Bic Runga shares his life story this year ahead of his upcoming North Island tour. Photo / Provided
“Turns out life is pretty short.”
It’s the feeling that New Zealand singer Bic Runga has taken away from her isolation and the lesson she holds close as she embarks on her journey.
Visit to the North Island.
It’s been a few years since her last album, but in late October those who catch a glimpse of her at the Baycourt Theater will be treated to songs she’s “road tested” – a nerve-wracking process, she says.
“But the main positive that I took away from the pandemic is that I don’t have time to be afraid.
“I feel pretty powerful from music now, I think it’s important and I’m not really scared anymore, because, you know, it turns out life is pretty short.”
Bic’s debut album, Drive, became a top 10 hit when she was just 20 and was certified seven times platinum.
Since then, she has received nearly every musical honor in New Zealand, including 20 Tui Awards (New Zealand Music Awards) and the prestigious APRA Silver Scroll songwriting award.
Bic was also named a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Year’s Honors List in 2006, and in 2016 she received the Legacy Award at the New Zealand Music Awards and was inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall. of Fame.
With all that to her name, it’s a wonder she’s nervous. She even says that there is no other profession she could imagine herself in, despite the ups and downs of being a musician.
But as she explains, the anxiety around a new record, which comes as “everything means so much more now.”
“I want to make sense of this time through songwriting because that’s my therapy and I think music is really important, more than ever.
“There has been an undervaluation of music for the last five years or so, but good songwriting is still very important.”
The plan on the table is some stylish ear treats coming out mid-2021, including another te reo Māori song.
For Te Wiki o te Reo Māori in 2019, Bic, along with various New Zealand artists, presented his 1997 classic Sway on Māori album Waiata/Anthems curated by Hinewehi Mohi.
At the 1999 Rugby World Cup, Mohi sang the national anthem in te reo Māori causing an immediate backlash, however, Bic believes the record was healing for Mohi.
But it was also invigorating for Bic, who once again collaborated with Mohi to translate a new track.
“I think we all would have liked to do a song in Maori, but we didn’t know where to start.
“I feel more connected to it now and appreciate all the things we’ve missed. Maori have so much to offer and it’s ours and it’s a beautiful culture to call ours.”
The lockdown gave Bic some respite and the writing process for the next record began, which along with production is his favorite part of making music.
“They kind of go together. I’ve always produced my records. When you write a song, the way it’s recorded can take many forms.
“And especially when your song is more sensitive if it’s handled badly, it can really suck.”
But after being a musician longer than she was, Bic expanded her toolkit to include mentorship through a songwriting workshop in Christchurch.
“Because I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing for so long, it’s time to do things like this more often. You can do a lot of things and find out where all the talent is.”
She is preparing another workshop, this time focused on production. Her hope is that the number of female record producers will increase in what she sees as a male-dominated field.
In the larger scheme of things, especially with the pandemic unfolding, Bic says the country needed to support local industries, including music.
“I got all my breakthroughs playing with people like Dave Dobbyn and Neil Finn and The Exponents, and I wouldn’t exist without them.
“A lot of times when the industry feels like it’s against you, it’s other artists who support you and in fact there should be more of them. This industry is too tough, it really has to be like that. “
That’s why she opens her shows with local musicians, some of whom she connected with during her songwriting workshop, including Yasamin from Tauranga.
“I really liked that she wrote political music and it was in an area that I knew nothing about,” says Bic.
“She’s a real expert on everything about her own country. The role of the artist is to integrate events in time and make sense of them through music. And that’s exactly what she does.”
As the country retreated in March, Bic’s plans to announce her tour were pushed back and although she has apprehensions, Covid-19 restrictions appear to be easing.
“I really want to try new songs and give people something to do because I think people have been in a state of flux all year, so putting on a show will be really fun.”
Along with Bic on this tour is his featured band, consisting of Kody Nielson, Cass Mitchell and Michael Logie.
10 quick questions to Bic Runga
1. Favorite song of 2020?
Wap – Cardi B feat. Megan you stallion
2. Genre you would like to be part of?
I always wanted to do a reggae album.
3. What instrument can’t you live without?
Piano, everyone should have a piano at home.
4. If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?
Neil Young is a legend. Although he might not want to be on my reggae album.
5. Best advice you’ve ever received?
My mother always insisted that we treat everyone the same. It’s good to be important, but it’s important to be nice. My mom used to say that, which I thought was kind of a cliché, but it’s really important.
6. Do you prefer toes for fingers or fingers for toes?
Fingers for toes, I’ll be able to play more music.
7. The highlight of the year so far?
I was really interested in the Black Lives Matter movement, I was really fascinated by the shift in people’s consciousness on racism, it blew my mind, I never thought I would experience such a shift in consciousness.
8. All-time favorite lyrics?
One of my favorite Leonard Cohen poems is a three line poem called Marita. It’s not really one of his lyrics, but even he wrote a lot of poems. How are you:
please find me.
I’m almost 30 years old
9. First crush on a celebrity?
10. Guilty pleasure?
Cheese, I love cheese. It’s not good to eat cheese before singing, so as soon as I come off stage, I haven’t even taken off my guitar, and I eat cheese.
– Tickets are available on Ticketek. Bic and Yasamin perform at the Baycourt Theater on October 25.