Face to face

When two of our most ac­com­plished singer-song­writ­ers get to­gether, who needs an in­ter­viewer? won­ders ‘If any­one had told a 13-year-old me that one day I’d be tour­ing with you [Bic Runga], it would have been in the out­landish, space odyssey kind of realm o

Sunday Star-Times - Escape - - FRONT PAGE -

Be­tween them they’ve won just about ev­ery New Zealand mu­sic award pos­si­ble, sold more than half a mil­lion al­bums, and given birth to four – soon to be five – chil­dren along the way.

Cur­rently tour­ing New Zealand with fel­low singer-song­writer, Benny Tipene, on the 10th na­tion­wide Win­ery Tour, Bic Runga and Brooke Fraser sat down for an in­ter­view – sans in­ter­viewer – to talk about ‘‘be­ing artists, flawed hu­mans, work­ing mums, and women in mu­sic’’, as Fraser so elo­quently put it on In­sta­gram. ‘‘We also talked about clothes and grey nail pol­ish.’’

Hi ev­ery­one – I’m here with a New Zealand leg­end, Bic Runga.

And I’m here with a New Zealand leg­end, Brooke Fraser. We’re go­ing to in­ter­view each other – we couldn’t af­ford a jour­nal­ist.

Times are tough. Don’t just stream, pur­chase, peo­ple, pur­chase.

So Bic, we were re­ally for­tu­nate to grow up here in New Zealand, and grow­ing up my am­bi­ent mem­o­ries of mu­sic are of a lot of strong Kiwi women – Mar­garet Ur­lich, An­nie Crum­mer, all these amaz­ing women. Then when I was 12, I started writ­ing songs, and that same year Burst­ing Through came out…

When you were 12? Just throw me un­der the bus why don’t you!

You weren’t that much older than me though – but I had this mem­ory of be­ing at in­ter­me­di­ate, and at our as­sem­bly ev­ery week we sang songs that were on the ra­dio. I got to go and ac­com­pany on piano, so one of my clear­est mem­o­ries is of learn­ing Burst­ing Through so I could go and play it while our whole in­ter­me­di­ate school sung it. I felt so for­tu­nate as this young woman dis­cov­er­ing mu­sic and song­writ­ing, and that I had these women to look up to – and you were a huge part of that.

That’s re­ally nice, thank you. Just think­ing about when I started, there were lots of women be­fore me – Jan Hell­riegel, Fiona McDon­ald, and Sharon O’Neill – and now you are a part of that too, and it’s pretty cool.

So what are you lis­ten­ing to now? Are you still in­spired by other fe­male artists?

Brooke: Bic: Brooke: Brooke: Bic: Brooke: Bic: Bic: Brooke:

Yeah, def­i­nitely. It’s funny – you go through cy­cles of for­get­ting al­bums and mu­sic that have been im­por­tant to you and then you kind of re­dis­cover them. So I feel like I’ve gone around in a cir­cle and I’m start­ing to go round again, re­dis­cov­er­ing Edie Brick­ell and some of those artists – and, of course, Joni Mitchell is like a con­stant, she’s al­ways on the wheel.

I re­mem­ber when I was first signed, one of the things that was on the cover of maybe Q Magazine was PJ Har­vey, Tori Amos, and Bjork, to­gether – that re­ally in­spired me.

You know, I live in Amer­ica now, and I’m hav­ing kids in Amer­ica, and my daugh­ter is Amer­i­can – and I lis­ten to the ra­dio and I some­times feel a bit for­lorn about some of the ex­am­ples my daugh­ter has to look up to in terms of women. I feel like in New Zealand we had it re­ally good – I feel like fe­male mu­si­cians in New Zealand, they weren’t sex­u­alised, you know – not in a de­grad­ing way if that makes sense. I feel like the women I looked up to grow­ing up as mu­si­cians, most of them were writ­ers, so when they were singing it was with their own voice, their own thoughts, their own con­scious­ness, and I re­ally ap­pre­ci­ated that. So who are some of the fe­male artists you think are con­tin­u­ing that tra­di­tion?

Well, we have Lorde, which is re­ally amaz­ing . . . we’ve had a long gen­er­a­tional aware­ness of what fem­i­nism is, be­cause ob­vi­ously we were the first coun­try to give women the vote, and I think it’s quite deep in us. I think some­one like Lorde could have only come from New Zealand, be­cause her un­der­stand­ing of fem­i­nism was re­ally in­grained – it wasn’t just some­thing she said be­cause it was the cool thing to say.

I have an­other ques­tion. Last year you were awarded the New Zealand legacy award at the New Zealand Mu­sic Awards, you were in­ducted into the New Zealand Mu­sic Hall of Fame, you have the New Zealand Order of Merit, you are a dec­o­rated icon of New Zealand mu­sic – you’ve just been hugely in­flu­en­tial in mu­sic in New Zealand. Are you aware of your pub­lic im­pact, and is that some­thing you think about, some­thing

Bic: Brooke: Bic: Brooke:

you en­gage with – does that af­fect the way you make art, or why you make art these days?

I guess when I was young I had quite a good run over three al­bums, and it felt like ev­ery­thing was go­ing re­ally well – but then I’ve had quite a big ab­sence as well. I’ve been do­ing this for over 20 years in New Zealand, but I’ve only made five stu­dio al­bums – I’m quite slow – so I feel like the legacy award was quite a nice re­cap of what I’ve done, but it re­ally made me want to do more, and I felt sort of re­gret­ful that there was this big si­lence. It was ac­tu­ally mostly be­cause I was hav­ing a fam­ily – which is some­thing I’ll ask you about too. But I’m quite hungry to do more, and I feel like I’ve


Brooke Fraser

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