Jay-Z makes ‘Picasso Baby’ @ New York’s Pace Gallery. Art meets music. Rap art, if you like. Enjoy the weekend.
Bic Runga returns to the stage
If you’re not familiar with Bic Runga, you should be. The NZ singer’s voice is ethereal and haunting, and her soft Kiwi lilt turns her music into seductively sensitive melodies. On top of that, her ethnically ambiguous looks (her father is Maori; her mother was a Chinese-Malaysian lounge singer) mean she has a kind of unique beauty that’s absolutely fascinating. I spoke to her for vogue.com.au about, well, life. Here it is:
For Kiwi chanteuse Bic Runga, five years off, the birth of a son and a new partner both in life and music has given her a new perspective. Here she reveals her laid-back approach to style and just how much being a mother has changed her as an artist.
How would you describe your style?
It always has to be effortless; I never want to look contrived. You have to look like an extension of yourself.
I noticed some of your favourite designers include Lanvin, Proenza Schouler, Balenciaga and Acne. Can you tell me why you like them?
To me, they hit all the right notes. They’re not too conservative, and they’ve got a really artistic edge to them.
Do you see parallels between yourself as a musician and designers?
Well, I have a lot of respect for designers because I don’t understand how they do what they do. Out of New Zealand we’ve got a lot of really great designers, and they’re all really strong, artistic and yet practical people. And that’s maybe something I don’t share with them and the music world. In music, often things are quite haphazard and we don’t tend to be quite as practical.
And the other thing I admire about people like Karen Walker and Kate Sylvester is that after they had children, they never missed a beat. They have businesses to run. When you’re making four collections a year, you just can’t drop the ball. You might make an album every three or four years and it’s actually a lot easier really, so I admire how hard these people work.
And I guess you took a break after your last album.
Yeah, that’s what I mean, really. I took five years off, and it’s unheard of in the fashion world to do that. So I have a lot of respect for people who keep their businesses going – it can’t be easy.
Music’s obviously such a big part of you. Did you feel something was missing while you took a break?
I love my full-time job as a mother, but it felt like there was something I was aching to do. And if you don’t eventually get back to your work and the thing that makes you happy, then you can’t do a good job of anything. At this point I’ve made my new record and I’m so happy with it, and I feel more myself now. So I have my family and I have my work and they’re all excellent. The two things nourish each other.
Can you describe what it was like doing the album for you? It seems like you had a lot of fun.
I did have a lot of fun. It was produced by my partner, Kody Nielsen, and creatively, we are a really good team. But it’s not always easy working with your partner, because it’s 24/7 and you don’t get to come home and complain about your boss. They’re always there with you. But whenever there’s conflict it’s really good for me to know exactly what it is that I want to do and be able to articulate it. So it’s been a good experience.
It’s nice to work with someone you connect with. How would you describe the feel of the album or the message you were trying to convey?
When you spend five years away, you really need to have something fresh when you return. I went out of my way to make something that was not like anything I’d made before. Even just by the cover artwork, there’s wind in my hair, and I guess it best sums up the music. There’s a freedom about it, and it’s optimistic while still being honest.
And so where do you think you’ll go from here, music-wise?
Well, now that I’ve got this great partner in Kody and we work so well together and I’m really so happy, I want to start making records much faster. It’s quite important that I have him now because before I felt so alone when I made albums. I want to make more and more records and not waste so much time.
See more of my interview with Bic Runga and some beautiful photos by Xiaohan Shen on vogue.com.au
Fashion front- and backstage at Laneway
Singers at Laneway Festival on the weekend had some stories to share about their fashion, and so did the festival-goers.
The lifestyle of a band member, the modern day equivalent of the medieval ages’ travelling troubadour, inevitably leads to some interesting style stories.
Backstage at Laneway Festival in Sydney on Sunday, relaxing on the lawn behind the photography studios at the University of Sydney’s College of the Arts in Rozelle, Caroline Polacheck of Chairlift revealed her ultimate shopping destination: “Honestly? The further away from civilisation the better.”
Naming a thrift store in the backwoods of North Dakota as an example, she said: “[The thrift stores away from the cities] haven’t been picked over. They’re also kind of time capsules. People aren’t so tuned in to trends so they wear the same thing they’ve been wearing for the past two decades and then they take that to thrift stores. You find older stuff… [and] the most unusual stuff.”
Relaxing in front of her dressing room, Cameron Mesirow of Glasser was wearing a dip-dyed leather jacket from Acne’s collaboration with UK artist Daniel Silver she’d received from the designers themselves after they’d used one of her songs in a video. It was the final touch to her backstage outfit, she said.
“I think today I sort of have a ‘look’ to me but it’s not really intentional. I like to mix it up, that’s why I went and got my jacket [that Acne gave me after they] used my song for their capsule collection with this artist, Daniel Silver.”
