NAVVY is finally ready to close a chapter in her life. Even though we are three quarters of the way through 2020, the New Zealand singer-songwriter still felt like she needed to say goodbye to the chapter in her life that was 2019, and ‘The Final Pieces’ EP does just that.
These four diverse songs cover grief, friendship troubles, exhaustion and heartbreak. There’s no real obvious thematic cohesiveness to these songs unlike her previous EP’s, and instead it’s all strung together by conscious feelings and self realisations. But if you look at it in a round about way, the thematic flow is that life can be all over the place, and you can be simultaneously feeling so many different feelings during the exact same time period. Sometimes it’s too much, and it’s okay to admit that.
These tracks dive into a DIY indie-pop sonic that jumps between tender realisations, experimental layering, anthemic punches and Robyn inspired dance floor breakdowns. From the vulnerable beginnings of ‘I Learned To Lose A Friend of Young’ to the euphoric release of ‘Pieces’, she showcases that personal growth so honestly.
I recently chatted to NAVVY about the creative process behind ‘Somebody Else’, representing grief sonically in ‘I Learned To Lose A Friend So Young’, and also found out what songs soundtracked her break-up that eventually turned into the foundations for ‘Pieces’. Check it out BELOW;
THOMAS BLEACH: ’The Final Pieces’ is a very bold and vulnerable collection of tracks that sums up the final realisations and moments you had in 2019. So what do you want listeners to take away or feel through this EP?
NAVVY: This one is a little bit different to what I usually do. Usually the theme stays the same for the whole body of work, but this time I cover so many different emotions. I cover grief quite deeply which is something I’ve never really written or talked about before, and something I’ve never gone through properly until now. I didn’t think I would ever write about it, but I did, and I actually found it really cathartic. I then also talk about friendship troubles and love and loss.
The goal for me always is that people just feel something. I don’t really care what it is they feel, but I don’t ever want them leaving a listening of my music and thinking “meh”. Like that’s genuinely my worst nightmare *laughs*. I want them to be like “I love it” or “I hate it”, or like “I cried the whole time” or “I laughed the whole time”. My worst nightmare is that they will just be like “yeah, that was fine”. That’s definitely not what I’m about.
TB: The EP opens with the vulnerably raw ‘I Learned To Lose A Friend So Young’ which is one of your most direct and vulnerable songs yet. The vocal delivery really drew me in because I could hear the shakiness in your breaths. How intended were you to make sure this song was as raw and emotively connected as possible instead of polishing it up?
N: That was the vocal take that we did on the day, and I think it was just a really emotional time so my voice just sounded like that in general back then. Your voice is an instrument but it’s also a body part, so it can get hurt as well.
I think it was important for us to not polish this song up because nothing about grief is polished or clean. It’s a very messy thing to go through, and there is nothing about it that’s ever going to be perfect.
We actually considered doing the song acoustically with just me and a piano, but we didn’t want to make it too sad. I know that lyrically and thematically it’s really sad, but we wanted to layer it. The vocal take makes it really sad, but the production makes it bouncy and light, and that was really important to me.
TB: ’Somebody Else’ is a catchy moment that is all about knowing your own limits and when to ask for space. So can you explain to me how this song creatively came together?
N: I wrote it with one of my best friends Thomston! Him and I went to my bach with a bunch of my musician friends in the North Island of New Zealand. We were just hanging out in the lounge talking and I was like “there’s this girl who has been annoying me, and I don’t really know what to say to her about it because she needs me and I am type 2 helper. But I can’t, because I’m kinda on the other persons side in this scenario”. It was really tough, and he was like “I’m going through the same thing!”, so we ended up talking about it in depth and then wrote a song about it.
I LOVE this song! I listen to it all the time on my dropbox, I just think it’s great *laughs*. I think I had the bridge on a voice memo of the lyric “you can’t lose something you never had” and that was a catalyst for the song because she was treating me like her best friend but I wasn’t really. We didn’t really know each other at that point. So it was kinda like, you can’t be sad about losing me because you never had me in the first place, but now I’m there for you?
We wrote it in 30 minutes and then Thomas is a wiz and built the production around it very quickly!
TB: The lyric “You need help from somebody else” is very direct in telling someone that you can’t help them at the given time. How hard has it been for you to learn to actually say that to people around you?
