Gig of the Week: Bonjour introverts

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Shoe-gazers: (from left) Hikurangi Schaverien-Kaa, Penelope Esplin, Brooke Singer, Ben Lemi and John Fitzgerald PICTURE: EBONY LAMB

The voice behind a Wellington band first released music under a random name so nobody would know it was her — not even her mum.

The name, French for Rabbits, stayed and so did the music.

Today the dream pop-band are playing Queenstown’s The Sherwood as part of their The Weight of Melted Snow album tour.

Back in 2012 when it all began, Brooke Singer was creating what she called “bedroom pop” with guitarist John Fitzgerald.

They’ve evolved a lot since then, she says.

French for Rabbits now comprises: Singer on vocals, keys and guitar; Fitzgerald on guitar;   Hikurangi Schaverien-Kaa on drums and sampler; Penelope Esplin on vocals, synthesizer and bass; and Ben Lemi who also sings and plays bass.

In 2015 their music was picked up by The Vampire Diaries, an American supernatural drama television series, which played The Other Side and Goat during two separate episodes.

Another American supernatural drama television series called Being Human also picked up their song Claimed By the Sea in 2014.

Although they’re now one big herd, the original duo have a long woven history.

For 10 years they were together as a couple. But during the creation of this album they decided to call it quits romantically, but remain friends.

Singer, who writes most of the songs for the band, admits it wasn’t an intense break-up — but it comes across that way in the songs.

“The songs are intense because often when you’re alone, when you’re thinking back on things, the more intense emotions come out.”

But, she never felt any judgement from the band when bringing the songs to them and often still finds herself going to Fitzgerald with a song before anyone else.

Despite having performed across Europe and New Zealand, Singer admits she’s still a reluctant vocalist.

At the start, when the duo released their first taste of original music online, Singer was so scared she chose the name French for Rabbits so people wouldn’t know it was her.

But she’s since found other people to jump down the rabbit hole with her.

“I think we’re a band of introverts. Some people call it shoe-gazing, but we don’t stare at our shoes the whole time — we’ve got better at performing than that.

“I guess we draw people in to our world rather than, I guess, aiming out to other people.”

mandy.cooper@scene.co.nz

French for Rabbits play The Sherwood today with support from Secret Knives
(Ash Smith), 8pm, tickets available on Eventfinda, $15