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by Silke Hartung

NewTracks New Artist: Beth Torrance

by Silke Hartung

NewTracks New Artist: Beth Torrance

Just a few years into her career as a solo artist Beth Torrrance has already released an album, with a follow EP due this winter, as well as LA-based management. Her latest singleTiny Flowers is the title track of her upcoming EP, a whimsical, elegantly understated song about secret butterflies in the stomach. NZ On Air Music featured it on their NewTracks compilation this April.

What’s your full name, where are you from and what instruments do you play?

My full name is Beth Melchoir Torrance-Hetherington. I am from Helensville in Tāmaki Makaurau and also Thames in the Coromandel Peninsula. I sing and play guitar, piano, ukulele, and a bit of drums.

Was any high school or other music training especially important to you?

During Year 12, I opened for Kendall Elise on her Te Ika-a-Maui tour, playing dates in Auckland, Thames, Tauranga, Whangārei and Raglan. It was an amazing experience and really helped me to hone my live performance skills. I also used to busk outside my work which was great for confidence building in playing to a crowd.

Any other projects that we might we know you from?

I recently released my single, Tiny Flowers, via Tāmaki Makaurau-based Particle Recordings. It is the title track off my forthcoming indie-folk EP, set to release this winter. Tiny Flowers has been featured on media platforms such as Rolling Stone AUS/NZ and LA radio station KXLU on feminist show She Rocks! I’ve also been chatting about Tiny Flowers with student radio, most recently bFM.

I released my debut album, ‘Let’s Move To The Seaside And Never Feel Lonely Again’, in 2022. It was co-produced with Karl Steven, and the title track features on TV show Friends Like Her.

Can you give us some of the background to your solo musical project? 

I’m always writing songs, so many of the tracks of Tiny Flowers began as demos I made in my room. Some of them two years ago now – there’s a live spoken word piece on there that I wrote on the piano at high school one day. In 2023, I was signed to Particle Recordings and began work on Tiny Flowers at Bigpop Studios. I’m working with Bigpop on getting Tiny Flowers out in the world. The EP cover art will be illustrated by political cartoonist for The Observer newspaper, Chris Riddell, who has collaborated with artists such as Neil Gaiman and Phoebe Bridgers. Very exciting!

What made you decide to stick with your name as your artist name?

It’s my name! I decided to make it a bit shorter by just being Beth Torrance.

How has your music evolved from your beginnings in songwriting to now?

I think writing tends to evolve naturally over time. I used to write mainly in standard tuning, but now I write a lot in open tunings because I love the scope and abstraction they can provide. It’s really freeing not to get too hung up on structure or anything. I also usually record demos at home, but I think spending time in the studio has opened up my mind in terms of the way I think about the possibilities of recording and production. I love both experiences.

Aside from this release, what’s been the big highlight to date?

It was so cool to hear ‘Let’s Move To The Seaside And Never Feel Lonely Again’ in Friends Like Her. Such a great show.

What makes Tiny Flowers stand out for you as a single?

It’s a song that more closely represents how I write and who I am now. I love how it’s powerful and intense but also delicate and subtle.

What is the story behind the song? 

During my high school years I lived on the Thames Coast of the Coromandel Peninsula. Tiny Flowers was named after the tiny yellow and white flowers that appeared in surrounding fields in spring. The sea was a huge presence in my life and the landscape of Thames is always appearing in my songs and poems.

What’s your favourite moment, musical or lyrical, of the single?

I love it when the violin comes in at 1:28! It’s such an important and beautiful moment in the song. Pearl Hindley performed that violin.

Who did you work on the track with and where?

Tiny Flowers is written by myself – songwriting is a solitary activity for me most of the time. I recorded it at Bigpop Studios with Jacob Rush engineering. We closely referenced the original demo because I love how I layered the vocals and guitar. I really love to create a whole soundscape with just the instruments at hand. I love the way Elliott Smith approaches layering in his songs.

What would you like listeners to take away from this song?

I think simply enjoying the song is awesome. Someone from the States once messaged me to say they were listening to my song on their road trip which was super cool. Tiny Flowers is a song about the end, whatever that means to you.

How do you generally work out what song would make a good single?

When I really love a song I’ve written, or feel a strong connection to it right off the bat, I sit down and record it. The single reveals itself to me over time.

Who else is in your team?

I’m managed by Ian MacKinnon as a part of the LA-based Cool Adjacent roster. I’m signed to Particle Recordings, an imprint of Bigpop Records, which is run by Joost Langeveld and Chris van de Geer. Zoë Larsen-Cumming is my label manager.

Are there any other musical endeavours you’re working on that we should keep an eye out for?

‘Tiny Flowers’ EP comes out this winter! I’m also travelling to California this November to play some shows in places like Los Angeles and San Francisco, which I’m really looking forward to.

Can you please name three other local tunes that would fit well on a playlist alongside your song.

  • The Chills: Pink Frost
  • Tiny Ruins: Bird in the Thyme
  • Aldous Harding: Blend

Have any previous NZOA applications not gained funding or been included on NewTracks? Got any advice for others out there?

Don’t get too down if you’re not accepted straight off the bat. It isn’t an indication of your worth as an artist. The most important thing is just loving what you make.

Was there an NZOA criterion you struggled with in the application? Which was it and how did you work it out in the end?

The third party ones, probably. It was awesome to be able to tick some of those off last year when I was signed to Particle and joined the Cool Adjacent management roster.

Are there any musical blogs, Youtube channels or podcasts you’re super into?

KXLU is a student radio station based in Los Angeles – I really love their weekly show She Rocks! It features really great music made by women and those who identify as women. I also love the musician and poet Flatsound, he has this platform called gentle earth where you submit an anonymous message, and it resurfaces on the page years later, amongst everyone else’s. It’s really cool.

Who did you make the video with?

I made the music video for Tiny Flowers with the amazing Shane Warbrooke. We shot on Ponsonby Road and up and down Karangahape Road. We thought the contrast of the nighttime grittiness and neon brightness of Karangahape Road with the softness of the dusk in the park was a cool way to convey the theme of nature in ‘Tiny Flowers’, as well as some of the edgier or darker tones of EP.

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