Music Review

Wake Up To New Zealand Quartet Drax Project


Meeting someone new can sometimes be incredibly awkward, while at other times, it can be like two puzzle pieces fitting together perfectly. Those initial stages of getting to know someone can lead to spending hours of talking and having an absolute blast together, leaving both with the desire to spend even more time laughing at silly things and creating a bond that can transcend space and time. We may never know where things will end up in going, but we go along for the ride into the great unknown to find out what mysteries lay ahead. Drax Project’s newest single release ‘Woke Up Late’ captures the light-hearted feeling of liking a person someone has just met and combines a light guitar melody with a fresh pop-vibe that’s quite irresistible to start grooving to just about anywhere; down the street or even in a bakery/coffee house!

Drax Project is a quartet from Wellington, New Zealand consisting of Shaan Singh (sax/vocals), Matt Beachen (drums), Sam Thomson (bass), and Ben O’Leary (guitar). Their influences vary widely covering quite an array of music genres; Chris Stapleton, Travis Scott, Drake, Justin Bieber, Michael Jackson and classics [Matt], rock music including Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Incubus with some SZA, Ariana Grande and Kendrick [Shaan], Jeff Buckley, Stevie Ray Vaughan from a guitar front and Taylor McFerrin in terms of production [Ben], Jazz and Blues while growing up including Stevie Ray Vaughan, Miles Davis from his dad and classical piano from his mum [Sam].




As to the origins of the band, according to Matt, “Drax Project was formed in the Summer of 2013 – As a busking duo of Drums and Sax. And then we added bass guitar with Sam, and Ben on guitar – and from there we started making original music. It’s been a natural progression from the street to small bars/clubs, festivals.” The band’s name itself has no relation to the Drax the Destroyer character from Marvel, though Googling their name has now become more difficult, Ben adds, “Drums plus sax equals Drax – it’s way simpler.”

When asked about the inspiration behind their single ‘Woke Up Late’, Shaan states, “It’s just I guess the exaggerated truth, as maybe all songs have to become kind of a bit bigger than what happened in real life. Maybe about a one-night stand, maybe not, just a new experience with someone that you don’t know too well and coming to terms with the fact it’s okay it’s kind of awkward – and it always happens like that when you first meet someone. Sometimes it just clicks, but it’s okay if it takes a little while to get to know someone.” Sam chimes in, “At that time you don’t really know if it’s a one-time thing or if it’s something that’s going to keep going. But you’re starting to realize that you like it.”

The music video for ‘Woke Up Late’ looks like it was a ton of fun to shoot, and it got me curious about if there was an idea in mind of having such organic and spontaneous dancing for the video. Sam replies, “That was definitely something that the director (Lee Gingold), who is amazing, talked about. Wanting it to feel very organic and natural and for it not to be too choreographed. That was one of the things we talked about when we were trying to think of somebody to do it. Sidney (the main dancer in the video), is one of our good friends and we think Shaan did a pretty good job of dancing as well.” Shaan also says, “Sidney wasn’t directed how to dance, she knew the vibe. She and Lee clicked really well personality wise and she knew exactly how to do it. She just performed so well and felt so natural to have in the context of that song – it just worked out perfectly.”

Drax Project started a European tour with the international rising superstar Camila Cabello at the beginning of June, and on sharing the stage, Matt says, “It’s insane. As a band we’ve never been past Australia, so to tour Europe with such a massive act, who we’ve been a fan of for ages, is great. We recorded a cover of her track ‘Havana’ over a year ago, and now to be sharing the stage with her, getting cupcakes from her and hanging out with her is insane. Our introduction to Europe and playing here has been sold out shows everywhere – it’s the best thing.” Shaan quickly adds, “Her band is also incredible. I guess as musicians, it’s really amazing to see pop acts like her (Camila) not just as this created thing but an amazing musician. Her voice is so good, and not only that but her performance and her whole band are so integrated and schooled – it’s inspiring. We’re so thankful to her and the whole team for having us because we wouldn’t be able to tour Europe by ourselves. And we love playing to new crowds, it’s what we vibe on – winning people over. We’re very thankful.”

As one last inquiry, I was curious if there was a single message that the band would want to put out there to make the world the kind of place that they would aspire to live in, what would that message be? Ben responds with, “I think friends first is like a good way to put it. We all want to try and stay friends and work together for as long as we can and be open to each other opinions – so stay open-minded.”