Betty here. Yesterday Billy and I took ourselves just down the road, firstly along the lake shore where we discovered an unmarked grave To do: find someone who knows who/what /why grave and then to New Zealand’s oldest tourist attraction, The Buried Village. You may have childhood memories like Billy’s: of the old water pump (prop for photographic evidence of a boy growing through decades), or of the semi-emerged Whare, suffocated by mud and ash that spewed forth courtesy of the Mount Tarawera Eruption in 1886. A lovely guide showed us around and rather surprisingly Billy and I managed to while away an easy three hours which included a Devonshire tea replete with whipped cream. Simultaneously sated and tickled, we headed home; a song was coming on.
There’s no doubt this place is beautiful. Perched above the lake with views of bush without a house in sight it’s difficult to not feel blessed. Except when the freaky shit starts to happen. And the imagination runs riot. Then you’re just thankful you’re blessed otherwise all the ghosts here might think it’s party time. This area and it’s people are very superstitious and stories abound of preemptive signs and omens prior to the mountain blowing its brains out. These stories became our musical fodder last night as we nutted out a tricky wee song, All Mountains are Men, written on omnichord and guitar. It relays the premonitions of the famous guide Sophia (pronounced So-fire) as she paddled tourists across the lake to the world-renown Pink and White Terraces. From cursed honey to a phantom canoe, ‘All who of eat of that honey’ said she,’ are sure to die’ and they did. Those who refused the honey survived the eruption. Fingers crossed Billy and I survive our own eruption, a creative one. So far the weather has been gentle, the people friendly, but alas, the water cold. I believe we may be starting to smell. Good thing we’re in the Rotorua district.
Greetings, it’s Billy. Well. We’re here. Here, is Lake Tarawera. Rosy Tin Teacaddy is undertaking a Wild Creations writing residency, compliments of the good folk at Creative NZ and the Dept of Conservation. This is six weeks ensconced in a wee cottage over looking the lake, where we plan to write and record a new collection of songs based on our experience, the land, the people and the stories we find – and make up. We feel pretty lucky for the opportunity.
We’ve decided to split the six weeks up into three, two week blocks spread out over the year. This first stint is mainly dedicated to devising our stage show playing at BATS theatre May 19 to 22. We kind of roped ourselves into that too – which is proving fruitful in itself, by the fact that one informs the other. The show and the album project have become parts of the same thing. The show almost the springboard into the project as a whole, the slap in the face.
The cottage is empty save for two desks, two mattresses, some cooking equipment and all that we’ve brought. The hot water isn’t working yet, so we’re hoping to get that fixed soon. We have come somewhat perfectly prepared, a little knowing here, and some unknowing there – there will be some threads to follow and some surprises to unveil for certain.
The thing is, we’ve hit the ground running. You’ve not heard from us much lately perhaps, possibly because we knew this excursion was in the pipeline (but more likely from shear laziness). Now, we’re here, and we’re very much hoping to keep you in the loop with how things are progressing. Our updates may be intermittent, as we are without regular internet access, but the odd trip into town will allow an upload from time to time. Goodness! We may even bestow the odd photo or two. Heavens! We might actually throw you some demo recordings once we get cracking. Regardless, rest assured that we are terribly excited, for it is our intention to connect with the tales this environment has to offer and to deliver the next installment in the story of Billy and Betty.