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Premiere: Lydia Cole Shares Single 'The Sacred' + Interview

Premiere: Lydia Cole Shares Single 'The Sacred' + Interview

Interview by Luke Oram / Thursday 7th February, 2019 10:05AM

Silver Scroll nominated songwriter Lydia Cole has been based in Berlin since the release of her acclaimed 2017 album The Lay Of The Land, spending much of her time performing in venues across Europe. She's making her long-awaited return to Aotearoa this month for an whirlwind homecoming tour alongside her partner and bandmate Timothy Armstrong, with support from California indie-folk songsmith Mimi Gilbert, and joined for one Auckland date by Cole's brother Laban Cole. To get us even more excited for the shows Cole has given us a sneak peek of her emotionally tender new single 'The Sacred', officially releasing this Friday, accompanied by an impressionistic video collage shot by the songwriter and Armstrong on a smartphone during their travels in Germany, Portugal, England, Netherlands and New Zealand.

The sumptuous visuals for 'The Sacred' belie the artist's DIY approach and provide an apt fit for Lydia Cole's reflective song. Experience the clip here and read on for an interview with Cole by Luke Oram, exploring her perspectives on moving from Aotearoa to Europe, upcoming release plans and what we can look forward to with the tour kicking off next Saturday...

Lydia Cole - Aotearoa Tour 2019

Saturday 16th February - Folk, Tauranga w/ Mimi Gilbert*
Thursday 21st February - Nivara Lounge, Hamilton w/ Mimi Gilbert* 
Saturday 23rd February - Lyttelton Records, Christchurch w/ Mimi Gilbert*
Wednesday 27th February - Grainstore Gallery, Oamaru w/ Mimi Gilbert*
Tuesday 5th March - Meow, Wellington w/ Mimi Gilbert
Saturday 9th March - Kumeu Live, Auckland w/ Mimi Gilbert (sold out)*
Sunday 10th March – Edge Kingsland, Auckland w/ Laban Cole*

Tickets available HERE via UTR*

What have you been up to these last couple of years?

I’ve actually been up to what has felt like quite a lot. In the first year I got to play shows in Spain, Netherlands, Denmark and Germany. I also got a cafe job which only lasted about 6 weeks. Then in the second year I got to Belgium, Switzerland, Ireland, the UK and more of Germany and Spain.

Did you feel like it was time for a change, getting out of New Zealand?

Yes. Through 2015 and 2016 I went through a couple of deep and quiet struggles in different areas of the NZ industry which showed me an uglier side to a community I’d always been so trusting of. As well as that, I did want to stretch myself a bit. I’ve always been aware that New Zealand is in some ways a paradise and felt grateful for that. At the same time I’ve known that millions of people in the world have such a different experience of life and I wanted to get my head around that in a way that I don’t think is possible while living on an island that is so out-on-a-limb that many world maps forget it.

What can people expect from you in your New Zealand shows?

Since arriving in Berlin I’ve been playing shows as a duo with Tim. He’s a real gadget person so he’s really enjoyed researching, buying, and arranging pedals, keyboards and synths to create the most compact set-up that can produce the best bed of sound for my songs. I stick to the guitars and he flits between electric guitar and keys/synths. At venues where we score an upright piano then I happily tinkle there for a couple of songs. We’ll be playing songs that we’ve been touring since 2017, as well as my new single 'The Sacred' and a handful of other fresh ones.

I really am going to be getting such huge encouragement from these shows, though. I can’t wait to come home and just breathe a bit, and get a bit of therapy from people and music in my safe place.

Your brother is supporting you at your Auckland show on March 10th? Tell us about him?

Laban is the baby of the five-kid Cole clan. Our parents always encouraged us in all sorts of creative endeavours, beginning with colouring competitions throughout the 90’s. Both of my parents and my sister studied graphic design, my older brothers have played in bands and pursued visual arts in different ways, and I always enjoy being able to explore painting and drawing while pursuing my music. I see Laban as a beautiful bucket at the bottom of the family, collecting all the best talents and insights from everyone else. He also reads so gets bonus points for that. For a while I think he’s been quietly attending live poetry events, and just a couple of years ago starting posting short poems and drawings on Instagram (@labancole). We are good friends and I miss him while in Berlin. I’ve loved seeing him express his clever and lovely thoughts, so sweetly captured. There is a real purity to his work, a total absence of pretension. So I selfishly asked him to read a bit of his poetry before my set in Auckland on March 10, so that I can sit there glowing proudly.

A lot of Kiwi musicians leave the country and find a whole new perspective on their music and the industry. Perhaps it’s to do with escaping the “small pond” mentality here, but perhaps also getting an outside look at our culture. Have you had any observations about that?

Yes. Many. Too many to have processed or put into words yet. I think being here has really drilled home my understanding that there are simply so, so many good musicians and artists in the world. There are tonnes of them. It’s insane. A lot of them are “doing well” - making a living. But most aren’t, and maybe never will. I’ve realised that I may never break into any “next level”. I’m beginning to accept it too and just focus on making good things - and caring for myself, others, and the planet.

Aside from catching the tail end of the Kiwi summer, what are your plans for the rest of 2019?

Less than a week after our tour of NZ and Melbourne we’ll be getting on a train from Berlin to the Netherlands to do a string of shows there. Then at some point this year a special EP will be released that I co-wrote with British songwriter Hailey Beavis in 2018. We were both lucky enough to have been invited to collaborate for a project called Among Horses. It’s a co-writing project run by a great little Barcelona-based label called Son Canciones. Our EP will be the fourth “Among Horses” release - 6 other artists have already been involved and had EPs released. Last year it was Haley Heynderickx and Max Garcia Conover - brilliant stuff. The whole project takes place on a Catalonian farm up in the hills where retired horses laze about happily and a scraggly gang of dogs beg for attention. We spent three days writing 5 songs, and then another three days recording. On the last day we recorded in a tiny 1000-year-old chapel made of stone. It was a very, very special experience.


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Lydia Cole - Aotearoa Tour
Wed 27th Feb 7:30pm
Grainstore Gallery, Oamaru
Lydia Cole - Aotearoa Tour
Tue 5th Mar 8:00pm
Meow, Wellington
Lydia Cole - Aotearoa Tour
Sat 9th Mar 7:15pm
Kumeu Live (at Kumeu Arts), Kumeu
Lydia Cole - Aotearoa Tour
Sun 10th Mar 7:30pm
Edge Kingsland, Auckland