Sir Elton John has thrown his support behind two of his favourite New Zealand music stars - handpicking pop princess Benee and Six60 frontman Matiu Walters to appear on his Rocket Hour radio show.
The superstar songwriter behind Candle in the Wind hosted the pair for an episode dedicated to New Zealand music which will air on Apple Music this Sunday.
John gushes about their talent, describing Benee (real name Stella Bennett) as "an amazing young artist" and urging the four-time New Zealand Music Award winner's record label to release her track Supalonely as a single, while he describes Six60 as "a wonderful band who I'm crazy about!"
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"[Benee's] an amazing young artist with 30 million plus streams on Apple Music," John says.
"She writes really brilliantly, that's a great gift to be able to write your own stuff.
"Supalonely is a smash record and I think the record company in New Zealand should put it out as a single."
After overcoming a bout of walking pneumonia that ended his otherwise successful recent New Zealand tour prematurely, the episode features John discussing Benee and Six60 songs with the pair. The trio also chat further about New Zealand music and play each other some of their favourite Kiwi songs including material from Split Enz, Th' Dudes, Aldous Harding, Fat Freddy's Drop, and Lorde.
Appearing on the Rocket Hour will serve as a tremendous boost for both Benee and Six60, with the show broadcast globally to Apple Music's 60 million subscribers in over 115 countries.
John showers Six60 with plenty of praise in the wake of the release last year of their third full-length album and consecutive summer sell-out shows at Western Springs.
"[They are] a wonderful band who I'm crazy about!" he says.
"They spent six weeks at number one on the New Zealand album chart, and their album is certified platinum. The track Please Don't Go, which I just love to death, is platinum all over the place.
"They won five New Zealand Music Awards, and were the first New Zealand band who played a sold-out concert at the Western Springs Stadium to 50,000 people."
The Rocketman singer also pays tribute to Kiwi music legends Split Enz and recent New Zealand Hall of Fame inductees Th' Dudes.
"When I first saw Split Enz, I thought they were one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. They were out of this world. They looked amazing."
He goes on to play Th' Dudes' seminal hit Bliss, while lamenting the recently reformed group's infectious sound was not showcased more on the international stage before they disbanded in 1980.
"We love Th' Dudes and Bliss. While that was playing, everybody was going kind of crazy here!
"It'd be so great to use that in a movie now because songs like that, didn't really get much play out of New Zealand but deserve to be heard.
"That's a great record. It's a bit like My Sharona by The Knack."
Inside Elton's chat with Benee and Matiu
Kiwi pop sensation Benee and Six60 frontman Matiu Walters will join Sir Elton John on his Rocket Hour show on Apple Music. The episode won't air till Sunday, but here's a sneak preview of their conversation.
Discussing Benee's song Supalonely - which John's masterful ear identifies as a "smash record" in waiting - the 20-year-old explains the track was born out of teenage heartache.
"I wrote this song last year. I was in LA and I just went through a breakup," she says.
"I could've written a really sad song, but I decided to be super self-deprecating. I was taking the piss out of myself for however long the song is."
Asked about Soaked from her first EP, Fire on Marzz, which reached number 14 on the local singles chart and went double platinum, Benee offers: "You know when you have a conversation with someone and you wish you had said or done something differently because the outcome was just stink? That's what I wrote it about."
Benee goes on to explain how Find an Island, lead single from latest EP Stella & Steve, was inspired by a disagreement: "I wrote this song after I had this little argument with my best friend.
"[It's about when you have] an argument with someone who's really close to you and you can't tell them to get lost or go away so I wrote a song about it."
The trio also listen to Six60 songs, including two from their latest self-titled full-length release, Please Don't Go and Long Gone.
Explaining his songwriting process, Walters offers: "I tend to think melody before anything else. I love simplicity in music.
"We thought Please Don't Go was a song where it gave us an opportunity to flex all the muscles and all the genres and all the types that we like.
"[Long Gone] is a classic breakup song. We wrote this with Big Taste in Los Angeles – it's always good to connect with Kiwis wherever they are.
"Some songs can take a year to come together and this one came together in a matter of minutes."
Kiwi music stars Benee and Six60 frontman Matiu Walters appear on Elton John's Rocket Hour on Apple Music this Sunday, March 8.