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.
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.
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.
I was once part of a band called Red Sky Blues and now I play drums for Hans Pucket and Broods.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I think it has this party-starting pop energy that I wanted to grab people’s attention with.
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.
I love the feeling of dropping back into the second verse. How the drums come back in the second bar and the sub-bass.
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.
I would like the listener to want to hear more!
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.
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.
I am working on some ambient music which I think will just come out of nowhere sometime soon!
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.
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.