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Dragonfly are ready to record

Dragonfly band members [L-R] James Tortoza, Mitchell Wiramanaden, Elle Corlett, Katie Harris, and Jade Bradnock. Absent: L’Oreale Neemia-Phillipps. PHOTO/TOM TAYLOR

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An up-and-coming rock band have secured funding to record their first single after placing among the finalists of a national songwriting competition.

Dragonfly, a band made up of Wairarapa College and Makoura College students, were one of 20 finalists in their category of the Youthtown Songwriting Competition Aotearoa, organised by music charity Play It Strange.

For entry into the ‘Give It A Go’ category, students created an upbeat song aimed to inspire and encourage the ambitions of other young New Zealanders.

Dragonfly submitted their original song “When You’re Ready”, which they had previously performed for their video entry to the Smokefree Rockquest last year.

Rhythm guitarist and vocalist Katie Harris wrote the lyrics, with lead guitarist Mitchell Wiramanaden writing the the music.

“It’s kind of about the band, actually,” Katie said. “It’s about our passion for music. A line in the chorus says, ‘When you’re ready, show us what you want to get.’ The song is all about showcasing your abilities and what you’re really passionate about and dream about.”

The Play It Strange charity – founded by former Split Enz bassist Mike Chunn – would fund a recording session to the value of $750, giving Dragonfly the opportunity to professionally record their song.

The band could select any studio of their choice and were considering going to Tsunami Sound Studios in Levin, which included free accommodation where the band could stay overnight.

“We already had our eyes on that studio to record some of our other originals, but then we got this opportunity and we thought that was really cool because it was paid for,” Katie said.

The recorded song would form part of the official 2021 Youthtown Songwriting Competition Aotearoa compilation album.

The band aimed to use the experience as a launchpad to record more of the original music they had written.

Katie and Mitchell had been playing music together since Year 7, alongside bandmates Jade Bradnock [rhythm guitar, vocals] and L’Oreale Neemia-Phillipps [vocals].

Having three vocalists was one of the main strengths of the band.

“We enjoy each other’s company, and I think we’ve learned to sing pretty well together,” Katie said.

“It’s good for harmonies as well,” Jade said.

By the time they moved to Wairarapa College for Year 9, they had joined forces with James Tortoza [drums] and Elle Corlett [bass] and started playing under the name ‘Dragonfly’.

Now in Year 11, the band had already had a taste of success. They placed second in the regional finals of last year’s Smokefree Rockquest, which was taken out by their Wairarapa College peers Alpha Centauri.

They had also just made it to the semi-final round of this year’s Talent Wairarapa.

However, the band’s idea of success was not all about winning competitions.

“We want to be well known by many people and have music of ours all over the place,” drummer James said.

“It’s quite crazy to think that some people now see us and say, ‘Oh, you’re from that band!’” Katie said.

“I think of that as a nice little success, but of course, you want to aim beyond that as well – doing as many gigs and competitions as we can.”

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