IT has been a long time between drinks for the keenly favoured Antipodean artist Bic Runga, both studio-wise and on the touring scene in the territory she once called home: the United Kingdom.
Runga is well known and recognised for weaving words relating to romantic notions with seemingly simple folk-infused pop combined with symphonic beauty.
Take her song ‘Sway’ from over a decade ago. Can’t remember it? Think American Pie and that instantly catchy and likeable tune associated with it. You’ve probably heard it at a few weddings too. Oh, and it was only the 1998 Single Of The Year in New Zealand and a favourite around the world.
The relatively overnight success of this single from her debut LP Drive elevated Runga into major record label success when she was aged only 20.
While being grateful for the success of ‘Sway’, Runga told Australian Times that she hopes, given it’s now 2012, not to be defined by that four minute single she released almost15 years ago.
“’Sway’ was really a long time ago. It would be bit a lame to think that’s all I was remembered for,” she laughed down the phone.
“But I am grateful for what has come from ‘Sway’. It has given me the chance to make more different stuff. I intend to make more. You can’t let that be your only contribution.”
Runga has released three studio albums since, all major hits in New Zealand, Australian, US and UK markets.
Her latest effort is Belle — recently released internationally after a six-year gap since the release of the triple-platinum record Birds (2005).
However Runga said her time off the touring and recording scene has not hindered her art.
She said, if anything, it has given her gravitas to excel even further.
“The last album was very dark…Belle is a return to song.”
And it’s not like she hasn’t been busy.
In the meantime, Runga has become a mother to Joe (who’s now four), released a rarities compilation in 2008, contributed songs to a film last year as well as taking up song-writing dates with New Zealand music compatriots including Evermore’s Dann Hume and her partner (and Belle producer) Kody Nielsen.
Talking about touring the UK and Australia as part of her re-introduction to touring, Runga revealed that her songwriting process has changed from focusing on production particulars to watching the clock.
“It [songwriting] is totally different now,” the Kiwi songstress admits.
“There is less time to write…I have to be more effective with my time.”
She confesses she tried to make this album lighter for the listener, especially given it’s her return to songwriting after all these years.
“I wanted to make this album more like the older ones,” she said.
Upon talking about her current shows in the UK, Runga said she is happy to return to an old ‘stomping ground’.
“I’ve lived in London, Paris and New York.
“It’s going to be so great to be back there…life is pretty quiet in New Zealand.
“Of course I’m going to be sad [while being away from Joe]…But people do it. I have to work.”
She said her shows are going to be fairly stripped back, given she will be exchanging a 40-piece symphony for a tight, four-piece band for the UK tour.
“It’s very different…Though, I will be adding in a harpist to bring some femininity to the music.”
And the good news for Bic Runga fans? “Belle is not the end!”
Don’t miss Bic Runga at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire on 18 April