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NewTracks New Artist: N eo

NewTracks New Artist: N eo

Hip hop artist N eo claims Auckland as his home of origin. Though born in Palmerston North (and then answering to Bryan James Anderson), he says he moved around so much as a kid, and it was Auckland that made him who he is. His single Ghost Girl was featured on NZOA‘s NewTracks compilation in September.

What other musical outfits might we know you from?

I was part of the Small Fortunes crew. SF ran from the end of 2016 to the end of 2017. We built a platform for ourselves as individual artists through the collective and have all been working solo since, and still collaborating together, day ones forever.

What instrument/s do you play?

From year 7 – 10 I played bass guitar and tried my hand at singing in rock bands, but the cliche ‘my voice is my instrument’ is probably the correct answer.

What’s the background to how N eo came to be as a project?

My musical background is quite eclectic. I grew up on Blink 182, Nirvana, and at the same time Outkast and Dr Dre. N eo came to life around the end of September 2017 and is a hybrid of the guitar-influenced music and hip hop I grew up on.

I’d been making music with friends and across the internet with people for a few years, and releasing music under my birth name for about 12 months prior to N eo. Things were starting to take shape and I thought it was time to take everything a bit more seriously. I had been working closely with the Small Fortunes boys and Elder before I branded into N eo which definitely helped me find and start to perfect a sound I was happy with, to deliver to a wider audience. I released a joint EP with Jinzo in October 2017, which gained me the first proper looks from blogs and playlist curators and have been working on the project ever since.

How has your music evolved from your beginnings in songwriting to where it is right now?

I think every artist goes through a bunch of transitions and phases in the early days and as I was growing so was my music taste – and it still is. The major difference is now knowing what style or sound I want to achieve with my music, dreaming something up and being able to execute it. Writing is different for everyone but now for me being able to share my past and current experiences, those of people around me, and being able to relay my environment the way I want to is where the changes lie for me. Not just writing for the sake of it all the time (which is still an important part of music for me), but being able to separate that and then writing about something that holds a little more weight to me.

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

My last name is Anderson and I was always so intrigued by the concept of the Matrix as well as N eo being a g. All my teachers used to, in the worst possible way, repeat the Mr Anderson line from the movie, and when I thought about it, it felt good, and here we are!

What makes Ghost Girl stand out for you as a single?

Coming home after playing my first RnV at the end of 2017 I was in a good space to write music. I scrapped most of the things I’d been writing and started fresh. Elder sent me a beat pack of something like 28 beats, I stopped at track two and started writing. I knew as soon as I heard the instrumental and wrote the first few lines of the hook It was going to be something. Ghost Girl was the first in a new collection of my music that really represented the artist I wanted to be, and I felt that straight away.

What is the story behind Ghost Girl?

A reflection on my past relationships and love affairs / modern relationships. My perspective as a male could come across one-sided, but I tried to objectively commentate from a neutral standpoint. A one-sided love story in short, for anyone who has been there 

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

There’s a few lines that come to mind, but I think the pre-chorus sentences, and the second melody Elder brings in. It was Elder who made the instrumental and I wrote the lyrics. We considered different song structures back and fourth while I was writing. Tom Lee recorded the vocals and one of my favourite engineers in the world, Alex Tumay, who mixes for Young Thug and countless others, did the mixing.

In one sentence what do you want listeners to take away from this song.

That it’s okay to feel angry, vulnerable and helpless.

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

It will change depending on what you are creating or working towards I think, EP or album, or maybe just a stand-alone track. Sometimes I might represent a theme from a project well and other time you just know in your gut. Ghost Girl was like that for me.

Are there any other musical endeavours you’re working on, with this brand or others?

I am working on an EP executive produced by Elder which I am over the moon with. I’ll be taking It to Northern Bass this New Years and hopefully a few other summer festivals, plus hitting the South Island early 2019. So keep an eye out for us heading all over the country with new music to share!

Can you name three other local tunes that should be on a playlist alongside your song?

NZ has a crazy pool of talent right now, seems unfair to only pick three but these three all sit well with Ghost Girl on my playlist.… 

No Feelings by Jinzo
Absent by Ivy Red
The Devil Has No Home by Lukas 

Have you made previous applications that didn’t get funding or didn’t get included on NewTracks?

Ghost Girl was my debut single and the first time we ended up on the NewTracks which I am blessed for! We haven’t applied for any funding yet but that all starts now!

How can we find you on social media?

n_eoakl is my handle across everything.

Instagram Is the platform I get the most out of, but search N eo across Spotify, Apple Music, Twitter etc. and I’ll pop up.

Who did you make the video with?

Taylor Mansfield directed the video, with film by himself as well as Jake Munro. We had so much fun working on this video and I was stoked to see how It turned out.

Any last words?

Sometimes, especially in a smaller country, things take time, but keep striving and working towards your goals and good things will happen. Also, remember why you started making music and to enjoy it. That’s when the best and most important songs are made. Thank you for reading!