10 Questions with Boh Runga

Singer-Songwriter Boh Runga

Singer-Songwriter Boh Runga

New Zealand rock royalty Boh Runga spent several successful years fronting her band Stellar, going multi-platinum with their albums and winning eight Tui Awards (NZ Grammys) during their time together.

When Boh decided to record her next album in Los Angeles, she also decide to step out under her own name. The resulting Right Here is full of catchy hooks and rich rock, all threaded through with Boh’s pop-perfect voice.

Daughter of a Maori ex-serviceman and a Chinese mother who once had a singing career in Malaysia, Boh’s home was full of music, her sister Bic Runga is also a successful and popular musician.  (Bic’s song Sway was featured in America Pie.)

The two tracks Boh’s people sent me for posting show her dynamic range, Evelyn being an upbeat, hooky pop jaunt and The Sky and the Earth a lush romantic ballad.  (click the links to get to the download pages)  Have a listen and I think you’ll see what I mean, I was definitely “hooked” in right away!

Between all her traveling from New Zealand and LA, we couldn’t manage a phone interview, but Boh did answer 10 questions by email, read on:

1) When did you know you wanted to be a songwriter?

I had always written songs, I started when I was young, and my parents always encouraged me. It wasn’t until I met the right people that I became more confident at fronting a band and performing my own songs.

2) What is your songwriting process like?

It requires a cup of coffee/beer or glass of wine (depending on the time of day and/or the weather) an acoustic guitar or a bass guitar, paper, a pencil and no distractions. My laptop can be useful too when I want to check on a popular phrase or refer to an online dictionary or thesaurus. Inspiration is nice, too.

3) What is one thing (besides your instruments!) you can’t leave for a tour without?

An itinerary or someone who knows the itinerary. And a credit card or two.

4) Where is your favorite place to sing?

I’ve been caving before in Golden Bay, Nelson, New Zealand and I had to have a bit of a warble when we were in a gigantic cavern. It sounded amazing. Nature’s Cathedral.

5) If you could form a super-group of any musicians, living or dead, who would you choose and what would they play?

Easy: Johnny Cash, Jon Bonham, George Harrison, John Lennon, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, John Entwistle, Jim Morrison, Michael Jackson, Karen Carpenter, Les Paul, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, Joe Strummer, Freddie Mercury, Ray Charles.

It would be a logistical nightmare, probably a bit like We Are The World but how great would it be!

6) What are you most proud of on this album?

I’m proud of the album as a whole, but one song I love a lot is This Old Heart. That song wrote itself , so pleasurable when a song insists on being written and I like the way the instrumentation supports my vocals, I pushed myself out of my vocal comfort zone and I enjoyed that immensely!

7) What was the last book you read?

Would an audio book count? I just finished listening to Issac Asimov reading his collection of short stories. V entertaining as he talks about how the inspiration for each story came about.

8 ) Do you have any advice to aspiring musicians and singer-songwriters?

Do it for love, not money. If you can earn a living from it, fantastic, if not enjoy yourself anyhow.

9) You just won an award at a red carpet event – who do you thank?

Everyone I can remember who I should thank, good old cue cards.

10) Any upcoming projects (musical or non) that you’d like to share?

I’m rehearsing for a show at Hotel Cafe on 23rd Sept and I’m in the midst of finalising a new jewellery range coming out February next year. It’s very 2010 is the only hint I can give you. I’m also preparing to introduce my previous jewellery collections to Los Angeles. I’m showing at a Kiwis in LA artshow happening on October 24th in Santa Monica. It’s exciting.

BONUS QUESTION: What is your favorite sandwich? :-)

Fresh, white thickly sliced bread, buttered, a thin sweep of Best Foods mayonnaise, crispyhead lettuce, generous slices of fresh ham, topped with sliced heirloom tomatoes

OK, as you can probably tell from question 10, I’ve been sitting on this post for a while.  My apologies for keeping it from you, but if you’re following my tumblr, you may remember that I posted Boh’s Evelyn video a while back, so you had a small chance to discover her through that.  Life has been pretty hectic since then and I’ve had a lot of phone interviews to feature lately!  Craziness!  But good stuff.

In any case, now that you’ve been introduced to Boh, if you want to know more about her, check out her website, MySpace, Facebook or Twitter.  I’ll also be playing an extended set of her songs on Lyrical Venus this Tuesday 10/27!

3 Responses to “10 Questions with Boh Runga”

  1. Lynette says:

    Thanks Heather! Boh just finished up her ‘Acoustic Church Tour’ here in New Zealand. I had a chance to catch the tour in Christchurch. She and Greg Johnson were fantastic together! If you ever get a chance to see her perform live, don’t miss it!

  2. Lyrical Venus says:

    Lynette, that’s so awesome! I do hope I get to see Boh sometime, she seems so cool!

  3. alyssa says:

    I just found your blog and I’m so glad you devote it to female singer-songwriters! I love chick rock…
    Anyways, I thought you should know about a website called Brite Revolution. http://www.briterevolution.com. They feature indie artists- about half are female. Katie Herzig, Joy Williams, Crystal Thomas, and more! Hope you can check it out and maybe write a blog on the artists! Have a good day :)

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