After spending the best part of a decade establishing herself in the UK, singer Bridget Walsh is venturing out locally with her new protect 10:32. Centred in elements of jazz, soul and RnB, and with a guest vocal from Troy Kingi, her new track Seedling has an infectious groove. It featured on NZ On Air Music’s April NewTracks compilation. Here Bridget reveals enough enthusiasm and inspiration to propel a whole album…
Kia ora, ko Bridget Walsh toku ingoa – my name is Bridget Walsh. I was born in Takapuna and grew up around Tāmaki Makaurau, with a brief stint in Wellington before moving to the UK in 2009. I sing and play keys and dabble in production stuff. I also love toys and effects units and other gadgets for sonic adventures!
I sung all through school, and went to Westlake Girls especially because of the music department there, and the head of music, Elise Bradley and her choir Key Cygnetures. It’s the only real singing training I’ve had, singing in that choir for 4 years. We won gold at the nationals every year, and travelled to Hawaii and Canada. It was pretty epic, and some of my best friends now are people I met in that choir. I also used to tour with a band in the UK with one of my friends, Laura, who was in Key Cygs with me too. After high school, I studied popular music at Auckland University before I moved to the UK.
Heh – maybe, if you like electro-swing? I was in a band in the UK called Electric Swing Circus and also toured with another band, Jenova Collective. We toured Aotearoa a couple of times, headlined CubaDupa and played Auckland Arts Festival, plus a string of shows around the place, San Fran, Matterhorn, Yot Club in Raglan, Rugby Awards in Christchurch… some good spots. I also did some vocals for a project with Shelton Woolright and Laughton Kora called Kinetic a couple of years back too.
After I left the Swing Circus it took me a couple of years to get my head in the game to start a new band. I needed tunes that I was excited about, and other artists who were on the same wavelength as me. I moved back to London from Birmingham (where I’d been touring from) and started going to jam nights and friends’ shows and low-key shortlisting people I wanted in my band, haha!
I was singing for a few projects at that point, but not leading anything of my own. The plan had initially been to find people to record a couple of demos with, which is how I ended up finding Lyle Barton on keys – honestly one of the UK’s top jazz pianists – Digby Lovatt on bass, and then – via Digby, Radovan Brtko on drums.
We headed in the studio for two days and tracked three tunes (it was literally the first time we’d all played together too), and just started cooking up some magic together. Hugh (Mazbou Q) was also in town and he dropped into the studio for a few hours and ended up doing the production on the only tune that made it past demo stage from that session – Tom Riddle – which we released in 2019. After those demos we got invited to debut at Isle of Wight Festival and then got offered a run of tour dates in Aotearoa… and so by the end of 2018 I was like, “Yo – do you guys just wanna actually be a band?” And 10:32 was born!
Ooooh – in some ways it’s evolved so much, and in some ways, it’s exactly the same haha! Most of all, writing music is super cathartic for me. It’s always been a way I work through drama and trauma and chaos, and try to make sense of things swimming around in my head. Even though I’ve been a piano player since I was 5, I actually wrote my first tunes on the guitar, as a teenager, but nowadays it’s always on the piano.
Sometimes I have lyrics first, sometimes I find chord sequences I like. sometimes I sit down and just improvise and press record on the voice memos and see what comes out. But then of course, the real magic is when we all get in a room as a band together and jam and see what happens. Lyle, Rado and Digby tend to all write their own parts, even if I’ve written the initial changes and melodies – that’s sort of a big thing for me. It’s all about the alchemy, you know? Everyone has to feel good and authentic about what they’re playing, whether it’s just me, or a duo with me and Lyle, or the whole band.
Having worked on projects where I didn’t really feel artistically valued, it’s super important to me that everyone always feels good when we’re playing together. We also have a few other babes we bring in from time to time – like on the record we have Benedict Wood on guitar and Oli Savill on percussion. Got a couple of my top babes on backing vocals too, Verushka and Wallace, plus Lewis Moody our producer brought his own magic to the pot too. Alchemy baby – that’s what it’s all about!
Oh haha – 10:32am is the time I was born! We had initially been gigging and touring under my name ‘Miss Bridget Walsh’ but the collective magic was just too big for me to be taking all the credit. So 10:32 felt like a cool way to have a new name for us all as a whole, but something that also just evolved from… well, me hahah! Or a part of my story, at least…
Honestly, every time we get to play together, it’s pretty rad! It’s been a hot minute since we’ve been in a room together (ie: not since we tracked the record at the beginning of 2020 – thanks Covid), but we are hanging out for things to settle down and for us all to be back in the same country again.
