Boh Runga is best known as the fiery frontwoman of Stellar*, one of New Zealand’s biggest selling and most successful bands. Stellar*s punchy pop rock took them to the top of the charts and, writing and singing hit songs for the group, Boh became one of the most recognised faces in NZ music’s past decade.
Her list of Stellar* hits includes ‘Violent’, ‘Part Of Me’, ‘Undone’, ‘What You Do’, ‘All It Takes’ and ’For A While’ and she has been a regular fixture in the country’s fashion pages as well as on its music stages.
Boh grew up in Christchurch, the daughter of a maori ex-serviceman and a mother who forsook her own singing career in Malaysia to join him in a place she barely knew existed. It wasn’t the easiest place to grow up but the Runga household, with Boh leading the way for her two younger sisters Pearl and Bic, was bursting to its seams with music.
Boh left Christchurch for Auckland to form Stellar*. After finally signing with Sony Music, their 1999 debut album 'Mix' set New Zealand’s radio waves alight, and Stellar* quickly became Sony’s biggest selling kiwi band. The acclaim wasn’t just multi-platinum sales based, with Stellar* securing eight Tui Awards for Mix and its 2001 follow up 'Magic Line'.
After the release of 'Magic Line' and the subsequent touring of New Zealand, Australia and Europe, Boh headed to live in Los Angeles to hone her skills as a songwriter at the invitation of her American-based music publishers, Chrysalis.
"They introduced me to working songwriters over there, and it was an amazing experience being thrown into a situation where I would be in a room with a complete stranger with amazing musical credentials and hold my own. By the end of the day we would normally have a great pop song, or at least the basis of a great pop song.
"I got to sit down with Wendy Melvoin (Prince and the Revolution) and record our song in Frank Sinatra’s old studio. I wrote with Kevin Savigar, Rod Stewart’s songwriter. And I penned ’Whiplash’ [the first single for Stellar*s 2006 album, 'Something Like Strangers'] with Shelly Peiken who wrote ’Bitch’ for Meredith Brooks and Christina Aguilera’s ’Genie in a Bottle’."
Powered by the afore-mentioned ’Whiplash’ and the radio chart-topper ’For A While’, third album 'Something Like Strangers' followed the previous two Stellar* albums straight into the charts in 2006.
In 2007, after a fortuitous introduction with gold bullion company The New Zealand Mint, Boh launched a jewellery range featuring her designs. “My first range I call Birdland because it is based on my love of New Zealand’s native birds. I’m excited to have a jewellery line. It’s been a wonderful experience collaborating with The Mint. When I first saw the proto-type birds in silver and gold, it was exciting to think I helped develop them! And to see someone wearing a piece of my jewellery is such a thrill.”
As 2008 dawns, Boh finds herself back in Los Angeles to follow up on more songwriting with a view to working on a solo record for the first time in her career; as well as preparing new designs for a second jewelry line to launch with NZ Mint later in the year.
And so she heads off on a new adventure, with a guitar, a sketchbook and a head full of melodies and designs......
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