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Navvy is the New Zealand artist turning heartbreak into addictive synth pop

STYLIST – HELEN YOUNG-LOVERIDGE

PRODUCER – LUCY PERRETT AT POSITIVE CREATIVE

PHOTOGRAPHER – LULA CUCCHIARA

HAIR AND MAKEUP – LARA DALY

WORDS BY TINA SUMMERS

 

Self-preservation and confidence.

Meet Navvy, the New Zealand legend creating addictive pop tracks that stick in your head and melt your heart. Last week she released her third EP, The Final Pieces, which she describes as the culmination of a journey to confidence, a journey that’s apparent in the songs.

Take the track ‘Somebody Else’ for example – it’s about self-preservation, a timely concept, given all that’s happened in 2020. We caught up with Navvy to find out more about the EP, growing up on opera music, skateboarding around NZ, and her fish tattoo.

So, how would you describe your music to someone new to Navvy?

Probably as music written by a blindly optimistic girl who got heartbroken, wrapped up in synthy pop.

What was the inspiration behind your last track ‘Pieces’?

I think it was just this huge realisation that I was going to be okay. I had had my heart so incredibly broken, and I thought I would never be okay ever again until I realised I already was.

The Final Pieces is your third EP. How do you think you’ve grown as an artist since your first?

I think I have grown a huge amount since my first EP. I was so new to the industry, and also still really new to writing about big emotions because I’d never really felt them until then. The naivety of that time in my life really shows in The Break Up EP, but I think that was an important thing to present. This EP feels more sure of itself. I think all of the emotions I talk about, I talk about really confidently, rather than like I’m asking for permission.

Which track on The Final Pieces are you most proud of and why?

I genuinely am so proud of every track for such different reasons, but I am the MOST proud of ‘I Learned To Lose A Friend So Young’. That is a good representation of the big emotions I’ve learned to talk about, and I’m really proud of how we handled something as important as grief. I also wrote it with two of my best friends, Josh Naley and Simeon Kavanagh-Vincent, and it was just such a beautiful experience to write about something we were all going through to varying degrees.

How did ‘Somebody Else’ come to be?

I wrote this song with Thomas Stoneman, who is absolutely one of the best people I’ve ever known. We were talking about being able to say no when people need our help, and how that is such a tough thing for me to do. I am such a helper. I really live to serve, and help other people as much as I can, so it hurts to say ‘no’. We talked about how important it is to check in with yourself and realise when you’ve hit your limit. We wrote it at my bach and I was so incredibly excited about the song from the day it was written. Big love for this song.

What is your process when you’re songwriting?

I am a huge advocate for collaboration. Generally, I will go into a writing session with some new people, so we spend the first few hours talking about ourselves and my story, and then we find some chords we like, and start humming nonsense until words present themselves.

How do you think growing up and working in New Zealand has influenced your approach to music?

In New Zealand, we don’t have that mentality that it is really possible to just ‘make it’. I think for us, being so far from the epicentres of creativity, we have to work even harder to be noticed. I also think most of us just make what we think is really cool, and don’t worry so much about what the world thinks is cool, so we all make music that is dissimilar to our peers.

I’ve seen you skateboarding on Instagram – when did you start skating and what’s the best trick you can do?

Yes! It started as a New Year’s resolution a few years ago. I naturally have terrible balance, so I didn’t think it would be possible for me to stand on something with wheels and no handles. The best trick I have is just skating in a straight line. But I can go really fast now, and I can skate for ages without having to jump off. That is new for me. But I absolutely love it. I think it’s just because I think I look cooler than I am.

You grew up hearing your grandparents’ opera and classical music, do you think that in any way influenced your love of music or your approach to music?

I think my love of music completely started in classical music, because it was something I felt could be studied. When I realised pop music can be studied in the same way, I fell in love with that too. I really do just love information and things I can understand. I think my approach to music is a big mix of analytics and adoration.

I read that you developed vocal nodules at a young age and were told you’d never sing again – how did you get past that?

I had years of really intense vocal therapy and vocal rehab. I was determined to get better, and when I put my mind to something, I make it happen. I am very stubborn. I also LOVE to prove people wrong. I think that is a big part of my personality.

What’s something that no one knows about you?

I mean, if you have heard my songs, you’ll know I am a VERY open book. I pretty much will tell anyone anything, so there isn’t much people don’t know. Something I am really proud of is that I have had the same core group of best friends for as long as I can remember. They really are everything to me. I think that’s kind of cool.

What’s your favourite…

Song? ‘God Only Knows’ by The Beach Boys

Film? Hot Rod

Animal? Ummm… I have a fish tattoo and I think fish are cool, I guess? Or maybe giraffes?

Place? Truly it is anywhere my family is. But the less cliché answer – Los Angeles.

Book? The Tao Of Pooh – Benjamin Hoff

Way to spend a day off? Either hanging out at home with my family or skating with my friends.

Dream collab? No doubt in my mind: Taylor Swift.

Where do you see yourself next?

I think as soon as the world will let me, I will be living in London and playing as many shows as it will allow. I also love releasing music, so, releasing lots more music.

Listen to Navvy’s new EP ‘The Final Pieces’ here.

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