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Interview: French For Rabbits Talk About Their 'Highest Hill' Tour

Interview: French For Rabbits Talk About Their 'Highest Hill' Tour

Martyn Pepperell / Tuesday 4th December, 2018 10:23AM

This month, Wellington-based dream pop group French For Rabbits are playing three special multimedia shows in Wellington, New Plymouth, Auckland to promote their reflective new single ‘Highest Hill’ and the upcoming worldwide release of their album The Weight of Melted Snow through US label Muscle Beach. Featuring full band performances combined with visual projects created by Dunedin-based video artist and designer Lady Lazer Light, these shows look set to be the most elaborate live experiences French For Rabbits have created yet. Below, their front-woman and leader Brooke Singer explains what’s going with these shows, why they’re working with Lady Lazer Light, their new single, and the realities and challenges they face in 2018 and moving forward into 2019.

You've just released a new single, which we will get to in a moment, but before we talk about that, you're also playing three multimedia band concerts around the country very soon. What's the thought process and challenges around this sort of performance? Theatres!

My main thought process was “If our audience is anything like me, they will really appreciate getting to sit down at a show!”

I imagine many people develop weary legs (and frazzled brains) at this time of year. I hope our show will be an opportunity for people to stop for a moment to feel calm and immersed in something dreamy for a couple of hours. I didn’t factor in that I would also be feeling a wee bit frazzled and weary and in need of a holiday too. There are logistics to think of, transport, accommodation, how the visuals will match the music, how it all fits on the stage.

For the shows, you're working with experienced multimedia artist Lady Lazer Light. Could you tell us a bit about her, and why you wanted to work with her?

Erica is a visual artist, and has created and exhibited her surreal work in China, Austria, Germany… I’m most familiar with her collaborations with bands like Orchestra of Spheres, Womb and All Seeing Hand. My favourite memory being an ethereal moment in a forest, with lights shimmering up through the branches.

When we played in Dunedin for the Arts Festival a couple of months ago, she curated a bunch of our music videos which were filmed in and around Port Chalmers and Aramoana. It was fun! So we’re doing it again – more ambitious this time.

Back to your new single, what does 'Highest Hill' represent and point towards for the band in terms of what you've got coming up in the future?

Being in a band is a little like climbing a hill, most definitely. Many high peaks and low valleys. Some lovely meandering pathways, unexpected beautiful waterfalls, and a few steep climbs that occasionally come to cliff-like dead-ends… I have lots of stories; I could write a novel.

I’m not sure what ‘Highest Hill’ points towards for us - but the good thing is that on the highest hills, you have snow. And sometimes the snow melts.

It's an interesting, if not somewhat testing time to be independent musicians. What are some of the big - perhaps invisible - challenges a band like yours faces while working to promote your music and shows and connect them with ears and audiences?

The main challenge is to stay happy and healthy when you find yourself burning the candle as your own booking agent, publicist, travel agent, and fundraiser – whilst holding down other odd jobs to pay rent in Wellington city!

The available media for independent arts is shrinking (Undertheradar is an exception) so we need to be more creative in spreading the word – and we’re in competition with increasing demands on people’s time.

But music is a privilege, and I am thankful to be making it, and especially to be sharing it. Every single ticket sold to a show or kind word from a person who has connected with a song is a tiny victory.

In late 2018, what does community look like for French for Rabbits, and how important is it to what you're doing? How much does it play into how you select your support acts?

Musicians are resourceful weirdos really; we all help each other out with the mad ideas we have – touring the world on shoestring budgets.

I help co-run a community label called Home Alone Music – we have Christmas parties, help each other with recordings, release a few records each year.

Mali Mali who is opening for us in Auckland is on Home Alone, and Mystery Waitress is my favourite Wellington songwriter at the moment. Timothy Blackman sent me a link to her bandcamp page, and I fell in love immediately.

Six (close to seven years in!) with French For Rabbits, what do you feel like you're still looking for, or trying to accomplish with the music you're recording and performing? I imagine it feels like a long time and a short time?

Blink of an eye, really. Lots fitted into that blink though.

I try not to think about music in terms of accomplishment, because there is always that elusive thing you are searching for, with every song you write. To have a good song form is when everything aligns – the melodies, feeling, and lyrics. It is immensely satisfying. I just want to capture more of those moments, bottle ‘em up!

French For Rabbits' 'Highest Hill' tour with Lady Lazer Light is taking place this week - at Wellington's Te Ahaha Theatre on Thursday 6th December w/ Mystery Waitress, at New Plymouth's 4th Wall Theatre on Friday 7th December w/ Sam Egli, and Auckland's Anthology Lounge on Saturday 8th December w/ Mali Mali. For tickets to the Wellington and Auckland shows head along over here.


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