A soulful four-piece, New Zealand’s Drax Project makes hooky pop influenced by jazz, electronic drum’n’bass, and R&B. Former university jazz students, they transitioned from a busking covers band into a full-fledged pop outfit, issuing a series of well-received EPs. In 2017, Drax Project broke through to a wider audience with their hit single “Woke Up Late.”
Named after a portmanteau of sax and drum, Drax Project was formed in 2013 by Massey University jazz students saxophonist/singer Shaan Singh and drummer Matt Beachen. Playing a mix of pop cover songs, the duo started out by busking at local bars and various locations around Courtenay Place in Wellington. They quickly added fellow Massey classmate bassist Sam Thomson and Whitireia New Zealand guitarist Ben O’Leary, and transitioned to playing original music that combined their love of dance-pop, jazz, hip-hop, and R&B. In 2014, they released an eponymous debut EP and embarked on a series of high-profile festival dates. Two years later, they delivered a second EP, T/W/OO, produced by former Shapeshifter member Devin Abrams. Included on the EP was the single “Cold,” which hit number one on viral streaming charts and gained airplay across New Zealand. Their profile expanded even more after they nabbed several opening slots for Lorde and Ed Sheeran. A third EP, Noon, arrived in 2017 and featured the single “Woke Up Late,” which peaked at number one in New Zealand and achieved platinum status. The band offered up an acoustic version of the Noon EP in 2019, followed by the singles, “All This Time” and “Catching Feelings,” the latter featuring Six60.