Music Arts student joins international line-up at Echo festival

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10 Nov 2015

It's the sort of gig that a student still in music school dreams of; a spot at a major Australiasian festival.

That dream has come true for CPIT Bachelor of Music Arts student Joe Ghatt, who will be part of a new act formed by well-known New Zealand folk-rock musician Arthur Ahbez, when the as yet un-named band performs at the inaugural Echo Festival in Auckland in January.  

Earlier this year, Ahbez was invited to join the 30-odd artists performing at the new festival, which includes international headliners The Flaming Lips, Disclosure, and Kurt Vile, with acts from the United Kingdom, Canada and Sweden also expected to be on the bill.

Joe Ghatt 
 A 60s groove: CPIT Bachelor of Music Arts student Joe Ghatt is living the dream by being invited to perform at the inaugural Echo Festival to be held in Auckland in January.

Originally known as the McLaren Valley Music and Arts Festival, the organisers recently decided to move the annual event from the Bay of Plenty's McLaren Falls Park to Auckland. It has been renamed the Echo Festival and will be held at Vector Arena on Monday, January 11 and Tuesday, January 12.

With just one external paper to complete on his music arts course, Ghatt is due to graduate from CPIT in 2016. However, he took an opportunity to shift to Auckland in January this year.

"The move has provided me with the opportunity to expand and find out more about the music industry."

The 22 year-old guitarist's 1960s psychedelic vibe led him to musical soul-mate Ahbez, whose work also reflects the folk-rock movement of the 60s era.

"I like that stripped-back sound, with instrumentals taken right back to the bone," Ghatt said.

From well-known live band Superbird, Ahbez was looking to form a new four-member band for the Echo Festival and having heard Ghatt's material, asked him to join.

"It was a no-brainer really and an opportunity I wouldn't miss for the world," Ghatt said.

Not bad for a Nelson boy, who only auditioned for CPIT's prestigious music arts school because his mates had decided to try their luck.

"The irony is I was the only one who got in from our group and I took that as a sign that this is what I needed to do."

 Before attending CPIT, he studied at the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT). While in Nelson, he and his mates formed a band Weathertop, which won the 2012 Battle of the Bands competition in Nelson.

"We were the last band to play in the early hours of the morning and we arrived just before we played. We played our set to a great crowd then straight after started packing our gear into the old band wagon, when someone came running out saying we had won. We weren't in it to win but we did."

He has also recorded music under a pseudonym which was picked up by Radioactive in Wellington.

"Then it was ping ponged around a few other radio stations in New Zealand and was on a few top 10 charts. It was quite an achievement for me as I literally did nothing but put it on band camp (online music resource) and it got found and then aired on the radio. Earlier in the year I also got a 7" vinyl of one of the tracks from RDU in Christchurch that they had archived as a standout track."

While at CPIT, Ghatt quickly found out that raw talent was one thing, but technical skill was quite another. He upskilled considerably to reach his own and his tutors' exacting expectations.

"It was a lot of struggle and grind, and now that's paying off. Things are still unfolding for me and what I've learned at CPIT is just starting to sink in. Things take time to find their place, but that's what's good about the course; it gave me the opportunity to be self-seeking."