NewTracks New Artist: Cellarr

NewTracks New Artist: Cellarr

Three former members of Auckland pop-punk band Maybe Rave, which itself, with the inclusion of songwriter/vocalist Possum Plows, subsequently became the much better-known power-pop act Openside, have come together under the new guise of Cellarr – and in the process dropped that previous rocky edge in favour of pop. Their happy singalong new single LUV draws on the ’80s for inspiration and featured as part of NZ On Air Music’s NewTracks compilation this June. 

What are your names, where are you from and what instruments do you play?

PJ Shepherd, George Powell and Harry Carter. We’re from Auckland. [Guitar, drums, bass.]

Was high school or any other music training important to you?

Not particularly! The internet was a great help though. 

Any other projects might we know you from?

Before this we were in a band called Openside. [And going back to circa 2014 Maybe Rave.]

What’s the background to how Cellarr came to be? 

The three of us have been playing in bands together since we were teenagers. After a previous project came to an end, we found ourselves heading to the studio just to explore some new ground and have some fun. It was around that time that we were all politely ushered into our homes and told not to leave due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We all live together, and we had a makeshift studio below our house where we wrote every day of the lockdown. A lot of what came from those sessions ended up becoming the first Cellarr songs.

How did you come up with the name for the new project?

We stumbled around many names along the way, some with meaning and some meaningless. Eventually, the idea of Cellarr came up and it stuck. Suggested to us from a quote by J.R.R Tolkien.

How has your music evolved from your beginnings in songwriting to now?

We’ve been writing music for over 10 years together in some way or another, inevitably the way we do this has changed and we feel more comfortable than ever now doing so.

What is the story behind LUV?

LUV is a hazy story. It’s essentially a fictional narrative surrounding the ways relationships (with friends, partners, family…) can be blinding, and lead you astray. 

What’s your favourite moment, musical or lyrical, of the single?

The pre-chorus lyrical structure is cool. We wanted to make it seem like a conversation, so it just keeps flowing from line to line until the chorus. The harmony stack gives it a nice old-school pop feel – our best attempt at something resembling Boyz II Men. (We didn’t get that close!)  

Who did you record/produce the single with and where? 

We wrote and produced LUV ourselves, which is a liberating experience in that you can take the song exactly where you see it going. It was one of those sessions that just kept working – there was something in the air. We are pretty good at picking up and putting down sessions, this one got through the end all in one go. I’m sure the few cold beers helped. Also, we got an amazing mix by Ben Lawson with the stellar master from Chris [Chetland] at Kog Studios

What would you like listeners to take away from this song?

Reach out to your friends if you feel they’re in need. It’s important!

How do you generally work out what song would make a good single?

If it feels right to us… kind of hard to say really. With streaming taking over the supply and demand for music, it’s become a real whirlwind. So at the end of the day, if we’re happy, that’s all it takes!

Who else is in your team?

At this stage, it’s just the three of us.

Are there any musical endeavours you’re working on that we should keep an eye out for?

A new single will be out in July – hopefully! But more music to come through the year and beyond.

Can you please name three other local tunes that would fit well on a playlist alongside your song.

Are there any musical blogs, Youtube channels or podcasts you’re super into?

And The Writer is! Great podcast.
Our friends at Sniffers! Great blog.
Hot Ones! Great YouTube show.

Any last words?

We’ve got a lot of new music coming, LUV is only the start. We’ve got some collaborations on the horizon that we’re really excited about. Mainly, we just can’t wait for people to hear what we’ve made. Thanks 4 having us!