I N T E R V I E W
Repeat, Repeat: A Q&A with Repairs
with Ian Duggan
The debut album by Auckland band Repairs, ‘Repeat, Repeat’, features a whopping 14 songs, and is due out on 18 September. In the meantime, the release of their third single from the album, ‘Pop Song’, is also imminent. We spoke to Repairs bass player Nicola Edwards about the upcoming releases, impostor syndrome, the time taken to get the album to completion, and hidden messages in the album cover!
HUP: As I haven’t heard the single, or the album yet, what can you tell me about them? Do the lyrics of the single or album have themes or significance?
Nicola: The themes running throughout the album – anxiety, feeling isolated, disillusionment, searching for meaning and hope – are ones I think everyone can relate to, particularly at the moment. Pop Song’s lyrics are an admission of imposter syndrome and feelings of inadequacy – which again is something I think resonates with a lot of people.
HUP: When I was an undergraduate student at university, I felt I was part of a psychology experiment – not feeling worthy of being there, and thinking I was being monitored for my reactions to any good grades I received. Is impostor syndrome true to life for the band members, and in what facets of your lives would you have these feelings?
Nicola: Oh I so understand! Impostor syndrome is definitely something that I’ve felt for most of my life, particularly creatively. I went back to study animation a few years ago, and even though I’ve done various bits and pieces of illustration and design work since, I still feel uncomfortable or unable to call myself an artist. “Faking it until you make it” certainly isn’t something that comes naturally to me! Luckily I have bandmates and friends who are incredibly supportive of my playing music, and so the impostor syndrome around being a musician seems to be lessening slowly but surely.
HUP: The album seems to have been a few years in the making. When I talked to Repairs guitarist/vocalist Martin Phillips in 2018, he said the album was mostly recorded, and thought it would be out in late 2019. What happened? Is the album that resulted what you thought it would be back in 2018?
Nicola: I know, we were so optimistic! At the time Martin spoke to you, we really did think we had all the songs for an album – but then we started playing some of them live, and we found ourselves thinking “Hmmm, actually it sounds better if we structure it like this” or “These lyrics don’t quite work when we play it live, how can we fix that”. Songs like “Stop/Start” for example (which was our set opener) is a completely different song lyrically than when we first played it.
We also took a bit of a break from playing shows mid-2019, with our practices being more about jamming on ideas and just having some fun recording demos. I think that’s when we started to really hit our stride creatively. In fact “Pop Song” happened to be one of those jams where everything just seemed to click.
Martin does all of our recording as well as mixing, and so I think that time we spent just creating really helped us to gain the confidence to go – “You know what, we have some really good new songs and can record this ourselves – let’s start the album from scratch.” [continued, below]
HUP: It has been stated that being based in New Zealand has informed the music you make. During the making of the album, however, you spent time back in your native Scotland, where you recorded some of the songs. Did spending time in Scotland have an influence on the songs in any way?
Nicola: There’s definitely something special about being in Scotland in winter, and being with family, so I would be very surprised if it didn’t influence some of the decisions we made. Because Martin did a fair bit of mixing while we were overseas, my parents actually became really interested in the whole process (they’re pretty huge music lovers themselves). They even came up with some suggestions for samples which have made it onto the album. It was also a great opportunity for James [Milne] to let loose on something other than drums, as Martin and I would listen to a track and think “Hmmm, this needs something else” – so we’d send it through to James with a “Can you just add a synth part here, or an extra guitar track for this song?”, which he did brilliantly. They’re multi-talented that pair.
HUP: What is the meaning of the album title, “Repeat, Repeat”?
“Repeat, Repeat” is actually a line that I used to sing when we played one of the tracks live. But we thought it worked both as a lyric reference, a reference to some of the recurring themes throughout the album - and of course we also hope people will listen to the album repeatedly.
HUP: The album cover is a labelled diagram of a heart, with James the left atrium, Martin an artery leaving the aorta, and you are the left ventricle. I assume the heart itself signifies something to do with the bond the three of you share? Should we place any significance on the individual parts you are labelled as?
Nicola: The heart is a strong representation of us as a unit; we’ve been so lucky really. There’s a lot of love in Repairs.
Plus if you look carefully, you’ll see that Martin is under G (guitar), James is under D (drums) and I’m under B (bass). ;-)