Something Different is an online platform that strives to display the best of New Zealand’s talented artists, musicians and creators.
Over the next two weeks, we will be sharing a series of articles and reviews in collaboration with students from the University of Canterbury. The students were asked to create a selection of content as well as how they would present that content to an online audience.
In the fourth article, Luke Verheul takes a look at the immersive stylings of Christchurch producer and singer Neil MacLeod.
Neil MacLeod is an artist from Christchurch New Zealand who captivates his audiences with his live performances and mesmerises listeners in his EP’s. His style is unique as the use of synth sounds and natural instruments blend together and complement each other to create a seriously smooth and addictive sound. Neil is savvy with many instruments and equipment and this is resembled through his music, as such wonderful sounds and tones are bought to the table. His use of voice is to be noted as it adds an eerie yet calming element to his music. Neil also co-produces his own tracks which is impressive as they paint pictures for listeners and are easy to get lost in with his fantastic use of sounds.
Neil describes his genre as “a blend of acoustic and electronic textures that form heartfelt and honest musical works”. His inspirations are vast and he believes that if you engage with interesting and good art, you’ll do well. There is the classic story of the musician hunched over in his room letting the music come to them. This is the opposite of his process as he is always out taking in not just music, but life itself.
Neil started recording and producing in his bedroom and would meet up with friends and jump between houses to record with others. Recently he has had the opportunity to work in a studio, which is yet another space he can craft his music and gain experience from. He puts it nicely as he said “the beautiful thing about this time for musicians is you can have a pretty pro set up at home, and you can feel comfortable, relaxed and surrounded by good people”. Having a good atmosphere when creating music is important to the process and from this, it sounds like he has it sorted.
When Neil left home at 17 he realised he needed to make his own way in life and started his career properly a couple of months after being away from home. After dropping out of university feeling like it wasn’t for him, he then fully dedicated himself to the industry. Neil learned to produce and got familiar with equipment in high school as the studio there was very good. This got him excited and he now considers himself “a bit of a nerd” when it came to this aspect of music. From there he got very engaged with the technical elements of music and this became a massive part of his work. It’s evident from his music to see that he has become very skilled in this field.
Currently, Neil splits his time in two ways. One is always perusing his own music, working on projects and touring. The other half is spent working with other people producing. Working with all kinds of people is important to him as it’s a great way to extend knowledge. It’s about casting the widest net possible as the industry demands you to be skilled in many things. He enjoys producing for other people and helping musicians who are just starting as it is fulfilling work and from this, there are more opportunities to learn.
All of his work seems to be paying off as he worked on the first 25 minutes of music for this year’s World of Wearable Arts Festival with co-producer and friend Devin Abrams. “It’s been really refreshing to stop focusing solely on myself – I feel like you can reach a point of absurdity if you’re constantly thinking about your own shit, so it’s a welcome change to be working with others and to serve their dreams as much as I can”.
There are plenty of things to look forward to in the future as there’s a release in early 2020 which includes 7 new tracks. “The new stuff I’m most proud of, it’s a full step into the electronic world that I wanted to identify with and I thought, ok this is what I’m doing now”. The new EP will showcase him transforming from the elements of guitar and voice to now being comfortable with being more daring, big and larger than life.
After chatting with Neil, it is clear to see he is an inspired, humble and incredibly talented musician that genuinely has a passion for music. If you haven’t already listened to Neil check him out here;
The article was written by Luke Verheul, as part of our collaboration with the University of Canterbury