Bic Runga returns to the stage after a brief hiatus to bring up her young son. This diva of the New Zealand music scene is already making waves with her new album Belle. She performs in Bangalow at the A&I Hall on Sunday.
Why did you feel it was necessary to stop making music while raising your son? Plenty of male artists have children and continue to pursue their careers… why do you think it’s different for women? For me, my head space changed; it was hard to find time to truly focus on writing songs. There’s a lot of sleep deprivation when there’s a baby in the house and I think as a new mother you have to find your feet in this new role.
How do you think the industry could be made different to accommodate mothers with children? Well if people were still buying music and coming to see shows, that would be an enormous help, because then our industry would continue and we’d have more resources as artists. The music industry is more competitive than ever; you have to be more resilient, more hardworking and able to make better and better music. Nobody cares whether you have children or not; having children is just a part of life, but the music industry is a business, so you just have to keep going.
How did you keep yourself creatively tuned during your time out? I didn’t make much work in the time I was away, but I knew all the experiences I was having were big, and were going to come out in the work at some point.
What did that five years out give you as an artist that you now bring to your music? It made me hungry to get back to music, because the real world sometimes gets too predictable, too sober, too day to day. I appreciate music now as an escape, a luxury, a privilege to be a part of.
Have you worked out how to navigate motherhood and musicianship? My son is in Melbourne with me; he’s come over with my mother. I just spent two weeks away from him on the road in the UK. It burdens your heart being away, but working is a part of life. In my mind any more than two weeks apart is too long, so we just try to be practical and make it work.
With such an impressive recording history, did you feel pressure to match your former accolades when producing your new album? Whenever I make an album I’m just trying to make something that’s good. It’s in the material. You can never control how it’s perceived after it’s out, but if you know the material is good, you can feel confident you did your best and accept whatever happens to it.
What did you set out to achieve when recording Belle? I set out to make something fresh and strong. Something less introspective than Birds, maybe more of a return to the optimism of Beautiful Collision.
How is the album and the new songs being received? People seem to be liking the new songs live; they stand up well against the ones they already know, which is a good sign. With any record it takes a few listens, but so far, people seem to get it.
What do you feel the collaborations bring to your work? I wanted to write more with other people to be sure I wasn’t repeating myself or only writing from one perspective.
What can we expect for your Bangalow show? My partner Kody Neilson who produced Belle is in the band on drums and keys. His old band was The Mint Chicks. My bass player Michael Logie was also from that band, and together we also make up another psych-pop group called Opossom. We’ve just finished a UK tour both as Opossom and as my band, so we’ve been playing a lot together in different configurations. It’s a versatile group and after this much playing it becomes quite tight and telepathic. I’m having the time of my life!
Sunday at the Bangalow A&I Hall. Doors: 7pm / support start 7:30pm. Tickets: Pre $42.50 (+bf) / door $46. Avail: www.kupromotions.com.au & Barebones, Byron Music, Mullum Books, All Music & Vision. Food by Coffee Oasis.