Find­ing fame af­ter col­lege

Kapiti News - - Front Page - Ros­alie Wil­lis

Shaan Singh was singing bar­ber­shop at Ka¯ piti Col­lege, per­form­ing at school as­sem­blies and “do­ing gen­eral mu­sic-ing around the place” in 2011.

A few years later, with some friends from mu­sic school Shaan started play­ing at school balls, 40th and 50th birthday par­ties and bar gigs in Welling­ton.

Do­ing cover gigs, they started sneak­ing orig­i­nals into the mix and Drax Project was born with Shaan on vo­cals and sax­o­phone, Matt Beachen on drums,

Sam Thom­son on bass and Ben O’Leary on gui­tar.

Open­ing for Ed Sheeran, tour­ing with Camila Car­bello, do­ing a pro­mo­tion tour of 60 US ra­dio sta­tions and win­ning Break­through Artist of the Year and sin­gle of the year for Woke Up Late at the Voda­fone New Zealand Mu­sic Awards, Drax Project have well and truly sur­passed their hum­ble be­gin­nings.

Hail­ing from Ka¯ piti, at­tend­ing Rau­mati South School and Ka¯ piti Col­lege, Shaan has not for­got­ten the op­por­tu­ni­ties he was given dur­ing school years.

“Ka¯ piti Col­lege was a pretty awe­some place for peo­ple who wanted to per­form,” Shaan said.

“There was al­ways a place to per­form at an assem­bly or event.

“The mu­sic teach­ers were great, and same with prin­ci­pal Tony Kane.”

Af­ter leav­ing col­lege Shaan stud­ied at the New Zealand School of Mu­sic ma­jor­ing in jazz per­for­mance, meet­ing the other mem­bers of Drax Project then, and start­ing the band while they were flat­ting to­gether.

How­ever it didn’t all start off smoothly.

Their first EP was recorded at mu­sic school, get­ting told off by se­cu­rity guards for work­ing there af­ter hours.

Af­ter pro­duc­ing an EP with Devin Abrams things started to move faster.

“We were play­ing so many shows — school balls, 40th and 50th birthday par­ties, lots of bar gigs and ev­ery Wed­nes­day night at El Horno in Welling­ton.”

Writ­ing their own mu­sic they started to sneak their own orig­i­nals onto their cover set lists.

“It wasn’t un­til Novem­ber last year when we re­ally started get­ting a lot of ra­dio play.

“That’s when we thought we could per­haps do this mu­sic thing full time so in Jan­uary this year we all quit our jobs to work at it full­time.”

When asked what the high­lights have been in their jour­ney so far Shaan said open­ing for Ed Sheeran, trav­el­ling Europe with Camila Car­bello, and their US ra­dio tour were top of the list.

But also on top of the high­lights reel have been writ­ing lots of new songs to­gether in the last few months, “putting them to pa­per, ones that we re­ally love”.

“Tour­ing in Europe and play­ing for peo­ple whose first lan­guage isn’t English but know all the lyrics for your songs is pretty crazy.

“Play­ing a live gig and hav­ing the whole crowd scream­ing out your lyrics with all melody go­ing out the win­dow is such as buzz, def­i­nitely a high­light.

“And of course the Voda­fone New Zealand Mu­sic Awards — that was crazy.”

As it was their first time at the awards, the band went there not ex­pect­ing much.

“We went there not re­ally ex­pect­ing any­thing.

“We thought we could per­haps win Break­through Artist of the Year, and we did which was ex­cit­ing.

“So were just chill­ing out, en­joy­ing then night with our friends and fam­ily and then

Woke Up Late won sin­gle of the year. “That was re­ally cool, we are ob­vi­ously very ex­cited about it, be­ing our first time at the awards.

“We work well to­gether be­cause we’re just try­ing to write good mu­sic.

“At the end of the day it’s all about the mu­sic and if there’s ten­sion or dis­agree­ment we know that it’s all about the mu­sic and we are only try­ing to voice our opin­ion for the song not against each other.

“There’s a lot of be­lief from out­side sources which is re­ally cool and cre­ates a sup­port­ive pres­sure, a pos­i­tive pres­sure from peo­ple say­ing ‘you guys are good and we want you to be even bet­ter’.

“For me this is some­thing I al­ways wanted to do — play mu­sic full time, so I’m glad that I get to do it.”

Shaan Singh, front, with Drax Project has won two Voda­fone New Zealand Mu­sic Awards.

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