Shaan Singh was singing barbershop at Kāpiti College, performing at school assemblies and "doing general music-ing around the place" in 2011.

A few years later, with some friends from music school Shaan started playing at school balls, 40th and 50th birthday parties and bar gigs in Wellington.

Doing cover gigs, they started sneaking originals into the mix and Drax Project was born with Shaan on vocals and saxophone, Matt Beachen on drums, Sam Thomson on bass and Ben O'Leary on guitar.

Opening for Ed Sheeran, touring with Camila Cabello, doing a promotion tour of 60 US radio stations and winning Breakthrough Artist of the Year and single of the year for Woke Up Late at the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards, Drax Project have well and truly surpassed their humble beginnings.


Hailing from Kāpiti, attending Raumati South School and Kāpiti College, Shaan has not forgotten the opportunities he was given during school years.

"Kāpiti College was a pretty awesome place for people who wanted to perform," Shaan said.

"There was always a place to perform at an assembly or event.

"The music teachers were great, and same with principal Tony Kane."

After leaving college Shaan studied at the New Zealand School of Music majoring in jazz performance, meeting the other members of Drax Project then, and starting the band while they were flatting together.

However it didn't all start off smoothly.

Their first EP was recorded at music school, getting told off by security guards for working there after hours.

After producing an EP with Devin Abrams things started to move faster.


"We were playing so many shows - school balls, 40th and 50th birthday parties, lots of bar gigs and every Wednesday night at El Horno in Wellington."

Writing their own music they started to sneak their own originals onto their cover set lists.

"It wasn't until November last year when we really started getting a lot of radio play.

"That's when we thought we could perhaps do this music thing full time so in January this year we all quit our jobs to work at it fulltime."

When asked what the highlights have been in their journey so far Shaan said opening for Ed Sheeran, travelling Europe with Camila Carbello, and their US radio tour were top of the list.

But also on top of the highlights reel have been writing lots of new songs together in the last few months, "putting them to paper, ones that we really love".

"Touring in Europe and playing for people whose first language isn't English but know all the lyrics for your songs is pretty crazy.

"Playing a live gig and having the whole crowd screaming out your lyrics with all melody going out the window is such as buzz, definitely a highlight.

"And of course the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards - that was crazy."

As it was their first time at the awards, the band went there not expecting much.

"We went there not really expecting anything.

"We thought we could perhaps win Breakthrough Artist of the Year, and we did which was exciting.

"So we were just chilling out, enjoying then night with our friends and family and then Woke Up Late won single of the year.

"That was really cool, we are obviously very excited about it, being our first time at the awards.

"We work well together because we're just trying to write good music.

"At the end of the day it's all about the music and if there's tension or disagreement we know that it's all about the music and we are only trying to voice our opinion for the song not against each other.

"There's a lot of belief from outside sources which is really cool and creates a supportive pressure, a positive pressure from people saying 'you guys are good and we want you to be even better'.

"For me this is something I always wanted to do - play music full time, so I'm glad that I get to do it."