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Bic Runga

Bio

Born in 1976, Briolette Kah Bic Runga is the third daughter of Maori soldier Joseph Runga and Chinese cabaret singer, Sophia, who met and fell in love in Malaysia during the Vietnam war.

Growing up in the 'underwhelming' Christchurch suburb of Hornby, the Runga family listened to The Carpenters, Shirley Bassey, Dusty Springfield, The Mamas & The Papas and The Beatles sung in Chinese. At age 4 Bic heard her mother play Diamonds Are Forever and found the experience frightening. "I remember I didn't really know why music would make you feel like that."

Although she had no formal music training, Bic started learning drums at age 11, and later learned the basics on guitar and keyboards. She began composing her own songs and, always willing to emulate older sister Boh Runga, joined high school bands.

Choosing between art school and music, Bic decided to move to Auckland where she found Sony's address in the phone book and sent in some demo tracks. A song called Drive caught the attention of the label and a deal was struck, with Bic earmarked for international stardom - and more modestly, to become New Zealand's most successful female musician.

Bic's debut single Drive won the hearts of New Zealanders in 1995, shooting into the top ten and winning the prestigious Silver Scroll songwriting award in 1996. Follow-up single Sway ensured Bic's place in the hearts of New Zealanders and paved the way for her debut album Drive.

Drive was recorded over three weeks in May 1997 at Auckland's Revolver Studio. As well as singing, Bic played guitar, mellotron, xylophone and drums. Much record company deliberation took place over the role of producer before 20 year-old Bic took the production reins herself and subsequently mixed the album in LA with Matt Wallace (Faith No More, John Hiatt), aiming for a sound both sparse and spacious.

Drive entered the album chart at number one and remained in the top ten for twently consecutive weeks, eventually selling seven times platinum, making it the highest-selling local artist album ever. The critics loved the album, hailing it "a natural masterpiece", "a fantastic collection of lilting ballads full of warmth and honesty, bathed in Runga's haunting voice." The high regard for Bic and Drive were apparent at the 1998 New Zealand Music Awards, with a sweep of six Tuis including Album Of The Year, Single Of The Year, Best Female Vocalist and Best Songwriter.

But the hard work wasn't over yet, and Bic spent the following two years on a gruelling touring and promotional schedule in the United States, including playing the Lilith Fair tour alongside Bonnie Raitt and Emmylou Harris. She also returned to New Zealand to join Tim Finn and Dave Dobbyn for the Together In Concert tour.

All the while, Bic was gathering experience and inspiration to put into her next album, although getting it made was no simple process. Over a period of three years Bic worked with twelve different engineers in five cities - Los Angeles, New York, Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland. "I put myself through school again making this music, in terms of learning," said Bic of her second self-produced effort, on which she plays piano, drums and guitar.

Beautiful Collision was released internationally in 2002 and surpassed eleven times platinum sales in New Zealand, beating the record set by Drive five years earlier and setting the benchmark higher still. The album received rave reviews in Uncut and Mojo, and the hit single Get Some Sleep reached the top ten in Japan and Ireland as well as the top 40 in the UK singles chart. In New Zealand the release was lauded with three Tuis, including recognition for Bic's production efforts with the award for Best Producer.

Of her success in songwriting, Bic says, "The trick is to give a little bit of what's wnated to be heard, but also a little of what's unexpected as well."

Having spent most of 2003 and 2004 living in Paris and London, Bic returned home for the summer of 2005. That summer ended on a sad note for the Runga family with the death of Bic's father, Joe, but Bic went on to complete a world tour as well as playing as a soloist in support of the Finn Brothers through March and April.

Neil Finn has long been a fan of Bic's music and had contributed vocals to Beautiful Collision. Talking with Bic on the Finn Brothers tour, he immediately warmed to Bic's idea to record her new album as "live" as possible - and agreed to join as pianist/guitarist with the ensemble of plyers she had in mind including vocalists Anika Moa, Shayne Carter and Anna Coddington, TrinityRoots Riki Gooch on drums, Conrad Standish of acclaimed Melbourne band The Devastaitions on bass and 'Boxcar Benny' Maitland and Pluto's Tim Arnold on guitars.

Taking the role of album producer herself, Bic convened the band in Auckland's Monte Cecilia House on August 2005. Built in 1879, with wonderfully detailed architecture complete with parquet floors, elaborate ceiling roses, marble fireplaces and four-storyed tower overlooking a wooded park, Monte Cecilia provided the perfect location for the month-long recording session.

Initial recording concentrated on capturing the often elusive magive of great "live takes". With up to ten singers and players recording in the room at one time, Bic's approach harked back to Jazz recordings of the 50s and beyond and the timeless pop recordings from before single instrument track-laying became the norm in the 1970s. There is a natural intimacy between instruments and voices playing live in the same room that she felt could be easily lost in a modern studio setting.

By the time an eight piece string session and further instrumentation including French horn, flute, harp and clarinet had been added, the intricate arrangements and richly textured songs were taking shape. Bic flew with the tapes to London to mix the album with Simon Gogerly, renowed for his work alongside Nellie Hooper and with artists as diverse and the Rolling Stones, Cat Stevens and mixing U2's latest single.

The resulting album is a superb distillation of Bic Runga's incredible songwriting talent and her firm grasp on the universal language of romance. Undercurrents of subtle melancholy in songs like the breathtaking and spacious Captured and Say After Me flow through to the uplifting notes of hope in her first single Winning Arrow and If I Had You.

Bic released Birds in 2005, Try To Remember Everything in 2008, Belle in 2011 and Anthology in 2012.

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  • Auckland

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Bic Hits Australia
Posted: Tue Jun 3, 2003 10:59 am
During June Bic Runga will be in Australia - the dates are as follows:

Monday 16 June - The Basement, Sydney
Tuesday 17 June - The Basement, Sydney
Wednesday 18 June - The Basement, Sydney
Thursday 19 June - The Basement, Sydney
Friday 20 June - The Basement, Sydney
Sunday 22 June - Prince Of Wales, Melbourne
Monday 23 June - Prince Of Wales, Melbourne
Tuesday 24 June - Prince Of Wales, Melbourne
Wednesday 25 June - Prince Of Wales, Melbourne

She will also be performing a one of gig in the UK in July:

Thursday 10 July - Union Chapel, London
 

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Bic On Top
Posted: Fri Dec 6, 2002 5:59 pm
Thanks to Median Strip for the following info:

Bic Runga's Beautiful Collision tour - already well received through the US, Canada and Australia - kicks off its New Zealand leg on Tuesday night (December 10), in Invercargill.

Nice timing too, with her Something Good single currently the most-played track on Median Strip's RadioScope Airplay Charts, up to #4 on the Singles Chart, and her album confirmed triple platinum.
Support for the 12-date tour comes in the form of Aussie Paul Kelly and locals Goldenhorse.

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'Beautiful Collision' to be released in USA
Posted: Sun Nov 3, 2002 1:11 pm
Bic Runga's 'Beautiful Collision' will be released in America this week through Colombia Records.

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Bic Runga Nominated For Juice TV Awards!
Posted: Fri Aug 9, 2002 11:53 am
Bic Runga has received the following nominations in the Juice TV Awards:

* Best Female Video (Get Some Sleep)

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Bic Runga Nominated For Squeeze People Choice Awards
Posted: Fri Jul 26, 2002 4:20 pm
Bic Runga has received the following nominations in the Squeeze People Choice Awards:

* Best Band/Artist

* Best Music Video (Get Some Sleep)

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