Sometimes, a good old-fashioned bribe is the best way to finish a project. But only when you’re bribing yourself, of course. For musicians Holly Roughton and Steven Morris, bribery looked like a reward of some tasty food and a session in the gaming arcade after working on sounds and tracks that perfectly blend their musical identities. But when you’re working on an award-winning track, any kind of motivation is the best kind. Holly and Steven – known artistically as Porcelain and Kaøz, respectively – recently took out the Fusion Soundrise Project title with their winning track, Completion.
A collaboration between Fusion Entertainment and the Music and Audio Institute of New Zealand (MAINZ), Soundrise gives MAINZ students the opportunity to create original music and take it to the commercial world.
A panel of judges select a finalist for five genres, as well as an overall winner. The five finalist tracks are mastered and loaded onto Fusion’s Stereo Active – a portable, purpose-built marine stereo – and distributed to Fusion’s salespeople and retailers worldwide, to be played in stores and at tradeshows.
Completing the loop, students enjoy real-world feedback from the market and global exposure along the way. A Track of the Year is selected, based on this market feedback, which then sees the winning student receive an award and cash prize.
On March 27, Porcelain was presented with the top honour.
The duo that is Porcelain – Holly and Steven – originally started life as separate entities. Holly was doing her own thing as Porcelain but knew a new direction was on the horizon.
“I knew I wanted to go more into electronic dance music but didn’t know where to start,” she said.
It seems that fate has a funny way of intervening on these matters. While studying at MAINZ, she met just the right person – fellow student Steven who was studying DJ & Electronic Music Production; exactly the place she wanted to take Porcelain into.
Kaøz, on the other hand, had come through quite a journey. From Steven’s early workflow style of mashing buttons together in the hopes he would find a track that would work, to a more refined and anchored sense of musical identity, Kaøz really has evolved from chaos.
Steven’s musical style now is called “hybrid trap”, which is really bass and dubstep infused trap songs. He describes it as the sort of music you would expect to see at a festival with people like Skrillex, Getter, Zomboy – big dubstep and trap DJs – all wound up with a bit of future bass mindset.
When Porcelain and Kaøz found each other at MAINZ, they hit it off straight away.
Late nights in the rehearsal room with Holly on the keyboard playing around with chords and lyrics while Steven painstakingly works on the DAW project production ideas are part of the process when it comes to their collaborative vibe.
“There’s that feeling you get when you listen to this stuff and you meet someone else who loves it just as much as you, and you can’t really explain it, but you know it’s the best feeling,” Steven said.
Entering Soundrise, let alone winning, was far from Holly’s mind. And in fact, she wasn’t going to apply. Feeling that she didn’t have what it took to take out the Soundrise title, it was her thought that Steven deserved to have his talent out in the world that influenced her decision to enter.
Completion was the fruit of their labours. Holly describes it as a song which is quite simple, but very open to interpretation. Whether it be a love song or maybe even an ode to self-preservation, the listening experience is unique for every person. From her own perspective, it’s about God.
When it came to the heart-racing moment of announcing a winner, their victory was all the sweeter considering their entry might never have made it to Soundrise.
“I could see Steven had a big smile on his face too when we were announced. Honestly, it’s still a shock, and I’m so thankful for the chance to have our music acknowledged like this,” Holly said.
An equally surprised Steven agreed it was an “incredible” experience. Up until their win, he’d been convinced another track was going to take out the title because it was a house track with a female vocalist.
“We both couldn’t stop smiling for about a week after it. I certainly felt like my music career was starting to take off as well, even it was only for a little bit,” Steven said.
Since winning Soundrise, Porcelain has continued to work on their sound. On June 1, their new track Collide is coming out and by the end of the year, the duo hopes to release a debut EP.