The hills are alive: Sam Wave has been working from his home studio in Arrowtown. PICTURE: SHANTELL COCKROFT-GERKEN


Arrowtown’s Sam Wave aspires to be an indie icon, and with his new album, Oasis Ballerina, releasing today, he takes another step towards that goal.

The ‘Oasis Ballerina’ is what Wave describes as an “ode to her” — by ‘her’, he means the feminine energy entirely.

‘‘When I began writing the album, I suppose I’d been in and out of romance, and what I started realising was that no matter who it is, individually, it’s always ‘her’, generally.

‘‘It would be too unfair to put anything on one individual woman that I’ve been with, because they all helped me in such unique ways.

‘‘I tried to treat each one of those sort of experiences with that person, not as a negative thing, and just more of a learning thing,’’ Wave says.

Wave describes his sound as ‘‘modern romantic with a lo-fi lens’’.

Wave’s produced Oasis Ballerina from his Arrowtown home studio and says there’s something special about creating music in Arrowtown with the added support of his family living there.

‘‘It’s just a beautiful place as far as the fresh air, the mountains, the environment … I take a lot of inspiration from the atmosphere out here as well.

‘‘I don’t feel caged and that’s important,’’ Wave says.

Oasis Ballerina album cover

The album features a handful of international collaborations including a VR (360) music video collaboration with American photographic artist Trey Ratcliff, who splits his time between the US and Queenstown.

For the past year-and-a-half, Wave’s been working alongside Ratcliff on a separate project called ‘Machine Elf’.

Ratcliff has been creating immersive visual experiences coupled with soundscapes produced by Wave and other artists.

Wave says he thought it would be ‘‘cool’’ to team up with Ratcliff to produce a similar work for Oasis Ballerina as well.

‘‘[We] both clicked as fellow creators.

‘‘He’s highly respected and obviously very skilled in the visual realm and I’m more so in the niche of the audio realm.

‘‘It was a bit of a natural pair from the get-go,’’ Wave says.

The album’s good news coming out of lockdown, which Wave says had an impact on the end result.

‘‘It’s hard to deny that time and focus you get with lockdown on whatever it is that you’re working on.

‘‘If anything [lockdown] actually kind of made it [the album release] a little bit scary, because obviously it affects playing live with the album and taking the album elsewhere.”

Given the recent nation-wide lockdown, Queenstown’s been gig-less.

Wave, having already cancelled a handful of shows, says he’s ‘‘itching’’ to share his latest work live and he ‘‘100%’’ plans to perform in Arrowtown and Queenstown.

‘‘I’m going to play a show in each city, so Christchurch, Wellington, Dunedin and Auckland, ideally, before the end of the year,’’ he says.

With show details still a work in progress, Wave says it’s important for Queenstowners to know there’s an indie community living and making art in the area.

‘‘There’s really interesting creatives that are hanging around here and a lot of people just don’t know it.’’

Oasis Ballerina’s released today via streaming services including Spotify