I’d say our gig at the Yot Club in Raglan in 2018 was pretty incredible. Jess [Hix] and I played there again the other day, and people even remembered me from our last show, so that’s a good sign! There was a moment where honestly it felt like the whole room transcended – when shit starts to get ‘outer body’ you know you’re making some real magic!
Also being in the studio producing ‘Aequus Animus’ with Lyle and Lewis at the end of 2020, and hearing our new record come together and being like… “Oh snap. We’ve made something really special here, y’all!” That was pretty exciting. And when Troy sent through a rough bounce of his verse I started crying so… honestly it’s all a big ride.
Pre-10:32 stuff, I’ve played some epic shows and festivals around the world, Glasto and all that. My last Swing Circus show was headlining CubaDupa and that was pretty ace too. But I’m pretty sure all the big highlights are still ahead of us, you know? 10:32 stuff is just gonna keep hitting different for me, for sure.
Well for starters, it obviously has to be Troy [Kingi]. What an incredible artist, and what a huge privilege to have his magic and his words on our tune. Like I say, when he sent over his little demo bounce, I cried hahah! But I guess the reason why there was space for Troy on the tune (though Yo – I’ll make space for Troy any day of the week!) – but yeah, the space was there because it was part of the concept behind the tune itself. I wrote it after the XR occupation on London Bridge back in 2019, and I came home and just scrawled heaps of lyrics in my notebook about the state of the world and feeling equally heartbroken and outraged. And then I sat at my keyboard and started jamming these sort of Radiohead-ish chords and was making a bunch of vocal loops and just messing about.
I had all these lyrics for a couple of verses, written in the first person as Mother Earth, like, “Honey can’t you hear me. Can’t you see I’m falling. Falling underneath the weight of you?” Like actually really sick lyrics that I should probably do something with eventually… but when I took it to the boys, it just… the song didn’t want them all. Ms Bradley from my choir days used to always say you have to “…let the music win” and I felt like I was cluttering the vibe – it needed space to grow on its own. Like it just sort of wanted to be… a seedling, you know? Something small and humble and simple that just grew of its own accord, with a little bit of love and space to move.
Hah… guess I covered that above, but it’s basically about the state of the world and the fact that everything’s been going to shit for a long time and people just keep putting off making the changes we need to make, when really that shit’s gonna be too late if we wait until tomorrow. “We’ll be done for, when tomorrow doesn’t come” – you know? Like pull finger and make things happen NOW, yo! All wrapped up in some tasty beats and heavy grooves, of course… and then Troy’s verse just comes in and slayyyyys – like it’s so beautiful and bewitching, but also calling everyone out about all the things we need to be doing better. Basically, I’m a Green-voting, vegan enviro-nerd and Seedling is a song about saving the world.
I love Troy’s flow tbh… how it starts off with the BVs and then he comes in all magical n that “…living for the now with no foresight, happy to stamp out all available light” – so good. And obvs Lyle’s piano solo at the end is super cool as always – and to have a track that’s probably like half instrumental getting some mainstream love? We’re a bunch of music nerds really, so it’s pretty sweet that our tunes are landing for people across all sorts of spaces.
So yeah, the initial idea was written by me, then brought to the lads to see where it wanted to go. We love playing it live too, cos it’s such a jam track, you know? It’s never the same from one show to the next. Digby also opens the tune with like a 5-minute sexy bass solo moment haha, so that’s fun!
Because of that, we weren’t super sure how it’d sound recorded. But we went into TRC (Total Refreshment Centre in London) for one day and recorded the four tunes on ‘Aequus Animus’ live – ie, we played everything all together, rather than tracking individually. And then Covid happened and all our shows (including our 2020 NZ tour) got cancelled and we all had no money and had to go on the benefit and try to stay safe and sane… and so we had to sit on the tunes for a few months while we worked out a plan.
Then I got in touch with Lewis (who’d moved to London from Melbourne in 2019) and was like, “Bro, we want you to produce our record, but we can only afford to do one song at a time.” And he was like “Nahhhh, let’s just do it and suss the money after,” which honestly was such a godsend. Like Lewis is the reason why we have a whole record out now, and not just a string of singles… and when we got the stems through from Troy and I was like, “Yo Lewis – it’s time to do more cooking,” he was like, “Hell yeah” and now we have this bad-ass single-version of Seedling that just brings the whole 2020 shitshow together in the best way!
