Singer Brooke Singer of dream pop band French for Rabbits hops in the hotseat for 10 questions ahead of their national tour for new album The Overflow.
Describe French for Rabbits in one sentence.
A long-held collaboration of five creative minds trying to create and share music in a way that is thoughtful, beautiful, humble, relatable and expansive.
How have the events of the past few years affected your ability to create and perform music?
Covid-19 has turned the music industry we knew upside down - in this new normal, everything is a lot less certain. It is scary and exciting as we've had to think about how and why we do what we do. Live music is about connection and community - I really believe in the power of a live show.
The act of creation has trundled along without much pause. We finished writing and recording our third album, which we are now finally taking on the road! I've been in the studio a lot, recording and writing new material ... I love to tinker away on new music. It's up there with patting a dog, or going for a swim at the seaside for me. We're extremely excited (and crossing all available fingers and toes) for this tour - we've rescheduled it three times now, behind the scenes.
What will be the best thing about hitting the road again for live shows?
I love the spontaneity of a live show - wondering how everything will come together. It will be nice to be part of that feedback loop again where we sing our songs to an audience and get that immediate response - laughter in a room, or the silence of people listening intently.
Putting out an album during a Covid-19 pandemic was not the best fun, to be honest! On release day, I think I posted on social media and then went and did the dishes. Although much delayed, it will be refreshing and affirming to play songs from the album live.
You've said your third album The Overflow is your most accomplished. How does it reflect your growth as artists?
I love each of the records we've made, but this one is the most fun. It feels lighter (I think I'm secretly a closet goth - so it still touches on the melancholy) and I felt more confident as a songwriter and producer.
In 2019 I collaborated with a number of different artists and producers which was energising and opened my mind up to new ways of working. I was a real stickler for sounds and lyrics and making sure everything was the best it could be on The Overflow...plus we have a great team!
What is your favourite of your own songs and why?
I could never choose one favourite ... would you tell me which of your children was your favourite? At the moment, I am particularly vibing on Middle of the House though. It feels like a song for Autumn, as it is about letting go of the past.
Do you feel dream pop has enjoyed something of a renaissance in recent years?
Totally. I've noticed elements of dream-pop have gradually been coelesed into more mainstream pop too. A lot of pop music now is borrowing from subcultures. Taylor Swift's album 'Folklore' definitely pulled from the musical well we've inhabited at times. I made a playlist a while back of New Zealand artists loosely defined as dream-pop for TalkHouse - from Fazerdaze and Yumi Zouma to T.G Shands and Womb.
What advice would you give a young songwriter looking for inspiration?
Stay curious. Inspiration is all around and within you. And don't overthink it, save judgement until a song is written.
What's the best thing about the NZ music industry? And the one thing you'd change/fix?
The music community in Aotearoa is like a big family - we're lucky to be making music here. Audiences are lucky to have the artists we have here - I'm constantly surprised how high we're punching, we have so many world-class songwriters and performers. I teach at Massey University - and there are so many great young artists coming through.
There are a few things I'd love to see changed, but first and foremost I want to see this industry become safer and more inclusive - there are way too many #metoo moments still occuring. The tip of the iceberg is seeing the same old festival line-ups that don't represent us all.
What one great song by another artist do you wish you'd written and why?
This is your Life by Hannah Cohen. It's a song I return to often, and the opening line is a good mantra to remember "This is your life, don't let it just happen to you, what's your move?"
You're curating a post-pandemic festival - who's on the bill, alive or dead?
My dream imaginary festival would include all living people (let's be realistic) and probably need to be three days long, at least. I'd start with: The Cure, Beyonce, Bjork, Beach House, David Byne, Yebba, Chelsea Jade, Aldous Harding, Hannah Cohen, Big Thief, and...perhaps we could play a set too.
• French for Rabbits are touring in April including Dunedin on April 28, Christchurch on April 29 and Wellington on April 30.