This week NZM asked some people in the music industry about places that inspire them to be creative. We got a lot of great replies, many with photos! Beaches, venues, and a toilet made the cut! Thanks to everyone who joined in…
The place I find most creative personally is either with my friends in a nice small lounge, or by myself in my garage. I just like a place of silence and no judgement. I get so stuck up in my own head with what others think that I just need a place where it’s judgement free and I can just do me, and make all my mistakes.
What place inspires creativity? Definitely the teaching studio. It doesn’t matter what task you set out to complete, there will always be other peripheral progress from being in the teaching space. Lessons with students always create new learning angles and fresh ideas to explore. From any challenge has to come innovation and my students never fail to present me with new ways of thinking of music in general. There is always ‘that next song’ to learn also and time in the teaching studio leaves me spoilt for choice with new material to tackle. Definitely my musical happy place.
Libraries are totally our jam. Preferably adorably sassy tiny libraries in the middle of nowhere with slightly pervy sounding names. Yes, we’re looking at you Gropers Bush Public Library…
My shed is thirty-three steps away from our house, down the back of the garage at the end of the garden. I work in there every day – playing, recording, painting and writing. I shut the doors and focus. The white noise of the sea is a constant, there’s screaming gulls, barking dogs and birds dancing on the roof. There are gaps, a hole in the floor and a big crack in the wall. It’s boiling in summer and freezing in winter. It’s full of bikes and driftwood, paintings and the stuff we need to throw out. It’s everything I need.
I guess an inspiring place for me is just sitting at home looking out onto Wellington Harbour – I have a really beautiful view of the city, the water and the Hutt Valley. I love most when the water is still and reflects the sky, the lights, the shadows. Colours are really inspiring, so sunsets are my favourite. There are so many nice beaches I love for this reason too! My favourite is Princess Bay, there’s a beautiful juxtaposition of spooky rocks and a calming seascape.
While not really a place, I often find the best ideas come to me while I’m on the bike. There’s something about being outside and busying yourself with something mundane that clears enough mental clutter to spark ideas. More often than not, it’s when I’m just getting about town. I usually have my headphones in (I have a strict ‘quiet music only’ policy so I can hear the cars coming), ask Siri to record a note for me, and speak to myself like a madman. Then I flesh these ideas out musically when back at home in the studio. This photo is from a ride I did with my brother when Wax Chattels went to London mid-2018 (though I mostly focused on dodging buses on this ride).
My favourite place to inspire creativity is my car! While I am driving I get so many melodies in my mind! I look forward to driving every time, especially when it’s on a motorway or roads that I know really well. I don’t know what it is, maybe because I am by myself and get to sing out loud! I always have my mobile ready to record some audio so I don’t miss any tunes on the way! My second favourite place is in a cafe early in the morning, when the coffee is fresh and the sun is just starting to rise. I get settled into a soft armchair (if there is one) and look at some lyrics. Most of the time it’s either a cafe in a Sofitel or a lovely French cafe in Britomart.
Point Chevalier beach is pretty close to home and work, so I often walk there and then do some writing. Last year I wrote most of the words for my new album doing this. I think it’s a combination of setting the time aside regularly, the grounding of walking through the neighbourhood where I live, and the beautiful scenery at the beach. We filmed a music video at Eric Armishore recently too, another place I go for walks and writing.
The Cabana which is NZ’s oldest pure live music venue has been an inspiration to me and 1000’s of other NZ musicians for over 60 years. Situated in Napier Hawkes Bay it is a proper live music venue with no TVs, pool tables, pokies or restaurant. Every major NZ act has stood on its stage from Mi-Sex, Split Enz, Hello Sailor, and the Dudes. Also, many great international artists have done their thing including Wilko Johnson, Midnight Oil, Steve Kilbey and many more.
I’ve been lucky to own the Cabana just on 10 years and it is still the place to play in the Bay.
I get most of my ideas walking my dog around the track at the local park! All the voice memos on my phone have Pīwakawaka chirping in the background because of it… I’m particularly inspired when the seasons change. I wrote a lot last Spring watching all the trees come to life again.
A cosy space is a must when I´m writing new tunes. An idea for a song could come to me anywhere but if I want to bring it to fruition a good space is a game-changer. I have a little studio in my attic where I retreat to when Berlin overwhelms me. In it I have a hammock, plenty of plants, a keyboard and guitars to set the mood and kill any writer’s block I may be suffering from.