Bic Runga is 26 years old. She is of Chinese and Maori heritage, born and raised in Christchurch, on New Zealand's South Island. Bic now lives between Auckland (near to her parents and two sisters) and wherever else in the world she needs to be.
In early 1997, Bic recorded her debut album drive - over a two month period with one engineer and a handful of musicians - and produced it herself.
Drive was released in New Zealand in 1997 and immediately established Bic as a star. The album won a swag of Tui awards - NZ's equivalent of the Grammys - including Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Best Vocal Performance and Best Songwriter. Bic also won the coveted Silver Scroll for songwriting (held in the same esteem in New Zealand as the Ivor Novello award in Britain). The album went on to become the biggest selling local artist album in New Zealand music history.
Over the following 2 years, drive was successfully released all around the world and Bic travelled relentlessly, promoting and performing, sometimes alone with an acoustic guitar, sometimes with a band. Rarely able to return home to the other end of the world, Bic was based for long periods in New York City.
While living in New York, Bic wrote several songs which would be recorded for her second album, beautiful collision - including the album's first single get some sleep. Other songs from the new album were written after Bic returned to New Zealand in 1999.
In late 1999, Bic began recording her follow up to drive. Relishing the freedoms afforded by the digital format and by again self-producing, Bic moved between studios in the USA and New Zealand, utilising the skills of many engineers and many more musicians. Recording was undertaken to varying degrees in New York, Los Angeles, Auckland (including Bic's home studio), Wellington and Christchurch.
In February 2002, Bic and her hard drive travelled back to New York for the mixing of the album by mix engineer Michael Brauer (Coldplay, New Radicals) at Quad Sudios. It is appropriate that the recording of the last track on beautiful collision - gravity - was only completed at Quad while Brauer was busy mixing the other tracks.
Bic in her own words -
My name is Bic Runga.
Beautiful Collision is my second album and it took three years to make. It's my follow up to Drive, a record which I'm told sold a lot of copies.
I have faith in my own ability as a songwriter and a musician. I worked harder than I can describe on this album. Time was not an issue. I worked with twelve different engineers, most of whom are still speaking to me. I worked in eight different studios in five different cities, carrying my hard drive around in a tool box. I played the piano, the drums and the guitar. I wasn't much of a pianist, a drummer or a guitarist before that, but it's been three years of trial and error.
I like Neil Young. I like David Bowie. I like Ella Fitzgerald. I like the Mamas and the Papas. I like Yoko Ono. I like Oliver Sacks. I like Milan Kundera. I like Billie Holiday. I like the Marianne Faithfull autobiography. I like Comme des Garcon. I like Martin Margiela. I like Costume Nationale shoes. I like Picasso. I like J.D. Sallinger. I like toast. I like Mojitos. I like Irving Penn. Chanel make good eyeshadow. Yves Saint Laurent make good underwear. I like Cuban cigars but they're no good for my voice.
Most of the musicians who really blow me away are either dead or over 50. The first time music really spoke to me was when I first heard The Smiths when I was 12. I get my kicks from other things. Inspiration comes from weather, the sky, clouds, a beautiful piece of fabric, a texture, the way light will catch someone's face and make them look different for a second.
Other things I could have done with three years of my life include:
writing a not very good novel
learning how to knit
making a claymation movie
becoming a landscape gardener
starving as a painter
making coffee for record producers
But there's still time. This is what I chose to do battle with and I like to think I've won.
Material expropriated from www.bicrunga.com