Cast your mind back to series one of The X Factor New Zealand when contestant Benny Tipene teamed up with Avalanche City's Dave Baxter to perform the smash hit Love Love Love.

Tipene had moved in the same music circles as Baxter but had never officially met him until the show brought them together.

"Dave was in this band called The Chase and we kind of knew him from that. Then one day, we all got this private message saying, 'Download this album now, before the record label gets a hold of it'.

"So we downloaded it for free and we thrashed it," Tipene says of the first Avalanche City record, Our New Life Above The Ground.


"I was playing electric guitar at the time, but Dave inspired me to go and buy an acoustic.

"I've even got this old song called Fairy Lights that's got xylophone and is exactly like Dave's strum," he laughs.

They have since forged a strong friendship.

Baxter co-wrote a number of Tipene's songs, including his 2013 hit Make You Mine, and Tipene has been invited to open for the current Avalanche City New Zealand tour.

"Dave's a lovely guy. He's inspired me so much and he still does.

"I'm really looking forward to the shows," says Tipene, who has notched up a handful of top 10 songs from his EP Toulouse and the album, Bricks.

But not wanting to rest on his laurels, he's writing new songs, and pushing himself further into new territory.

"The EP was quite poppy and the album was a little bit more bluesy-pop. I love Sam Cook and Johnny Cash. I love the 60s and the 70s. So it's about trying to incorporate that but make it modern."


Tipene adds there is a happier feel to the new material - a step on from the "emo vibe" of Bricks, which reflects where he is at as an artist and having proved he's more than just the guy who came runner-up on a TV talent show.

"I will still be known as the kid from The X Factor.

"You can't shake that. In saying that, if it wasn't for that show, I wouldn't be in the position I'm in now and I wanted to be here - writing music. But it's more about the songs now.

"And you know, I'd always been in a band before I left it to go on The X Factor. After that I thought I had to do it by myself but one of the things I've learned is that co-writes are the best thing.

"I look at it like this - if you go into a bar and you have a drink on your own, it's not much fun. But if you have two other people with you, you're going to have a good time."

Benny Tipene is supporting Avalanche City this month. Their Auckland gig on October 16 has moved to the Mercury Theatre. They play Wellington's Opera House on October 17.