Dunedin’s Mild Orange have had a busy year. They spent most of May 2019 on tour in Europe and the UK, only to head off again for Mexico’s RadioBosque Festival in November. Now signed up with international booking agents and management, they’ve accumulated millions of streams and countless fans, predominantly from Latin America and Los Angeles. Guitarist Josh ‘Jah’ Reid, singer Josh ‘Mehrt’ Mehrtens, bassist Tom ‘Barry’ Belk and drummer Jack Ferguson’s “melting melodies”, as they call them, are part of a new wave of Dunedin music, laid back floaty tunes that do well over here as well as overseas. Now back home to gear up for summer festivals in NZ, they looked back at their big year for NZM.
Taking Mild Orange overseas has been a dream for us since we started playing together in 2017. We’ve always maintained that we make music in New Zealand, for the world.
2019 became the year that this dream came into fruition, as we embarked upon our first international tour in Europe and the United Kingdom, followed by a recent festival appearance in Mexico. We’re extremely grateful that we get to see the world while doing what we love – make music and art, explore and meet awesome people at our shows and in the new places that we go.
Our first international show was in Budapest at A38 Ship, playing to 250 people on the top deck of a ship on the Danube River. Having come halfway across the world to find people knowing our music and singing the lyrics with us was something we’ll never forget. We had fans tell us how far they had come to see us play, some travelling as long as 15 hours from Macedonia to see us! It was a really special night and a great way to kick off our Euro/UK Foreplay Tour.
From there our headline tour took us through 12 different countries playing 21 shows over 30 days. We hired a van along with an entire backline and managed to squeeze seven boys, our backline and luggage into the back of our Ford Transit and drive it about 10,000km.
We quickly became very accustomed to driving on the other side of the road, border crossings and eating from petrol stations. I think we all agreed that the Danes have the best petrol station feeds. Honourable mention to Mehrt’s jar of pickles that last us from Vienna to Paris.
The tour life however definitely took its toll on our health over that month. Playing four or five shows on consecutive nights whilst travelling at least five hours in the van every day was something we are certainly not used to. We managed to spread a cold around the van within the first week and half of the tour – it was good to get it out of the way early.
We realised soon after our first four-show stint that we may have to start looking after ourselves a bit better i.e. earlier nights, healthier food, less beers. This realisation came whilst hungover in a Berlin café after a very big night. (Berlin chewed us up and spat us out!) We did succeed in heeding our bodies advice and toned it back a bit whilst still enjoying ourselves over the following three weeks. We were grateful that most of the promoters in Europe provided us with accommodation – we slept well most nights.
There was one festival date on our UK leg, and it was one of the cooler experiences that we’ve ever had. We played the main stage at All Points East festival in Victoria Park, London. It was a chance for us to showcase our music on the biggest stage we’ve been on yet – shared by The Strokes, Courtney Barnett, Connan Mockasin, Metronomy, Toro Y Moi, Kurt Vile and James Blake. Being billed alongside these artists, whilst also getting to see them play live and meet them was a real treat. We played early in the afternoon on Sunday to a solid crowd who braved the British summer rain to come see us.
A highlight-performance of the European tour was playing our first sold-out show overseas, in Paris. The vibe was super groovy that night, and the crowd really responsive.
Every show on the tour was a great vibe for that matter. The rooms we played in were always spectacular, some of the coolest venues we’ve ever seen. Speaking a different language each day was tough but we welcomed the challenge. Mehrt learnt how to say the Foreplay album intro greeting in eight different languages to tell the crowd when we played Intro in each respective country. We feel that it is important to try our hardest to speak the local language and not expect people to speak English with us wherever we go. We’ll definitely get back to Europe as soon as we can. Our fans out there are epic and everywhere you go in Europe there are awesome people.
Not much later we played our first show in Mexico at RadioBosque Festival. This was a far less intensive trip than our UK/European tour, we had a lot of leisure time to explore and were not moving around so much. We rented a place in Roma Sur for two weeks before the festival and really got to know the area well. We ate at our local taco place daily (shout out to Luiz), got to know a few locals and brushed up on our Spanish. Close to where we were staying was a music studio, where we had a few jam sessions and came out with a new song – incidental to our newfound environment.
This was the first time the Radiobosque festival had been put on. It was held on Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), so the festival was beautifully vibrant and colourful. Elaborate lighting displays from industry-leading visual engineers offered an immersive modern twist on a traditional celebration. For instance, the forest area had decorative graveyards, lit by candles coupled with audio/visual displays hanging above.
We played the main stage alongside great artists such as Hot Chip, Underworld and Rhye. Again, it is such a cool feeling for us to be in another country where English is not the primary language and to hear the lyrics being sung along to. We’d heard that Mexican audiences are the best – they were.
We have learned a lot this year from our first foray into international touring and have become a lot tighter as a unit. The experience that we gained from this year’s tours will be applied to our future tours, and we’ll build on polishing and raising the bar in all aspects of Mild Orange live. We know that this is what we want to do for many years to come.
Getting back to NZ was special and we have a newfound appreciation for our beautiful country. We’ll continue to spread our good Kiwi vibes and values with the world.
Cheers ~ Mehrt, Jah, Barry and Jeck.