Not to be outstripped, festival-goers had some stories of their own to share. Chloe Bennett, a student and avid dress shopper, had ventured out two days previously and found a lace dress in a vintage store in Oxford Street, which she decided to wear back-to-front and pair with a belt for Laneway, while Kate Loxton, a PR consultant, confessed she had tried to go for an understated cowboy look.
“I wanted to go for a country style today because I knew it would be dusty, and I went for a crisp white shirt because I think it’s hard to look fresh at an event like this,” she said.
Of course, there were also those who just wanted to look good. Amy Harris, a nurse, looked the epitome of preppy summer chic in a navy jumper and printed Karen Walker shorts with a hat she said she’d picked up from Homebake festival. She said festivals were her chance to play with fashion. “I love clothes. There’s only two variations on our uniform at work so I like to take the chance to dress up.”
Full interviews to come later. See more street style pics from Laneway by Xiaohan Shen at vogue.com.au
What a lovely, lovely day it was at Laneway Festival.
Enjoyed: the sunshine; enthusing with total randoms about food blogs (as you do - but oh gosh, Scanwich, your genius cannot be denied); and a chat with the lovely Cameron Mesirow of Glasser about her really awesome Acne jacket from the Swedish brand’s collaboration with London artist Daniel Silver.
Published: Claude Stein goes back to school
'The Goo Goo Doll’s voice coach trained a different type of singer on Wednesday, when he coached a local primary school choir.
Voice coach Claude Stein, whose clients also include the Foo Fighters and Faith no more, led the senior choir at Soldier’s Settlement Public School Matraville through a session of singing exercises that boosted their musicality and confidence.
“It was like watching flowers bloom in slow motion,” said the school’s music teacher Rachel Scott. “They just got more and more proud of what they were doing and blossomed. I’ve never heard those kids sing so well.”’…
Read the rest of my story on voice coach Claude Stein’s visit to the talented kids at Soldier’s Settlement Public School, Matraville, on southerncourier.com.au
Originally published in the Southern Courier, 8 Aug 2011
When the owner of this structure asked for a music building, the architect took him quite literally. Located in Huainan City, An Hui Province, China, the Piano House was built by the local government to draw interest to the newly developed area. It’s also a place where music students from the local college can practice and perform. A gorgeous transparent violin is attached to the piano building, which features a staircase that connects the two giant instruments.
via [Let Me Be Inspired]
Opinion: Got rhythm, got music, but need something more
Originally published in the Sydney Morning Herald, November 7, 2007
Music these days .. OK, so I love Justin Timberlake. I’ve never even met the guy and yet I feel the strange desire to marry him. Why? Hmm, let me think, could it be because he’s not only hot and an incredibly good dancer, but he also has musical integrity and somehow seamlessly integrates emotion into pop? That’s skill, man.
I’m your typical generation Y-kid. If it has a hot beat and a pleasant melody/chord structure, I will turn it up and pump it obnoxiously through my car. I’ll listen to Top 40 and groove to it shamelessly in my private karaoke-bar-meets-nightclub while other drivers around me shake their heads and worry about what the world is coming to. I’ll embrace cheesy pop and say, “Yes, it’s not what I’d call brilliant music, but who cares? It’s fun!”
But I have a limit. I may even be joining those people shaking their heads around me. Because I’m sorry, but I don’t think it counts as love/affection if you strip and your partner is willing to pay you no matter what, all because they can handle you the way you are. Oops, sorry, the way I’m are. Must stop using correct grammar.
I’m not stupid, no matter what I act like. And I know others aren’t, either. Most people won’t take the song mentioned above seriously. But what worries me is that singers are running out of things to sing about so quickly, that they have to sing about the need to take their clothes off. They have to sing about themselves. Surely, as influential artists, one could be doing a little better than spelling out one’s name and adding ‘licious at the end? Or how about lyrics? “La, la, la, la, la, la, la.” I can’t believe a band I respect and like, who shall henceforth be known as the Band Who Shall Not Be Named, used that as a line. Like whoa, don’t exhaust your vocabulary there or anything.
But seriously. Does anyone else feel like they’re emotionally unfulfilled when they listen to music on the Top 40? I know Top 40 is mostly crowd-pleasers but what happened to pop music that was pleasant and fun, yet full of emotion, interesting and intelligent, too? Just because you’re in the genre doesn’t give you the licence to act like you have a brain the size of a peanut and the emotional intelligence of a marshmallow.
A good beat does not disguise all your sins. It probably only highlights it, as more people are likely to listen to your song and hence the lyrics. Which, on average, are about a fulfilling as staring at a wall.
So shape up, please. I want to party, everyone else wants to party. But please don’t tell us love is about stripping.
Original article here