The idea? Every day in May, to mark NZ Music Month and 38 years of his own rancid opining and reportage, Gary Steel will present something from his considerable behind. Personal archive, that is. The following story appeared in Metro, December 04.
IT’S THE BEST New Zealand-made pop album of 2004, but it never troubled the charts, or made it to the music awards roll of merit. Lucid 3’s heavenly pop concoction, All Moments Leading To This, is a swoon-some set of expressive, slightly blues-imbued songs which easily eclipses Goldenhorse’s Riverhead hit in quality, consistency, and depth and breadth of songwriting.
The golden voice fronting this trio belongs to the improbably named Victoria Girling-Butcher, who proves a playful, quirky, yet deceptively sharp interview subject. She’s obviously dealt with the conundrums of survival in our tiny scene and found an acceptable compromise: in lieu of that elusive major record deal, she’s forging a second, fallback career as a journalist.
“I REALLY want to be a musician, but we just haven’t earned enough money. I’m not going to whinge and be bitter about that. It wears you down when you’re not able to earn money from what your whole heart is going into. But I do find journalism stimulating, and I really like reporting. I especially like community news… the small stuff.”
But why aren’t Lucid 3 huge? “It’s a mystery, but there’s a twist to Lucid 3 that doesn’t quite work commercially. We’ve been a completely do-it-yourself band, and I don’t think commercial people trust that at all.”
Lucid 3 certainly straddle the fine line between that damned old rock and a hard place: too emotionally expressive for the cynical bFM brigade, and a little too quirky and original for the commercial industry honchos.
Perhaps songwriting that can encapsulate hope, longing, bitterness, anger, assertive sexuality and existential angst all in one song is just too much for the average jock. Victoria explains something of her mindset while writing the songs for All Moments Leading To This: “When I wrote the songs I wasn’t happy at all, and I thought that I was infusing every song with this positivity. It was my ‘I can see the light’, and each song was trying to cast this spell of good luck to bring me some kind of…” And she trails off, momentarily lost for words.
Marooned in a “weird” area of Birkdale on Auckland’s North Shore while generating those songs, Victoria has since decamped to her home town, New Plymouth. While the other members (Marcus Lawson and Derek Metivier) have remained in Auckland, they’ve managed to remain a productive unit, and she won’t hear of any ideas of a solo career.
“We’re a musical unit of three. Marcus and Derek’s input is HUGE. Because Derek is producer and engineer, he’s a really skilled man, musically, and Marcus has an awesome musicality. And we really make the sound together. Marcus brings his knowledge of antique instruments and amplifiers and makes a huge part of our sound. I couldn’t cope with the ego of being a singer-songwriter. Victoria Girling-Butcher is NOT a good singer-songwriter name! Besides, there’s so many singer-songwriters in this world, who needs another one?”
And what if it doesn’t pan out, even on the back of a great album and a successful round of touring? (The group has just come off a major tour with Brooke Fraser):
“I’m becoming less and less preoccupied with success in music, I actually just want to create,” says Victoria. “And I’m okay with not being world famous. I’m okay with not even being famous in New Zealand! Part of me would love the opportunity to live off it, but it’s a really sad ambition in New Zealand. It’s a bit soul destroying. I just have such an intense desire to make music, be immersed in music, that’s where my satisfaction is.” GARY STEEL