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Interviewed by
Danielle Street
Wednesday 9th July, 2014 11:46AM

Ivy Rossiter is packing her bags and hitting the road again as she heads on tour to support the release of Luckless' sophomore album Vindication Blues. The nomadic musician relocated from Auckland to Lyttelton more than a year ago and quickly immersed herself in the small and supportive folk scene that the Christchurch port town has to offer. She soon set to work on the new album that builds on the sonic arrangements which came to light in her 2012 self-titled debut. When she was happy with the tracks she got some of the best ears in the industry to help contribute to its certain success - it was recorded locally by Ben Edwards at The Sitting Room, Mixed at The Lab in Auckland by Olly Harmer, and then mastered by Angus McNaughton.

Although Luckless is helmed by Rossiter and is often used a solo moniker, it shifts and morphs into a two-piece and beyond, depending on the need at the time. Vindication Blues encompasses the efforts of long-time collaborator Logan Compain (who is based in Auckland), and for the tour the pair will be joined by Rob Collins on bass (Dictaphone Blues, Heavy Jones Trio) and Ben Eldridge on guitar (Warlords Of Atlantis, Heavy Jones Trio). Before she hit the road we caught up with Rossiter to see how life in Lyttelton is treating her and what influence the new environment has had on her music...

UTR: Hey Ivy, what are you up to?

Ivy Rossiter: Oh, we were just in town buying string and drumsticks, but Logan arrived here last night and we are going to a band practice in a couple of hours. I’ve just split some kindling and on the third try I’ve managed to get the fire going which is excellent, but I've totally destroyed my southern cred by needing three goes.

You relocated a while ago from Auckland to the south. What put drew you to Lyttelton?

I started playing music with this guy Lindon Puffin from down here, and I did the Lyttelton Rough House Revival tour a couple of years ago with him after we had toured together for the first album release tour. Then I just kept coming back down here for rehearsals and shows, and I was already a little bit off living in Auckland because I’d lived my whole life there and I was ready for a change, and I really liked the way people were living down here. People work as a community, and the musicians work together. It just seemed like a healthy environment to be in musically. And so I decided, seeing as I didn’t have the money to fly away to Paris and live over there, Lyttelton seemed like a good second choice.

What has the move done for your creative process?

Well, what I like down here is that I can kind of hide away for a few weeks and keep my head down and work without feeling too distracted, or feeling like I’m being pulled in too many different directions. And then I can emerge from that and see all my friends just by walking down the street or going to the local pub. It’s really easy to stay connected with people.

And of course the music scene down there is really vibrant…

Yea exactly, people aren't as freaked out when they walk into a bar and the see someone in the corner playing guitar as they are in Auckland. Like, you walk in to a bar in Auckland and people are surprised if it’s not a DJ, but down here the bars are very engaged with musicians and want to have musicians playing most nights of the week. It’s really nice and I think it contributes to the health of the scene down here.

What sort of influence do you think the move has had on your new album?

Um, there are more obvious influences like the subject matter of some of the songs, you know there are a fair few references to being on the road and travelling, and the natural environment around me when I was writing. But I think, as much as anything else, at a more base level, being able to be focused on music nearly full-time last year and not having to juggle it with a day job, it made my writing better. I was spending more time playing gigs and writing songs, and getting them to a point where I was happy with them. So I think that its really allowed me to be a better writer, a better musician, a better guitarist. All those things you aspire to do. I wouldn’t say I’ve reached any pinnacle, I’ve still got a hell of a long way to go, but it was really nice to be able to focus on that as my main thing for a solid 12 months, and I think the album definitely shows that.

The single ‘When You Asked Her To Stay' sounds a lot rockier than some of the stuff I’ve been familiar with from Luckless. Was that a conscious decision?

I think the album went further in all the directions that Luckless had previously existed in. So the songs that were a bit rocky have gotten more so, and the songs that were quieter have gotten more so. I think on this album we were more comfortable with the fact the album was going to be diverse and that it was going to pull in a whole lot of different directions, and that was okay. And its the common themes in the songs that pull you through the record would hold it together.

Could you tell me a little bit about the making of the video for that single?

Oh, we were really lucky because I had got in touch with this fellow Tim McInnes from Ruffell Productions down here and he had done a few videos that got my attention like the recent one for The Tiny Lies, and I liked the way he worked with light and texture. So we sat down and had a few beers and immediately hit it off, and were chucking ideas back and forth. And he took what we had spitballed and ran with it and came back with a whole bunch of ideas and locations and a team of people who could do it, and so we managed to pull it together really quickly. And it’s really nice when someone takes a song you have created and adds something else to it, especially if you have a similar vision or a similar aesthetic, being able to collaborate with their ideas is really great to see what direction they take it in, and I think we ended up with something we are really proud of.

Luckless is often described as the “ever-evolving project of Ivy” but you have worked with other people off-and-on for years. Do you find it tricky to draw the lines between solo and band work?

It’s an interesting push-pull, because I really value the time and effort of the people who do contribute to it. I mean, I’ve been playing with Logan for a couple of years now, and because we are separated by cities we can’t play together all the time, but when we do play together it is just so satisfying. People, especially around Christchurch, have gotten to know Luckless as a solo project, but I like the idea it can exist as a band, and they are the same songs, but they are different sides of the same songs.

It must be humbling to have people who get onboard with your musical vision…

Humbling is exactly the right word. I feel very very grateful to everyone who is playing on this tour and they’ve all got a great history in the wonderful band they're been in. I mean, Dictaphone Blues, Heavy Jones Trio and Carthaginian... So I feel lucky they feel enough in the songs and the project to come and put their time into it. Hopefully it will be a fun and rewarding experience for everyone involved.

You have been called a nomadic musician. What is it you like about being on tour?

I really like that when you are on tour everything that is not “being on tour” has to recede into the background. You set up, you play the show, you go to bed, you get up, you drive, you set up, you play the show, you go to bed. There’s no room for the usual bullshit that day-to-day living requires. You can’t think about your house, your rent, that tiff you had with your friend last week, you actually can’t deal with that. And important as those things may be, and you might deal with the fallout when you come off tour, the actual being on tour is this wonderful escape from real life. There is a lot of stress, and the highs are really high and the lows are blisteringly low, but you just have to operate on a survival instinct.

Friday sees Luckless are kicking off a four-date tour around the country to celebrate the release of Vindication Blues. Head over here for details and to pick up tickets.


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