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by Sam Smith

Two Daze: Making Music In 48 Hours

by Sam Smith

Two Daze: Making Music In 48 Hours

Now in its third year, Two Daze is the brainchild of Isaac McFarlane (Two Cartoons, Hahko) and involves artists writing and recording a song from scratch in 48 hours. The songs are then released as a streaming media compilation during NZ Music Month. Sam Smith caught up with McFarlane to talk over his Two Daze concept. 

How did you come up with the idea for Two Daze?

It was in 2017 and it was kind of connected to the feeling that NZ Music Month wasn’t super creative. I thought I could add to that by doing something moderately creative. We try to spotlight music – which is the creative part – but we are not very creative about spotlighting the creative things. So I was thinking a lot about that and somehow I arrived at just giving deadlines to people and putting a compilation out. I don’t remember it being a very super thought out thing, it was very just, ‘Oh let’s give that a go.’ 

This is the third round of Two Daze, isn’t it?

This one feels like the first proper one because the first one was the first one, and then with the second one, the 48-hour recording period landed during the first weekend of Level 4 lockdown, so the people who weren’t able to do it initially now had a lot of free time, and the artists involved ballooned from like the 15 I had, to like 30! So that made it quite big. And then the whole thing actually came out during Level 3 as well! So the whole time I was just alone in my house putting this music out… This year it has felt a lot more normal, the right amount of artists, one compilation being able to talk to people, it was really nice.

How do you pick the artists who appear on the compilation?

I approach people I am personally interested in or am a fan of, and then it’s who is available and can commit to it from there. This was the first year I had a few people ask me if they could come on… I don’t necessarily say a blanket yes or no, I just take their interest and then apply my own taste to it.

What does the process involve for the artists?

I am literally just giving an artist a deadline and they give me music back. They can do anything they want. I try to make sure I am picking artists who aren’t all going to deliver the same thing, and try and pick artists who make music in different ways. At that level I start the foundation and then the outcome comes from there.

What has the feedback been like from those artists?

It’s mainly just gratitude that music is being created. In other instances, this process has kicked off a project for them, which is really cool. That is kind of the ultimate, if it starts the ball rolling on something that exists outside of Two Daze then that is really cool.

Is it important to have variety in terms of genre?

Yeah, for me, the only differences I focus on are genre and vibe. Because ultimately the form is a compilation, so the product is people listening to it. And if the purpose of it is to showcase up and coming NZ talent it is nice to have as much of a wide breadth as possible in what people are being shown. There are limitations to it. I feel uncomfortable asking bands to do it because at this stage it is completely self-funded and DIY, and I wouldn’t want anyone to spend money on producing their track. So asking bands to be involved can be a bit iffy because some of them will feel like they have to go to studios or spend money, and that makes me uncomfortable. So I try to find producers, or bedroom producers, or solo artists that kind of fit with that.

Have you faced any legal issues around having certain artists music on the compilation?

No. A benefit of working with new artists is that that is not something that comes along often. If there are artists that have that, how we deal with that is we put them under fake names, which I like as a creative aspect of the compilation! I am a big fan of separating the art from the artist. Like I am quite hardcore on that, so actually it is quite nice to present some music that just has a random name attached that the artist picks themselves, that people tell me they enjoy, but they have no idea who it was who actually made the track!

I have had some people who have found representation afterwards who don’t necessarily understand the thing we are doing, or the spirit of it, and they tend to come from more of a classic music industry background where having all that stuff worked out is of utmost importance to them. If those conversations ever start coming up I tend to just essentially pull the track, with the idea that I can’t really be bothered dealing with this – and it’s a shame for your artist that it’s not up because there’s no money being made from it because we are not selling anything.

I’m a big believer that music contracts and the music business can actually be really simple. And it actually takes someone to actively try to complicate it and those people tend to be the people who make their money in the gaps between the simplification and the thing. Those kinds of people will be disappointed in dealing with me if Two Daze grows bigger.

Right! What are your future plans for Two Daze?

This is my contribution to helping platform NZ music and for me, the sky’s the limit for that. There is no maximum amount of attention I can give to music I like.

I like to start things very simple to see if it actually works. I have been thinking about it for a while and am starting to practically get into a bit more of the promotions and a bit more of the gig stuff. But I would say that would be starting really small, really grassroots, before kicking it up to a level like a festival or a showcase.

I would say the Two Daze compilation will probably stay pretty close to traditional music releases. I don’t have any plans to do as much of the experimentation as I do in other parts of what I am doing. The function of it is to platform NZ music and the target audience really is eventually getting it to the general public. Keeping Two Daze simple will end up making it as effective as it can be, to just try and introduce the public to new music, which I think has been the big failure of the music industry in NZ.