Laying down a solid foundation – Building a strong structure
It’s been a busy couple of months in the Shottaz camp and I can’t stress enough how thrilling it has been seeing some of our music hit the streets. We have been working diligently for the last 2 years to set ourselves up for what you’ll be seeing us deliver in the near and distant future. I personally didn’t expect it to be this exciting to release our content, given that some of it has been sitting in the vault for the longest time. Just to fill in the blanks, since releasing our last album “Stimulus” in 2013, we went on a hiatus which was driven by several factors. I was based in Wellington (NZ) and the bro Hlats was in Auckland. Though we actually worked on the whole Stimulus album whilst living in different cities, we found it difficult to stay consistent with the grind. It took us just under 2 years to complete that project alone which is saying a lot. Part of the delay can be attributed to me working on another project during that time, but I digress. When I moved back to Auckland in 2016, it didn’t take long before we were back in the studio working on new material. The first month in the studio was mad. We had many sessions that started in the evening, around 5:30pm, and went well into the night. On a few occasions I remember getting into bed at 4am, on a school night no less. The weird thing about these late night sessions is that I never felt stretched at any point, I think it is because I was being driven by passion and nothing less.
Building a solid foundation
When we first hit the studio in 2016, we recorded a couple of tunes that we felt were big tunes. We had to fight the urge to prematurely release these songs as they were leagues ahead of anything we had produced up to this point. The excitement within the crew was palpable as we felt we had leveled up on the musical side of things. One thing we got right is that we were able to keep level heads and we agreed to stay focused on creating more music. We decided to block off 2016 and not release any content whatsoever. I feel this was a really good move because we were able to create a solid backlog of tunes during that year. As the year progressed, one thing became more and more apparent. Our in-studio chemistry was getting stronger and a result of this was constantly improving songs. I remember a particular session where me and Hlats arrived in the studio with no pre-written music as we were planning on finishing some existing songs we had been working on. We smashed through our backlog in less than an hour and then started going through new beats. By the end of the night we had powered through 3 new demos, which were completely mixed and ready to master, it was quite a vibe. That said, in 2016 alone we built a good chunk of the foundation on which we are standing on today. Another thing we were able to do was slowly reintroduce ourselves to the masses, but that’s another story in itself.
Getting the ball rolling
I can’t stress enough how important 2016 was for us, and I definitely can’t put enough value on the fact that we built a solid backlog of tracks in that period. I can say that the work we put in 2016 kept us moving in 2017 because we found ourselves living in separate locations, again. Hlats moved to Melbourne and I stayed in Auckland, so we found our ability to create new music had greatly diminished. In fact, we weren’t able to record any new Shottaz tunes because Hlats had no connections in Melbourne so he wasn’t able to suss out studio time with any regularity. Having a substantial amount of great tunes laying in wait was essential as we started building our profile again. Though we didn’t release much music in 2017, apart from Focus mixtape (available here), we were able to start working the underground scenes in both Auckland and Melbourne. We were able to engage key stakeholders and get buy in from them by sharing songs we had on hand and selling them our long term vision. If 2016 is the year we laid down our foundation, I can safely say 2017 is when we ensured it was concrete enough to start building our structure.
Now we play – Keeping things moving
At the start of this year (2018), I made the move to Melbourne for a number of reasons and you can guess that top of my list was to get back to work on the Shottaz front. When I touched base with Hlats after moving over, it was immediately clear that we were on the exact same page. Given that all our studio gear was still with me in New Zealand, the first point of action was to get our small studio back up and running. When we started recording again, it was clear that we hadn’t missed a single step. If anything we had taken our grind up another level. We got into the booth and recorded big tune after big tune, and after each session we’d be high fiving each other knowing we’d just recorded our best song to date. I kid you not, each session has been a definitive step up from the last one, and what was even more scary is that we are staying consistent with this trend. Recently, Hlats was complaining about how annoying it is that he doesn’t get to fully get hype about any of our new tunes, because the minute he’s vibing to a tune thinking it’s our best work yet, we immediately out do that song in the very next session. Now we’re in a position to start rolling out our backlogged tunes, starting with the double single release (Body / Full Up) we have just around the corner. Trust me, this is only the beginning of a very wild ride.