One Floor Down | Ben Novak

Novak 3 lo res
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About the artist

Novak’s musical journey began like that of many others – via an older sibling’s record collection. “My sister always had great albums when I was growing up,” he says. “There was all the big hits like Bryan Adams, Cheap Trick and Kiss, and then what was considered quirky stuff at the time, like the Psychedelic Furs and The Cure. In the 15 minutes after she got home from school I could hear Cuts Like A Knife, Sister Europe, I Want You To Want Me and Boys Don’t Cry – and as a foundation for somebody who would aspire to write great songs later in life, I don’t think I could have asked for musical beginnings any better than that.”

From his teens to his early twenties, a career in bands followed – but these were not the best of times for New Zealand music and like many ‘ex’ musicians Novak moved to writing about music – contributing artist interviews and reviews for local magazines – and eventually becoming an occasional correspondent for music industry bible Billboard. Occasionally, very occasionally, he would pick up his guitar and write a song.

The product of one of those sessions was Turn Your Car Around – which was one of only eight songs (out of 160) selected by New Zealand radio programmers for funding via the New Zealand On Air New Recording Artist scheme. Novak says the time he’d spent as a music journalist had unforeseen benefits as he prepared to rerecord the song for radio. “I had interviewed so many artists over the years,” he explains. “Everyone from Shania Twain to Blink 182, Elvis Costello, Radiohead and Oasis. And what I got from those conversations was an understanding of how important it was to do your absolute best for every song. It ran contrary to the low-fi way I had recorded in the past, but I wanted to share Turn Your Car Around with as many people as possible, and I knew I had to assemble a world beating production crew to do that.”

Fortunately for Novak, the right people were available in New Zealand. “Aside from me,” he says, “everybody who performed on the song was a multi-platinum seller. For example, I asked the rhythm section from Bic Runga’s first album Drive to play,” he says, “and then Stellar* members Chris Van De Geer and Andrew Maclaren came on board for percussion, guitars and overall production. Together they came up with a ‘million dollar’ sound – but at the same time didn’t lose the unique qualities of the song that grabbed people’s ears when they heard the original demo.”

As the international success of Turn Your Car Around is now in the process of writing its own page in the history of New Zealand music, Novak has released his second New Recording Artist funded single All The Time. With All The Time, the gifted songwriter once again delivers a captivating hook-laden tune with a compelling vocal delivery and a huge chorus. "All The Time is similar to Turn Your Car Around,” says Novak, “in that it's another one of those 'stop-you-in-your-tracks' type songs that almost compels people to listen to it.”

The successful production team behind Turn Your Car Around have returned for All The Time. “I know it sounds clichéd, but I do feel really privileged to be working with Chris and Andrew on my album. They’re world class producers, and I’m just lucky they still live in New Zealand.


Hey could you not always lie about that guy you're calling?
And could you not speak in whispers when he's on the line?
And baby don't wear those skirts.
You knew it hurts. I'm falling
It's how you tell everyone you're anyone's but mine.

And this ain't happening four floors or three floors no more
Cuz I can hear the sound.
This is happening next door
one floor down

You didn't marry no movie star
so here we are. I'm trying.
And working where honest days don't pay the way they should.
So why're you wearing my band of gold
when I've been told you're lying?
And baby if angels won't I don't know how you could.

And this ain't happening four floors or three floors no more
Cuz I can hear the sound.
This is happening next door
one floor down

and it's all 'round town