The Best Worship Artist (album) Tui award is one of those categories that television coverage of the NZ Music Awards annually skips in favour of ad breaks. For those paying closer attention Auckland’s Equippers Worship church has been a regular finalist in recent years, indeed claiming the Tui in 2018. The members of Coldroom have Equippers to thank not just for their musical friendship but also for the name of their newcomer electronic pop act. Their single We’re In A Dream was featured on NZ On Air Music‘s NewTracks compilation for April.
Kenan: I’m Kenan Stephenson from Auckland and I’m one-third of Coldroom, alongside David Darby from Dunedin and Ramon O’Gorman (our visual guy) from Pukekohe. I sing and play enough guitar to write songs, David plays keys and Ramon plays his MacBook Pro.
David: Our church runs a creative arts school, so after high school, I did a year-long course there, where my ear for hearing chords and melodies improved a lot. I also did a year of jazz piano at Auckland Uni, which was pretty intensive, but so so good.
Kenan: Any worship music listeners would know us from Equippers Revolution, who we all still write and create with.
Kenan: David and I spent a summer in Rome a few years ago to help with our church campus that was starting up there. We lived by the sea with an amazing family there and that’s where we first started making music together. We’ve wanted to make pop/electronic music for a while now and so we decided to actually start a project together in 2019 with our good friend Ramon.
Kenan: The church we grew up in, Equippers, has a really amazing creative culture with leaders that encourage you, pull the best out of you and challenge you to grow. I think growing up in an environment like that has really set us up well and we have to credit our church for that. Worship music is quite difficult to write because it’s not about you and self-expression, it’s more about music that can relate to others, with the goal being to lift everyone’s focus to worship. Pop music is something we have always really wanted to do and so we’re learning on the go and really embracing the challenge.
Kenan: The house that we lived in by the sea in Italy was the coldest house ever and the room we stayed in was like a fridge, so we named it after that, since that was where it all began I guess… in a cold room.
Kenan: Our biggest highlight to date was making April’s NZOA New Tracks compilation. We only started releasing music in November, so we’re hopefully just getting started. To be honest, we’re just really really stoked that our friends have liked our music. It’s nerve-racking to put yourself out there and so we’re really stoked that people like our music.
David: For me it’s our best single yet, in terms of writing, sound and production – but also it gives me sense of nostalgia and connects on an emotional level, not just surface level.
Kenan: Tamzyn Rijns, who sings the lead on this track is a good friend of ours and is one of our favourite singers. She has a beautiful voice and I think that it helps it stand out.
Kenan: I got married in September last year and I think it’s just an honest reflection of how love can feel too good to be true at times. It feels dream-like and so I wanted to write a really happy dreamy song that reflected that.
David: At the start of the first pre-chorus, ‘Too good to be true this feeling, way up in the clouds’. I just really love Tamzyn’s voice in combination with the dreamy pads, soundscape here.
David: Kenan and I wrote and produced it just in my bedroom. Then when we recorded, we brought Tamzyn in and set up a recording booth in the wardrobe! It was a really hot day when we recorded, so she was a real trooper dealing with the heat and our DIY setup. She killed it.
Kenan: I hope people feel happy after listening to this song.
David: We have a compilation of ideas sitting on my computer and Kenan’s phone, so we’re currently just picking the idea we’re vibing with the most in that time and then we see where that goes. If we still like it, we’ll put the finishing touches on it and release it – keeping in mind it’s early days on this project, so we’re not too fussy, we just want to put out music that we like and that we’re proud of.
Kenan: It’s just us three at the moment. We do everything ourselves and we’re really enjoying the challenge. Because we don’t have management or a label and don’t know many people in the industry, we’re super thankful for NZ On Air and NZM for the support on this song.
Choosing three songs from local artists that we really admire: Sparking My Fire by Sachi, Go With You by Baynk and Focus by Chris Bates & Luan.
Kenan: Yes, our first two singles missed out on the New Tracks playlists. My advice for others just starting out like us would be to just keep trying. Let the bad news of missing out fuel you to work harder and see any rejection as a challenge to learn from and improve.
Kenan: No, we found the new tracks application quite straightforward which was helpful.
David: I’m a YouTube kind of guy. Mix With The Masters is really fascinating, so much golden info from the best in the business. DAW Nation is where I go to geek out over electronic artists and get insight to some of their production techniques.
Thank you NZM for having us, NZ On Air for putting us on the April NewTracks compilation and a huge thank you to anyone who listens, It really does mean a lot to us to hear people like the music that we really enjoy making.
New Tracks is a compilation of new music from New Zealand artists which is distributed to broadcast and online platforms on the first of each month. Previously the Kiwi Hit Disc, New Tracks is one of the ways that New Zealand on Air promotes kiwi music to the industry, radio, streaming services, and media. To apply for New Tracks you must have a completed, airplay-ready song and a promotional plan.