Wax Mustang: The young ex-carpet salesman taking NZ by storm with his unique brand of DIY rap

If you've been moving to the music at any of the major festivals up and down the country this summer, there's a good chance you've seen Wax Mustang. 

The rapper's polished rhymes, fresh sound and self-proclaimed "big belly" have been flaunted across social media, catching the attention of young hip hop connoisseurs nationwide.

His lively personality and unmissable stage presence have already sold out headline shows this year across two dates in Auckland, Mt Maunganui and Hamilton.

Hailing from Dunedin, the "6ft stallion", known to mates as Hamish Calder, is quickly gathering traction for the sound he's creating from his bedroom.

At only 23, he's evolving as the Kiwi music scene's next big thing. Here's what you didn't know about the up-and-comer:

He left his job selling carpet to pursue music  

Mustang gave himself a year to fully dedicate time towards music and a shot at making it, meaning ditching his role as a carpet salesman.

He was getting to the end of that stretch when he started to get noticed.

"Leaving full-time work, the biggest thing is money, you've got to have money to live," he told Newshub.

"I live with my mum at home, just at the moment, but that's the biggest worry and it always is, starting out like that, there's not much out there.

"In a way I kind of enjoy having no money, it's a better lifestyle than having too much money, otherwise I would just blow it."

He says thoughts have crossed his mind questioning if it's all going to work out but he's happy to maintain focus for the time being. 

"It still might not happen, but I am just trying to have fun with it." 

The 23-year-old rapper was unmissable over summer with appearances at Rhythm and Vines and Bay Dreams before headlining his own shows this year.
The 23-year-old rapper was unmissable over summer with appearances at Rhythm and Vines and Bay Dreams before headlining his own shows this year. Photo credit: Supplied.

NZ's top rugby stars are fans 

Ahead of his summer shows, Mustang's status gained momentum with the help of some well-placed friends.

An appearance at Sam Cane's wedding afterparty saw him rise to familiarity among New Zealand rugby's elite, before a pool party, hosted by Rhythm and Vines and Bay Dreams Nelson shareholder Toby Burrows, saw him appear on a scattering of popular Instagram profiles.

"Those people I owe all of this to, and their circle of friends, they know people who know people and it really just gets the ball rolling a bit more," Mustang says.

"They do it in a really genuine way, they just like the music. I am a pretty small artist in New Zealand in terms of the whole big picture." 

He's inspired by household names 

Mustang says there are all sorts of characters in NZ music but he can't get enough of Dave Dobbyn or Bic Runga, the pair making the cut as artists he looks up to.

"Having a look back now and seeing what they did and what sounds good, feels right in terms of New Zealand music."

While selling carpet, he launched into creating music before ditching the gig to put one full year into music.
While selling carpet, he launched into creating music before ditching the gig to put one full year into music. Photo credit: Supplied.

He's on Fast Crew's radar 

Before creating waves of his own, predecessors have made their mark on the hip hop scene.

From OMC to King Kapisi, Deceptikonz to Nesian Mystik, Scribe to PNC, David Dallas to Tom Scott among others, the movement has been strong in New Zealand since the early 1990s when it became a part of mainstream culture.

Fast Crew, behind the hit 'I Got', found fame amid the release of their debut album in 2004. 

Mustang admitted the group's influence might have played a small part on how we hear his music today, asking: "How could they not?"

Former member of the group Jeremy Kent-Johnson told Newshub he thought Mustang's raps are strong with good delivery, interesting themes and clear pronunciation.

Kent-Johnson noted Mustang's tracks have great basslines, which is refreshing "given today's typically spacious, sparse beats".

He loves to write music in his underwear 

The way Mustang approaches writing his songs is the same each time: "Usually in my bedroom, in my underwear."

"It gets pretty weird in there sometimes, I'd hate for there to be a camera in there," he says.

"I'm just having fun but at the same time there are some serious serious undertones to the music but everyone just enjoys the funny part of it."

He says it's important to talk about things that do really matter on his songs and introduce themes that people can relate to.

"The idea being that you can talk about things like that, but it doesn't have to be so serious. I just rap, and try to rap the best I can."

Mustang's tone hides his roots but showcases who he is 

He says being a New Zealander, rapping is tough with the Kiwi accent.

"I think it doesn't sound that great on a record, some people sound awesome but I hated it," he says.

"I sort of just got lucky with the way I put my voice out, I didn't mind it when it came back. I think what does come through in the music is that's who I am, these stories are blown out of proportion a wee bit that is in the music, but it's still me.

"I think New Zealand music could do with some more personality, when I am on stage, it's a guy with very large nipples and sweating profusely, it is who I am just at home even."

His incredible onstage energy comes naturally 

Pulling a crowd solely focused on his tunes only after dedicating just one year of making music deserves some props.

Across his three live shows, he didn't falter getting the audience amped nor keeping their attention for his 40-minute set.

"The stage thing, that's the only way I know how to do it - to stand up there and not do that is awkward for me."

He's no stranger to a "wee bit" of nerves ahead of walking out but says the rush has equal measures of excitement.

"I just want to get out there and hope I don't faint."

Watch this space.
Watch this space. Photo credit: Supplied.

So far, his music videos are budget-free 

Mustang will head out with his friend Riley Coughlin who is "amazing behind the camera".

"It suits us well because it's not big high budget, we have a fisheye and we take it out," he says.

"I think between those two videos that I put on YouTube we spent $10 on a golf cart to hire for ten minutes.

"Just going out there, filming, see what happens. That's the secret I guess."

In his video for Powerball, Mustang is seen sitting in a bathtub with bubbles holding a cigarette.

He says his mum's home has a big bath that could likely fit four of him, so they jumped in, started rolling and talked some garbage.

New music is coming 

Mustang says fresh singles are on the way.

"With summer being so busy, it was a new influx of fans," he says.

"I don't want to dump anything too heavy on them straight away so we will just come out with some fun things."

By the end of the year, he is aiming to put an album out - and "hopefully make it a classic" - so he can buy a tiny house, a couple of sheep, four cows and a couple of pigs.

His advice is simple 

"Go for it, make sure you're doing it for the right reasons and realise that you'll never rap as good as me."