8 Sep 2016

The Singles Life: We’ve found New Zealand’s Calvin Harris

7:56 am on 8 September 2016

Welcome to weekly series The Singles Life, where known experts Katie Parker and Hussein Moses peruse, ponder and pontificate on the latest and (maybe) greatest in New Zealand music.

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Photo: Unknown

EDM is so hot right now. Just ask Zac Efron and Netflix. Katie Parker and Hussein Moses push the buttons on the new song from producer Ryan Enzed, New Zealand’s answer to Calvin Harris.


Hussein: EDM is all about mass appeal, so it was only a matter of time before sometime in New Zealand tried to get on board. Ryan Enzed, a producer from Auckland, is the latest to try and pull it off. And you know what? He might just be our very own Calvin Harris.

He’s just released his latest single, She Said. It’s a collaboration with Helen Corry, “an unlikely EDM artist”, according to her management company, who is “obsessed with books, theatre and psychology”.

Here’s how Corry describes the song:

She Said, lyrically, is about a conversation with the universe. One where she is saying ‘You understand that you're destroying me, yet you continue to live your lives as if nothing is happening. Don't you understand that I could destroy all of you?’”

Katie: First things first: GREAT NAME. Ryan Enzed has already conquered the most important hurdle and for that I commend him. He also got NZ On Air funding for his video so good for him.

The song is … OK? I get frustrated about songs that just describe women doing and feeling stuff, because it just seems kind of condescending. I certainly did not hear it as a condemnation of hubris from the all seeing lady universe, but then I am not as deep as some.

EDM is so weird to me. Is it just pop music but with a male producer who wants to be in the video? What does that male producer do exactly? Calvin Harris is just a newly swole anglo jock; that’s every second guy in this bloody country.

Hussein: At the same time, he doesn’t seem to be hiding the fact that his own music is a blueprint of everything else that’s already out there. In fact, he’s actually been producing these tutorial videos on YouTube for about five or six years now where, among other things, he explains how to make stuff that sounds exactly like Deadmau5 or Skrillex or Porter Robinson.

My favourite video title of his is definitely “M8, Do u even compress?”

Katie: Classic Kiwi DIY. I love it.

You’re right that it is definitely following a formula and it’s a pretty straightforward one. What sets this kind of music apart? It’s gotta be dancey, it’s gotta be fun, and for some reason it’s gotta have deep but also completely universal lyrical content. And mimicking the US market is such a trap, though I totally get why they might do it. Ryan needs to stand up and stand out! How do you view his prospects?

Hussein: I actually ended up catching his set at this launch party for MTV Brand New, which is this thing where they take eight Australian acts and two New Zealand ones and have people vote for them via Twitter and then MTV somehow helps to launch their careers.

It was really just one of those schmoozy industry events, which ultimately feel pretty out of touch. Some guy from MTV Australia was the presenter and he seemed quite proud of the “In James Franco We Trust” t-shirt he was wearing. That same guy made the crowd spend three minutes watching a video of MAALA (the other New Zealander in the competition) performing on TV, even though we were all there waiting for him to actually play in front of us.

Anyway, MAALA did his three songs in like 10-15 minutes and then Ryan Enzed came on stage and played for at least an hour, maybe longer (I called it a night once the sausage rolls ran out). It was just a DJ set too. I’m not sure he even played any of his own songs; it was just sped-up remixes of Get Lucky or Barbra Streisand or whatever.

The fact that both Ryan and Enzed and MAALA are both signed to major record labels (Warner and Sony, respectively) and still need to take part in a competition like this should tell you everything you need to know about the New Zealand music industry at the moment.

Katie: That sounds truly bizarre. Mind you, if you combine that event, the NZ On Air funding, the major label, and the fact that no one forcefully dragged Ryan off stage after 40 minutes (the longest period of time anyone should ever do anything) then he must have some star power in there somewhere.

Who knows, maybe we’ll find love in a hopeless place.

Follow Katie and Hussein on Twitter.