Hollie Fullbrook

Tiny Ruins has been a favourite of mine since the release of her first album in 2011, and last year’s Brightly Painted One only strengthened the feeling. Her dreamy voice and gorgeous lyrics seem to come from some other, lovelier dimension of space and time. During the Auckland Writers Festival this weekend you can see Hollie Fullbrook, the creative force behind Tiny Ruins, in conversation with Julie Hill. The pair will be discussing the craft of songwriting, and Hollie is rumoured to be performing a few tunes as well. It’s a perfect opportunity to see this talented artist in a relaxed, informal setting ahead of her very recently announced national tour with Bic Runga.

I’m a dreamy sort but I’m also a workaholic, and these are sometimes opposing forces within me.

My day usually begins with staring out the window for a good half hour, coffee, catching up on emails and ends with emails, some sort of ill-fated cover art project, a candle, playing guitar or reading ’til late.

Name your three favourite places in Auckland to eat, drink and play
I’m living out in West Auckland at the moment. Sandringham’s Paradise is a favourite for curry. The Refreshment Room on Scenic Drive is my favourite place for a special but unpretentious meal. Bush walks and beach missions, for getting a clear head after too much time in the house. Weekly long-hauls into town to see friends play music, or for a drink at the Wine Cellar. That’s more than three, sorry.

Tell us something we’d be surprised to know about you
I worked in a bowling alley once. I quit when I found out my male counterparts were being paid more than me for the same job.

Pick a book and a park you’d like to read it in, anywhere in the world
I’m not religious, but I find the ‘Gospel of Thomas’ a really good abstract/slow read. I’ll choose that, and St. Andrew’s Park in Bristol – a big park of trees I used to go to as a kid.

Tell us a little bit about what you’ve been up to since the release of your second album Brightly Painted One, and what your plans are for 2015.
I was on tour for about 7 months of last year, mostly with my bandmates Cass & Alex. We really threw ourselves into that album and its release. Since then I’ve been sort of mentally recovering by doing very dull tasks, like accounting and tax returns. I’m slowly building up some new material, as well as an EP I made with Hamish Kilgour that’ll be out soon. The song that David Lynch produced will also be set free in the coming months, and a special NZ tour with Bic Runga is planned for late June-July.

You’re appearing at the AWF in conversation with Julie Hill about the craft of songwriting. What are the best and worst things about writing songs?
The fun of making music far and away blows any frustrations out of the water. But some challenges for me would be feeling inspiration-less, especially if I’ve been in a ‘practical mode’ of thinking. Sometimes feeling limited by technical ability, although I’ve come to embrace my strengths and weaknesses for what they are. Feeling like there are so many things you want to say and actually YELL about, but how to do it without being preachy/ sentimental / too sad / too flippant / too square. Just general self-doubt, I guess. The best thing is when you just forget all that crap, stop over-thinking and just write something that feels true and right.

What other events are you looking forward to seeing at the Auckland Writers Festival?
There are so many – I feel like I’m going to just hover everywhere the entire weekend, drinking up as much as I can. I feel pretty honoured, speaking at a writers’ festival. I really look up to and appreciate writers.

What are the three best books/articles/poems/song lyrics you’ve read in the past year?
Book: East of Eden by John Steinbeck, which I read as we drove up the Californian coast. It had some great characters in it.
Article: I like a lot of stuff on The Pantograph Punch – this one I thought was particularly worth sharing
Poem: Sections of Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman which I had with me on tour. This one bit about being ‘under the same cover of sky’ really stuck in my mind.
Song lyrics: I think Anthonie Tonnon’s Water Underground is a deliciously smart, politically charged song, and I especially like Hayden Donnell’s analysis of it here.

If everyone in the world had a theme song that played when they walked into a room, what would yours be and why?
What an entertaining thought. Blondie’s Atomic.

Hollie Fullbrook’s AWF event will be held on Saturday at 4.30pm in the Upper NZI Room at the Aotea Centre. GET TICKETS >>

Tiny Ruins and Bic Runga are touring New Zealand this June. Get tickets while you can.