NewTracks new Artist: Onono

NewTracks new Artist: Onono

Wellington-based act ONONO dropped a self-titled album at the beginning of July, launching it alongside the release of the album’s second track, The Island, as a single. Onono is Jonathan Nott, recognisably from a family that comes close to deserving the badge of modern Kiwi music royalty. Cousin to those famous Broods siblings, Jonathan has been part of their touring team since 2015, and is one of those all-round talented types; writing, recording, producing the album’s 10 tracks, and mixing most as well, though The Island mix credits sit with James MacDonald. It’s an enticing, floaty, hands-in-the-air slice of electronic wizardry that NZ On Air chose to include on their NewTracks compilation this July.

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

My name is Jonathan Nott and I live in Pōneke, Aotearoa. My primary instrument is drums and I also play guitar and dabble in keys and bass.

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

When I was 16 years old, at high school, I joined a covers band that played regularly at the local Irish pub in Blenheim. We played a lot of classics from Jimi Hendrix to Queen to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. We would play for up to four hours at a time, so I played a lot of drums. I learnt to replicate these classic drum styles and I think that helped me a lot.

Any other previous projects we might know you from?

I was once part of a band called Red Sky Blues and now I play drums for Hans Pucket and Broods.

What’s the background to how Onono came to be? 

Onono was an outlet for these ideas that I had come up with that didn’t necessarily fit into the projects I was writing with. It was an opportunity for me to do whatever I wanted to, and it was all influenced by the other projects and bands I played in.

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

I think I have become a better producer, which is reflected in the latest album – it is a lot more slick pop production and less lo fi drums and guitar. I think this comes from travelling around with Broods and being exposed to a lot of great pop music, live and recorded.

How and when did you come up with the Onono name?

My friend Patrick and I were trying to come up with a band name and logo with a lot of silly ideas being thrown around. He just wrote “jononott”and then I saw the palindrome in the middle.

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

We have been pretty lucky to play some fun gigs in Wellington. I’d say the highlight would be playing to a packed Botanic Gardens crowd a few years ago.

What makes The Island stand out for you as a single?

I think it has this party-starting pop energy that I wanted to grab people’s attention with.

What is the story behind The Island?

This song was written while I was in the US, just after I had seen Little Dragon at this festival in Philadelphia. I was super inspired by their creative arrangements and the brilliant Swedish production and I wanted to make a song that sounded like them. I also started with a percussion loop inspired by another live experience seeing Grizzly Bear perform at the NZ Festival in Wellington. The song is basically a mashup of those ideas and which then became its own thing.

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

I love the feeling of dropping back into the second verse. How the drums come back in the second bar and the sub-bass.

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

I conceived the idea at my cousin’s studio in Mt Washington in LA. I basically wrote the whole thing there and added a few bits and pieces to it over the last few years back in Wellington.

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

I would like the listener to want to hear more!

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

With the way people listen to and discover music nowadays you kind of have to be quick to grab their attention. But at the same time, I have heard lots of singles that are huge slow burners and are great. Perhaps it’s a statement piece or an introduction to an album. It is really one piece in the puzzle that is all of your music.

Who else is in your team?

I make all the music myself. I have Caleb Sircombe helping me with visuals. Recently my friend Gussie Larkin from Earth Tongue and Mermaidens has been helping book shows. My cousin Caleb [Nott] has also helped with the physical release of our self-titled album.

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

I am working on some ambient music which I think will just come out of nowhere sometime soon!

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

  • Depressed by Wells
  • Love by Womb
  • Eczema by Hans Pucket

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

I have applied quite a few times for NZ On Air funding but never received it. I think I might need the advice!
I find it interesting that larger projects and artists that have the support of labels and management receive funding over independent artists who would benefit more from this funding.

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

Dekay’s Crafts

Who did you make the video with?

The footage was shot at a show we played at San Fran earlier in the year. I edited the footage myself.


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.