Levi Lewis (Te Whanau-A-Apanui) and his bandmates used to joke in the UCOL practice room about performing at Ragamuffin. Dreams became reality when they opened the 2016 festival which included international stars UB40, Macy Gray, and the Wu-Tang Clan.
Singer Levi joined forces with classmates Jordan Carr, Trent Fairhurst, Ihaka Woon, Kahurangi Hapi-Tukapua, Taepa Martin, and Otene Rakatau to form Rezist as part of the UCOL Diploma in Contemporary Music Performance in 2014. It didn't take long for them to gel, combining reggae, heavy metal, and hip hop into a sound they call "heavy roots".
"By the end of the first week, we had written two songs. We just instinctively knew that we would work really well together."
Their Lecturers had so much faith in the band that they arranged for them for them to perform at the UCOL Palmerston North Graduation after only a few weeks together.
The programme gave Levi a good taste of performing in front of different audiences, with the class running shows on campus and at venues around Palmerston North.
"It's always scary getting on stage and performing in front of people you don't know, but it was healthy because it prepares you for the real world. That's what the course is there for; to prepare you for what life as a musician is like."
Levi says the Lecturers were incredibly supportive from the start and went out of their way to land them their first show outside of the programme.
"They got us the gig, provided the instruments, gear, and transport, and made sure we got a fair deal. They helped us with everything and still support us to this day."
Levi found the advice his Lecturers gave about business decisions just as valuable as lessons around composition and performance.
"A lot of small things that often catch out bands when they're just starting could have got us if the lecturers weren't there to guide us over those speed bumps."
2015 was a big year for Rezist, with the release of three singles, performances at music festivals One Love and Marleyfest, and a spot on TV1's Good Morning. They also released a NZ on Air-funded video for their track Lockdown.
In 2016 they beat out over 20 acts in the Raggamuffin Talent Search Final to win one of two spots in the festival line up.
While pursuing his music career, Levi is expanding his knowledge by studying towards a Certificate in Electrical & Related Trades at UCOL.
ReZist is a seven-man "Heavy-Roots" band based in Manawatū, New Zealand, formed in 2014. All members have experience playing on stages in numerous local/college bands with various styles of music.