Interview originally published by The AU Review on 26/05/19
Performers and housemates Tash Parker and Emma Angelesy have joined forces to create Runaway Belles. Fresh off the release of their first single, “The Weekend“, as well as a series of weekly livestream performances, we caught up with the Tasmanian folk duo to find out more!
Firstly, thanks for your time girls!
Pleasure! Thanks for having us.
Can you tell us a little about how you came together as a duo?
We first met while Em was on tour with Paul Greene in Victoria. I was invited to play local support for a Mornington Peninsula show and the two of us instantly connected. A few years later after getting to know one another, through attending the same festivals and music industry events, Em was invited to perform at Dark Mofo’s Winter Feast.
I had been asked to play 9 shows over 3 days and asked Tash (who was studying and living in Melbourne at the time) if she would like to come down to Tasmania to play the shows with me. We had a week of rehearsals and worked up a few sets mostly drawing on our respective back catalogs as well as some new covers. It was an intense and rewarding experience…
But what really surprised us is that we had so much fun together in the process and with the shows. We decided then that we wanted to keep working together and that everything we did had to based around continuing the fun and light energy we bring out in each other… Little did we know it was the beginning of Runaway Belles.
What were you up to before Runaway Belles?
We both had and still have solo music careers. I released an album in 2010 which I co-produced with Greg Walker, Wally De Backer and Nick Huggins. Em is a Triple J Unearthed Spotlight artist, has had radio playlisting, ad and tv syncs and has released an album produced by Josh Barber in 2018.
What is the Runaway Belles sound?
We started this project with a very clear brief for our songs to sit squarely in the Indie Folk Pop genre. Having such a defined sound we sought out songwriters and producers who work in this style to collaborate with to get the best songs and recordings for our band.
We were recently added to some Spotify playlists, one named ‘Hangover Friendly Music’…. hahaha
Who are your influences?
– Kings of Convenience for their simple yet beautiful arrangements and delicate recordings
– Fleetwood Mac for their timeless sound and iconic melodies
– First Aid Kit for their harmonies and sisterly connection on stage and off
“The Weekend” is your debut single. What’s the story behind it?
“The Weekend” is the first song we decided to self produce from a collection of songs we’ve worked up over a 4 year period of touring and performing under the name Tash & Emma. We chose “The Weekend” as our first single because it’s such a universally relatable story. Everyone at some point in their life will have a relationship that doesn’t quite work out no matter how much we might want it to. This song tells the story of two people who just can’t quite let go of each other even though they know it’s not right.
What’s it like releasing a single into this kind of climate?
Well it’s actually been a surprisingly fun experience. We received a grant from Arts Tasmania last year to fund our release and promotion of our recordings. With none of the distractions and commitments we would normally have during life before the Covid-19 lockdown, it’s been easy to focus on the work that goes into an independent release.
We are best friends and live together in a beautiful house on the edge of Cataract Gorge in Launceston Tasmania, so we’ve been spending our days together working on our release and rehearsing for our livestream shows.
The response to the single has been amazing so far and it’s been so nice to be able to share music with our audience during a time when they need new music and something light help them escape the challenges of social isolation.
It must be frustrating not being able to get out there and play it live – though I have heard you’re combatting this with a weekly livestream?
When we went into iso, we had just finished a jam packed summer of touring and festival shows. We had played Mona Foma, Falls Festival, The Taste of Tasmania, Mona’s 42 Days of Music and Cygnet Folk Festival. I had also launched my live band and for PARKER and was touring this project, and Em had been playing as a percussionist and backing vocalist in by band, as well as for Medhanit who played almost all the aforementioned festivals as well as Party In The Paddock, Junction and others. So the timing could not have been better in some ways as it gave us some forced downtime and recuperation.
Haha… yeah the last 6-months have been super busy. It was good to have some downtime and watch other people’s livestreams before beginning, so we could learn and make decisions about what we wanted to do. We have been live streaming every Monday night in May and the response has been incredible. It’s given us the opportunity to connect with a national and international audience that would normally not be financially feasible. It’s also allowed us to open a window our home world and show our audience a little more of the Runaway Belles life.
You’ve also done an isolation photoshoot over Skype. What was that like?
So fun!! We met Melbourne based creative Jack Stafford (aka re._stacks) on Instagram and had been planing a photoshoot and music video collaboration in person before lockdown. After the borders closed we realised that there would be no way to get these press shots for the single release so we had to get creative. Jack was shooting Skype portraits so we contacted him and asked him if he would be up for doing a full photoshoot via Skype with us and he was super keen.
Tash had just ordered these beautiful new garments from Melbourne’s Kuwaii clothing label and so we wore these. We spent an hour with Jack on the other end of the laptop giving him a tour of the afternoon light at Runaway Belles HQ and that evening he sent through the press shots he had captured during the chat. We went on to make some video teasers for the single with him and filmed ourselves at home on Tash’s Cannon HD camera. These turned out so nicely that we’ve made them into a full official music video.
Given that heading to our local venues in search of new music is still out of the question for a while, do you have any suggestions for how we can support new artists during this time?
Sharing the new music and art you are discovering is so integral. We both discover most of the new music we listen to through recommendations from friends. There is a lot of amazing content being created and shared right now so we really rely on our existing fans to share our music with their friends and networks.
If you like our songs or our live streams taking a few moments to post about us on your Instagram story or Facebook page. Even direct message our music to a friend will make a huge difference. It will mean we can reach more ears without having to pay for advertising and we can spend more of our time and money on making new music for you all to enjoy and share.
So, what’s next for Runaway Belles?
We are currently finishing the production on two more singles and we have a beautiful collection of B side tracks to share over the coming year. We’ve also been loving our live streams so much and they have had such a great response that we are very keen to continue some form of live streaming performances over the coming months.
And one last chance to plug the single and the livestream – GO!
To politely summarise the shows to date – we have been singing our hearts out, shocking each other into fits of laughter and committing fruit hate crimes. After our last show the ABC Radio broadcast team contacted us to see if they could re-broadcast our streams. So you are in for some good wholesome ridiculousness, oh yes and indie folk pop songs with lots of harmonies.
Stay up to date with all things Runaway Belles (and relive those fantastic livestreams) via their Facebook page!