“It’s going to be hard for me not to spend the next 15 minutes and 47 seconds talking about that Gang of Youths album if I’m honest.”
Zane Lowe, the New Zealand-born Apple Music exec and DJ, is in Sydney for ARIA Week. Yesterday, he was the keynote speaker for this year’s ARIA Masterclass, and while he covered the story of how he went from Auckland-based rapper in the early ’90s to LA-based Creative Director and DJ for Apple Music’s Beats 1, he spent a good chunk of his time confessing his love for Sydney’s own Gang of Youths.
“I had to kick my own arse this week because I hadn’t applied myself to it,” he told his interviewer, beloved artist manager John Watson (Eleven). “I liked the first record, I knew that they were a great live band, it just hadn’t crossed my path.”
“Then I saw they were nominated for like 20 ARIAs (it’s eight, but close enough) and […] I put it on and it just completely knocked me off my feet,” he gushed from the Telstra Customer Insight Centre.
“It sort of summed up everything I grew up always loving about Australian music. Certainly with writers like Tim Rogers, bands that were able to paint this amazing picture with words. And he can do that; that guy (David Le’aupepe) is a writer.
“I don’t know where it comes from, I just know it has to come out. It’s so authentic and believable. And that band has produced a record around these incredible words, these amazing songs. I just want to run up mountains when I hear that music. Like it’s emotional for me – I’m not done!” he jokingly fanned Watson away at this point.
Perhaps what was most endearing about how Zane Lowe spoke of Gang of Youths, was his obvious personal investment in the band – he said he’s doing everything in his power to help them break in the US.
“So I get on and I’m telling everybody in my team ‘Right, we’re going to make it this, this, this, we’re going to make it World Record tomorrow…
“I get on the phone to my friend who’s a band manager in LA and I’m like, ‘This band’s amazing, your bands would love this band, they should take this band out on the road’,” he laughs. “I’ve gotta do something – and they’re not asking me for it, they’re doing just fine – I just feel like the world has to hear this.”
At this point Sony Music’s Denis Handlin shouts “Thanks Zane” from the back of the theatre. Lowe replied with a quick, “big ups Denis.”
“That’s what music does to us,” Lowe continued. “That’s why we’re all here. On a good day you hear something like that and you know your life is changed and the lives of your friends have changed because you won’t shut up about it from now on.”
Gang of Youths are nominated for eight ARIAs tonight for their second LP Go Farther In Lightness, including Apple Music Album Of The Year, Best Group and Best Australian Live Act.