Nadia Reid and Hollie Fullbrook (Tiny Ruins) have left their bands at home for their collaborative 'Reid and Ruins' national tour where the acclaimed New Zealand indie-folk musicians will be playing acoustically and throwing in a selection of covers for good measure.
Mike Tweed spoke to them ahead of their show at the Royal Wanganui Opera House next month.
The Reid and Ruins tour was never meant to happen so soon.
"We talked about how we would do this in our later years, maybe in our 50s or 60s and we'd visit everywhere we could," Fullbrook says.
"When the lockdowns happened Nadia had just released her new album (Out of My Province) and had to cancel so much touring overseas. I was planning a solo tour of New Zealand so it felt like a good time to come together and join forces."
Reid, who grew up in Port Chalmers in Dunedin, says she and Fullbrook were "long time friends, former flatmates, and mutual admirers of each other".
"Going from band to solo, it's quite an adjustment," she says. "It's a lot to carry, but in some ways I think people really appreciate the intensity of it.
"I feel like it's quite a well shaped show and it's not too long and it's not too short. We definitely have some fan crossover but we're gaining fans from each side, which is a bonus."
The growing popularity of both Tiny Ruins and Reid, helped by slew of critically acclaimed releases, has meant that anywhere smaller than the 800-seat Opera House might not be big enough to hold them.
Reid says while she "glanced an eye" over reviews of her music she "didn't spend too much time thinking about it".
"Some of the really good press I've had has led me to have a really sustainable career, so I'm grateful for it, but I don't tend to dwell on it too much. I don't think it's too healthy to either," she says.
"I think it's more meaningful when I meet people at shows or someone writes to me on Instagram with an experience. It's that individual perspective."
Fullbrook says there are a few terms which "irk" her.
"I really don't like 'songstresses'; that rubs me up the wrong way.
"Music writing is interesting because I think for so long it did have very gendered views on 'music made by women', like it was a separate genre.
"Being described as 'lovely' is another one, or 'haunting'. It is hard though, because there are only so many words in the English language that you can use to describe something.
"When you're onstage, especially as a solo performer, that's pretty hardcore. In some senses it's the most punk rock thing you could do. You have to reach to the depths to be able to communicate something actually meaningful."
The pair had learned a "handful of covers" for the tour, Fullbrook says, including the Johnny Cash/Bob Dylan classic 'Girl from the North Country'.
"We don't practise that one too much, because we want to keep the same spirit (of the original). We kind of know that it'll play itself, and we'll feel it out on the night.
"It's really nice to do that I think. I'm a big believer in not having things perfect. I'll often change my setlist depending on how it feels in the room I'm playing in, and Nadia is the same.
"We're both a bit on the seat of our pants, although I feel that Nadia does perform songs in the same way that they feel on record. My tendency is to change the performance a little more from recordings."
Fullbrook says the last time she played in Whanganui was "way back in 2013".
"I think it was just me and Cass (Basil) on bass, and we played at Space Monster.
"There was a guy in the audience with bells, and I think he might have had a cat or a rabbit with him as well. Throughout the set he was just ringing his bells, and I remember thinking 'wow, Whanganui's pretty surprising and cool'.
"I can't wait to see the Opera House though. My bass player played there with Bic Runga recently, and she said it was such a beautiful, special venue."
Reid says smaller centres were her favourite place to play in.
"We have to play in every corner, but that's good for me because I've been doing that anyway. You find that there's more going on in those smaller towns.
"Whanganui has a great scene from what I've gathered, and the same goes for places like Dunedin. I don't know what it is, but there's just something about them."
Fullbrook, currently recording the follow up to 2019's Olympic Girls, says she rarely listens back to music she'd created in the past.
"Once you get to the mastering stage and it's out you've already listened to it so many times and thought about it so much. That's kind of the end of the process, and to listen to it again is almost like sacrilege, it feels wrong.
"Occasionally I've heard a song playing on an aeroplane or in a shop, which is really embarrassing, or at someone's house."
Sustaining a living as a musician in the Covid-19 era is something Fullbrook has put in the "let's not think about it box".
"I feel really bad for musicians in other country's right now. They're in really difficult circumstances, having had no shows for almost a year," she says.
"For our side of the world it's going to be about slowly opening up to Australia and being able to get there. The rest is just TBC."
While it was wonderful to be able to play shows, Reid says the New Zealand touring scene will start to get "a bit claustrophobic" if international travel remains off limits.
"There's so much to be grateful for but in reality it's a massive life change.
"Even looking at the summer festivals, a lot of them are looking pretty similar. I don't know how sustainable it is. Everything suddenly feels really tiny, whereas before most of us were in and out.
"It's wonderful, but also daunting. There are always positives though, like this tour for example, which would probably have never happened this quickly."
With Out of my Province being released in March, Reid says she had expected to spend most of 2020 overseas.
"This year was about touring and travelling, it wasn't about nutting down and writing. In saying that, I'm sure there'll be a lot to write about once we get further through it (Covid-19).
"I lived in Christchurch during the (2011) earthquakes, and there's a similar feeling for me. There's disbelief and numbness, really. Now we can look back on that event and it feels like something we've overcome, whereas we're right in this now."
While the Covid-19 pandemic caused moments when she felt worried about her future as an independent musician, Fullbrook says she is lucky to continue to do it as a career.
"We've always said that Aotearoa is the best country for us to tour in out of everywhere we go. Just being at home and knowing the places - it's so much more familiar.
"It's beautiful touring here, and you feel like you almost get an inner knowledge of the people who make up this country."
*Reid and Ruins will play at the Royal Wanganui Opera House on Saturday, December 12.