“Auckland boasts an eclectic music scene, for us this is centred around the famous K Road where we started gigging and have frequented since”
New Zealand’s MOUSSE debuts their exhilarating sound in “Soon Won’t Be Long,” a full-length record that serves as a testament to their evolved musical identity.
Formerly friends, now seasoned musicians, MOUSSE discusses their Auckland origins, eclectic influences from the vibrant K Road scene, and personal adventures, ranging from sailing the Great Barrier Reef to traversing Europe.
In a Happy Mag exclusive, MOUSSE delves into their transformation from a jam band to a refined collective, spotlighting the impact of lead vocalist Chas Wakefield. Their repertoire seamlessly navigates between fast-paced funk and introspective jams, reflecting a diverse palette of influences.
Renowned for their genre-blurring live performances, MOUSSE’s stage presence is characterised by a dynamic freshness. The interview explores their collaborative creative process, yielding significant tracks like “From Afar” and “Hey Hey.” MOUSSE envisions their music leaving listeners with a craving for a lively dance, emotional resonance, and a coveted spot in the next playlist.
Happy: What are you up to today?
MOUSSE: Since recording we’ve all been taking well earned breaks and travelling. Chas is sailing a boat on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Tom and Tim are travelling Europe and Louis and Josh have recently touched down back in New Zealand.
Happy: Tell us about where you are from? What’s the scene like in your neck of the woods?
MOUSSE: We’re all born, raised and schooled in Auckland before we fled the nest to study in Dunedin, Christchurch and Wellington.
Auckland boasts an eclectic music scene, for us this is centred around the famous K Road where we started gigging and have frequented since.
Happy: Describe an average day?
MOUSSE: We’ve all been working full time to keep the lights on while juggling our music. This means a lot of late nights post work in our windowless jam studio.
Happy: What did you listen to growing up that fuelled your passion for music?
MOUSSE: We all have somewhat contrasting musical influences, which we think has produced a unique style in many of our tracks.
That being said, we’ve all grown up listening to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Kings of Leon, The Beatles, The Todd Carneys, and our own local Fat Freddys Drop. We’re also aligned in our influence from more recent favourites such as Tom Misch, Mako Road, and NO CIGAR.
Happy: The provisional title for your upcoming LP is “Soon Won’t Be Long.” Can you give us a glimpse into what listeners can expect from this album in terms of themes and musical direction?
MOUSSE: Since the release of our first two singles, we have continued to develop our songwriting encompassing richer and more layered tracks that span a wider breadth of genre and complexity. The album will take listeners on a journey that explores funk, feel and fervour to carve out a unique sound.
Happy: You mentioned that this LP is a more refined and cohesive reflection of the MOUSSE sound. How has your creative process evolved to achieve this level of cohesion?
MOUSSE: Initially we ran as a bit of a jam band, rotating instruments regularly for a bit of fun and to experiment in a creative way. Since then, we’ve settled into our respective roles in the band but still try to contribute to every instrument and the collective sound.
Defining our roles has really helped when songwriting, but we keep the instrument rotation alive to add a unique dynamic to our live performances. Although we’ve been friends for years, we’ve definitely become closer as a band as a result of many late nights in the band room.
Spending so much time together in this environment means we’ve become more confident in being vulnerable and working collaboratively.
Happy: MOUSSE started with smaller, intimate gigs for friends. How has your dynamic as a band evolved as you transitioned to larger audiences and more established venues?
MOUSSE: We’ve always loved performing, but for many of us this is our first time performing as part of a band, so initially the thought of being on a stage in front of a crowd was daunting. Having started jamming for our mates and at flat parties, it was a pretty comfortable environment to develop our sound and stage presence. Like anything, we’ve found as we have progressed we’ve gained a lot more confidence in ourselves as well as together as a band. Our tight dynamic means one of our favourite parts of all of this will always be performing together on stage.
Happy: Bringing Chas Wakefield on board as a lead vocalist must have been a significant moment. How did his experience with “The Raddlers” influence the direction and energy of MOUSSE’s performances and music?
MOUSSE: Chas has a tonne of performance experience which we lent on in our first few larger gigs. He also has great showmanship which we feed off when performing. We all got on really well from the get go and having someone from an already successful band show interest and passion in our project gave us the vote of confidence that we were on to something.
Happy: Your catalogue spans from fast-paced funk-infused dance tracks to more introspective, lyrical jams. How do you balance and navigate between these two distinct musical styles within your repertoire?
MOUSSE: Part of this stems from the eclectic musical influences we draw from – it means we each bring a range of ideas and different perspectives to the table.
Playing around with these, we sample different styles and collaborate until we find a sound we love. We don’t necessarily have a strict idea of what a MOUSSE song should sound like, we just write what we think sounds great.
This makes it a bit more open and fun for us as writers as well as for the listener.
Happy: You’ve earned a reputation as a must-see-live act. What do you believe sets a MOUSSE live performance apart from other acts in your genre?
MOUSSE: We all feel we don’t fit in very strongly with one particular genre. We believe we bring a pretty fresh sound that translates well to the stage.
From the start we wanted to make music for friends to dance to, and while we’ve added some of the slower songs to our repertoire, the dance tracks are still crucial to our live act.
Happy: Could you share a bit about your creative process when it comes to writing and composing your music? Is it a collaborative effort, or do individual members take the lead on different aspects?
MOUSSE: Our songs all have various origins, some resulting from jamming together and others starting from an individual idea that someone’s brought forward but has been developed collaboratively.
We are very collaborative when writing, which has only increased as we’ve grown closer as a band. Everyone feels they can contribute in any area, providing perspective on every aspect of the song writing process.
Happy: Are there any particular tracks on the upcoming LP that hold a special significance to the band, either in terms of the writing process or the emotions they convey?
MOUSSE: From Afar was written as a homage to a mate who took his own life and the journey of going through and sharing the grief, albeit from afar.
Hey Hey is also significant for different reasons. It’s one of our oldest tracks that we couldn’t quite get right for a long time, but stuck with and are stoked with the final result.
It is also a tribute to the “old rotating instruments MOUSSE” with Louis the drummer on guitar, Josh the lead guitarist on bass and Tim the bassist on the drums.
Happy: As a band, what do you hope listeners take away from experiencing a MOUSSE performance or listening to your music?
MOUSSE:A decent boogie, some emotional resonance and a spot in your next playlist
Happy: Can you provide some insights into any upcoming plans or projects for MOUSSE that you’d like to share with your fans and the broader music community?
MOUSSE:Most of the band have connections with friends and family over in Europe. We’d love to reconnect with them and play a show somewhere in the UK next year…?
Happy: Is there a particular moment or achievement in MOUSSE’s journey that stands out as a highlight for the band?
MOUSSE: Our first headline gig was a massive achievement and was the first show we played after releasing our first two singles.
We sold out the show early and put on one of our best performances to date. The whole crowd singing our songs back to us was really special.
Happy: What makes you happy?
MOUSSE: All of us love writing music with our mates. Some of our great memories recently are weekends away with the band to the lake or the beach and jamming “Midnight Rambler” until the early hours.
The only thing better than that is actually sharing our work with others and seeing them sing and dance to it.