by Silke Hartung

NewTracks New Artist: Nyree Huyser

by Silke Hartung

NewTracks New Artist: Nyree Huyser

You might well have heard Nyree Huyser singing before, for instance as one of the backing singers on Tami Neilson‘s 2020 modern classic ‘Chickaboom!’, without knowing whose that beautiful voice is. Following a recent stint of The Voice Australia, Nyree is now ready to step into the limelight under her own name, with a little help from some talented friends and single By The River to show off her impressive range. NZ On Air Music featured the ballad on their NewTracks compilation this November.

What is your name, where are you from and what instruments do you play?

My name is Nyree Huyser. I was born in Scotland and moved to NZ in 2012. I am a singer and songwriter.

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

I had a very encouraging and supportive music teacher at high school. Her name at the time was Miss Woods (now Mrs Selby). Having someone professional who believes in you, especially at that age is crucial to building confidence and assurance in yourself.

Any other projects that we might we know you from?

  • The Voice Australia 2023
  • Christmas In The Park
  • I featured as a backing singer on Tami Neilson’s ‘Chickaboom!’ album.

What’s the background story of your self-named project came to be? 

I have always been a singer and growing up I actively pursued my dream of becoming successful in the industry. This was all put on hold when I had my three beautiful children. This year I took a chance and featured on The Voice Australia, making it to Rita Ora’s top three contestants – this relit a fire in me that burns more than it ever has. I launched this solo project because the time finally feels right, and now I am doing it not only for myself, but for my children.

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

I feel I have more of an identity of who I am now. I suffered writers’ block for so long because I wasn’t allowing my true thoughts and personality to shine through. Opening up and becoming more vulnerable to the process has allowed me to write more organically and creatively.

What made you decide to stick with your name as artist name?

My name is unique and tells a story. The original spelling of my name is Ngaire, and comes from Māori descent. Although I am from the UK with no natural heritage here in New Zealand, I have a greater sense of belonging here in NZ than anywhere else in the world, and I feel a warmth about my name originating here.

Easy to guess maybe, but what’s been the big highlight to date?

Participating in The Voice Australia was an incredible experience! I got to work alongside coaches Rita Ora, Jason Derulo, Guy Sebastian and Jessica Mauboy. I figured out a lot about myself as an artist and a performer and the confidence it has given me is huge, and really the biggest inspiration for kick-starting my career in the music industry.

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

This song is raw and exposed in many ways. The piano and vocals were recorded live as a single track to allow for imperfections, as it was written and performed from the heart. I drew on real life emotions and experiences when writing this song and it’s one I am very proud of.

What is the story behind By The River?

By The River is a song about finding yourself in a dark place, with a desire to break free from it, and literally crying out for help. The world can be a difficult and often saddening place, this song is about escape – to the river, to a safe space, to family, to god – to wherever speaks to you best in times of trouble.

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

I love the expression, “If this is all we know, then how’re we gonna last?” It is deliberately the highest and strongest phrase of the song as it is an exclamation of desperation and a moment of realisation that things need to get better and that I won’t continue down the path I’ve been going.

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

I co-wrote this single with Marley Sola and it was recorded live in one full take with our talented friend Steve Lasei on piano. We recorded this in the living room of a lovely lady who offered us use of her house in Christchurch that overlooked Burnside Park, where my husband was at cricket practice! Not exactly glamorous, but very homely and gave the most raw and authentic sound possible.

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

I would love for this song to bring hope to those struggling with mental health, to help them escape even for a few minutes, to let them know they are not alone and things can get better.

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

I love creating music people can relate to, I think that is the key to a good single. Whether the message of the song is engaging or the music can take them to a place of joy, hope or escape. I am super grateful to NZ On Air for selecting By The River for their New Tracks November compilation.

Who else is in your team?

 Currently, I am a fully independent and self-managed artist, although over the next year I will be looking to expand my team by enlisting professional publicity and a booking agent.

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

I have a Christmas EP on its way, and I am super excited as it will include my original Christmas song I Remember Christmas – out December 1! I am also currently working with a host of other producers for releases in 2024 that may bring a few surprises along the way…

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

Have any previous NZOA applications not gained funding or been included on NewTracks? Got any advice for others?

This is my very first single selected by NZ On Air for NewTracks! I have applied previously for funding and not been successful. My advice would be to keep doing the hard work, keep creating music and KEEP applying! It might not be your time just yet, but it will come. I see the application process as a journey of obtaining personal career goals, achieving more and more criteria with each application. It’s a wonderful motivation to grow!

Was there an NZOA criterion you struggled with in the application? 

As a new artist, I found it hard to check off any of the media or recognition-orientated criterion. I found that instead, a great place to start is with your fans and followers. Get those social figures up, promote your music and play heaps of live shows to gain a following. Do what is realistic now and your eligibility will organically grow.

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

NZ Musician! I love reading about our local talent and their successes, it’s so inspiring!

Can you give me a link to the music video, if there is one, please? Who did you make the video with?

Video filmed by Sly Kawengian at the Isaac Theatre Royal in Ōtautahi, Christchurch.

Any last words?

Thank you so much to NZ On Air for promoting this very special single and to NZ Musician for sharing its story!