: Busking was great because, at that point in time, nobody really knew who we were. Like Matt was saying, there’s zero expectations in that situation and it’s always about winning people over on the spot. It’s like a fun game. Whereas now we’re doing it in a different kind of way, I guess?

Matt: We do get that similar feeling, trying to win people over when we open for other acts like Ed Sheeran, Lorde, Camila Cabello, some of who are pretty amazing people. It reminds of our busking days when we do that because no one knows who we are, they’re not here to see us, there’s no pressure, it’s really fun. I do miss busking up to a point.

AL365: And now it’s not so fun, huh?

Drax Project: (Laughs) It’s just different!

Matt: Let’s put a tweet out, ‘hey we’re gonna go busking in 10 minutes’ just to see what happens if anyone came down.

Sam: Maybe we should come over there and do it, I think that’d be pretty cool.

AL365: After this Diamond EP, what else can we expect from you guys?

Ben: More music. We’re halfway through writing an album at the moment, and yeah, we’re planning to play more shows. Hopefully, we’re coming your way and play some shows for you.

AL365: Hopefully an Asia tour soon.

Sam: I’d say we’re 99.9% surely be over there in the next 12 months.

Listen to Drax Project’s Diamond EP via Spotify below.


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