Where are you currently based?
Te Awakairangi (Lower Hutt) in Aotearoa New Zealand
How did you first start playing music?
I started recorder lessons when I was about seven, and then guitar a couple of years later.
What’s been happening recently?
We just released an album over lockdown, and so we’ve been doing a bunch of ‘Personal Party’ tiny skype concerts for people over the weekend, playing songs and reading tarot.
Your new album ‘Big Woman’ is out now, what influenced the sound and songwriting for the album?
It’s a breakup album, so the songwriting was influenced by the drastically shifting social and emotional geography of my life at the time. I knew the songs felt big and I wanted them to sound catastrophic. While we were working on production we were listening to lots of 90’s wall-of-sound type stuff, and Jason [Erskine] was trying out lots of Michael Brauer / CLA mix techniques to try and get the size and space we wanted on the tracks.
How did you go about writing the music?
All of the songs except ‘The News’ were written over the last few years. Writing usually comes as a sort of compulsion to me, so I’ll be in an almost trance-like state late at night, frantically demo-ing out the ideas flying around my brain. All of the songs that ended up on the album basically came out fully formed with guitars / bass / vocals without much conscious input from me, and the final versions on the album are pretty true to the original scratch demos.
Where and when did you record and who with?
It was a DIY affair. We recorded it at our homes, starting with Lauren Ellis tracking the drums in Jason’s garage with a bunch of microphones we borrowed off a friend. We then tracked everything else over the next 12 months in between working and parenting. Jason did all of the production – engineering and mixing, and he also ended up mastering the album in the end because we were so scrupulous about how we wanted it to sound. He is so patient and willing to try a hundred things and throw them all out if they don’t work. He totally gets the vision.
What programs/instruments did you use?
We recorded it using Ableton Live and a bunch of plugins in the mixing process. Jason used a Gretsch 12-string, as well as an acoustic 12-string and a baritone guitar over the drums and bass to build up the density of the album, and there’s also some digital piano in there too. We were really constrained on what we could do mainly due to our schedules and lack of money, so Jason spent heaps of time processing tracks in different ways to come up with the sonic landscape we were looking for.
What did you find most challenging and rewarding throughout the creation of the album?
The whole process was incredibly grounding. I mean I was going through a really messy separation, I wasn’t sleeping, my life was a shambles, but being involved in this creative process alongside Jason was incredibly strengthening and affirming. As the album came together it was like emerging from a fog, we would listen to the rough bounces in the car and it felt like coming back into my body. So even though these songs came out of this really traumatic time, the process of making the album was like an exercise in courage and an affirmation of my own existence.
What do you like to do away from music?
Away from music I’m mainly hanging out with my family and dog Tofu and friends and doing prison abolition work, but I also love to write and drink coffee and make clothes and visit small towns. In reality though when I do get free time I’m usually just curled up in bed with Tofu looking at pictures of A-frame houses on my phone and drinking whisky.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
I can’t get past Baroness’ latest album ‘Gold & Grey’. It’s so perfect. I’ve also been cranking Mazzy Star and The American Analog Set, and I’m really excited for the upcoming releases from Baby In The 90’s who are from Louisiana.
What’s planned for 2020?
We were meant to be touring a bunch across Aotearoa and Australia, but that’s gone a bit awry. We’re starting production on the next record, and we really wanna play shows again and hang out!
Favourite food and place to hangout?
I’m pretty obsessed with the food that Plant Blazed cranks out in Pōneke Wellington. Stupidly delicious southern fried seitan burgers with heaps of slaw and pickles. And my favourite place to hang out is definitely at home in bed under a warm blanket.