Kiwi sensations Drax Project and Mitch James are about to embark on their nationwide tour, set to be an epic live music celebration for fans all over Aotearoa.
The two acts are stalwarts of NZ's festival line ups and both are experts at entertaining crowds. Both artists have accumulated hundreds of millions of streams between them.
Despite their own successes, the artists are still blown away by the support their tour has received. Their Auckland Town Hall show sold out, along with a Wellington show at Shed 6. New shows were added in the two main centres to keep up with demand.
For Mitch James, he's heading on this tour after taking a break from releasing music. His latest song Be Somebody cements his return and the personal ballad plays to his strengths as a singer-songwriter.
"I felt like I had a lot of momentum going into it, and it sort of all dissipated. So it's good to be back on the road," James says, speaking about the pandemic and how it impacted his career.
James is candid about how he handled the pandemic creatively. He explains while one would think being in a lockdown would be helpful for making music, for him "it really wasn't".
And it was the same for Drax Project - who tend to thrive on tour and feel inspired to write music when they are in that busy environment, frontman Shaan Singh says.
There has been an upside to a halt on international touring and other opportunities abroad. Both artists say it's been a chance for the Aotearoa music industry to rally together and support one another. It gave them a push to collaborate with other local acts and help encourage the next generation of artists.
"I think over the last few years, especially with the Six60 success, they want to help out everyone else that they believe in as well," James adds and believes there is a flow-on effect on paying it forward in the industry.
It is an attitude the acts have for this tour too. Singh gushes about the tour's support act AACACIA, an R&B singer-songwriter who has collaborated with Six60 and Fetty Wap.
"Honestly, I can't even fathom how incredible it is that people, like, f*** with our music," James says.
Both acts started out their music careers busking, and are stoked at the reception their music has had.
Drax Project, made up of members Ben O'Leary, Matt Beachen, Sam Thomson plus Singh are fresh from supporting Six60 at their historic Eden Park show. Singh considers the moment a highlight for the band.
"It was so awesome," he says, reflecting on the experience of playing to the sold-out stadium.
"It's their audience - but [you get] to amp the crowd up," Singh adds.
So what's next for the artists? For Drax Project, there's new music in the works, but the group don't feel the need to stick to traditional releases.
"Honestly, we're just trying to release a song at a time. We've got an album's worth of material, but we don't really want to release an album," Singh explains.
For the band, that suits their creative approach. They tend to write music fast, sometimes several in a month, and then take a break.
"We want to also give each song as much attention as it deserves because we think that all our songs are singles," the Woke Up Late singer laughs.
He admits there's an element of cockiness in that approach, but it is what works for the band.
James also has some new music coming soon too, and fans will get a taste of that on tour.
When asked if fans can expect any on-stage collaborations, both acts admitted at the time of the interview they hadn't discussed any plans in depth.
One certainty is that the acts have a love of playing live and that enthusiasm will no doubt add to the experience for fans who attend.
• Drax Project and Mitch James kick off their New Zealand tour tonight at Auckland's Powerstation. For full ticketing information and dates, click here.