NewTracks New Artist: Mild Orange

NewTracks New Artist: Mild Orange

Creating what they call ‘melting melodies’ – music with a smooth, laid-back vibe – Dunedin-based quartet Mild Orange have made it onto NZOA Music‘s NewTracks compilation for the first time this May. Guitarist Josh ‘Jah’ Reid and Josh ‘Mehrt’ Mehrtens on vocals, guitar and production go way back, reconnecting while flatting as adults. Completing the band, there are also bassist Tom ‘Barry’ Kelk on bass and drummer Jack Ferguson, who double as the rhythm section for fellow Dunedin band, Albion Place.

What’s the background to how Mild Orange came to be?

Jah and Mehrt met in kindergarten (age two), and reunited 18 years later after they found themselves flatting together in Dunedin in a 10-man flat. They began writing the bones of ‘Foreplay’ in a cold, leaky room in their third year at university. It was a very strange living circumstance – a pet chicken living freely in the lounge, rabbits, lizards also under the roof and a home that constantly remained in a ‘party-aftermath’ state for the whole year. A year later and after a few shows together, the two enlisted Jack and Barry. Mild Orange then came into fruition, and we found ourselves on a Corona Extra NZ tour after our first gig together – and the rest is history…

How did you come up with the Mild Orange name?

Suggested by Mehrt’s older brother (Sam Wave), the name encapsulates our warm, melting melodies – created out of a lust for smooth sounds.

What makes Down By The River stand out for you as a single?

It gets right into it. It’s hard-hitting, makes you sway, and we feel it is easily approachable. It’s uplifting, like the comfort of a bowl of pumpkin soup after you’ve just walked home from work in the rain…

What is the story behind Down By The River?

Mehrt: The song was written at a time when I was preparing for an imminent long-distance relationship. So roughly, Down By The River is a song about the silly things one does whilst they wait for that special someone… like building a snowman haha. It wasn’t my intention to write a song about the subject but the words just flowed out when we began playing the chords. I guess it was a something subliminally looming on my mind and the feeling of the instrumentation brought out a feeling of longing for someone.

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

How it hits at the start. Especially when we play it live, it sends a rush of positive energy into you. And with the recording, you know right from pressing play that you’re in for a wonderful moment. From there it just keeps on rollin’, rollin’, rollin’…

Who did you record and produce the single with? Got a story about the making-of?

The song was written in our third year flat – it was one of those moments when the song just kind of comes out of nowhere ya know? Jah and Mehrt sat down and began noodling the guitar parts and the first words to come out were, “Down by the river” and it went from there…

The song and album were produced/mixed/engineered by our frontman, Josh Mehrtens over a period of six months. In November 2017 the four of us locked ourselves up for a week in our cold, windowless practice room to record the album. We share that room with The Chills and Knives at Noon – so there’s a lot of good energy in there. Down By The River was actually the first song we recorded, so with our trial and error approach, there was scope for it to go rather pear-shaped. The recording techniques we were trying were new to us and the room we were using was less than ideal. After hearing the rough mix at the end of the first day, we knew we were onto something though. So really, this song was our foreplay to ‘Foreplay’.

Describe in one sentence what you want listeners to take away from this song.

If listeners were to take one thing away from this song it would be that you shouldn’t be afraid to sing along with the guitar parts, especially at live shows, haha. “Diduh diduh dii diiiii duuuhhhh!!!!!!!!!”

In general, how do you work out which song would make a good single?

We’re not quite sure about what makes a good single. We guess that singles should be able to stand alone strong and make a statement on behalf of the band as to what we are about or trying to do. We write melting melodies, and we feel that Down By The River is a statement of that.

Can you think of three other local tunes that should be on a playlist alongside your song.

Required by Heavychest; So We Do by Odsoul and Radram (Mehrt’s brother, Sam Wave); Need You by Marlin’s Dreaming.

Did any of your previous applications not get funding or included on NewTracks? Got any advice for people out there?

We haven’t actually gotten funding before. We’ve applied three times, but we’ll keep trying. We’re fairly new to the scene, so we haven’t been eligible for long. We’re very stoked to be on the NZ On Air NewTracks playlist though! Down By The River was our first application. Advice to others? We guess just keep believing in your craft, and that not getting funding doesn’t reflect anything on your music, so just keep on groovin’.

How can we find you on social media?



Any last words?

Keep on groovin’.