By Rich Henrich
This young New Zealand band took The Rolling Stones stage by storm! Meet Drax Project coming off their latest hit single “Woke Up Late,” featuring multi-platinum-selling artist and Academy Award-nominated actress Hailee Steinfeld and their music video features YouTube star Liza Koshy, who made a surprise appearance for the show.
We caught up with the band in an online interview between a hectic tour schedule.
CVW: Congratulations on all of your success! Welcome to Coachella Music and Arts Festival and of course, our home, the Coachella Valley. What does your name mean and how did you come up with it?
DRAX: “Drums and Saxophone = Drax :)”
CVW: What did you learn from busking on the streets?
DRAX: “People only stop and give you money if you’re interesting and or loud.”
CVW: How did this experience shape you as musicians and performers?
DRAX: “We learned a lot of covers while busking and playing bar gigs and it helped a lot when we started to try and write our own music.”
CVW: What’s the hardest thing about busking?
DRAX: “Finding a spot to park your car that isn’t too far away so we didn’t have to carry our drum kit and bass amp very far!”
CVW: What is the difference in how you play now on large stages compared to the streets?
DRAX: “It’s a really difficult question to answer because it’s been like 5 years since we went busking regularly and pretty much everything is different now. When we were busking Shaan couldn’t sing because we didn’t have a mic on the street, so we used to play all the melodies on saxophone. One of the main differences that feels good is probably that we get to play music we created to crowds who all know the lyrics. It’s the best feeling.”
CVW: What has been the most surprising aspect of your rapid climb of musical success?
DRAX: “I think for us it hasn’t felt necessarily rapid, but in the last year since Woke Up Late came out it’s definitely accelerated. The fact that we’re at Coachella now because of music and being a band is amazing and surprising at the same time.”
CVW: What has been the most difficult aspect of transitioning to being full-time musicians?
DRAX: “Living out of a suitcase. Definitely not a bad thing though because it means we’re doing what we’ve always wanted to do which is travel the world with our music.”
CVW: What advice do you give to the musicians in the crowd or reading this article on how to reach their dreams?
DRAX: “Surround yourself with people who are better than you, it’s the fastest way to learn. Work every day on making what you love into a job.”
CVW: How do you work together as a band to create music and write songs?
DRAX: “We all have a lot of ideas floating around and so when we sit down together to write we all show each other the ideas and then decide on which one we want to go with. It’s very collaborative. We’ve all written lyrics, melodies, baselines, drum patterns. We’ve also been friends for a long time so it’s getting easier all the time and our process is getting better.”
CVW: What challenges do you (or musicians in general) face in New Zealand that is unique to the industry?
DRAX: “I honestly don’t know if we can think of any real negative about coming from NZ. It’s an amazing country and we’re constantly reminded whenever we’re home of just how awesome it is. New Zealanders sometimes have a tendency to have tall-poppy syndrome so people often don’t like sticking out in a crowd or putting themselves out there for fear of being shut down. But in our experience, it never stopped us and I think the culture is changing over time. Another thing is that the internet has brought the world closer than it has ever been and if you can see the positive in that, then you can benefit from it also.”
CVW: What bands are you interested in seeing at Coachella?
DRAX: “SG Lewis, The 1975, Weezer, dvsn, Rosalia, Jaden Smith, Ella Mai, Anderson.Paak, RUFUS D SOL, Janelle Monae, Childish Gambino, JAIN, SiR, Smino, Sabrina Claudio, Maggie Rogers, Wiz Khalifa, Billie Eilish, J Balvin, Kid Cudi, Tame Impala, Dennis Lloyd, boy Pablo, Jon Hopkins, Kaytranada, UMO, Pusha T, H.E.R., Bad Bunny, Zedd, Khalid, Ariana Grande. I don’t know if we will have enough time to see them all though.”
CVW: Are there other bands from NZ we should know about?
DRAX: “Balu Brigada, Montell2099, Bene, Robinson, Goldenhorse.”
CVW: How are you enjoying our desert community and the festival?
DRAX: “It’s an amazing landscape and we’ve never been anywhere like here before. The drive from LA to here was absolutely incredible.”
CVW: Is there anything else you want to mention?
DRAX: “We’re so grateful to be here and we’ll see ya on the mainstage next year” 😉