Natalie Hutton and Minnie Robberds are an exciting addition to New Zealand's music scene, and a year after winning Rock Quest, the folk-pop duo have released their debut EP.
The title - Dance With Me Before We Cry - is a neat summary of the tumultuous nature of 2020, but it also speaks to the sound of the body of work.
"Right now [the year] is pretty on the subconscious. Probably every decision you make, or everything you do is 2020-like," Robberds explains.
But for the band, which includes drummer Angus Murray and bassist Joel Becker, the lockdown this year turned out to be a creative blessing in disguise. And it also suits their process: the band normally work on songs alone before bringing their ideas together. So they weren't too disadvantaged adjusting to making music over Zoom.
"I feel lucky that I found the lockdown period, as I know many did too, a time to think and write. I'm totally aware that it was a pretty stressful time mentally," Hutton adds. "We feel pretty lucky that we were able to write throughout the period. I dreaded not seeing each other, but we FaceTime lots and showed each other ideas over zoom and whatnot."
There's A Tuesday were crowned winners of Smokefree Rockquest in 2019, and have been carving out their career with plenty of live performances since then. This summer the band is playing a stacked lineup of festivals and are on some major New Years' lineups.
"Winning Rock Quest for us was definitely a big essential within this whole process for where we are now," Robberds says.
"Not only did we learn so much, but we met some phenomenal people and musicians like Chris Mac from Six60," Nat adds.
Both feel like they've found support in the music industry. "There's definitely a community of artists supporting artists," Minnie says. As up and coming Kiwi music talent, they've found friendships with Kiwi talent and learned from mishaps along the way.
"I actually met Liz [Stokes] from The Beths at the music awards last weekend. I was taking to her guitar and how she strung it, then I had trouble with my guitar and she said 'Oh if you need any help stringing it or need to know just message me on Instagram."
Hutton also tells me about one time they decided it was a great idea to start playing the harmonica during a set, but she confidently played the wrong note instead.
"We thought it would be really quirky to perform with a harmonica in the key of D major, and I picked up the harmonica which was indeed not in D major. I started playing it so aggressively loud and I felt everyone in the audience get second-hand embarrassment."
There's A Tuesday's influences are very present in their music. The band loves artists Phoebe Bridgers and Julia Jacklin. Fans of those artists will certainly find familiarities when they listen.
The EP gives listeners glimmers of the band's vulnerability, and it's clear talking to Nat and Minnie that this is both intentional and important to them. Some songs are upbeat, while others cut deeper. For example, their song Amsterdam spawned from the idea of finding the good in someone, despite moral or a political disagreement, EP opener FOMO tackles the challenge of being a homebody in a world flooded with curated Instagram highlight reels.
"Hopefully people will find refuge in our songs, because they're super personal to us," Robberds says.
This summer, you can catch the band live at Rhythm and Alps, Rhythm and Vines, Taupō's Le Currents, Christchurch's Nostalgia festival, plus their own headline tour in December. Ultimately, the band wants to entertain fans as well as make them feel something.
"I would feel like we've accomplished something if just one person in a room of 100 could listen to our lyrics and hear one line and say, 'yeah that's me'," Hutton says.
"We just want to dance and hope that people enjoy dancing with us."
• Dance With Me Before We Cry is out now on the label Meow.