I'm from North Canterbury. I grew up there and still consider Waikuku Beach home. I live in Wellington these days where the rest of the band is based too.
We always had a piano in my house - I wrote my first song on it when I was about five or six, before I knew what "writing a song" was. We also had a record player; I remember my friends and I loved dancing to the Beach Boys, Pat Benetar and The Cats musical soundtrack in the living room.
My brother played in a punk band and they entered Smokefreerockquest. It's definitely not the case now, but back in high school I played quiet folk music and I didn't think we "fitted" into the Rockquest vibe. These days we have the awesome initiatives like Girls Rock! camp and I think if I had something like that when I was a teenager, I would have felt confident to enter and play my quiet folk music, because my friends and I were actually pretty good!
My journey with music started as a kid writing songs with friends, taking piano lessons, listening to records - I've always loved it. After high school, I studied Live Sound at MAINZ which developed my practical knowledge of sound and mixing. At the same time I started a couple of bands with friends and we played DIY shows around New Zealand - I learned most of what I know from just getting out and making things happen. During all of this I also finished a music degree at Canterbury University.
A special part of our musical journey is getting into the studio to record and "re-imagine" the music with all the colours; we're currently working on a new record. As well as the actual process of writing a song, my other favourite part is producing it and seeing the songs come to life for an album. Other highlights have included playing support for Agnes Obel in beautiful theatres through Europe, and last year getting to co-write in LA and Sydney with a bunch of amazing producers and writers. We've seen so much of the world through performing music - from Joshua Tree in the US to the Swiss Alps.
What’s your process with songwriting?
I don't have one process - but the aim is always to catch the thread of inspiration, so to speak. Sometimes it comes from something I've been thinking about, sometimes I'll start tinkering around with chords and melodies on the piano or guitar, and lately I've been enjoying co-writing. While writing, I try not to be too critical of myself, because otherwise my perfectionism can stall the creativity!
Lots of things inspire my songs - the human condition, how we relate to the world etc. If I look at the tracklisting of our last record, I touch on subjects and feelings I've been mulling over such as personal relationships, memories of childhood, politics (Feathers and Dreams was inspired by what was/is happening in Palestine, Hollow Bodied Friends was about apathy for our environment). Lyrically/metaphorically I'm very inspired by the natural world and landscapes.
How do you pick the songs you take into the studio?
Normally once the songs are fully written, and hopefully played live a few times to settle them in (for French for Rabbits). In saying that, I've been doing a bit of co-writing with producers, and in this situation it happens all at once. The Tunnel, which we released recently, I wrote and recorded it all at the same time.
What are two things you have learnt along the journey, that you would tell your younger self if you could?
I guess I'd just say stay curious, keep learning, and trust yourself and your intuition.