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Emerging artists heading home

Mild Orange: Josh Reid (standing), Tom Kelk, front, Josh Mehrtens and Jack Ferguson. PHOTO/RUPERT OLLIVIER

Two high-performing bands with Wairarapa roots are coming back to the region to give hometown fans a taste of how far they’ve come.

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Two young musicians are bringing it back home on Friday as their bands, Mild Orange and Tunes of I, play to a crowd ahead of Toast Martinborough.

To be a member of about six different bands seems like a tough task for the average person, but for guitarist and singer Conway Jeune, it’s no biggie.

“How many bands am I in . . . I’m in like, hold up . . . maybe like six or seven different bands.

“It’s a bit of a juggle – it’s pretty crazy but worth it,” Jeune said.

Tunes of I guitarist and singer Conway Jeune.

Jeune, 27, is the frontman of Tunes of I, a six-piece roots reggae inspired Wellington-based group, born out of the New Zealand School of Music about seven years ago.

Each different band is made up of different members, and offers a new experience and pushes each member to grow as a musician, he said.

But Tunes of I is “our main baby”, and has been for the past seven years.

Jeune grew up in Featherston and started playing guitar at the age of 11.

He continued to play while at Kuranui College and followed that passion through to music school.

“Music school is a pretty full on course.

“People think ‘oh mean, you’re going to study music, you just go and play guitar for four years’, but it’s pretty full on.”

For the first four years, Jeune said the band was “just jamming a lot”.

But they have already toured Australia three times this year – twice as the support band for Ocean Alley, an Australian band on their album release tour, and the third time on their own tour after being signed by booking agency 123 Agency.

“It blew us away, we are seven years old now and we’ve being touring around New Zealand for a while now, and we got over there, and we were selling more tickets there than our New Zealand shows, and the crowds were so much more ruckus and singing our words,” he said.

The band have just been signed by Eccles Entertainment, a promoter that also signed the likes of Six60, Ladyhawke, Dave Dobbyn and Bic Runga.

Jeune said he was excited to introduce the band to his home region.

“Wairarapa has been a big support for me musically, all the locals giving me gigs by myself when I was starting out.”

From playing at house parties for university friends, to performing on the mainstage at one of New Zealand’s biggest summer concerts, indie rock band Mild Orange is trying to keep up with its recent success.

Guitarist, Josh Reid, originally from Carterton, said he too was amazed by their increasing popularity, but was embracing it.

Reid, 22, also began playing guitar at age 11, and was in his first band in 2007 during his time at Hadlow Preparatory School in Masterton then at Rathkeale College.

But it was not until his third year at the University of Otago in 2016 that Mild Orange was formed.

He began writing songs and playing with a new flatmate, but only last year decided to recruit a full band.

“We had only played about one show, then we got put on the Corona NZ tour as the opening act – that got us out into the scene before even releasing any music,” Reid said.

They self-recorded their first album, which was released in April.

Reid wouldn’t put Mild Orange in the “same bubble” as people’s idea of New Zealand music, but it does have the “summery, feel good, laidback vibe to it,” he said.

Oddly, it was a Ukraine-based YouTuber, Alona Chemerys, who pushed their music out on to the international arena – one song reached 4.1 million views in six months.

“After that we saw the flow-on effects, our music got on Spotify and Apple Music, she really facilitated our growth and increased our following on all social media platforms . . . and that wasn’t too long ago,” he said.

They have performed two sold out headline tours, and this summer will perform on the main stages at both Rhythm and Vines, and Rhythm and Alps.

Next year they will record their second album in March, before taking to the US and European scene.

The two bands will play at ‘Friday Drinks at Luna Estate’ this Friday from 4pm.

Tickets cost $40 each at eventbrite.co.nz

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