Q & A: Geoff Ong

Q & A: Geoff Ong

Auckland Live has lined up a great variety of events for lovers of local tunes for NZ Music Month in Tāmaki Makaurau, creating opportunities for local indies to get themselves out into the spotlight. NZM caught up with local songwriter Geoff Ong, who has been invited to be part of the ongoing Digital Buskers experience as well as the Music Month Pub Quiz to find out how he premiered new single Waiting On What To Say to the local music industry.

You’re part of the ‘digital buskers’ experience Auckland Live have set up for NZ Music Month. What’s that about?

Yes! What an awesome experience. Auckland Live has set up a big screen in Aotea Square where they have a bunch of different performances being shown, everything from live music to poetry to circus acts! You walk up to the screen and turn a crank handle which starts the show. The performances are all randomised which adds a super fun element of surprise as you have no idea what you’re going to see. I’ve got a few new songs which are making their debut as part of Digital Buskers, which is super exciting!

What inspired your new single Waiting On What To Say?

Waiting On What To Say was written during a prolonged bout of social anxiety – not usually a topic that people write pop songs about. (I don’t think?) I felt like I was constantly on edge whenever I was trying to interact with people which was really weird and unfamiliar! So I felt I really needed to delve into it and try and figure out what was really going on. I find songwriting is a really useful tool in my mental health toolbox for working through things like this!

How did the single release at the Music Month Pub Quiz come about? How was it being in a room filled with music industry people for the premiere?

Auckland Live decided to invite performers from their Digital Busker experience to perform live at one of the NZ Music Month events – The Great NZ Music Quiz Night. I have to make a very special shoutout to my friend Max Earnshaw who messaged me to tell me to apply to be a part of the Digital Busker experience – if he hadn’t told me about it all of this definitely wouldn’t have happened!

To be honest. I didn’t actually know that there were so many music industry people in there until after my set! A bunch of my friends came along, which was so nice – that definitely helped the vibe to feel fun and supportive. But I didn’t find out until after that all the other people in the room were some big hitters in the industry! I think if I had known before I started playing I would have been 1000000x more nervous, so I’m actually very grateful to not have known, haha.

What has been the highlight of your NZMM otherwise?

Just seeing all the support and excitement in the music community has been so heartening. I’ve loved seeing lots of my musical friends posting on socials about other musicians to check out, and hyping each other up. I really love how music in NZ feels like a really warm and welcoming community.

How has the music industry changed for you personally since you started putting yourself out there as a musician?

Phew, that’s a big question! I think there have been two big shifts in the last couple of years – Covid-19 (obviously) and the rise of short-form video content (TikTok, reels etc). It’s very hard to sum up the impact of Covid on the music industry and society at large… And even when I think about how it’s changed my personal relationship to music I don’t really even know, haha.

But short-form video content is something I’ve just started trying to dip my toes into. I was really reluctant to try it for a long time because whenever you’re trying something new on social media you basically have to fail publicly for a while, until you figure out how to do it well. I also just don’t consume a lot of this kind of content! So for a while, I was like, ‘I don’t really want to even try this.’

For the release of this new song, I thought I should challenge myself to learn – a new release is a good way to do it because it’s more focused and gives me something to kinda base the content around and aim at. And it’s actually been really fun! Sorry, that was a bit of a tangent, but I hope it was interesting?

Geoff Ong will be showcased in the free interactive digital experience ‘Digital Buskers’ on Auckland Live’s big screen in Aotea Square as part of NZ Music Month. Find out more at

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