N: I could never! I’m such a liar! That’s why I had to write about it *laughs*.
TB: Are you still friends with her?
N: Yeah! We are closer now than we were at the time.
TB: Does she know that the song is about her?
N: No she doesn’t! I think I need to talk to her about it before it comes out, because I really deeply love her, but at the time I was just overwhelmed. There was a lot going on. So I will probably talk to her about it, but that also terrifies me as that’s a lot to do.
TB: ’Running In My Sleep’ is a song that is very atmospheric and uses vocoder and dreamy synths to really draw you into these ethereal world. What was sonically inspiring you with this song? And what references did you have?
N: I think the main thing that inspired the sound of this song was the lyric idea, really. That was also written with Thomston, and I remember just going into the session and being like “I’m just so tired all the time. Every time I dream I’m just running. So when I wake up, it’s as if I’ve been running all night even though I’ve been asleep”. So I think the juxtaposition of running and sleeping kinda inspired the sound more than anything else. I starts really sleepy and as soon as I say “I’ve been running in my sleep”, the beat kicks in and it’s like a train chugging along.
Usually I go into a session with a reference track to steer the direction, but with this one, I think it was more the concept inspired how it sounded.
TB: Pieces’ is an absolute anthem in it’s own right. Lyrically the song is all about being content and happy with moving on from an ex lover. But you actually wrote this when you were very much still in the heartbroken phase? Did you find it genuinely helped shift your mind frame?
N: I had been writing a lot before that about how I was still heartbroken, but the more that Rory Adams, Starsmith and I sat around and talked, the more I realised that I was possibly getting through it, which was something I didn’t think was possible at that time.
It was a lightbulb moment that triggered that session. I think you can kinda hear that in the song as I sound surprised by what I’m saying. But it definitely triggered that new direction for me, because then two days later we wrote ‘Scared To Be Happy’ which is about being scared to move on. So I do think ‘Pieces’ was that exciting incident for a lot of songs that came after it.
TB: This song has soundtracked so many people’s own experiences already including my own. So what songs were your go to empowerment anthems during that time in your life?
N: I think that when I’m sad, I listen to really sad music. It’s very annoying and I wish that I didn’t, but I also think I look to familiar music when I’m going through something so I don’t have to think and feel too much. So when I was going through that time I was listening to things that felt familiar like, Sufjan Stevens’ album ‘Carrie & Lowell’, which I think was because the boy in question introduced me to it. But I think for some reason the pain in that actually helped.
I also listened to a lot of Beach Boys, which can be really sad but is more just familiar, and just soundtracked me in the background. And then I also listened to a lot of Taylor Swift because she’s my favourite human, and you just have to when you’re going through a break-up, thats the rules.
TB: Reflecting on the creative process behind the EP, what song would you say took the longest to really hone its own unique sound and vision?
N: That’s so interesting for these four songs because they all sound exactly the same as the day we made them. They all came together very quickly, and I guess I have that pattern for all my music because I’m really bad at editing. So yeah, I can’t really answer that question unfortunately as they really did all come together on the day.
But to be fair, with ‘Pieces’ we did actually re-write the verses and created a new version of it that was ‘New Rules’ inspired. I loved that version too, but we went back to the original one as it wasn’t quite the vibe for the song.
TB: You’ve mentioned that these are the final songs that really wrap up 2019 for you. So heading into 2020, and being thrown a curveball with what this year has turned into, how would you say you’ve grown as a person through it all?
N: I have changed a lot in the past year. I think I’ve learnt to roll with the punches a bit more because I used to be very organised, and knew what I was doing in every second of my life. So I would say I’ve learnt to go with the flow now, and to not worry about things that I can’t control.
TB: Let’s play a quick game of rapid fire questions! You Ready?
N: Yes I am! Let’s do it!
TB: The emoji that best describes ‘The Final Pieces’ EP is…
N: The one with the big eyes that I use in my Instagram all the time *laughs*
TB: When I think of Australia I think of…
N: Childhood! I spent a lot of time there as a kid.
TB: A TV show I’ve binged during lockdown is…
N: Sex And The City!
TB: My pre show ritual involves…
N: I throw grapes into my band members mouthes. They have the catch three and I have to catch three!
TB: Pineapple on pizza is…
N: The best ever!
‘The Final Pieces’ is out now!