Getting To Know... learningtodive

Having spent the last few years releasing a wave of bold and impressive post-punk-inspired stunners, New Zealand-based artist learningtodive has recently returned to share his latest effort 'Rainbow Fall'.

Preceding his highly-anticipated debut EP 'Norwegian Pop', arriving later this year, 'Rainbow Fall' makes for a broad and powerful return. Filled with a rich and atmospheric direction, thunderous production, and some truly otherworldly vocals throughout, his newest release sees him kick off the new year in style.

So with the new single available now, we sat down with him to find out more about his origins and what has inspired him most over the years.


What was the first instrument you fell in love with?

I grew up playing the violin. Classically trained with a mother that had visions of a classical performer, I mostly hated it. The first instrument that really excited me was the synthesizer. The idea that a keyboard could conceivably recreate any sound imaginable, as well as unimaginable sounds was incredibly interesting to me. I remember the first time I noticed synthesizers was as the music for a late 1970s TV commercial for UTA, a French airline. That turned out to be Jean Michel Jarre’s “Oxygene”. From there electronic music has been a love affair.

What was the first song that inspired you to make your own music?

Not so much songs as an era. The period from 1979 to 1984 (yes I am that old) where popular music transitioned from punk to new wave to post-punk to New Romantic was extraordinarily exciting, and with the acceptance of simpler melodic motifs (reduced skills needed) and the emergence of synths, I saw it was going to be possible to compose, perform, and release my own music. I am still not a great instrumentalist though. More of a writer/producer.

What kind of music did you love as a teenager?

As above, all of that era. It started with bands like the Buzzcocks, XTC, The Cure, Joy Division and ended up with bands like China Crisis, Simple Minds, although I didn’t like their work onwards from “Don’t You Forget About Me” where it wasn’t even their song.

What do you find is the best environment to find inspiration for your music?

It is not so much a place as a psychological state. Maybe a little unhinged, off balance. I have had a few emotional problems over the last few years resulting in a surge of creativity, which led me back to music after being away for quite a few years. I do enjoy working alone in my studio.

Who are your favourite artists you have found yourself listening to at the moment?

I love the new Avalanches album. Also listening to quite a bit of Blood Orange. I have really enjoyed an album by a music friend of mine, Gramsci - “Inheritance” which also features Greg Haver on drums. Greg co-produced the LearningToDive “Norwegian Pop” project from which these recent singles are from. I also keep on going back to the Horrors. You can hear a little bit of their influence on me in my new post-punk inspired single “Rainbow Fall”.

How many of your songs have you written about people in your life?

 None of the songs I have released or currently plan to release are directly about anyone in my life but inspired by combinations of encounters, events, thoughts, ideas, and of course feelings.

What has been the most unusual moment in your career so far?

 Difficult to say, but I have very much enjoyed engineering Salsa Choke artists from Colombia. An entirely different life background to myself, and such an exciting genre. It is not something I would create, it would be ridiculous, but that doesn’t stop me enjoying it. One artist in particular, JeJe Flow. Incredibly talented. Maybe another moment would be recording the LearningToDive “Norwegian Pop” EP in a studio at the end of a fjord in Norway. Ocean Sound Recordings is the studio. When we were there it was 26C one day and we were swimming on a virtually private white sand beach. Idyllic and incredibly inspiring.

If you could open a show for anyone in the world, who would it be?

Right now, probably the Avalanches. Too many to list.

If you weren’t a musician, what other path do you think you might have taken?

I own a small investment advisory business that specialises in mathematical analysis of financial and commodity markets. So I run that in parallel with my recording studio. I really enjoy it. I think many artists of the future will work like this.

And what is the best piece of advice you have received as a musician?

From my bass teacher Mark Hughes. “Practise, practise, practise”. As the “Outliers” book shows, it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at anything. Frustratingly for Mark, I am a pretty poor “practiser”, but this is mainly because I am very time poor due to my studio and other businesses. But whatever you want to do, if you don’t practise, you won’t make it.


learningtodive's new single 'Rainbow Fall' is available to stream and download now. Have a listen to it in the player below.