It’s gonna sound cheesy as hell, but I would really like this tune to empower people to make some positive changes in their lives and the world around them. Like the track itself is such a vibe, and it’s super tasty with Troy coming through, but also like… the message is important af. So if we can use the power of music to get people upping the ante a little bit on making sure the way they move through the world has as positive an impact as possible, then job done, mate. Also, on a less heavy level – I just want our music to make people go, “Mmmmm – yeah – that’s a vibe” hahah!
The million-dollar question? I’ve sort of given up on that a little bit tbh. A lot of my creative blocks in the past have come from trying to make “certain” music a “certain” way. Now it’s just full emphasis on tunes that make me feel good to write and play and share. And hopefully, we start to reach people from a position of authenticity and those vibes carry through. Gotta let the music win, remember? So big grooves, tasty beats, captivating melodies, authentic stories… something to get people in the feels, and get their heads bobbing or their booties shaking, one way or another.
We are pretty independent at the moment – got Troy’s label helping share this single, and a couple of people who are helping with management and promo, but I’ve been self-managed since the Swing Circus days, so am no stranger to knuckling down and getting shit done. Though I am always ready and hungry to spend more time on making my art and less time on admin so… if you know anyone, hit me up for real!
Well, I’m super proud of the fact that I have booked a whole Aotearoa tour in April and May to celebrate these releases, and that all of the acts have been artists and projects led by women / gender-diverse babes, as well as our touring engineer, tour manager, graphic designer and most of our photographers. I’m all about championing that representation and you know “be the change” so that’s something that’s been a big part of the last few months, booking and managing all that – and of course, touring and playing myself!
In terms of what’s next, I’m due to return to London in time for the UK summer and festival season, so hopefully, a few shows that actually happen in the coming months. And a bit more media stuff too to share this record far and wide, and all the while, writing and working on our next release, baby…!
Well, absolutely no shade on NZ on Air, but I’ve legit been applying for funding, support and inclusion on compilations and all sorts since I was 18, and this is the first time I’ve been included on anything. I’m in my 30s now so… I guess the advice is, just keep working at your craft, keep being active in your community, keep believing in yourself and your art, and keep putting yourself forward for things. Being a successful artist simply: is not easy. Cliché, I know, but, “If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.” This shit is hard work!
If you really wanna commit to this life, then you just have to keep pivoting and find ways to keep sustaining your art and filling your soul and fuelling your projects so that any funding or external support is a bonus, but not a dealbreaker. I’m incredibly and unbelievably grateful that our tunes are getting some attention and support now, but this record has been totally self-funded, and we would always have released it either way. We’re just super fortunate that we’ve managed to capture people’s attention this time around!
I tend to listen to independent radio shows pretty ad-hoc tbh. There are a few cool independent stations in the UK that I will tune into my friend’s shows for etc. Worldwide FM, NTS Radio, Balamii, Soho Radio… I have a few friends who host shows on stations like those, and I can always rely on them to serve me the good good goodies.
Because we haven’t been in the same room together in over a year, and because we’ve put all our money into producing the record… this is just a little lyric video I made up of various behind the scenes clips from the band, from 2018 up ’til now. Even includes a shot of me walking around in MIQ in Auckland. Just pretty DIY lol. Hopefully, we’ll have some budget to make a proper video with Troy in it too..!
Thank you so much for being interested in what we’re up to. We’ve worked really hard to get to this point, and it’s truly so humbling and affirming that people are starting to get into our tunes and our vibes. So it really does mean the world to have your support – and hey, if you don’t already, please go and chuck us a follow and a like and let us know on the socials what tunes you like. Add us to your playlists and tell your mates!
And do the same for other independent artists you know and love… it’s hard work out here trying to cut through the algorithms and the big label budgets, and your individual follows and shares really do make a huge difference! Be safe and we’ll see you on stage soon. x
New Tracks is a compilation of new music from New Zealand artists which is distributed to broadcast and online platforms on the first of each month. Previously the Kiwi Hit Disc, New Tracks is one of the ways that New Zealand on Air promotes kiwi music to the industry, radio, streaming services, and media. To apply for New Tracks you must have a completed, airplay-ready song and a promotional plan.