Proving that talent and grit can take you places, Drax Project’s journey to platinum-selling stardom kicked off in Wellington’s humble busking scene. Shaan Singh and Matt Beachen cut their teeth on covers of radio-friendly bops, before teaming up with fellow members Sam Thomson and Ben O’Leary soon after. Their original material is equally diverse, infusing traditionally pop-tastic tunes with R&B, jazz, and hip-hop. There’s little wonder that they’ve now garnered a huge global fanbase. After all, how many artists can claim to have supported Lorde, Camilla Cabello, and Christina Aguilera on tour?
So you can see why we just had to snag them for a Swee Lee AMA. We threw together a list of all the things you wanted to know about them, and they delivered on the goods. Keep scrolling to see their thoughts on music, munchies, and more.
P.S. Check out our Instagram Highlights to see their video responses.
Any future collabs in the future? If not what’s a dream collab?
Shaan: Me? I would collab with Ariana Grande.
Shaan: Sza. I’ll change it. Sza.
Matt: Ok, sweet. I’ll take, umm… Justin Timberlake!
What inspires your songs?
Matt: Other people, going to gigs, other artists I like.
Shaan: Just listening to music. Listening to music inspires me the most.
Matt: Yeah, 100%
What genres do you guys enjoy listening too?
Shaan: I’ve been listening to classical music recently.
Shaan: Just trying to change it up. I’m listening to the Bach Cello suites.
Matt: The OGs!
Shaan: The OGs. Respect the greats. Yeah, that’s kind of where I’m at right now.
Matt: For me, I enjoy listening to a whole range of stuff. Depends on the mood. I love John Mayer. Recently, I’ve been like shuffling John Mayer. Like, just all of John Mayer’s catalogue.
Shaan: I want to say that I’ve been listening to the new Stromae album. Stromae’s from Belgium.
Have any of you been anywhere in Asia before? What is your best memory of that place?
Shaan: I was born in Singapore. I moved to New Zealand when I was four years old. Yeah, my best memory of being in Singapore? I was four. There was a time when I was hunting for snails in the garden.
Shaan: And then everyone on the balcony was shouting like “Snake! Snake! There’s a snake in the grass!” And I couldn’t see it. And I was like, kind of excited about it. Because I didn’t really know what a snake was. Yeah, that was so funny. I don’t know if it was very funny for anyone else, but… (laughs).
Matt: Are there snakes in Singapore?
How did you all meet?
Shaan: I met Matt when we were 15.
Matt: Yeah, at a jazz programme.
Shaan: It’s been a long time now.
Matt: Yeah. On the weekends, we used to go [there].
Shaan: (Jokingly) I’m getting sick of you, actually.
Matt: It’s been 10… 12 years?
Shaan: Yeah, we played jazz together. And then we went to university and we met Sam there.
Matt: Yep, he plays bass.
Shaan: And Ben who plays guitar. He was at a different university. But we saw him all the time at gigs. And we said, “Yo, come and have a jam”.
Matt: Yep. Music school. That’s the answer.
What’s your favourite song from your own discography?
Shaan: Prefer. Our song, Prefer.
Matt: Yep, that’s respectable. I like Firefly. But to be honest, the ones that aren’t out yet. By far, those are my favourite ones.
The studio is burning down! What music gear do you grab?
Matt: What are we taking on the way out? This (holds up a laptop).
Shaan: My laptop? My saxophone! Probably at least one of the saxophones. Maybe my flute?
Matt: There’s four of us so we might have enough people to grab [stuff].
Shaan: A speaker. I’ll grab a saxophone and laptop.
Matt: I’ll grab Sam.
You guys are both platinum-selling and Fender Next 2021 artists. How does that feel?
Matt: We’re lucky to be Fender Next 2021 artists alongside a bunch of other amazing artists. But the thing is, the question says “how does that feel”? For us… we don’t know because we aren’t the guitarists.
Shaan: I’m not a guitarist. It’s been Sam.
Matt: But for them, they are extremely happy.
Shaan: (Shouts to Sam in the background) How do you feel?
Sam: Don’t bring me into this now.
Matt: (Laughs) He’s happy.
Any tips for getting your songs out there?
Shaan: Just throw them out.
Matt: Do it. It’s pretty easy these days to get your songs out there with some sort of distribution website thing.
Shaan: Yeah, we used CD Baby the first time we released music back in the day.
Matt: And the key is also to have lots of music to put out there.
Shaan: You’ve gotta have a good bank. You’ve got to have hundreds of potential songs.
Matt: You don’t have to, but it helps.
Shaan: And then you can go and be like, “This one’s good, this one’s good, this one’s good”. Yeah, I don’t know. I think it’s just about getting it out there. Connecting with the people who are listening to it, you know? You want to find out who they are and get them involved, and play gigs, and meet people, and ….
Matt: Take over the world.
What are your hobbies outside of music?
Matt: Outside of music? I like playing golf, and I like sports. That kind of stuff.
Shaan: Yeah, getting out there with the lads! I’ve been cooking heaps lately. I just got a blender and an air fryer.
Matt: And you like making chutney.
Shaan: I make the dopest chutney. It’s so good.
Matt: Get your chutney.
Shaan: We’ll name one each? First one, favourite artist? Sza.
Matt: Kanye West
Matt: John Mayer.
Matt: Noah Cyrus.
What are all of your favourite foods?
Matt: Butter chicken would be my favourite food.
Shaan: Oh, you’re not going to have a few? Just number one, that’s it?
Shaan: My favourite fruit is mangoes. I love mangoes.
Matt: What’s your favourite pasta?
Shaan: Pasta dish?
Matt: Pasta. Type of pasta.
Shaan: Penne, penne, penne.
What are your most and least favourite things about touring?
Shaan: The most favourite thing is getting to play music to heaps of people. My least favourite thing is sleeping in a room with [Matt]. You snore.
Matt: That’s fair enough. Totally.
Shaan: It’s loud! And he goes to sleep in like that (snaps fingers). He’s like, “Good night, bro.” Lights off. 30 seconds later (makes a snoring sound). It’s like wow!
Matt: If I could stop it, I would.
Shaan: Is that your most favourite thing about touring?
Matt: My most favourite thing is being able to fall asleep quickly. My least favourite thing is that my roommates never get on with me.
Huge shout out to our friends at Tande-Music Services for making this interview with Drax Project possible.
Read more: Inspiration and Artist Features