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18th of July 2018

Entertainment



Sons of Zion hit 'Drift Away' was originally just 'a crappy voice memo'

Sons of Zion are about to head off on their World Tour after the release of their new album Vantage Point this Friday. It's the first album they've produced in the last five years with their latest single Drift Away becoming a true hit.

Kiwi band Sons of Zion are putting the success of their current single "Drift Away" down to a recent commitment to making "fearless music".

After five consecutive weeks as the most-played song on New Zealand Radio, singer and keyboard player Joel Latimer says "having stations like More FM and The Hits playing a song from what previously would've just been labelled as a reggae band is huge for us".

With band mate Matt Sadgrove laying down the track in just 30 minutes, Latimer says it wasn't until they got to the studio that they realised the song was something special.

"The first time he sent it to us it was just a crappy voice memo that had the melody and the lyrics. Once we got Caleb in the studio to sing the lead on it we thought 'Yo, we're on the right track with this'".

Sons of Zion front man Rio performing on the TSB Bowl Stage at WOMAD. GRANT MATTHEW/Fairfax NZ

Sons of Zion front man Rio performing on the TSB Bowl Stage at WOMAD.

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"It was a bit of a risky move, trying to present that stripped back acoustic track to pop radio especially. You're not really supposed to do that. They're always after that pop hit, that banger. We took a bit of a risk, but it's definitely paid off".

The first album to see the band move closer to a pop/R&B sound, Latimer says the sound people hear on Vantage Point is less a result of trying to move away from reggae, but instead the product of not putting boundaries around what they wanted to create.

"The progression of the music just flowed from our mindsets, I guess. We entered the studio and didn't say "Let's make a reggae song", we just said "Let's make a song and see what it turns out to be".

Sons of Zion are hitting the road again in August, playing seven locations across the country. Sons of Zion

Sons of Zion are hitting the road again in August, playing seven locations across the country.

"It didn't have to be reggae, it could be any kind of song or any kind of genre. We labelled it fearless music. Having no fear and creating what was true to us and how we felt at the time", he adds.

Having produced viral te reo Māori hit Wairua by local group Maimoa last year, a song that went on to become New Zealand's most viewed YouTube video of 2017, Latimer says later this the band will likely start work on a track in te reo Māori for themselves. 

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"I think when we get back from touring and what not, we'll have a look at it and see what we can come up with."

"It's one of those things where, nearly the whole band is Maori, so it would be cool for us to do a song in Maori. We've always been involved in Maori music, we just haven't put out name on anything yet. They keyword is yet."

The band will be playing alongside SIX60 at their 2018 Western Springs show. Taylor Mansfield

The band will be playing alongside SIX60 at their 2018 Western Springs show.

When speaking to the success the band has had over past nine years, including nominations in several categories at the Waiata Maori Music Awards and winning the NZ On Air Best Music Video award for their single 'Superman',  Latimer says he always had a "quiet confidence" they would go on to achieve big things.

"When we first started the band we just wanted to make music and do a few shows. We kind of just wanted to be like Katchafire. For us to be actually doing a lot of that stuff now, it kind of hasn't really hit home because you work to get there. Once you get there the bar always gets moved to what's the next goal what's the next goal.

Gearing up for another tour across the country during August, Latimer says the next goal to tick off is playing their first headline show at The Powerstation in Auckland, a gig he says has been a long time coming.

"We've played The Powerstation a bunch of times before with other artists like Katchafire, but this is the first time we're doing it on our own."

Sons of Zion say they're "really stoked" their single has been so well received. BENN BATHGATE/STUFF

Sons of Zion say they're "really stoked" their single has been so well received.

"I'd have to say I'm most excited for that one because it's been in the pipeline for so long. To do the Powerstation by ourselves is a pretty good achievement."

Tickets for the upcoming Sons of Zion tour can be found on Eventfinda.

Kiwi band Sons of Zion

Kiwi band Sons of Zion

 - Stuff

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