Ivy Rossiter

By Maegan Johnsen

Luckless and Nadia Reid are set to hot road and embark on the 'Ballads And Badlands Tour' throughout New Zealand, perfect timing for NZ Music Month.

Maegan Johnsen caught up with Ivy Rossiter from Luckless ahead of the tour which begins this Thursday inChristchurch (tour dates below).

You are on the cusp of heading out on tour with Nadia Reid. Have you guys played or toured together before?

No, we haven't toured together before. This is the first time so we are really excited about it.We are quite familiar with each other's music but we have never actually collaborated on a set like we are going to be doing for this particular tour. We are each doing an individual set and then we will do a collaborative set at the end of the night.  It's going to be great!

It's exciting because we get to play on each other's favourite songs and we are also doing a few covers that we like to call Badland Ballads. It all ties in with the theme of the Ballads and Badlands Tour. There will be a few old favourites that people might know. I don't want to give away too much but hopefully when we play them people respond with 'I love that song!'

Where was the idea born for the Ballad's & Badlands Tour?

The 'working musician' idea is a really valuable part of both of our lives so it all came together quite naturally. We just kind of made it happen.  In the bigger cities it is very easy for musicians to fall into the trap of working a day job and playing a gig every once in a while so as to not wear out your audience.

Christchurch is different. I have spent quite a lot of time there lately and it's a place with that ethos of working as a musician to improve and find your audience.

We just really love getting out on the road because when you play a string of fifteen gigs you get a real feel for the music that you are playing. You start to be able to interact with the audience in a much more interesting way and you've got good stories to tell and you have a really good time with it. Whereas if you are only playing a show every six weeks you never really fall into that good rhythm of playing music.

What can the audience expect to hear at your show?

It's going to be a sit down gig not a dancing affair.  We would love a quiet, attentive audience, although we always appreciate a bit of vocal encouragement. Heckling always makes the night fun!

It will hopefully be a nice intimate evening of original music and things that people haven't heard before, potentially pushing a few boundaries, particularly with the Luckless set and the collaborative set.  If people like to hear original songwriters we think that it should be a really enjoyable evening for them. With NZ music month going on everyone is quite excited about local music.

We have tickets on www.undertheradar.co.nz and if people buy their tickets online they get $5.00 off the door fee. We are trying to encourage people to buy their tickets early.  Ticket prices are $10.00 online or $15.00 on the door.

Would you consider your style and Nadia's style to be musically similar?

Nadia plays more acoustic based folk music, really, really beautiful stuff. I play electric guitar and use a loop pedal so it's a little bit more experimental.  I am a big fan of 'songs'. I don't know what else to play. I like Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. I play around with my electric guitar and push the songs to interesting places.

You mentioned that you use a loop pedal. When did you first start using one and how do you think it influences your sound?

I've been doing it for about 5 years. I've gone through three loop pedals, all the same brand - they keep dying on me, I clearly work them quite hard!

I started off wanting to use a loop pedal after seeing Liam Finn years ago and really enjoying his sets. So I bought myself a pedal and taught myself how to use it, which took a wee while.  It has become quite an important part of my set. I play with my drummer but sometimes he is not able to go off on tour for weeks on end. He has Uni and a job and a house and those things. He's not quite as freewheeling as I am. So when I play music by myself the loop pedal really helps fill up the sound and makes it seem like there is more than just one person on the stage.

Did you have music in your home growing up?

There was always music around but my parents weren't particularly musical. We did all of the things we should do as kids, we played a sport, played an instrument, belonged to brownies. We did all of the bits and pieces. We played music as a matter of course but I ended up getting quite into it. I sang in choirs and things like that but I always had terrible stage fright. I was far too scared to get up and play my own music or even write my own songs because I always felt like anything that I wrote was terrible. It took me many years to work up the courage to write my own music and take it out and play at open mic nights. I remember I was shaking the first few times I played my own songs. It was so terrifying. But after a few years of practicing playing live I began to feel more comfortable doing it. I think part of it was I wanted to play so badly that I didn't want to be bad at it.

Tell us a little bit about what inspires you personally and your song writing process?

I'm a very big reader. I love novels and I find a lot of inspiration in literary work as well as musical work.  For me, songwriters like PJ Harvey, Nick Cave and Sparklehorse and those kinds of bands are a really big influence on me.

As for my song writing process it can be quite varied but I usually try to write music and lyrics at the same time. If I write one or the other separately it's much harder to get them to meld together, although it is possible. Usually I just noodle around until I come up with a lyrical idea or lick of music that is appealing. Then the first thing I do is record it because I have a terrible memory. If I walk away from having written a verse or something and I don't record, it just disappears from my brain. It's terrible! So I make little recordings and work away on them until they take shape. Then I take them to my drummer who's incredible good at boosting my moral. I seem to be a bit unsure about things that I have written. I can't really tell until someone else tells me what's working, what bits to trash or what can be turned into something.  So we sit down and have a discussion about how the songs could work.

I once heard a really good quote from Jeff Tweedy from Wilco saying, "If you strip any song down to just an acoustic guitar, pretty much every song could be a folk song".  Don't get me wrong, I love folk music, but it's not quite what we play and so the songs don't just get written on acoustic guitar and stay the way they were written. Quite often there is a lot of shaping and crafting of something that turns into that final product that actually sounds like a Luckless song.

'Ballads And Badlands Tour' 

Thursday 9 May - The Darkroom, Chch

Friday 10 May - Hilltop Tavern, Little River

Saturday 11 May - Chick's Hotel, Port Chalmers

Sunday 12 May - New Edinborough Folk Club, Dunedin

Tuesday 14 May - Federal Diner, Wanaka

Wednesday 15 May - Donovan's Store, Okarito

Thursday 16 May - Barrytown Hall, Barrytown

Friday 17 May - The Boathouse, Nelson

Monday 20 May - Evil Genius NZ Music Month Potluck Dinner, Wellington

Wednesday 22 May - The Moorings, Wellington

Thursday 23 May - Rhythm Upstairs, New Plymouth

Friday 24 May - The Wine Cellar, Auckland

Sunday 26 May - Golden Dawn, Auckland

Plus more dates to be announced

Tickets available from www.undertheradar.co.nz