NewTracks New Artist: Antony Jeffares

NewTracks New Artist: Antony Jeffares

While it might be a new golden era for song co-writing and songwriter/producer collabs, that kind of shared responsibility isn’t the creative solution for all musicians. Indeed, some even choose to add /producer to the singer/songwriter genus to ensure the outcome is entirely to themselves. Otumoetai College alumni Antony Jeffares is one such artist. Previously part of electronic duo PleasePlease, his third solo single song Misery Under The Sun addresses the folly of comparing your path with that of others and has been included in NZ On Airs NewTracks compilation this March.

What’s your name, home, and what instruments do you play?

Antony Jeffares. I’m originally from Tauranga, but I’ve been living in Auckland since 2018. I play guitar, bass and keys, and my music is self-produced.

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

High school was really important. I went to Otumoetai College in Tauranga, which had a really strong music department and awesome teachers. We were encouraged to write songs and play in bands, which proved to be super pivotal for me. I’m also an Auckland University jazz school drop out… While I never finished I learnt a lot about music, which has had its influence on my writing.

Any other projects might we know you from?

I sang in an electronic duo called PleasePlease.

What’s the background to how you started to make music as soloist?

PleasePlease was coming to an end and I’d just started getting excited about self-producing music. I started putting songs up on Soundcloud, the recordings were pretty bad, but I stuck at it. Going solo was never really on my mind to do before that, but it made a lot of sense. Almost everything I’d done had been someone else’s thing, and this was a chance for me to figure out what kind of music really fit me. It’s been a process of discovery and the music I’m making now is the best fitting thing I’ve ever done!

How has your writing evolved over that time?

I think that when you start out you’re running entirely on intuition, and often that can lead to some great results. Now I think, if anything, I’m more dedicated to it as a vocation. I write almost every day and I know how to dig myself out of ruts, whereas before, I would stop writing when it became difficult.

Like a lot of songwriters it’s also come to encapsulate production. Once upon a time I would start every song with a chord progression on either piano or guitar, now I could start with anything. A synth patch or a bass line or a drum groove. Anything that’s going to tap me into some kind of inspiration. It’s also less about trying to write a song that sounds like this or that, and more just following my nose and see where I end up.

How did you decide on the name for this solo project?

I’d been going back and forth about perhaps using a pseudonym, but I wanted something I’d still like in 10 or 20 years. I thought back to choosing email addresses when you’re a kid, and how you tend to outgrow them pretty quick and what you’d intended to be really cool becomes really embarrassing. There’s something about using your birth name that ties you personally to your music, and I know that’s exactly what some artists are trying to avoid. For me it felt right. Heart on the sleeve.…

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

I spent a lot of time making music without considering exactly what I wanted to make. The highlight has been discovering a sound that fits me, and having people connect with that in a real way.

What makes Misery Under The Sun stand out for you as a single?

It delivers a sort of oppressive reality of modern life, but in a totally free and un-oppressive musical feeling. Maybe it’s kind of saying we all feel this weight of comparison but it’s going to be okay.

What’s the story behind Misery Under The Sun?

It’s exploring the road you take when you seriously pursue something like being a musician or artist, and how crippling it can be when you start to measure your life to others, be it other artists or other people who took a more steady route. But ultimately you’ve got your path, and that’s all you are responsible for.

What’s your favourite moment of the single?

I’d been super inspired by Steve Winwood, particularly the song Higher Love. All the chaos in the rhythms but somehow they work together, and I feel like I managed to get some of that essence. The bass line is my favourite line musically. Lyrically I really like the lead line in the chorus, “I hold myself to another man’s path some days.”

Who did you produce the single with and where? 

I was recording everything at home. My friend Angus was interning at Roundhead (he’s now working there), and would open up the studio after hours for us to record. We did the drums and vocals there, working til the early hours. We would nerd out on all the killer gear. It was a great time.

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

That we’re all looking at each other’s lives comparing ourselves and freaking out, and for no good reason! But there’s some kind of resolve in doing what you feel you want to do, and keeping your attention on that.

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

I literally choose the one I can’t stop listening to.

Who else is in your music team?

It’s really just me. And Olive my wife does all my visuals, photography, music vids etc. But I have lovely friends who help me make decisions.

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

My album is coming out at the end of April. ‘When Twilight Comes (I Am Still Yearning)’

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

Shannon Matthew VanyaWhere You Are

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

Haha! Yes! About a zillion of them… My advice is to stand by your work. We shouldn’t be afraid to go ahead with our projects even if they don’t get funded.

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

Not particularly. Well not that would be worth sharing…

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

My favourite podcast is the Tape-Op podcast. Especially all the early episodes with Glynn Johns and Brian Eno. Also the Song Exploder podcast is really interesting. Not a podcast or blog but a book called How Music Works by David Byrne was one of the best things I ever discovered as a musician.

Any last words?

“It is absurd to say that I am really a poor man while I keep on putting words together. Words set in order are mental possessions.” James K Baxter


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.

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