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NewTracks New Artist: Duan & Only

NewTracks New Artist: Duan & Only

Duan Royle Te Hira Kaka is best known for fronting Sydney-based ManaLion, the dubtronic/dirty roots duo that’s the main focus of his musical career. Noticing that some of his songs just didn’t fit the band’s style Duan dug out his solo alter ego, Duan & Only – invented for the purpose of playing open mic nights in New Plymouth back in the day – to release solo material. His soulful single Addison Rd featured on NZ On Air Music‘s NewTracks compilation this February.

What’s your full name, where are you from and what do you play?

Kia ora, my name is Duan Royle Te Hira Kaka. I’m from Greytown (Wairarapa) and I play the guitar.

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

I attended Rathkeale College as a weekly boarder from 3rd – 6th form and finished off my high school years at Kuranui College in Greytown. My best friend at primary school was taking classical guitar lessons and he actually taught me to play guitar at age 10! We used to play songs by The Eagles, Eric Clapton and Cat Stevens etc.

What other projects might we know you from?

I have my band ManaLion and our sound has been described as dirty roots, dubtronic and alt-pop fantasy reggae. We’re actually doing a mini tour next month.

What’s the background story to Duan & Only?

I’ve always been passionate about music and had been in a bunch of school bands that were ‘just for fun’. I think I started performing solo (properly) around 2004/2005. I saw a sign for an open mic night in New Plymouth and thought I’d give it a crack. And of course, I needed a name…

How has your songwriting evolved to what it is today?

Well… I first started writing songs about age 15 and I was really into Silverchair at the time, so the songs I was writing were probably shitty versions of that, haha! We moved to Taranaki after I finished high school and I got into surfing. Jack Johnson was just coming onto the scene and I changed my electric guitar for an acoustic.

Fast forward 10 years I was getting right into dub/reggae and so I was writing songs that would be performed by a band and this was the birth of ManaLion. More recently I’ve just wanted to write music of any style – my latest release being soul/RnB and bossa nova.

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

I can’t remember but I probably thought I was being clever haha!

What makes Addison Rd stand out for you as a single?

Addison Rd was the kick start I needed to releasing music under Duan & Only again. It wasn’t right for ManaLion so I decided in 2019 that I’d revive my solo project and continue to release new tunes every 3-4 months.

What is the story behind Addison Rd?

Addison Rd is a song about a girl (my current gf) playing hard to get, and the roller coaster ride of dating again after a long term relationship. We all know that feeling you get when someone you like messages you, and we all know ‘that feeling’ when someone you like doesn’t message you. Let’s just say she wasn’t very punctual in the beginning – she’s much better now!

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

I really like the jazzy chords, they sound good when played on ‘Cherry’ my red Epiphone Casino.

Who did you record/produce Addison Rd with and where?

I wrote the music and lyrics, recorded the song at home and co-produced it with Paul Matthews of I Am Giant. The trumpet on the record is actually a guy from Venezuela (Frank Grillo) who I found on Fiverr. I reached out to him via the interweb and he sent me the stems within 24 hours. Magic!

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

Don’t be late, haha! Nah, I think a lot of people are flakey these days. If you say you’re gonna do something, do it!!

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

I’m not writing an album, I’m just trying to get my music out there and heard.

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

I want to release music every 3-4 months under Duan & Only (next single due late March) and we’re currently writing new music for ManaLion.

Can you please tell us three other local tunes that should be on a playlist alongside Addison Rd.

Mako RoadLocal Safari
L.A.BIn The Air
Dylan Frost Lusty Soul

Have any of your previous applications not been included on NewTracks? Got any advice for people out there?

Once!! I applied for NewTracks when Addison Rd was first released, and then again once I’d released the official video. So, make sure you have a video to go with your single (thumbs up).

Who did you make the video with?

Addison Rd was directed by my good mate Callum Hunter and we shot it at our friend’s cafe Belgrave Cartel in Manly, Australia. All the extras are good friends, and the love interest is my girlfriend.

Any last words?

Thanks so much to NZ On Air for selecting Addison Rd for February NewTracks and thank you for featuring me in NZ Musician! Really appreciate it.