NewTracks New Artist: Neko

NewTracks New Artist: Neko

It’s hard to imagine that Serious could be the first single that singer-songwriter Neko has released, her gymnastic voice is assured, and courtesy of a smart production team there’s a real sense of strength behind the youthful lightness of touch. NZ On Air Music agreed on the quality of the song and featured it on their NewTracks compilation this October.

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

My full name is Nganeko Kaera Whakaaro Wilson-Newman, it stands for the celestial light of a star (Nganeko). I’m based in Auckland city, but if you asked where my family is from then, my dad’s Ngāpuhi ki te Tai Tokerau & Tainui ki Waikato. I am a singer-songwriter.

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

I think high school made me super aware of how I sing and how fast and easy I can damage my vocal chords.

Any other previous (or current) projects might we know you from?

I’ve worked on projects with Noah Slee, Troy Kingi, Church & AP, and did an interview with CoolPrettyCool and got to shoot in Prada samples. 

What’s the background story of this Neko project came to be? 

I’m a solo artist and Neko is just a shorter version of my birth name – Nganeko. 

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

I write a lot about other peoples’ experiences now instead of just my own. 

Aside from this release, what’s been the big highlight to date? 

Working with different artists for sure. 

What makes Serious stand out for you as a single?

It doesn’t sound like any of the covers that I’ve done or music that i generally listen to, so it’s sort of branched me out in to different genres. 

What is the story behind Serious?

I wrote the song then found a word in it that looked cool and boom… Serious. I wrote it when I was in my last year of high school and I wasn’t ready for my life to change. But since I wrote it my entire life has changed. I have a bunch of demos that I really like, and Serious was one of them. I talked about it a bit with my managers, who also really liked it, and we decided that it would be good to put it out as my first single because it feels like a good intro to my vibe. 

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

My favourite lyrics are: “How many times do we talk about the same damn things, like negative things never positive things”  – because I used to think that serious people had really 2d vision and we couldn’t have a conversation about anything. 

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

I wrote this song with Josh Naley (Wells*) and Jordan Arts (High Hoops). Josh produced it. We actually made it in their friend’s lounge. I listened to it my whole bus ride home and it was raining.

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

Be nice!!!

Who else is in your team?

Josh Naley (aka Wells*) produced this song. My managers are Paula [Yeoman] and Nicole [Thomas] from NicNak

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

I’m on tour with Troy Kingi next week (Hawkes Bay, Wellington and Auckland). I’m also opening for Six60 in Waitangi in January and I’ve got a couple of songs still to be released.

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

Rollit – Church & AP

Fire SaleDeadforest ft Church & AP

I’ll Be FineVayne

Have any previous NZOA applications not been included on NewTracks? Got any advice for others out there? 

I’m pretty new to all of this so I haven’t received any NZ on Air funding before and no, I’ve never had a song included on NewTracks. This is my very first single, so I’m still learning about all of this side of things. For me the goal is to just keep working on my music, releasing it and playing shows. 

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

Love Tiny Desk!!

Any last words?

Thank you NZM for this Q&A!!


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.