'Epic showcase': Montell2099's Karekare Beach performance highlights NZ beauty and 'insane talent'

The Kiwi artist's set has been released on a YouTube channel with 29 million subscribers.
The Kiwi artist's set has been released on a YouTube channel with 29 million subscribers. Photo credit: Supplied.

As musicians around the world find new ways to connect with fans amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Kiwi artist Montell2099 has released a video that aims to showcase his talents as an electronic producer while highlighting New Zealand's beauty. 

The 30-minute video was released on Thursday morning via the Trap Nation YouTube account, which boasts 29 million subscribers. 

In it, Montell2099 - real name Montell Pinny - performs a set of original instrumentals and remixes live from the scenic west coast of Auckland location.

Sweeping shots of Karekare Beach's daytime scenery transition as the sun sets to a spectacular LED light show in the video.

Show design company Human Person, led by Wellington-raised Ben Dalgleish was joined by lighting mogul Angus Muir, behind Angus Muir Design, to help create its aesthetic. 

'Epic showcase': Montell2099's Karekare Beach performance highlights NZ beauty and 'insane talent'

Montell2099 tells Newshub the idea came about during lockdown and once Aotearoa moved into COVID-19 alert level 1, he and a crew of 10 ventured west to put their creativity into action. 

"I caught myself at the end looking around, I thought 'this is pretty insane', looking at the lights and the drone and I started thinking about it from an outside perspective, it was pretty crazy," he says. 

"It was quite a full-on day, but seeing the video it was definitely worth it.

"Hopefully people outside of New Zealand get a little glimpse at the beautiful country we all live in and at the same, I want people to have a good time, listen to the music and vibe out."

Rich with Māori history, the black sand surf beach took some efforts to lock in before permission was ultimately granted by local residents, Waitakere Council, park rangers and the local iwi - with Montell writing a pepeha to get sign off. 

It's been a whirlwind rise for the 24-year-old after moving to Auckland in 2016 to pursue his music dreams. This year, he should have been touring America, the UK and taking stage at Tomorrowland 2020 where he would have been the first Kiwi artist to perform. 

Hailing from Katikati, the rising star has already impressed hip-hop star 21 Savage and drum and bass extraordinaire Netsky as well as developing a local fan base. 

He teamed up with Ben Dalgleish a year ago to add another element to his sets - visuals which are played back on the large LED screens at each venue.

Dalgleish has also worked with Six60, The Black Seeds and The Mint Chicks before making the move to Los Angeles five years ago and working with the likes of Post Malone, Travis Scott, Janet Jackson, Drake, Alicia Keys and Keith Urban. 

'Epic showcase': Montell2099's Karekare Beach performance highlights NZ beauty and 'insane talent'

He tells Newshub each project is about telling a visual story.

"Even though most of the time it's purely abstract, it really helps to have a self-enforced narrative that can build and grow throughout the performance," he tells Newshub.

"Just like how a musician is always listening to new things, experimenting with sounds - I always try and do the same thing visually."

Dalgleish says he always felt Montell2099's songs would best be showcased in a natural and real environment. 

"In so many ways, a beach seems like the most raw natural environment with the basic elements of water meeting earth - which is why we ended up choosing Karekare." 

With Dalgleish contributing from the US, Angus Muir was the eyes and ears on the ground.

"We needed a set that was of a decent scale out on the expansive beach - but that was also dynamic and would work alongside the music and the setting. Something epic," Muir tells Newshub. 

"Also something that was realistic as we have to carry all the gear in by hand every cable, light, spade, and generator."

As the sun went down the focus was very much on the setting with a triangle form and allowing Montell2099, behind the decks, to be the focal point. 

"It's a full-on 30-minute journey from light into dark. It is also an epic showcase for a group of insanely talented individuals from the filming, directing, editing and setup," says Muir.

"I know for me, and everybody involved, this project came at the perfect time. A time when we needed a creative outlet and an opportunity to work with like minded people on something meaningful.

"It hasn't been the easiest of years for anyone - but this project is certainly gonna be a highlight."