by Silke Hartung

Neive Strang: Cutting The Ribbon

by Silke Hartung

Neive Strang: Cutting The Ribbon

Right about this time last year, Neive Strang released a five-track EP titled ‘I Am The Ribbon’, her first collection of songs in more than three years.  Playing support on a nationwide string Dimmer shows later in 2022 helped expand her alt rock reputation well beyond her hometown of Ōtepoti. Ahead of her own eight-date headlining tour this March, she has released new single Living In Two, recorded with Sean James Donnelly, aka SJD, who is himself Dunedin-based these days. Silke Hartung caught up with Neive to find out more. Made with support from NZ On Air Music.

How did your demo version for Living In Two differ from what it became in the final recording?

The song originally had a more atmospheric feel in its demo form, with more drastic dynamic changes between the verses and choruses. The final version of the song is more stripped back with cleverly placed stops and extra guitar parts to help accentuate the vocals and lyrics. It has a more effortless flow between the different sections.

You worked with SJD on the song – how did that come about?

My manager Natasha Griffiths had the great idea of working with Sean on this single. I was keen and luckily Sean was too! So we went from there.

Being such a talented musician and songwriter himself he has a great ear for what’s working and what’s not, and can quickly come up with creative solutions on how to solve things. I liked that he understood the music-making process (being a self-producing artist himself) and felt I could really trust him with my own stuff.

I suppose you learn every time you work with someone new – is there a lesson you’ve taken away from your session with SJD?

Finding new ways to increase the intensity of a song without overdoing the drive effects and volume. I also appreciated his stress-free approach to all our sessions and will definitely embrace that going forward. I’m sure I’ve picked up a lot of other stuff from him as well.

What was the biggest challenge of getting this song released?

The biggest challenge has been being in Indonesia the whole month of February while trying to set up the video release and social media posts to publish in NZ time! I couldn’t have done it without Natasha who has been an absolute godsend throughout the whole process back in NZ.

What was Bailey Gardner and Matilda Macandrew’s approach to creating the music video?

Bailey and Matilda are super passionate and talented videographers and approached this project with a bunch of enthusiasm. Which is so important! And made me even more excited for the outcome during the process of filming it. I picked these two as I’ve known them in Dunedin for a while and am a fan of their distinct artistic style.

I gave Matilda and Bailey complete creative freedom with the concept as I feel artists produce their best work when given the room to do so. We talked through the song’s meaning, where I was at mentally when I wrote it and what it represents for me. They worked with those conversations and figured out a beautiful way to portray those feelings in the film.

Working with the two of them was great. I could feel the ideas sparking between them during our coffee discussions and loved their productive energy during each filming session. Lovely people.

You’ve explored different genres over the years, touching on folk and more of an alt-rock – where would you place Living In Two?

I feel I’m returning more to my folky side with this one. Which is a nice bit of variation for the band and I.

Is this a one-off recording or part of a bigger project? 

The band and I recorded two songs which have been produced by Sean, Living in Two and Could I Reset. This will be the next single I plan to release but the date is still TBC. This could all be part of a larger project (hopefully), potentially an album as I have a few songs stacked up and ready to get moving on but I’m still figuring it all out.

You’ve got a big tour coming up, including some smaller, less-often visited places! What can people expect from your live show?

The band and I are super excited to play live again, especially with some new songs in the mix. We have a new bass player Oliver Robson and percussionist/synth player Jesse Semple joining us on the road this time, making us a five-piece band!

Having recently toured with Dimmer and taking a break from my own music, I feel super inspired, and to head out on tour, playing my own stuff again. The band and I have recharged over summer and are ready to deliver some great shows. x