Nz Music Month 2013: Ben Lawson

For New Zealand Music Month, we wanted to chat to a few people in the music industry who are behind the scenes making our industry what it is today! Ben Lawson, the Studio Engineer & Producer at Red Bull Studio in Auckland, is super talented and works with some of our brightest talents in New Zealand music.

We had a chat to Ben about what New Zealand music he's loving at the moment and how he'll be celebrating Music Month....

I'm Ben Lawson AKA The Bengineer AKA The Mike Jordan of recording. I get to work with a plethora of interesting and talented musicians every day. Basically I help them record, mix and master their songs. It's cool to work with some of these artists that aren't 'established' yet, but are on the verge of something awesome. That's the exciting part for me.

Red Bull

What song do you currently have playing on repeat?

Jai Paul - Track 15. Yes, it's actually called Track 15. It comes from a record that was leaked about a month ago, and because he's only released 2 tracks previous to this, I was super excited to hear the new jams. I have played this track maybe 208 times. It's pretty lo-fi and mixed quite poorly (I played it to a friend who said "it sounds like someone is turning the volume up and down really fast"). I can't even make out half the words, but the song just makes me feel stuff OK?

Red Bull

Tom Scott and Lui T (of @peace) record with Ben Jamin for his debut record.

How will you be celebrating May Music Month?

I'll be checking out some of the gigs happening around town. Maybe buy more NZ music than I usually do. I'll probably play some NZ rap really loud in the whip. Also, we've been working on a limited edition 7" record with Boycrush on one side and Grayson Gilmour on the other. So you should pick that up when it comes out at the end of May, it's really good.

Red Bull

Ruby Frost came in to the studio as part of the George FM 'Damn! I wish I was your cover' series to record her version of Disclosure's 'White Noise'.

Your top 5 favourite New Zealand artists and your favourite song of theirs...

She's So Rad 'Time'

The Mint Chicks 'Life Will Get Better Some Day'

Electric Wire Hustle 'Perception'

Home Brew 'Yellow Snot Funk'

Rackets 'There's Treasures In These Mountains'

Your most memorable musical moment...

We ran a project last year called 'Red Bull Prodigy' where we pair up an established producer/artist with an up and coming artist. We put Chelsea Metcalf (Watercolours) and Jeremy Toy (Opensouls/She's So Rad) together in the studio for 2 weeks to write, produce and record a bunch of tracks. It took a couple of days of bad jokes and a bit of trial and error to get in the zone, but with the absence of any pressures that usually go with working in a studio and a genuine musical connection, over half a dozen bangers were made (and many, many more bad jokes). Inspiring.

Red Bull

Street Chant in the studio.

Which album release are you most excited about this year?

My homie and participant of this years Red Bull Music Academy in NYC - Louis Baker. I'm really interested and excited to hear what he's going to come up with this year. Dude can sing. His first single 'Even In The Darkness' really impressed me and I know he's got even more heat in the vaults too. Watch this space I reckon.

Must-see New Zealand concerts this year?

There's heaps! Go see Boycrush, go see Lorde. The Young, Gifted and Broke crew. The guys from Some Other Planets are doing some really cool live stuff with beats.

Red Bull

Nz Music Month 2013: Justin Warren

Here at RUBY we love local music, so it's no surprise that we're excited about this year's New Zealand Music Month. With NZMM starting yesterday, we spoke to the rad Justin Warren, one of the majors in New Zealand music promotion right now, about some of his favourite acts.

Hey I’m Justin Warren, Promotions Director at New Zealand’s favourite major label, Universal Music. I have a small but noble team who manipulate media for the purpose of promoting our artists. I’d love to say that the music blog commentators are right (with all the major labels “chewing up” and “spitting out” of artists etc), but we are passionate about our artists, and we love going into battle for them. Besides, if I go to all the effort of chewing something up, I’m going to swallow it – It’s ‘eating 101’.


Image by Garth Badger

What song do you currently have playing on repeat?

I currently have ‘Still Into You’ by Paramore, ‘Uncover’ by Zara Larrson and ‘22’ by Taylor Swift on repeat. Plus I recently discovered ‘The Winners Takes It All’ by ABBA and it’s been getting a bit of a thrashing lately to be honest.

How will you be celebrating May Music Month?

I’m saving all my NZMM energy for Lorde’s first official sold out show on May 9th. (We missed out on tickets, boo!)

What are your top 5 favourite New Zealand artists and your favourite song of theirs?

1. Watercolours ‘Pazzida’

2. Split Enz ‘Message To My Girl’.

3. Street Chant ‘Pen Song'

4. Frase + Bri ‘8 Hour Crush’

5. Lorde ‘Bravado’


Chelsea Jade Metcalf of Watercolours

What's your best industry story that you can share with us?

When we took Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez to dinner at Cocoro, there was a really lovely family with two teenage kids seated across from us. The Mother eventually came over and very politely asked if Justin would say hi to her daughter (it was her birthday). Justin sat with the family for a while, took selfies on their camera and chatted to the girl. Then when the cake came out he stood up and lead the restaurant in a rendition of Happy Birthday. It was really cool. Then when the family left Justin yelled out “Hey, do you want a lemon?”, and threw the girl a lemon – it was so weird.

Which album release are you excited about this year?

Particularly excited to see what Lorde delivers us later this year. I’m also looking forward to albums from French Montana & Trinidad James, plus the new one from Drake.


Ella Yelich-O'Connor of Lorde. Image by Garth Badger

Must-see New Zealand concerts this year?

Rihanna. All three shows.

So So Modern


So So Modern emerged from the strange happenings of New Zealand's underground music scene in late 2004. Fueled by a healthy dose of Southern Hemisphere naivety and good luck they have toured the globe on a string of releases; the last of which being 2010's album Crude Futures. For over 7 years (including a short sabbatical) the group has refined and expanded their early post-punk and electronic influenced sound into haptci meditations of rhythm, melody & noise. Shaped by the places they've been, people they've met, experiences they've shared, So So Modern are now shaping their optimistic, apocalyptic, APOCAMISTIC future...

What is the inspiration behind the song 'Holiday'? What is it all about?

Being on the dole. Being on tour. Being in a constant state of movement/travel. HOliday time!

Who did you work with on the song?

We wrote the song as a band, and recorded it for our debut album Crude Futures in 2009, wow that was last DECADE. We recorded with Mike Gibson from Trident Studios in Wellington.

What other New Zealand artists do you look up to?

Golden Axe, Disasteradio, Spring Break, Teenwolf.

What instruments do you play?

Drums, Guitar, Synth, Samplers, Vox, and occasionally when we are feeling upbeat we like to shake a TAMBO or SHAKER.

What do you consider when you're getting dressed to perform (clothes/ makeup/ hair do etc)?

P-zazz! On occasion we are known to dress in costume. We have always been open to collaborate with artists and designers on this front. Our consideration has been what we find comfortable to play in. What reflects the mood and philosophy of our performance? What enhances our performance? Sometimes its best to wear the clothing we always wear day to day.

Online links to So So Modern songs & videos can be seen here... (DIY TILL WE SUCK)