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Long Game

Cityscape caught up with New Zealand’s first lady of jazz and soul, Hollie Smith, who is celebrating the 10th anniversary of her iconic debut album Long Player with a nationwide tour in this month.

It’s hard to believe that it’s a decade since Long Player racked up ‘Best Female Solo Artist’, ’Breakthrough Artist of the Year’ and ‘Best Producer’ at the 2007 New Zealand Music Awards and went to the top of the New Zealand charts.

“It’s funny really,” says Smith, “In some ways it seems like just yesterday that it [Long Player] came out. It can feel like there’s a bit of a hole in the space time continuum!” Ten years on and Smith is firmly established as one of New Zealand’s most recognisable voices, selling out venues around the country and collaborating and touring with such other big names such as Fat Freddy’s Drop, Anika Moa, Boh Runga and more.

Dipping into the back catalogue is exciting, she says. “We haven’t played a lot of these in a long time, so we’re approaching them as a bit of an experiment. We’ve extended the band for the tour to more closely reproduce the feel we had back then – there’s a feeling of bringing this new energy to the songs, which is cool.”

There is one slightly anxiety-producing aspect of delving into the back catalogue though, she says: “I’m pretty terrible with lyrics, so I’ve been known to have a cheat sheet on stage, which isn’t very professional. But it’s really more of a mental aid – if it’s there I find myself remembering pretty well without really having to look, but if it isn’t I start getting stage fright and can freak out and start forgetting things!”

The celebratory tour coincides with Long Player’s release on vinyl – the collectors will say it’s arguably overdue (especially given the name of the album!), but Soundsmith/Warner Music NZ are making up for it by including five bonus songs on the double LP, including the single that really helped to put Smith on the map as a solo artist, the Don McGlashan-penned ‘Bathe In The River’. You can pick up the vinyl issue from September 8 – plenty of time to give it a proper thrashing at home before her gig at the Great Hall at the Arts Centre at the end of the month.

Smith’s Christchurch gig comes just a week after the country’s general election. Labour leader Jacinda Adern is a mate, and Smith played a gig with a difference at the Labour campaign launch in August, backed by a full choir. “Jacinda is a good friend, so I might be a bit more happy or sad than usual at that Christchurch gig!”

Hollie Smith: Long Player 10th Anniversary Tour
The Great Hall at the Arts Centre, Fri Sep 29
www.holliesmith.co.nz

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