Producer Edward Liu is a developing presence in the Aotearoa music scene. As EdyOnTheBeat or more simply Edy, he has worked with artists such as Sam V, Razé, Mikey Mayz and Jarna. Liu released the lead single from his own NZ On Air-funded debut album in May 2023, a gentle RnB ballad titled Let You Go that features young Tongan vocalist Elena Latoa. Nur Lajunen-Tal talked with him. Made with support from NZ On Air Music.
As he told Sam Dunlay in the December/January 2020 NZM issue, Edward Liu was classically trained in piano from a young age, but changed direction towards pop music production in high school. In 2020, he graduated from a Bachelor of Music from the University of Auckland, specialising in popular music. Since then, Liu has continued to further expand into the NZ music scene and internationally.
In addition to continuing to produce music for other, this year sees him expanding his skills to artist management, with Jeremiah Fale, who performs as Hales, being his first project. He’s currently spending a few weeks in LA with some music business friends, including Fale and 2022 Best Pacific RnB awardee Sam V.
“This is the first year that I’m doing music full time, and it’s the same year that I’m here in LA, exploring! We’re just bringing them along to sessions and trying to get more sessions locked in, and I guess just getting our names out there a bit more to let people know that we’re out here and we’re hungry. We’ve got a lot of stuff set up for the next couple of weeks, so I think we’re gonna start getting real busy.
“We just had our first session last week, during our first week here, and we’ve met some cool people, and got a writing camp set up for a few weeks’ time. Things are moving real fast and everybody moves fast here, and we’re just adapting the best that we can – and still working out every day, going to the gym, keeping fit, keep the blood circulating!
“Of course, we did a lot of touristy stuff out here as well. All the food places are great, learning how to save money, and learning that tax isn’t included in the price. If it says $20 on the menu, you’re gonna walk away paying $25 or $26, because first, they add tax on, and then they’re like, ‘Choose the tip!’ And you don’t wanna tip them the lowest amount, so you always pick the medium amount, so then you’re adding on 15% on top of the 9.2%. American people spend American money like it’s NZ dollars!”
Young Tongan/Mt. Roskill singer Elena Latoa is one artist Liu has discovered and developed. Their initial work together was made possible by a NZ On Air New Music Development Grant. He produced her debut single, Ur Vibe, which has amassed over 100,000 streams on Spotify.
“We started working ’cause I kept seeing her content and heard her voice,” he says. “And I was like,‘I really wanna work with this girl!’ At the same time, you have to make sure that you can pay rent, pay the mortgage, and survive as well. So I was like, ‘How can we all still benefit from jamming and making music?’
So we applied for the NewMusic Development and got it. I think we made five songs even though we needed to only make three, and I mixed and mastered everything. Then we just kept doing sessions after the NewMusic Development happened and we were like, ‘Oh man, we can make so much cool stuff!’
After making all this music I was like, ‘I’m actually working on my project at the moment, I’d love to make something for that!’ So that’s kind of how the song came about.”
Let You Go was written by Jeremiah Fale and co-produced by Aaron Strickland.
“He’s such a wizard. He’s just a monster on all the instruments. Me and him are real tight, we co-produce a lot of stuff, a lot of records,” says Liu.
“Jerry actually wrote the song three years ago, and he had sent me a bunch of demos. I was like, ‘I’m really looking for new content for Elena.’ She likes RnB soulful stuff, and I know that he does a lot of that, so he sent me these songs, and Let You Go I was like: ‘I feel like we could do something with this!’. Me and Aaron just straight away got on the guitar and the keys and the piano, and then we just started piecing everything together, and putting the drums together, and structuring it.
“The song was already written so we basically finished everything in a night! Because she was on her restricted license we had to come back the following week and just finish off a couple of ad-libs. Her range is unreal, and I feel like that confidence will grow a lot as she gets older as well, and matures a bit more, but she’s definitely got something crazy going on.”
A simple but slickly atmospheric music video accompanies the song, directed by Nathan King of Sesh, shot and edited by Christian Tjandrawinata.
“We were trying to draw off this other artist as inspiration, Jazmine Sullivan. She has this song called Insecure. I just really liked the scape of it and how it looked, and was like, ‘Let’s reference this and just do something really moody, simple, doesn’t have to have a really deep storyline, but just easy to watch.’
“I think that’s my goal for most of the videos in my album anyways. I’m not trying to show off by any means. I want all my listeners and audience to feel comfortable, and just be able to watch and listen, and just kind of mellow with it. Not necessarily being hooked, but just kind of like, ‘Yeah, I could listen to this and just chill.’”
Despite success meaning he’s been kept plenty busy over the last few years, Liu still maintains a growth mindset. In fact that’s what excites him.
“It’s that growing journey that makes me wanna keep doing it, cause I can kind of see the journey as I’m going, and see how I’ve grown. I feel like the growth and the journey is real important.”