Hi Ms G and Mr Yong, the last month or two has been pretty productive for Static Era with the release of the video for Addicted To Dream and playing on stage alongside international heavy metal band Anvil. After Christmas there’s more, with the ‘Music Is Dead’ event. Could you tell us a bit more about that please?
Chris: Towards the start of 2014, Emma and I discussed releasing a third single from Dare To Fail and doing a meaningful story-based video rather than another performance video.
Midyear, the other two band members decided to call it a day for personal reasons and I got involved as a candidate during the election. We’d already started the planning process for the video but because of the complexity involved, it took a lot longer to finish than anticipated.
After the election, I was able to refocus on music so I reached out to the Distorted Twenty event promoters, we released the video and, of course, confirmed our desire to be part of the Music is Dead event.
It’s been a very challenging year but we’re still here and have some ambitious plans lined up for 2015.
Emma G: It was awesome playing with Anvil too – I’ve been following them since I watched their documentary a few years back, so it was incredible to play alongside them. They were heaps of fun. It was a particularly epic way to end such a full on 2014 – now that we’re moving into 2015; I’m excited about where the Static Era road is taking us.
Lets just go back a bit – It’s a terrible cliché question but to give Muzic.net.nz readers who may not have heard Static Era an idea – what’s your sound and what are some of your highlights over the last four years?
Chris: If Evanescence collided with Stone Sour, it would sound like Static Era – gutsy female vocals with edgy guitar riffs loaded with attitude.
Highlights have been being a headline act at Music in Parks 2014, getting an email from a father whose daughter said Emma was like a real life superhero, supporting Anvil and creating such a meaningful video (obviously with the help of others) with Addicted To A Dream.
Emma G: 2014 has been an incredible year for me – both on a personal and musical level; which to be honest, are pretty much one and the same. Releasing Dare to Fail was a huge thing for me personally, because I’m so passionate about pushing my personal boundaries and encouraging people (and myself) to push back against judgements, obstacles and adversity. I particularly loved touring NZ with Aussie metal band Vanishing Point earlier this year – met a few skinheads in Wellington, but soon showed them that dark chicks can be metal too! Haha.
You formed in 2010 and changed the bands name to Static Era in 2012. What other important changes both personal and professional have helped to shape the band to date?
Chris: Music is a journey. Personally, I was musically lost in 2010 when my band Redline went on hiatus after 7 years. The only other time I had felt that way was after I left Tadpole in 2003. I was pretty demotivated with music and it was this new music project with a highly motivated Emma that kept me going.
In 2013, Emma and I realised we really wanted Static Era to be something that inspired and empowered people. I’ve always tried to look on the bright side and Emma has such an incredible background story of overcoming personal challenges that it made sense to express that more through the band.
Our EP Dare To Fail has much stronger messages around those values, the title actually comes from a quote, “Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly.”
Emma G: to add to what Chris has said, I’m lucky to know so many inspiring people myself. I work with a huge range of people through youth work, and teaching music – and it has only added to my own drive to inspire, empower and encourage. Music is one of those rare forms of magic that has the power to create and destroy – we, as Static Era, try to create strength and destroy negativity.
You have featured on the Kiwi Hit Disc twice. What was your process to be successful with that and how did it help the band?
Chris: You can apply to NZ On Air for Kiwi Hit Disc consideration. If it’s not a busy month for them, you have a good chance of being included but remember they need prioritise what they fund first.
It’s helped provide some extra exposure for us but we’re still looking, like most local bands, to get that break with commercial radio.
Often bands ignore or are just unaware of things like elements of websites and marketing. You have an email list where if fans sign up they receive free downloads of your music. Could you explain how this works and the benefits of it, for the readers out there that are musicians themselves?
Chris: I remember the days when MySpace was a musician’s best friend, then it tanked and that was a valuable lesson. The problem is if you rely on social platforms, if they change their rules or disappear then you’re left with nothing.
An email list may not be as trendy as Facebook but you own it and have a direct way to communicate with your most engaged fans. Facebook posts that are unboosted are reaching less and less people, it’s their rules and they can do whatever they like.
If smart businesses have a customer database they can email, bands should be the same. Bands and startup businesses share very similar challenges.
Emma G: I’m not gonna lie, Chris is the man at this kind of stuff. I’m forever learning about the whole internet thing – it’s an evolving beast that Chris is far better at taming than me!
Emma – you are involved in music in a few ways, not just strictly as a muso but also through your work with helping youth. You are a tutor at Te Wananga O Aotearoa and a Youth Empowerment Coordinator (what a great job description) with Raise Up Puketapapa. Could you let us know a few of your fantastic achievements and also how overcoming your own obstacles in life has related to your music?
