You are currently viewing Ngatea musician tops New Zealand charts
'In Green' was developed in Taylor Griffin’s Ngatea-based recording studio “The Groove Suite”. Photo: ALICE PARMINTER

Ngatea musician tops New Zealand charts

Taylor Griffin is Hauraki Plains College’s woodworking teacher by day. He’s also a drummer and composer, and now he’s added “chart-topping artist” to his resume. 

The Ngatea-based musician’s first EP, In Green, debuted at number nine on the New Zealand charts on March 11. The 20-minute album features six tracks, and lists an array of well-known New Zealand musicians among its credits, including singer Rachel Clarke, Polish-born keyboardist Michal Martyniuk, guitarist Geoff Ong, and trumpet player Guy Harrison. 

Sitting alongside Taylor at the top of the list is renowned New Zealand musician Nathan Haines as co-producer and saxophone/flute soloist. His involvement in the project was a coup for Taylor, who said Nathan’s mentorship and industry contacts helped pull his work to the next level. 

Ad for Coromandel App and the Valley Profile

Taylor, who honed his skills in the Auckland music scene, began work on the album in 2022. He drew on his life experiences during and after Covid-19 – the birth of his daughter, meeting and marrying his wife, navigating the experience of making music – to create a groove-based album he described as “a mishmash”. 

“I’m not writing to do anything in particular, I’m just following my instincts,” Taylor said. 

“It’s not really pop music at all, it’s not really jazz – there’s no rules. It’s all about feeling.” 

In Green is a work which puts rhythm front and centre, an unusual perspective which Taylor said comes from his background as a drummer. 

“Drummers don’t usually do this [write albums],” he said. 

“I come at it from the rhythmic perspective and the way I arrange – I’m not thinking about a key signature because I think it’s a little bit too stagnant. It’ll change key almost all the time… it’s just where my ear led me to go.” 

When Taylor approached Nathan Haines with the tracks, the seasoned musician immediately heard something he liked. 

“I originally approached him about doing some mixing,” Taylor said. 

“And he said, ‘look, I could do a solo on this one and I could do a solo on this one… but once my name’s on it obviously that’s going to put you into a different territory.’ I wasn’t going to say no to that.”

Taylor likened Nathan’s involvement to a masterclass. 

“I was sitting right next to him the whole time while he was mixing – it was like doing a post-grad. He mentored me through the whole process,” Taylor said. 

“I got put in touch with Big Pop Records through Nathan too. He basically showed me the door and said, ‘here you go, there’s everything’.”

Taylor was overseas with his family when he heard his finished tracks for the first time. 

“I was sitting in my mother-in-law’s kitchen in Italy and listening to the tunes, and I was just loving it,” he said. 

“It was a real buzz… I was extremely proud of it.”

Taylor said he was still trying to get his head around the reception In Green has received since its February 29 release. 

“I literally came at this with just an idea in my head, and now just to see the progression of how it’s gone, who I’ve been able to work with, who’s listening to it and where it is in the popular culture – it’s good,” he said. 

“I wasn’t even expecting to register on the charts… I just wanted to make something that I would want to listen to. And I did, I love it. I think it’s really good. But I’m even more stoked that other people think that as well.” 

Taylor is already hard at work on his next offering. He’s recorded some tracks in London, and will be collaborating with Nathan again, this time on a full length-album. 

“It’s a lot of work putting something together like this,” he said, crediting the support of his family as instrumental in his success. 

“You have to try and do this and you also have to be dad and husband… There were definitely moments where it was getting too much, but I always just had faith that it was going to be a good thing, followed my instinct, and it turned out to be a success. It’s more than I would have ever hoped for.”