What has been the most difficult part of navigating the music industry so far?
Mehrt: Each of us comes from small towns in NZ with no prior ties to the music industry. Figuring out how it all works while being in charge of most of our biz has been challenging. We’re still very independent and hands-on at all levels and just doing what works for us at our pace, so it can be tricky trying not to get caught up with comparisons to others who may have a greater industry edge. Just gotta keep on groovin’, do you.
Barry: For me, the hardest part is learning as you go. The music industry is constantly evolving and at times, it can be hard to keep up. There’s no right or wrong way to approach things – you just have to pick up things along the way.
How did growing up in New Zealand affect the music you create?
Mehrt: We have a strong appreciation for nature in NZ which definitely feeds into our sound since we often create in isolated environments. We inherently make music that compliments the landscapes. Kiwis also love to make noise on the world stage despite being such a small country tucked away from the world and often forgotten on maps. So that has helped supercharge us with worldly ambitions – there’ve been many inspiring kiwis before us who’ve done things on the world stage.
Jah: Geographically speaking, the isolation certainly plays a part. I grew up quite rurally and in my younger years (before being able to drive), I used to play guitar along to my favorite albums all weekend.
Barry: Growing up musically in Aotearoa meant heaps of dub, reggae and roots, summer festivals and jamming with mates. There is certainly a sense of collectiveness between kiwi musicians. Everyone looks out for one another and appreciates all types of genres. You would often end up playing and jamming with a lot of different people, molding the music you end up creating.
Jack: My parents owned a Music Works CD shop from the late 90s to early 00s; however, I don’t think it did a lot for the music we create today as I was so young and only stole Now CDs – A mixtape of top 40 hits. my favorite is Now 7, with my choice of track being ‘Rock DJ’ by Robbie Williams. So you tell me if you can hear similarities between Robbie Williams and Mild Orange. From then on, it was the hand-me-down iPods from my sisters that became my means of music, consisting of dub and roots music such as Salmonella Dub, which I still enjoy listening to today.
Do you think the New Zealand music scene is in a good place at the moment?
Mehrt: A lot of top-quality music is coming out of Aotearoa. Our country is incredibly supportive of facilitating the growth of artists too. For example, there are a lot of public funds that help artists of all levels realise and achieve their ideas which are pretty well celebrated at home. Of course, the pandemic has seen a significant hit on live music, but kiwis have done really well to help keep their artists up by going to shows and doing things like getting around NZ Music Month each May.
Jah: For sure. NZ has a diverse music scene that, aside from a few major musical exports, is largely unknown by the rest of the world. COVID was a two-sided coin for NZ artists. We benefited from not having larger international acts coming through for a couple of years, so those opportunities were all given to local acts. This meant NZ-only festival lineups for a couple of summers, which was actually very cool. The downside, of course, was that with our borders so strictly shut, we couldn’t tour abroad until recently – lots of good kiwi music to check out.
Barry: Most definitely – Check out bands, Marlins Dreaming, Juno Is and Fazerdaze.
Jack: Yes. However, mid-size music venues are becoming less common.
What’s been the most surreal moment in your career so far?
Mehrt: I still can’t believe it each time people sing the lyrics back or seeing people create their own videos/content with our music to it. Surreal but nice.
Jah: Our first US show earlier this year in New York was pretty special. Being a band from little old NZ, it’s easy to feel like playing in these big cities is a somewhat unattainable goal. The show was a sell-out and just as we walked on stage in a brief moment of silence, a fan screamed, “I’ve waited four fucking years for this.” We all laughed and the nerves dissipated.
Barry: Playing at the Roxy in Hollywood was amazing. Certainly a bucket list moment.