Pure pop bands are something of a rarity these days, and it’s very tough for one to break out and make it big. What’s needed is a solid, catchy, undeniable smash, and very few acts can churn one of those out...but a new one is rising the ranks and racking up streams left and right, and it might only be a matter of time before it reaches American shores and performs as well as it has in other parts of the world.
New Zealand’s Drax Project scored their first true hit with “Woke Up Late,” which they have recently re-released with vocals added by Oscar-nominated actress and pop singer (on the rise as well) Hailee Steinfeld. The original tune was great, but the new version may be exactly what is needed to take the band to the next level.
Spoke with the group about their initial success, having a high-profile singer join them in creating a pop banger, and what’s next for them now that their star is rising.
Congrats on the success of "Woke Up Late"--tell us how the song was first created.
Matt Beachen: Thank you! The song started in Ben’s bedroom in 2017 where the guitar line and melody were first written. We got together and finished the lyrics after forgetting about the song for a few months and added bass and drum parts. We had help from our producer friend Devin Abrams who put the finishing touches on the track.
How did it feel to see the song shoot up the charts in your home country?
Beachen: It felt quite surreal to be honest. We had played hundreds of shows before “Woke Up Late” was released, so to have a song that connected with a lot of people through radio and streaming was crazy for us!
When did you guys decide to change the tune up and re-release it?
Beachen: When Hailee Steinfeld sent her vocals to us, we decided to do some little changes to the track and give it a sprinkle of fresh energy to spice it up. This was toward the end of 2018, about a year after releasing the original.
How did Hailee come to lend her vocals to the song?
Beachen: After opening for Camila Cabello around Europe in mid-2018, we made some mutual friends of Hailee’s (it seems like everybody knows everybody at that level) and she heard the track and wanted to be on it. Of course we said YES PLEASE!!! We were always fans of her music. Her song “Starving” with Zedd had helped inspire a couple of songs that we’d written.
You guys started creating covers and are now producing original music. Which of these do you prefer doing?
Beachen: Both are super fun! We’ve always incorporated covers of other people’s songs in our live sets (“Cry Me a River” by Justin Timberlake and “Pony” by Ginuwine are some favorites) and I think seeing how people react to our versions of these songs has helped inspire our writing.
For those who are just learning about you, tell us about how the group was formed and how you first started to create music.
Beachen: We started as a busking [street performing] duo! Shaan was playing the saxophone and Matt was on the drums (Drums + Sax = Drax). We were playing covers of anything that caught people’s attention. After a few months of busking, we added Sam on the bass and Ben on guitar and started writing our own music and started playing proper shows
What's next for Drax Project?
Beachen: Album in 2019! Bunch of shows around the place and more good times
Photo Credit: Drax Project Team