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Bic’s musical homecoming


Bic Runga is one of Canterbury’s finest entertainment exports. This summer she is set to headline two noteworthy local performances, Nostalgia Festival and Ōtautahi Together, a free concert to mark 10 years since the February 2011 earthquake. Metropol catches up with the talented musician ahead of a bumper summer season.

PHOTOS KAREN INDERBITZEN-WALLER

You have two hometown performances coming up. What does it mean to you to perform in your hometown and, for the memorial, at such a meaningful occasion?
“I always love performing in Christchurch, it’s always a really cool audience and I love playing in my hometown. I’m really looking forward to Nostalgia, I’ve heard it’s really great, and being asked to perform at the memorial is a huge honour for me, I was really humbled to be asked.”

It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since the February 2011 earthquake. What does this milestone signify for you?
“Ten years is a really long time, I found it hard to believe it’s been that long. Speaking to the [Christchurch City] Council about it, they want the concert to feel healing and positive and those kinds of things, because it is such a milestone for the city.
“In many ways, it’s given Christchurch a chance to rebuild in a way that’s modern and interesting and really represents how Christchurch has changed.”

Your Christchurch performances are two of many for you including your own Spring Tour, Rhythm and Vines, and Summer Sounds. Is this a busier than normal summer season for you?
“I haven’t played this much in summer in many years. A lot of international bands can’t come into New Zealand, so it’s kind of a big moment for New Zealand music this summer. A lot of bands are getting shows and festival slots which might have gone to internationals in the past. It’s such a good opportunity for New Zealand bands.”

You hold a special place in Cantabrians’ hearts – many people feel they have watched you grow up since your first album release at just 20. What has been happening for you off the stage recently?
“Well, I am so middle aged now. My kids are five, seven and 13…and I am just looking forward to being a little old lady making music – which doesn’t feel like it will be too far off. Lockdown was a positive time for our family in lots of ways, it showed me what matters and what doesn’t; there was no sitting in traffic in Auckland trying to get my kids to school, but there was lots of time spent together and that’s what’s really important.”

See Bic Runga perform at Nostalgia Festival on Saturday February 13 and at the free Ōtautahi Together concert on Sunday, February 28. Purchase tickets for Nostalgia online.


 

Bic Runga heads home


Critically acclaimed Kiwi songwriter, musician, vocalist and producer Bic Runga showed her support for the victims of the Christchurch terror attack at last month’s You Are Us/Aroha Nui concert.

 

 

Now she’s stretching out her stay in her hometown, where she is the first artist-in-residence in The Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora since the earthquakes. The two residency apartments were closed after the earthquakes, along with the independent charitable trust’s other category one heritage buildings and the Creative Residencies programme has been on hiatus ever since.

However, with the $290 million restoration programme at The Arts Centre now two-thirds complete, the programme has been reinstated to welcome creative-thinkers back into the space 20 years after it first launched. Auckland-based Bic – who was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to music in 2006 and inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame in 2016 – arrived last month for a two-part residency in a freshly restored and strengthened building in the Christchurch cultural centre where she will stay until later this month, before returning for a week in July to hold songwriting workshops.

“This residency is a wonderful chance for me to reconnect with my Ōtautahi roots and give back to a community that has been through so much,” she says. “To be based in such a beautiful Aotearoa heritage landmark steeped in so much arts and cultural history and where many great creators have been before me is a real honour. I can’t wait to see the impact it’ll have on my songwriting.”


 

Bic Runga

Hitting the right note: Q&A with musical talent Bic Runga

Bic Runga is one of Canterbury’s most successful exports and, although she hasn’t gone far – just the other end of the country – Christchurch is where her heart is.

Bic Runga

Bic released her debut album Drive in August 1997 to popular acclaim; an album that is widely regarded as one of New Zealand’s most iconic. It secured the New Zealand Music Award for Album of the Year in 1998, after going seven times platinum.
But that was only the beginning for this prodigious talent who has been hitting the right note for more than 20 years, collecting some of the country’s biggest musical accolades.
Metropol caught up with Bic – its Chinese checked vowel making pronunciation closer to Bec – about her musical passion and living in the moment.

Where did your musical passion come from and how was that nurtured?

I’m the youngest in my family and I remember on rainy days my big sisters would say “ok, let’s all write some songs!” I was five when I wrote my first song. It was called Snow Flake. It’s quite a good thing to get little kids to do before they think that they can’t.

You come from such a musical family, are your children musical?

My children are really musical and my 10 year old son just announced that he wants to be a musician! Most parents would shudder at the thought of this, but for me it was a relief; at least I know what to do with him now!

How has your song writing evolved throughout your career?

I had a good run between the ages of 18 and 27, I wrote a lot and I didn’t doubt myself. Then I got the fear! Now that I’ve had a family and I’m in what you might call the middle years, I feel experienced and more excited to do things however I want to, without rules.

What do you consider to be some of your most defining career highlights?

Getting a lifetime achievement award a couple of years ago, living and working in London as a musician and having Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin come to a couple of my shows! That was funny, I thought I could retire after that.

How do you juggle the demands of work and family?

With great difficulty! I try to be positive; sometimes when you’re exhausted that’s all there is! And learning new skills keeps me happy. I’m learning to engineer and mix music more – technical stuff that I never got too involved in before suddenly interests me, so everything is new again.

Where do you draw your inspiration from and who are some of your favourite artists?

I’m looking to older women as inspiration these days – Alice Coltrane, Patti Smith, Laurie Anderson, Yoko Ono. To commit to being an artist for the long haul is really exciting to me.

How does it feel to be hailed as an icon of the New Zealand music scene?

I don’t think about it too much, especially not these days. I think it’s good to look forward and not look back too much. Don’t they say the secret to happiness is a short memory? I think it’s good to live in the present and have things to look forward to.

Why did you make the decision to become involved with the Māia Health Foundation?

Working with the people at Maia has been such a pleasure. Musicians get so much air time and sometimes my interviews seem like I’m repeating myself so it’s good to have something else to rep, something else to advocate for. I’ve never been an ambassador for a charity before and it feels good to be involved in this one in my hometown.

Do you get the opportunity to get back to Christchurch very often? What are some of your favourite things to do or places to go in Christchurch?

The Arts Centre was my stomping ground in high school so I always feel happy and nostalgic when I’m in that part of town. And Lyttelton and Governors Bay are still special places for me. I went to Cashmere high and a lot of my friends came on a bus from over the hill; it was a cool place to hang out growing up as a teenager.

What do the next 12 months have in store for you?

I’m writing, recording and engineering as well, I’m having the time of my life! There’s no pressure and it’s super fun.