Clay It Ain’t So.
Bic Runga plays the Tivoli Theatre on November 27. Beautiful Collision is in stores now.
Bic Runga’s new Beautiful Collision is lovely, a sweet soundtrack for any season. She’s also lovely to talk to, though I wish I’d let her do more of the talking. Her bio says, among other things, that she likes Neil Young, toast, Picasso and Chanel eyeshadow. I have to ask, what do you like on toast?
“Ooooooh. Rapunzel organic almond butter,” she says with conviction. “It’s amazing, it shits on peanut butter.”
He he he, there’s a quote for ya, maybe you can sell that to them as a slogan. And you’re into claymation?
“I’d still like to do a claymation movie, I like claymation a lot. There were a lot of New Zealand shows that I grew up watching, people doing claymation in their kitchens, making children’s television programs.”
Bic’s Variety Hour perhaps, claymation, some songs, some knitting. Something not in the bio – you were on the American Pie soundtrack?
“Yeah. It is what it is really, it was a great first movie for those guys who made it. I don’t think about it too much. People seem to be aware of the song, which is not to say that they’re aware of me, there’s something nice about that. The song found its way.”
I adore the new album, though I feel for the girls in some of the songs, cleaning up after unappreciative bastards.
“It’s easy for the girl to paint herself in a good light when she’s the one writing the song.”
How much is really you?
“I’m loathed to say mostly that it’s me.”
Did you plan to spend three years on this album?
“I kind of wasted those three years actually, being uptight and being over-controlling. But you know I learned from it. The world’s a pretty small place, you realise that when you tour and meet people you know in most cities. It’s a good thing to know, that the world is small. You can always just pick up and leave.”
You still call Auckland home?
“Yeah I guess so, I have a house here. Not much more than any other place though I guess. I’m very nomadic by nature, which is good for the way the job is.”
Lots of different people and places went into the album…
“I guess in hindsight I should’ve been more open to the people in the studio with me. It’s really easy to keep your blinkers on and you miss a lot. You miss a lot of valuable stuff, so I wouldn’t make music like that again. I would have a more democratic experience.”
Does that make this album particularly personal to you?
“Yeah I guess so, I worked really hard on it. It was … hard work.”
The songs are so vibrant and melodic and yet so often about sad situations, is that the way you try to look at things?
“I’ve probably got a slightly miserable disposition, but it’s not without a sense of humour. I think even the most dire situation can be distilled down to something reasonably funny. It’s all funny, depends on how you see it really. The Smiths are often thought of as depressing, but they’re funny.”
Do you get to hear people’s response to your album much?
“One of my friends told me that she’s been having sex to it,” she laughs. “Do I really wanna know that?”
Good friends … funny you mention that though, I um … [long silence]. Finally much laughter breaks the tension and I’m saved before REALLY overstepping. My goodness. So, do you like… stuff? The live show! How does the new stuff translate live?
“It translates really well live, because there’s so much singing. My band is made up of really really strong vocalists. That’s kind of a main feature of the live show. And I’m not necessarily the best singer in the band. There’s something really nice about singing with a bunch of people, especially when you’re sick of the sound of your own voice,” she laughs.
That sounds more democratic, is it a big production?
“There’s two lead guitarists and a drummer and a bass player, and they’re all lead singers in their own bands. It’s a really strong vocal group, and they all dress really well. They like to wear hats. They like to wear hats and ties, which I don’t ask them to do. They seem to want to dress up.”
It’s not a cabaret show is it?
“Oh Jesus no. Not consciously, but I guess that’s what you get when you wear a hat and a tie.”