Nelson 'precious' to Peach

Last updated 12:51 24/01/2013
Lucy peach
LUCY PEACH: She has Nelson roots.

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It's something of a homecoming for Lucy Peach, a Perth-based singer who's playing at The Free House on Saturday night.

Peach's father lives in Ngatimoti, and the 32-year-old remembers the joy of lush Motueka summers.

Although she once played a night at Marahau's Park Cafe "for fun", this weekend's show is part of her first proper run in New Zealand.

"I'm just really excited to play here, it's a really special place for me."

Peach's soulful, velvety voice croons original folk pop with decidedly Motown influences. But throughout her school years in both countries, she wasn't sure where her "different" voice fitted.

"I didn't know how to use it," she says. "I can remember doing singing in music class and singing Three Blind Mice and I'd try and do the low harmony and I'd get in trouble. "I thought I couldn't sing; I enjoyed it by myself."

But everyone can sing, she says.

"People just don't do it enough. It's like laughing or crying, it can convey so much and get it all out. It's a form of expression."

Having a child - Reuben, now 7 - changed her viewpoint.

"After I had a baby I thought if I can make a baby and get it out, I just stopped caring what anyone thought." Now he sometimes joins her on stage.

Always wanting to sing and write songs, she eventually started learning more about what she could do with her voice and collaborated with plenty of different musicians in different bands, experimenting and exploring her sound. "I gigged flat out," she says. "Since June last year I've been able to pick and choose a bit more and had some really nice gigs."

Peach is self-managed, hauling herself up through the ranks over the past five years, playing solo and in bands. Her career received a boost recently when Tim Finn chose her to support him in Perth.

"I've had a really good purple patch recently," she says. A part-time teacher, she was spending a dismal day at home when she got the call.

"I was going to write a bio and was feeling depressed that I didn't have anything exciting on there," she says. "Then I got this call asking me to support Tim.

It was nice because he's quite particular about who supports him."

They shared a bottle of whisky afterwards, "and he gave me lots of really nice encouragement".

Another highlight was playing with Mama Kin, the stage name of Australian singer-songwriter Danielle Caruana, who is also the wife of roots musician John Butler.

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Peach met her Kiwi father when she was about 10, and started coming to Nelson to visit in her early teens.

"It's a second home," she says. "I was so lucky to come over here."

She spent a year each at Nayland and Motueka High Schools, which she says were "awesome".

"I came from these far-flung suburbs in Perth and it was dry and flat and bright and there were no trees and it was harsh; coming here it was so lush and green."

She remembers, at 15, lying under apple trees, driving through the mountains, and making her own fun.

"There was always someone's parents' homemade alcohol you could siphon off."

She's kept her Nelson roots, including maintaining connections with people she knows from her teen years.

"Even though I feel like I'm from Perth I moved around a lot as a kid; I didn't really have a place.

"Here, I've been coming back to the same place for years and it feels really precious. Now I can do that for my son as well."

  • Lucy Peach, with The Immigrants' Big Al supporting, The Free House, Saturday, 8pm, free entry.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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