Emma G: Haha. You make me sound a lot more impressive than I think I am! I’ve been teaching vocals since I started my own business at the age of 17 (self professed geek!). After moving to Auckland in 2010, (and selling my soul to the corporate market for a year), I decided to throw my life into the grip of fate, so I quit my job and became a full time busker and musician. Shit, if I can survive 10 brain surgeries, what the heck did I have to lose? Haha.
Eventually, I discovered I missed teaching, and came across an ad for a vocal tutor (kaiako) at Te Wananga o Aotearoa. Applied for the job, and got it! Which has been a phenomenal privilege – being able to do music for a living still, but with the added benefit of gifting knowledge, empowerment, positivity and strength; funnily enough, the same qualities that Static Era aims to promote.
I’m exactly the same with my youth empowerment crew. Building a stronger future generation through the power of music – there’s not much cooler than that.
As far as overcoming my own obstacles, I think everyone has their own demons to a degree. I’m lucky that music has been such a valuable tool when it came to dealing with mine – whether it was expressing my struggles with severe depression, or trying to deal with the pain of loss, abuse or surgery. The magic of songwriting and music, however, is that it always gifts you with the option of overcoming those obstacles – coming out on top as a champion against your own struggles. Being able to incorporate that into Static Era, teaching and youth empowerment is a blessing.
Chris: Let’s not forget Emma G also received a New Zealander of the Year Local Hero award in 2012 for inspiring others through music and an I Am Auckland award in 2014 for best youth worker. She’s extremely modest about these things.
You have also been involved with the X-Factor. How is that going and do you think it will affect the band activities in any way?
Emma G: I’m not actually allowed to talk about it! Haha. But it’s an exciting challenge, and I’m looking forward to whatever 2015 has in store for me, and Static Era!
Chris: When Emma and I talked about her entering X-Factor, I said at the very least if people learn about you and it helps to build your profile then it will be worth it. It will definitely be an experience and anything that may come from it is a bonus.
Chris as the guitarist for the band, do you write the songs, or are they shared between members?
Chris: I am an active songwriter and always have been since Tadpole. The degree of my involvement can vary between songs and there isn’t a set methodology we use in Static Era. Ideas can be developed in several ways.
Emma G: diversity is the spice of life yo! We like to mix it up!
You (Chris) were in NZ band Tadpole a few years back, and did really well there. What did those years teach you for what you do now?
Chris: I’ve realised how little I understood about the music business back then. I’ve also learnt that if you believe in what you do, just go out there and do it.
Don’t be fooled into thinking you’ll make a living from your original creative works anytime soon in NZ, financial success is a jackpot and you’ll need to invest far more than you get back. Tadpole was successful yet I was on the dole.
Treat your fans like gold, even if you only have 10, because to them you are a rock star.
Time for a serious question for Chris: better guitarist – Chris or Scooby?
Chris: Scooby for sure, he is a living legend with many hidden talents!
Do you have riffs that you write that don’t suit the band, and what do you do with those? This question could apply to both of you – I know Emma you have a decent sized acoustic repertoire as well …
Chris: Yes I do and at this point in time, they stay on hard drive until I figure what to do with them.
Emma G: Haha. Yeah, I’m the same. I’ve written over 300 songs in my life – and they’re definitely not all rock and roll! I’ve even got a rap hidden somewhere too. Who knows? Limp Bizkit is still a thing, right? Haha.
Back to Music is Dead: Have you played with any of the bands before and which bands are you looking forward to hearing that you haven’t heard live before?
Chris: Yes we have. I haven’t seen Braves, Thin White Lines or Dead Beat Boys so keen to see them live.
Emma G: Yeah, I’ve heard some awesome things about TWL. I’m just psyched about hanging out with some epic and like-minded rockers!
Are there any other projects coming up that you can hint at?
Chris: Emma and I have discussed releasing a Static Era album in 2015, we just need to work through the logistical challenges to make that happen.
Emma G: The fun never stops!
What would you like to say to fans coming along to Music Is Dead?
Chris: You are the lifeblood that keeps local music alive and enables artists to chase their musical dreams. We are in this together so lets get together at Music is Dead and make magic happen.
Emma G: I’m just looking forward to seeing and meeting everyone. It’s still kind of weird to think of it as having fans, because to me, when it comes to music, we’re all just kinda one big family – brothers and sisters of rock and roll. Let’s do this!