Diana Wichtel is easily one of New Zealand's better journalists. Yes I know I bagged her in relation to the fawning interview with Mike Hosking in the Listener's Woman's Weekly special two weeks ago. But that seems to have an aberration. Her TV column in the Listener is usually smart and punchy. This week she has a nice gag about Judy Bailey saying "And coming up after the break, I'm sacked!".
It's her interview with Bic Runga in this week's Listener, though, which really impressed me. This is the kind of gently probing treatment of an interviewee which you expect to find in the Guardian (NB, in my view that's a compliment). She brings her own perspective, without being overbearing, and throws in a few witticisms. She lets Bic Runga speak, but doesn't merely parrot what she says. Sympathetic without being sycophantic (a balance not struck with Hosking). This is actually the kind of thing I'd like to learn to do.
Actually, the real reason I'm mentioning this comes at the end of the article where Bic Runga is asked if she feels she's "still making New Zealand music" and says yes:
"I was playing a gig in LA. A friend who's a musician came and said 'Oh, your music really sounds like it's from an island' ", says Runga happily. She's American and that's what she thought".
Excuse me taking the liberty of quoting myself here, because I did get a little shiver down my spine when I read that. In my post a while back on my No. 4 song, Crowded House's "Distant Sun", I wrote:
"One night in New Plymouth a couple of years ago during a road trip I saw Wellington band Hobnail Boots at the local pub. In the same set they played "Distant Sun", Dave Dobbyn's "Whaling" and Bic Runga's "Sway", all embellished with their trademark harmonies and Jo Moir's gently persuasive violin. Hearing all these songs together played by the same band made me realise there was something shared by their yearning melodies which made me feel a particularly strong connection with them.
The next morning as I walked along the New Plymouth waterfront and looked out at the Pacific Ocean, I wondered if I hadn't stumbled across an emerging cultural identity...something to do with living in what poet Allen Curnow called "a small room with large windows"...If the New Zealand psyche has inevitably been shaped by the claustrophobia of being stuck in the small room of a frontier society, it is also affected by staring out through the large windows of the sky and sea..."
So, you see, I'm not just making it up. Other people out there are on the same wave length.
Categories: Bic Runga, New Zealand Music