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Rosy Tin Teacaddy - Coastella Interview: Rosy Tin Teacaddy

20 Dec 2018 // An interview by Steve Shyu

Wellington act Rosy Tin Teacaddy celebrated their 10th year in 2017, and they'll be performing at Coastella 2019, which is taking place on the Kapiti Coast on 23 February. Steve from Muzic.net.nz spoke to Andy and Holly about their songwriting process, influences and their new music:

First round's on me - What will you two be having?

H: Given it’s pretty sweaty out here today, I’ll go for a gin and tonic with a dash of cucumber and lime syrup thanks. Oh, and throw in some mint from the garden too, if you don’t mind. Chin chin!

A: My drinking days finished four years ago in a crescendo of single malt scotch and a busted liver. Make mine a lemon, lime and soda please.

For those who aren't familiar with what you do, how would you describe Rosy Tin Teacaddy?

H: We sing like siblings or maybe lovers do, although we’re neither.

A: We give each other shit like siblings and lovers do too, mostly on stage. I think we love and loathe each other in equal measure in real life too.

H: When we were younger we had a cute reputation. Now that we’re old(er) our sound has widened sonically. The hardwood of folkesque songwriting is still there, but there are some surprising decorations on the tree. Did someone say it’s Christmas soon?

A: We started off twee, worked through our optimism and have settled in the moody and macabre for the moment. It’s not downer music but we’re not exactly ‘upbeat’. And we’re word nerds, in it for the song.

Walk us through your song-writing process - Who does what?

H: We write together. I’ve learnt over the years that it’s quite unusual for a duo to completely share both lyrics and music writing within the one song. Sometimes we may start with a scenario -- a moment in NZ history for example, or a predicament. We spend a lot of time chiselling our lyrics.

A: There’ll be a sparkle of chords, a splurt of vocal melody, then half an idea and a short-lived swell of completion followed by hours and hours of refinement and detailing of syllables and phrasing. We both have to totally buy every word and every breath otherwise it isn’t right. It’s a brutal process and the best thing ever.

Care to name a few of your biggest musical influences right now?

H: Beck’s Morning Phase album & Ones and Sixes by Low

A: Beck’s Morning Phase album & Ones and Sixes by Low. And The Beatles, Burial and Radiohead.

Best gig(s) you two have ever played?

H: Support for Rhian Sheehan at the Wellington Opera House in 2013. I was 8 months pregnant and waddled onto stage straight from a hospital bed after haemorrhaging. Wearing a white dress. It could’ve gone terribly wrong. But it didn’t. It was ace. My son was born a few days later.

A: Yep, that was a hoot. Also, St Peter’s hall for Reb Fountain. There was something in the room that night, every breath was ice that hung in the air, it was glass and fire. Bonkers. I think I wept through the last song. Sobriety is a weird thing.

What new music do you two have in the works?

H: We’ll be showcasing a bunch of new tunes at Coastella with a tweaked live set-up.

A: Yes, new songs/new problems. We’re still trying to balance incorporating elements of electronica without feeling too karaoke. It’s a fine line. Being a duo with ears for a big sonic is a difficult thing to marry. I think we can pull it off and that audiences can process what’s happening.

Will there be more material similar to the Tarawera project you two created in 2011?

H: Interesting question. We really enjoy writing albums in a wholly concentrated fashion away from the real world. I think it helps us create our own narratives that ride the line of real and imagined. Responding to environment is a big part of our writing process, plus having the opportunity of history as a storytelling focus is a total gift -- so I hope so!

A: We’re both swamped with life commitments, so I’ve built a garden shed to act as our clubhouse, so we can fake being on a sabbatical in the few precious moments between children going to bed and exhaustion taking over. Fingers crossed.

From your perspectives, in what ways has New Zealand music changed since you two started?

H: I think the biggest change is has been in audiences and venues -- which are possibly symbiotic. There seems to be more respect for holding space for the song and a value to live performance -- that wasn’t so apparent a decade ago. New Zealand musicians who started off independently are now punching high on the international stage: I still remember Marlon Williams jumping up and joining us and The Eastern on stage one tour -- just a boy out of school & Hannah (Aldous) Harding singing BVs. Now look at them go! What once might’ve been dubbed as non-commercial is bringing well-deserved success for not only these guys but a swathe of other talent.

A: I can’t tell anymore. There’s still a clique. You still have to be cool. We’ve never been particularly cool. Why aren’t we cool? I feel cool. I think audiences have become more sophisticated or maybe I’m just old? I think I’m old. Old, and trying to be sophisticated and cool. What was the question?

Besides performing, of course, what else are you most looking forward to on Coastella?

H: Taking my whanau to the party! I’m looking forward to seeing The Beths play. And that undeniable soundtrack to the days before pessimism and wrinkles came -- TrinityRoots.

A: I just want to sit under a tree. Can I have a Paekakariki Pop ice block please?


More info on Coastella


About Rosy Tin Teacaddy

Rosy Tin Teacaddy are Billy Earl and Betty Grey (aka Andy Hummel and Holly Jane Ewens). Since early 2007 the duo have been wooing discerning music lovers with their indie-folk sing-alongs.

Based in Wellington, the wry lyrical flavour of Rosy Tin Teacaddy is proving popular with live audiences. The group has shared the stage with international artists Jose Gonzalez, and Iron and Wine, plus locals Chris Knox, Jess Chambers, Teacups, Ragamuffin Children, Matt Langley, The Broken Heartbreakers, Achilles Botes, Ashes of August, and Tim Guy.

Holly Jane Ewens (Betty), is a compulsive cryptic crossworder, poet, and actor. She owns a fine set of vocal cords and writes killer tunes. Andy Hummel (Billy), who has had previous incarnations as an electronica boffin remixing the likes of Pitch Black, Rhian Sheehan and The Black Seeds, is currently a member of The Woolshed Sessions.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Rosy Tin Teacaddy


In Kindness or Injury
Year: 2015
Type: EP
Year: 2009
Type: EP
The Homeward Stretch
Year: 2009
Type: Album
Blind Leading The Blind
Year: 2007
Type: Album

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