Bic Runga: 20 beautiful years
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Bic Runga: 20 beautiful years

It really is 20 years since Bic Runga released Beautiful Collision. She tells Cityscape about its genesis, and how much she is looking forward to bringing the songs back to Christchurch in an anniversary concert.

Performing Beautiful Collision in Ōtautahi will bring back a flood of memories no doubt? Yes it's always really fun to play Christchurch and see old friends. I haven't lived there since the late ‘90s but I still look forward to being there, it does feel like coming home.

What are your recollections of putting the album together? Making Beautiful Collision was a good time in my life. I wasn't sure what to do with myself after high school. I failed to get into art school so I got a job at the CD Store in Cashel Mall. After a year I moved to Auckland and pursued music instead. My first album, Drive, did well – it was kind of a surprise. It took me to live in New York and I toured the US and Europe. Beautiful Collision was the follow-up album, and I just remember all of that being a good time, a coming-of-age time – living away from home, missing my parents, who were still living in Christchurch. A lot of the themes on the record are about homesickness and missing people.

What’s often called ‘the difficult second album’ looks from the outside to have been a triumph for you. How did you feel about it at the time? A few years had passed since the first album and there were lots of things I regretted and cringed about on the first album. So making Beautiful Collision was about making something that I could live with and not feel embarrassed about, that felt timeless to me.

What for you are the most enduring songs from the album? I think “Get Some Sleep”, which is very autobiographical, it's just about touring incessantly. And “Listening for the Weather”, which was written like a letter home to my Dad. I also still like “When I See You Smile” and “Gravity”, but I do still like most of the whole album.

What are you looking forward to about being back in Christchurch? I love showing my kids Christchurch, they really love it. They love The Arts Centre and the Botanical Gardens. It seems like a really fancy place to them – they've not seen gardens and buildings like that before, it really is beautiful.

You have a strong sense of style – who are your favourite Kiwi designers? Helen Cherry, Zambesi, Nom D, Kate Sylvester, Boh Runga Jewellery, Karen Walker, Deadly Ponies, Gloria, Penny Sage, Paris Georgia... I could go on and on all day, there's so many great independent New Zealand labels who have been doing consistently great work for years.

What’s the favourite item in your wardrobe? My sister Boh gave me a silver Raymond Weil watch for my 40th birthday, I had no clue how to wear a watch and how dressed it can make you feel even when you're just in jeans and a T-shirt. I feel like something is missing without it now, especially because it's from her and has huge sentimental value.

Are there any up-and-coming Kiwi musicians you are following? The band I'm bringing to Christchurch all play in other bands, so I follow and admire their work outside of me playing with them. Kody [Nielson] is from Unknown Mortal Orchestra. They're easily one of my favourite bands. They just played Glastonbury – it's crazy to see how well they're doing overseas at the moment. Cass [Basil] plays in Tiny Ruins, who released a beautiful new album this year, but she also plays with The Veils, who also do really well overseas. And Crystal [Choi] has her own group called Phoebe Rings, which is such pretty music. So many talented musicians around at the moment, I worry some of it flies under the radar here at home but it’s good to see New Zealand bands making it out in the world.

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