Widespread confusion was plainly evident as the courier van pulled up in the stars’ limo lane outside the NZ Music Awards, the driver pulling out two over-sized boxes labelled Sachi. A standout prank of the night, as it became apparent that the duo had mailed themselves to the Award show. Still relatively new to the NZ electronic pop scene, Sachi have made substantial inroads since their 2016 debut EP ‘Lunch With Bianca’. They have also gained international traction, with singles showcased on Diplo’s BBC Radio 1 and Zane Lowe’s Apple Music Beats shows. Their single Shelter featuring Nika (Olivia Nott, younger sibling of Broods) passed the 3 million plays mark on Spotify and spent 14 weeks in the NZ Singles Chart. With a new EP in the works, Anzel Singh catches up with Nick Chrisp, one-half of the duo, to find out more.
“I remember Will couldn’t come into the studio when we were recording Hold On because he had already taken too many days off school,” Nick Chrisp laughs. “Because it was like mid-week that we could get the studio and then he had already taken two days off, and his mum was like, ‘Oh nah, you can’t take a third day off.’ Yeah, it was fun!”
Chrisp, half of the Auckland DJ/production team Sachi, recounts balancing the mundane high school education and serious pursuits into music production through the anecdote about his counterpart Will Thomas, the other 50% of the electronic downtempo duo. Both are yet only 19-years old, but already attracting support from the likes of Diplo, as well as playing major NZ festivals and venues.
“It was just annoying not being able to spend a full day making music and like having to study like science and stuff like that. At the time, we would way rather just be making music.”
Fortunately securing a record deal with Universal has made making music a realistic full-time occupation, with touring and studio sessions taking the front seat but never did rushing into an opportunity most artists can only dream about ever come into question.
Sachi (named after Thomas’s first car’s number plate when they needed a title), appear careful regarding their industry endeavours.
“It was our first ever record deal. We sort of took our time with it and we really wanted to get it right cause we didn’t want to like.… You hear all these horror stories about labels and deals and stuff like that and we kind’a didn’t want to end up like that, but Universal have been amazing. They’re such a forward-thinking team and they’re all so onto it and focused. It was real cool to kind’a be able to slot in with them and join their roster.”
It’s worth mentioning the pair had laid the groundwork for their success at an early age – from beginning to write songs at around 10 having met in primary school, and playing in bands such as Youth Kills Trees, then self-producing and later on collaborating on Ableton together. Their first experiment in releasing music was the discrete ‘Your EP’, followed by their first official bundle of joy ‘Lunch With Bianca’ EP in 2016.
“We don’t really count ‘Your EP’, like that was us working on the craft of how we can get our ideas out. That was almost us learning how to produce our EP, and then once we had gotten our chops up we’ve written way more songs and stuff.
“‘Lunch With Bianca’ was like our first real body of work that we really worked on, and d really like thought about everything, from all the visual stuff and like the live show. We started playing it all live. We’d never played any of the ‘Your EP’ stuff live, so ‘Lunch With Bianca’ was like our first body of work that we considered in our discography.”
Their Ride single, featuring Thomston and especially Shelter with Nika (three million plays on Spotify) gathered remarkable responses.
“Yeah! Yeah that’s rad. We’re real stoked cos No More was like our biggest song, but now Shelter’s our biggest song – and like it’s just good that we were able to like top No More, I guess. It’s so cool to see when you’re out and about and you like hear it or somebody will like send you a video of them like listening to it in the mall or something like that, you know?”
Flying further from the nest, new single Lowkey features American rapper Mick Jenkins over a chill and catchy beat you could expect to hear at any teenage house party. Artist Matthew Young also helped with the track.
“We felt like the song needed like another little something with that in the bridge, like something like a rap feature that would work real well. We’ve been listening to a lot of his stuff so we kind’a just like hit him up and then he came back and was like, ‘Yeah, I’m into it, let’s do it,’ and we pretty much just sent him the beat. Then he just like wrote and recorded his part and sent it over and we just put it back on the beat and got it mixed and stuff. Real quick!”
In case that makes it sound like they need to do very little, Nick explains a brief of Sachi’s studio tools.
“It’s real in the box eh. Like we pretty much all like samples and soft synths in Ableton. There are some hardware synths on this EP, we didn’t have any on ‘Lunch With Bianca’. There’s a lot more like bass, like live guitars, live basses – we’re using those more. We tracked some drums for this EP. Pretty much just a computer, we have a mini keyboard to get ideas out, sometimes a little drum pad to put some beats down and then just a mic really – and like headphones and some nice monitors.”
In terms of what’s next for Sachi, and who else they’d be looking to collaborate with, unsurprisingly NZ’s pop princess was on their wishlist, with a new EP in the works.
“We’d love to do something with Lorde. We’re massive fans of her music, so that would be rad. A lot of our favourite NZ artists we’ve been real lucky to write with already, guys like Montell2099 and Matthew Young.
“Will met Lorde at the NZ Music Awards actually. She said our Green Light remix with Montell2099 is her favourite remix of all her songs!”
Sachi’s arrival at the VNZMAs was a theatrical event, a courier dropping them off as packages. A comment on commodified music?
“I think the main thing is that it’s songs. You can dance to the whole song. Like we really tried to make songs you want to dance to the whole time, rather than ‘Lunch With Bianca’ like there was lots of peaks and troughs. But you know Lowkey’s pretty much like fall to the floor the whole time, and we’ve got this next one that we’re putting out that’s real dancy. But yeah, it’s a continuation I think. This EP that we’re working on is a continuation of what we’re doing and really just an amalgamation of the best tracks we’ve written over the past year or two years.”