Q&A: Bic Runga - “Music Light’s Up The Brain”

7 October 2020



Bic Runga talks to Grant Hislop ahead of her Baycourt Show this month.


It feels like a new beginning or “spring” in the touring world as lockdown is relaxed. Describe the prospect of this tour for you?


Here in Auckland spring has really arrived, there are so many fragrant flowers and sunny mornings. It's been such a tough year, and I'm really happy we have the go ahead to do shows again. So this tour is really about shaking off the misery and playing again. We're so lucky as one of very few places in the world to still be able to have live music. Music is healing and cathartic and it really matters. I just want to be playing because I've spent all winter reading the news and getting bummed out. No more! I need something to focus on and look forward to, and for me, that's what my band and performing live is all about. 


It seems to the outsider that your career evolves very organically - is it natural evolution or do you deliberately set out to change things up?


Where there's still more to learn, that's where my attention goes. I love learning, and that's where music can be endless, even with the same 12 notes, you could make any number of unique compositions. At the moment I've been focussing on sound engineering and production as there's still lots more for me to learn in that space. 


Do your songs find you or you find your songs?


I think a good song sometimes can appear fully formed, as if it wrote itself, and other songs you really have to labour over. They're both good though, but mostly I think it's just a "practice" a bit like muscle fitness, the more you write, the easier it gets if you stay in practice. 



What is your main takeaway from the COVID-19 situation?


That life is short and precious, that loved ones, and doing the things you love, are all that matter.


How do you balance the art of business with the art itself?


I quite enjoy the business side of music, and have been busy working on the board of directors for the Australasian Performing Rights Association who collect royalties for songwriters. I'm also on the board of the newly formed Music Producers Guild NZ, which has been set up to support producers with contract support, education and networks. The business is often tough on musicians themselves, but musicians are essentially entrepreneurs and small business owners. When the business side gets exhausting I love that I can also go and jam with my friends or write a cathartic song, so they two different hats compliment each other really well.


Clearly, there is more than just "love chemistry" between yourself and partner Kody, can you give an insight into how your creative relationship works? 


We have a really good respectful working relationship, and we constantly learn and upskill alongside each other. We're both really committed to the art of music, through thick and thin. Kody always surprises me with his personal insights into music, I respect him as an uncompromising, committed artist. 


Any Tik Tok in the house?


I've been fascinated by Tik Tok's evolution, it's now a really powerful tool in breaking artists, a few New Zealand acts like Benee and Jawsh 685 have found enormous international success through this app. 


I see your son Joe isn’t in the band on this tour, do you see the kids heading towards a music career?  


My son Joe has been making some pretty good EDM (he's only 13!) but he's also a great little chef. He just made me some really handy mushroom butter which is yummy to start any pasta with, or for frying eggs! I don't want to wish a musician's life on him necessarily, but I think learning music is great for a kid's brain development. I've seen brain scans of people whilst playing music with others, and it lights up the brain like crazy! So I'm happy with that at least. The biz is a bit of a stress out, you'd have to really want to do it.


So many career highlights, would you share any more personally meaningful and perhaps less obvious?


Having Jimmy Page from Led Zep come to two of my London shows, meeting Elton John, working with members of Radiohead, Wilco and the Finn Family on Seven Worlds Collide. Meeting other musicians is always potentially magical, and something I never take for granted. 


Three albums in your collection you think may surprise your fans?


Deep Purple Live in Japan

Can Ege Bamyasi

Wendy Carlos Switched on Bach


What are you listening to at the moment?


We've had this new band called Dual recording with Kody at our house, they're really good. Kody's also mixing new Ladi 6 material which is sounding AMAZING! It's so exciting hearing new music as it's being made, it's one of my favourite things in the world! 



Bic Runga - Springtime Tour 2020

Venue: Baycourt, Tauranga

Date: 25 October 2020

Doors Open: 07:00pm

Start Time: 07:30pm


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