Australian artist Chris Emerson found himself headlining Auckland's recent Laneway music festival completely by accident. Here's how it happened.

When Young Thug pulled out of his headlining appearance at Laneway, organisers had to scramble to find a replacement big enough to fill his shoes.

Luckily, someone capable of doing the job was already here.

That would be What So Not, aka Australian electronic artist Chris Emerson, who received an urgent email from Laneway organisers just days out from the festival and was forced to make a snap decision.

What So Not in the Red Bull Studios in Auckland, New Zealand on February 7, 2017. Photo / Graeme Murray
What So Not in the Red Bull Studios in Auckland, New Zealand on February 7, 2017. Photo / Graeme Murray

"[Laneway] emailed me and said, 'Hey, Young Thug has pulled out, I've got six hours to make a call, do you want to fill in for him and close the festival?'," says Emerson.

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"I was like, 'Whoa, okay!'."

Sydneysider Emerson was already in New Zealand recording his new album. That was his focus, but he says it didn't take long for him to realise it was an opportunity he couldn't refuse.

"It's a great opportunity. It just popped into our lap so we had to take it."

It's the latest in a series of unforeseen circumstances for Emerson, who never thought he'd end up recording his new album in New Zealand.

"It's all just a bunch of random circumstances that all fell into play to make this thing happen," he says.

The 27-year-old was on tour in America last year when he was asked if he'd like to use Red Bull's Grey Lynn studio to record an album.

What So Not in Red Bull Studio Sessions in Auckland. Photo / Damien Weatherley
What So Not in Red Bull Studio Sessions in Auckland. Photo / Damien Weatherley

"I was like, 'Yeah, that sounds amazing'. It just happened to fall in that period when I had time off and had no obligations."

Formally a duo with Flume, Emerson has gone solo and is reaping the rewards.

The Aussie's hit singles include Jaguar, Gemini and High You Are, songs which have been streamed millions of times.

He's also performed at huge international festivals including Coachella, Pukkelpop, Ultra Music Festival and Lollapalooza.

While in New Zealand, Emerson has balanced out his studio time and festival headlining demands by heading to Piha to surf and taking in Auckland's nightlife.

He admits he doesn't live the cliched life of an electronic artist, and sometimes has to force himself to go out.

What So Not enjoying the surf in Piha. Photo / Jean Pierre
What So Not enjoying the surf in Piha. Photo / Jean Pierre

"I have to force myself to go out and go on a bit of a bender sometimes to take myself out of my little zone and to have some interactions with people I wouldn't usually."

As for Laneway, how did his accidental headlining slot go?

"I was a bit concerned about doing it," he says. "It was very scary going up against Tame Impala because we were on the other stage ... They said the crowd was pretty much split 50-50 though.

"It was amazing."

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