Before Jordan Arts was vocalist and multi-instrumentalist in Leisure, he had success as half of Kids of 88.

I had been playing music since I was 10 and in 2010 it finally happened. There was a song that sat on Myspace for about nine months until it was picked up by C4 music TV. They got a massive influx of queries as to what it was. Sam McCarthy and I weren't even really a band, just two mates hanging out with the idea of making music together.

Then Ashley Page came along as our manager. He steered the ship and suddenly we were fielding offers, which turned into a bidding war between major international labels for this one song.

It all happened so fast. I was at the end of my final year of uni, doing a bachelor of digital design and suddenly being taken out for lunches in the Big Apple and wooed by fat cats. It got to the point where we just wanted to see who could provide the best lunch and we'd make a point of ordering the most expensive thing on the menu. Ironically, one time it was New Zealand eye fillet.

While we were being shopped around, with these guys going toe-to-toe with each other, Sam and I were pretty punk-minded about it all, being from Royal Oak and Manurewa respectively.


There were a lot of celebrity-based moments that were surreal. We went to a record label once and there was an artist called Sean Paul, who was pretty massive in his day, with a crew of 20 chewing on weed bubble gum in the lobby. We went to a magazine party and saw Paris Hilton dancing to our song.

I was 21 or 22. I'd never been to the States before. None of it felt real. My experiences were like watching a motion picture - a young man who had wanted to do something in his life to do with music, and everything happened at once.

Americans can be so hyped and smoke-blowing that the only way we could not freak out was to take the piss out of it. But Americans don't understand the Kiwi self-deprecating thing. They'd ask us about our new songs and we'd say we were working on a few but they were a bit crap and that totally shocked them.

One day when we were in LA for a label meeting, an intern was driving us to a coffee shop and playing a demo in the car from an artist who hadn't released anything yet. We asked if we could remix it, and we did and they got it to her. The song was Tik Tok and the artist was Ke$ha.

She asked us to go on her European tour. We had been working backwards with our performing the whole time, because when it all started we hadn't even set foot in a practice room. But we went. She flew everywhere and we drove in a van through the back roads in the snow to the gigs. That was my OE.

• Leisure are nominated for band of the year and album of the year at the Vodafone NZ Music Awards, held on November 16.