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Premiere: Fraser Ross & 04's Share Video 'In the Rain' + Interview

Premiere: Fraser Ross & 04's Share Video 'In the Rain' + Interview

Interview by Brooke Singer / Wednesday 8th August, 2018 11:44AM

Wellington-based alt-folk songwriter Fraser Ross and his group 04's have unveiled a gorgeously filmed video for 'In The Rain', the soaring second single from their new album Life is Magic, Where Is My Rabbit?. Ross and his team are embarking on an extensive tour of Aotearoa kicking off next week, in celebration of their record's release this Friday via local artist-run label Home Alone Music. The artful clip directed by Hamish Pattison and starring Rebecca Nash contains a fair amount of full-frontal nudity, so avert your eyes if need be and experience the song below, accompanied by an enlightening conversation between Ross and friend / labelmate Brooke Singer of French For Rabbits about the video, album, musical inspirations and more...

Hi Fraser. This is funny. Interviewing you. We’ve been friends a while now, toured through Italy together, ate some great pizza, spent long hours in the car… but for everyone else who hasn’t had the good luck of knowing you, give us a little run down on your background – musical or otherwise?

Hi Brooke. Well, as you know, I'm great on tour because I have a dainty guitar and hardly any pedals. I guess I first wanted to play music round campfires. That was the holy highest echelon I could imagine for ages. As such, I sound quite archaic, and will often go to bed late on tour if there's gonna be a sing-a-long.

I turned away from computer-made music quite early on because sitting in front of a screen makes me itchy, and there used to be too many moving parts needed to create anything. However, I enjoy the sound of modern music, and now that you can pretty-much make songs on your phone I kind of wish I understood how to do that better.

I think the ease of writing on a guitar is a big factor, I'm pretty lazy, it's very easy to pick up and get cracking. I'm not a particularly flash player but I know a lot of chords. Haha.

What led you into this song-writing thing?

This will sound creepy, and I totally agree it is, but something touched me one day (in an appropriate way), and I had to start writing songs from then. I was 22. Which is late. I already played guitar though, and could put chords together.

I remember singing in front of my friends for the first time was terrifying. Just about as bad as playing live for the first time. I totally choked both times. Horrific business. I remember the first time I didn't choke on stage, I felt like Thom Yorke afterward. It was probably just half grim. I think the next time I played live, I was pulled off stage at an open mic on Ponsonby Road for being too terrible. I couldn't go to work the next day. Felt baaaaad. Haha. Feeling better now!

I’m a great fan of your lyrics - I find they paint quite vivid pictures, fragments of scenes, or evoke particular feelings. What inspires you? How do you craft them?

I'm just a constant nibbler I reckon. I'll eek out a wee line here, and wee one there. I generally employ myself in manual labour so my mind gets a fair opportunity to chew on these things. It goes chords, melody, and then lyrics, which I think is how most people do it? Once I have the melody, the amount of syllables, and a few vowel-sounds as signposts, I can generally potter away in my head.

It can be a bit hard until you know what a song is about, and sometimes that can take a while. Once you know what the song is about you can move forward much faster because you can tell if the line has a business being there.

If you don't know what a song is about then it's like picking a basketball team with a blind-fold on, you can't tell who's actually the right height for the affair. Sometimes you have them out on the court for months until the blind-fold comes off, and finally you can be like, sorry little line, you're outta here!

Your new album Life is Magic, Where is my Rabbit? - what does the title mean?

We make our own magic, you just gotta make sure your rabbit is your hat before you start the show!

And do you have a favourite track?

I'm probably happiest with the lyrics of 'Davey Jones.' I wrote it just after Bowie died, sort of fuddling about with the idea of time, and how in the scheme of things it was a blink of an eye since he was just a guy called Davey Jones, sitting in a pub, being none-too-well-known, and then he released 'Space Oddity,' and all of a sudden his life changed. I don't know if that's completely true, but I was musing about it, seeing him there like that, being a bit sad because his music is important to me.

Strangely enough, I had actually written the chords and melody a couple of days before he died, and I was sculpting them around this woman who I'd met at The Hilltop Tavern at New Years (I think you were actually there Brooke!), and who had become one of those rarified images of some perfection, a poetic outline of a person, I couldn't forget her, but she was destined to go back to Canada, and I sort of knew she would alway be out of my reach.

I couldn't quite get the lyrics right, but they were full of longing. When Bowie died, the feelings were strangely similar, and it all just fell together. She's still there in the song, 'with hair like whisky, and lips like wine.' She plays the part of the muse, the siren, the mermaid luring Davey Jones out into the future.

You worked with Melbourne photographer Hamish Pattison on a video for the single ‘In the Rain’ premiering here today – it’s beautifully cinematic. What was the concept?

The concept was Central Otago, nude woman in mask, Jaguar, let's see what happens. With our time-frame, and the remoteness of the location, we didn't develop the story too much beforehand to allow ourselves some freedom. I was a big fan of Hamish's style as a cinematographer, his work always looks so beautiful, and I felt confident that we could let the video almost write itself in the landscape. Possibly we're lazy artists, but I prefer, brave! Haha. Anyway, I totally think he cracked it. We did however, do some pick up shots on the Port Hills of Christchurch once it developed. I guess we discussed, The Muse, and Fate, and Death, and then crossed our fingers.

Did Rebecca nearly freeze? I mean, she is naked, submerged in a lake, in the Winter.

Lake Pukaki is apparently quite cold in Winter but Rebecca said it was the mist in the air that bit the most. It was three days through Central Otago in-and-out of fields and water, and she never hesitated, legendary stuff. She did have to spend a bit of time in the car with the heat on full to scrub the blue off her lips though. To top it all off, her two year-old daughter was with us, and it was fascinating watching her take it in. We'd explain, 'Mum has to stand in the lake waving her arms.' And, she'd be like, 'Hmmm..? Ok!'

Your shows are comedic, upbeat, and there are often some real sentimental moments too. You’re off on an extensive tour of New Zealand. Is this your biggest tour to date?

Thanks B. This is indeed the biggest tour, the most scheming, the most amount of chit-chat around it. I'm really confident about the shows themselves, my band are all such talented, jazz-trained artists in their own rights, and they can really rip the tunes up. And, I've been working on some stories to introduce the songs. I'll be honest, I'm slightly terrified that no-one will turn up, but I'm always like that. And also, I've sent the album to reviewers for the first time. I hope they like it. Sometimes I think it's great, sometimes I'm not so sure. I hope they get it on one of it's good days! Haha.

Okay, last question. You (somehow) know that you’re going to be stuck on a desert island. What three things do you bring?

A guitar, a saw, and a magnifying glass.

You can catch Fraser Ross and 04's playing throughout Aotearoa in August and September, for more info and ticketing details head along here. 'Life is Magic, Where is my Rabbit?' is out this Friday 10th August via Home Alone Music.


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