It can only take one song to really take off – and Palmerston North band Ripple Effect are seeing that for themselves. Their single Sway, which was release last year, has just ticked over more than 200,000 listens on Spotify.
A fusion of Kiwi reggae that includes hints of rock, R&B, and even technical jazz, Ripple Effect were formed by Sage Tucker in 2016, when he was studying
UCOL’s New Zealand Diploma in Creativity (Music).
“I actually started the band for a project. By the end of the year I was keen to keep it going!”
Like all bands there’s been a few line-up changes, but of the six musicians involved – Sage Tucker (rhythm guitar and vocals), Christian Perry (lead guitar), Hana Tamatea (vocals, percussion), Jayden Thompson (bass), Phil Brooks (percussion), and Leon Tama (drums), all but one have studied through UCOL’s programme.
“We got a lot of opportunities from it, our lecturers and other graduates connected us with pretty much everyone in the local music scene. When you’re first starting out it’s a lot about who you know.”
Despite the fact that it was only released last year, Sway was actually written during Tucker’s studies. The band credits their big jump in play to Island Time – a reggae, roots, and dub playlist that came across Sway, and decided to add it to their Spotify list. “They’ve got around 50,000 followers and we fit their vibe – that’s introduced us to so many listeners, it’s been amazing.”
Their success hasn’t been limited to just one song though. “Despite COVID, last year was a really big year for us! There were some gigs we couldn’t do so we spent that downtime writing, getting more material and really keeping our skills up. We’ve now got a new single, Keep the Peace, coming out this week, lots of gigs lined up, and a full EP we’re releasing in a month’s time.
“There’s even an event organiser that’s talking about investing with us and taking us on the road.”
It’s not a bad effort for someone who never thought music would be their career. “Back in 2014, I was working full-time in building and tiling and it came to a point where I had to look at my life and see what parts of it I really enjoyed.
“I realised that singing was what was getting me through the day, so I quit my job and decided to give it a go. It was the best decision I ever did.”
Tucker says he still has a lot of contact with his lecturers – Nigel Patterson, who plays for The Black Seeds, often joins the band as their studio keyboardist for recordings. Tucker has also been back to campus a few times to talk to students about Ripple Effect’s writing process.
“For anyone looking at music professionally, the big piece of advice I’ve got to share is it’s all about persistence. It’s realising that it’s really 50-50 – half the time it’s really busy, and then you’ll have periods with loads of downtime. For us, we’ve been doing this for five years now. It’s just about not giving up.”
Images credit Cat Scabs