Drax Project

Drax Project

Pop band Drax Project has come a long way since their days as street buskers in Wellington, New Zealand. Their 2017 single “Woke Up Late” thrust them into the national spotlight, and an updated version, featuring Hailee Steinfeld, was even bigger. “It's quite bizarre what that song's done and continues to do for us,” says guitarist Ben O’Leary of the track that has (literally) taken them around the world. “It’s been crazy. We’re very grateful.” Five years after their first EP, their self-titled debut album has arrived. And it’s chock-full of earworm melodies and sweet saxophone lines. Read on to discover more about each song on Drax Project. Woke Up Late (feat. Hailee Steinfeld) “It's funny, we wrote that in 2017 but we were focusing on a bunch of other songs. We spent maybe 20 minutes on it, then forgot about it. One day we were in the studio and Shaan [Singh, vocals and sax] played it for our producer and some friends, and they were just like, ‘What? Why aren't you guys recording this song? You should definitely finish this.’ And then everything just seemed to fall into place. Off the back of that, we got to open for some amazing acts like Lorde and Ed Sheeran, we toured with Camila Cabello, and then Hailee Steinfeld jumped on the track, which was mind-blowing.” Prefer “The premise behind the song is just about being super chill with whatever scenario you're at and just going with the flow, not trying to impose any kind of direction on anything. It's one of our favorite songs to play live because we've got this crowd participation thing going in the chorus, where we sing a line—‘Whatever you prefer’—and the crowd sings back, ‘That’s what I prefer.’ People have caught on and it’s a lot of fun for us.” Smart Love “It’s the fastest song we’ve finished. We thought that we had the whole album, so there were 10 tracks, and we were like, ‘Cool, that’s a solid number.’ But when we wrote ‘Smart Love,’ we thought it really fit with the overall sound of the album, so we rushed to get it done and got there in the nick of time.” Relax “I think this is my favorite on the album. It’s about a relationship, but it can be the same with friendships—when one person thinks that they're reading too much into things and making situations or issues out of nothing, or getting too much in their own head. You've just got to relax. And it's cool because the guitar at the start sounds real chill and out of tune, the bass part is almost detuned and just sliding around.” Natural Selection “The sax line at the beginning spawned the idea for this song. We wrote it with Rogét [Chahayed, producer] and [engineer] Jay Ray. Rogét has worked with massive names like Kendrick and Dr. Dre, so we were real nervous going into it. We walked in and there was all this amazing gear everywhere, and we were just like, ‘What are we doing here? We shouldn’t be here.’ But we just got talking and showed him this sax line. He put it through a vocoder, and that formed the sound of the entire song. It sounds real old-school, a little wonky and a bit messed up. It’s really cool.” Brain “The whole thing sounds just quite scattered, which reflects the idea behind it: You're no longer with someone and it's just this frantic, almost hopeless feeling that you can't move on. The guitar and the percussion just adds to that feeling of being lost, of not really knowing what's going on.” Holiday “This song is real personal to all of us. We’ve done a lot of traveling the this year, which has been awesome, but we miss friends and families and girlfriends back in New Zealand. We wanted to write a song about missing home and people from home. It’s the most real song that we've written.” Only Us “It’s a selfish love song about not wanting to share, wanting to have someone all to yourself. It just came out of the blue and ended up being on the EP and now it's on the album. The first time we played it at our second show opening for Camila Cabello, in Birmingham. We ran it at sound check and we were unsure if it was good enough, but we played it. That was stressful and we shouldn't have put ourselves through that, but it ended up going well…I think.” Toto “At the start of 2018, we all made the decision to quit our day jobs and try to take this as seriously as we could. Shaan came over and it was a really weird feeling. We were like, 'What do we do now? Do we just start writing?’ And ‘Toto’ is the first song we wrote that day. The opening line, ‘Just quit my job, now I'm waiting in the rain for the bus,’ was something he’d literally just said to a friend. It’s about taking a leap of faith, going for it, and trying to enjoy the process rather than focusing on the end result.” All This Time “We started out playing covers like ‘Cry Me a River’ and ‘Pony’ and we wanted to write a song that sounded like one of those. So we wrote ‘All This Time,’ but just couldn't get the production right at all, so we sent it to Rogét and let him and his team beef it up.” Catching Feelings (feat. Six60) “It’s the oldest song on the album. We started writing this in March 2017 with Matiu and Marlon from Six60. We wrote it that summer, but there was no real sense of urgency, and we finished it earlier this year. There are some vocals in the bridge from the first day, with all of us sitting around in a room, singing, ‘I've been catching feelings over you/And I hope you catch them too.’”

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