New Zealand born singer/songwriter, Fraser MacKenzie, is a self-taught musician
influenced by blues, rock, funk and flamenco.
Read below to trace his story back to the beginning… and make sure you
come back to find out how 2021 goes!
2020 - the year I left my country and took my music 'To The World!' Or so I thought... SARS-Cov-2 closed the world down. Like millions of others, I found myself locked in place and with out work. Covid19 ended a healthy Summer of playing my sounds for others - private and public functions cancelled, closed, postponed. Locked down in my home with people I loved, I was fortunate. I focused on writing. I wove sax and keyboard into my videos beside the guitars, and sang my own harmonies.
And then, Aotearoa New Zealand began to open up... an island nation, we found ourselves freer than many and it was wonderful to be able to gig again... celebrate with others, get them dancing, and singing, connect with old faithfuls and play at new venues where I quickly made old friends.
For me, our Antipodean Summer (2020/2021) was crammed with gigging - like me, people were hungry to connect through music in familiar spaces with familiar faces. Who knows what 2021 will bring us in this 'new normal'... but I'll meet you there!
I returned to Australia for six months, focusing most of my time on a successful tour in Western Australia.
Time in Australia included several interviews on local radio stations like ABC Radio Midwest & Wheatbelt with 'The Man Under The Hat' and the Spirit 98.1 Geraldton with Tony Turner. It was fun to chat music with so many interesting people.
I also joined 'Dancing Brolgas Music' as a tutor and mentor, supporting aspiring musicians develop skills in building and sustaining a career in the music industry. On return to Aotearoa, I continued as a tutor via online sessions.
I tried to make the most of Western Australia's beautiful environments including by the beautiful beaches and at the historic Oakabella Homestead, and enlisted the help of a close friend to create videos of my originals.
When I returned to Aotearoa New Zealand, I edited and mixed four of the videos filmed in WA (Misty, India, Red to Fade and Can You Play As Good As Me?), uploading them monthly to my YouTube channel - and as MP3s to streaming services.
I developed a showcase of the music I played at gigs. "Quick Clips" is a playlist of over 30 minute-or-less tasters.
I also took my music to Australia for the first time, entertaining audiences from Brisbane, down to Melbourne and right across to Perth. That was a great road trip!
AND... I reached my goal of playing over 100 gigs in a year!
(and did it across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand).
By now, I'd been part of several bands (as well as playing solo). My experience on acoustic guitar easily translated to lead guitar - and I loved it.
Sadly, however, in 2017, both BOWYANG and Soul Funkin' What! disbanded. My friends moved to different parts of the country or refocused their music priorities. And so did I, releasing a self-recorded acoustic EP, Red to Fade, featuring the increasingly popular, 'Boy from Appalachia'.
This was also the year I headed to Aotearoa's capital city, Wellington, to check out the music scene there.
'The Boss' came to Aotearoa New Zealand this year and I was really inspired by Bruce Springsteen's live performance and the amazing connection he made with his audiences.
I'd always loved the relationship between me, the music and the people, but now I really focused on the connections with my audiences - both as an acoustic solo artist and as lead electric and vocalist in my own rock band.
With my friends Ella (on bass) and Matty C (on drums), as well as my brother, Rory (on rhythm guitar), we were BOWYANG. We played a mix of classic rock covers, a few more recent 'hits' and some of my originals.
Local covers band Soul Funkin' What! had a penchant for complex musical arrangements, such as Steely Dan's work and I was rapt to be asked to join them as lead guitar and back-up vocalist.
I also released a 30 second teaser on facebook at the start of 2016 which rapidly got over 150 thousand views - so that helped my online presence to grow.
And in my downtime, I continued work on originals.
This year I began performing in public on a regular basis. Gigging in a range of places in Hawkes Bay, from dedicated 'live music' venues (like The Common Room and The Cabana) through to cafes and wineries, I loved the synergy with my audiences, and the way people stayed for 'just one more song'. Sometimes it was really hard to finish with my scheduled last song - and I often did several encores. I loved playing live!
I still kept busking... it brings a uniquely unpredictable live audience who are just amazing too.
I started working on my own material and in 2014 self-released my first EP, 'Acoustic Equinox'. This led to my first radio interview - a UK station, Rock Radio. The host, Mike Watkins, had heard the EP, and once time-zones were sorted, we talked about my influences (including Tom Waits, Bruce Springsteen, Katzenjammer and Bruce Cockburn) and other stuff.
I also had a few other local radio interviews, like "Made in New Zealand".
I made my first video for YouTube... recorded out on my family's farm in Mum and Dad's wool shed in rural Hawkes Bay.
“Feather” was the first original I performed in a show I put on. This song is still one of my favorites today, even though I don't get the chance to play is as often as I like.
This was the beginning of new life, a new journey, a new person. Forged from the fires of Strath na Sealag, I bounced around until I found my one true passion. The guitar. I began my career in the provincial towns of Hastings and Napier in Aotearoa New Zealand. One of my first gigs was at the 'Smoke Free Rock Quest' where I performed my own songs, 'Stay Here' and 'Dreams of Crying'. I was busking on the streets of Taradale, when someone heard me and hired me to do gigs every Sunday. I was stoked: my first paid work.