It’s release day for the sun-drenched and supremely groovy Vibin, the latest single by Aussie-based Wellingtonian Alex Ware, aka Xela. To celebrate, NZM asked the multi-talented artist to share with us a few of her favourite tunes. Her choices make for a vivacious, eclectic mix to sweeten your weekend, and Xela was kind enough to run us through a few of them in written form.
Drax Project has the kind of back story you’ve always wanted to hear from an artist. Beginning by busking on the streets as Drum And Sax (where the word Drax originates from), they’re so funky and so musically talented all of them and I admire just how well they gel together to create banger after banger. Shaan, Sam and I all went to NZSM together, and Shaan and I used to sing in a jazz choir that was a kind of pre-university development program for jazz school. I also performed as a guest singer with Drax Project at San Francisco Bath House in Wellington. Crazy is their newest track!
Even while being in Australia I have had this song on repeat. I swear I could be at least a quarter of their streams on that track. Written by an incredible mix of musicians from bands like Kora and Katchafire. Miharo Gregory is a good friend of mine who I have played with many times, is the keyboardist. In The Air is in my mind such an anthem for NZ summers, an upbeat summery reggae tune that ropes you into singing along. I had the pleasure of listening to their rehearsal before a concert, backstage in Auckland, and the harmonies from every single player blew me away. It was so beautiful.
Yet another song I’ve played many times this past year, the talented Aacacia boasts an enticing, soulful vocal tone with catchy melodies and riff. Without a doubt, she’s an easy listening Kiwi star in the making. Runaway is a very singable song about the desire to run away from something/someone holding you back. Aacacia got her bearings in the music industry working alongside Drax Project after winning a competition to sing at Rhythm & Vines, and then collaborating on songs like Firefly by Fetty Wap and with Drax Project.
One of the most understated upcoming artists, the wonderful Solomon Crook has a form of supernatural allure with his vocal delivery. Breathe for You is the kind of song that when he plays it you can hear a pin drop, because you can’t help but so intently listen to all the subtle nuances of the track. There is much beauty in the simplicity and raw delivery of Solomon’s music, this song being one of the tracks on his latest EP ‘I&U’ – worth a listen (or many!). I was lucky enough to meet and jam some songwriting with Solomon in August last year, and hope to work with him again soon.
A huge personal inspiration of mine over the years, Kimbra’s Settle Down is only one of so many I could choose for this playlist. This song in particular I actually performed for one of my high school music end of year performances in my last year at Wellington Girls College. First of all, I think she is such a cool person with her demeanour and how she seems in interviews. She’s also just the most insane talent vocally and with her jazz voicings and songwriting. Every time I listen to her album ‘Vows’ I lose my mind all over again, it’s stunning. I would die to work with her or even meet her one day to let her know how much of a positive influence she has been for me.
This song is timeless for me, I actually only recently realised that UMO are from Auckland and I can’t help always being pleasantly surprised when our little country churns out such incredible musos. I have been listening to them for years and picking just one favourite song is really difficult for me. However, this chill alternative/indie track makes me feel like I’m listening to music for the first time with nostalgic vocal effects wrapped in light guitar riffs then moving into a superrrr feel-good hook.