Graham Reid | | 4 min read
Francisca Griffin has not only been a longtime Elsewhere subscriber (reason enough for us to be interested?) but has had a very long association with Dunedin music, right back to her days in the rather wonderful Look Blue Go Purple, an all-women band in the Flying Nun boy's club.
Back then she was Kathy Griffin then Kathy Bull after her marriage to the Chills' Martyn Bull, who died in mid '83.
She has played with just about everyone who was, and is, anyone in Dunedin (Jane Dodd, Peter Gutteridge, Shayne Carter, Peter Jefferies etc), worked at Roy Colbert's influential record shop Records Records, raised a family, toured, recorded her debut solo album Songs From the Sky in the late Nineties, trained as a naturopath . . .
And in early 2019 released another album The Spaces Between which really found favour at Elsewhere.
And now she is out on tour (after having to put things on hold in The Year of Our Covid) with her band the Bus Shelter Boys.
She took time out from her busy schedule to answer some questions . . .
Where did you grow up, and with who?
Northern Alberta in Canada - with Mom, Dad & 3 sisters, that became Mom & 3 sisters when I was 11
Was music an important part of your childhood?
It wasn’t too big in our family - but I do remember falling in love with Andy Williams & his song Moon River
What are your earliest childhood memories of music which really affected you . . .
Hearing Jimi Hendrix for the first time when I was 12 was mind blowing - then Black Sabbath’s Paranoid arrived at my ears not long afterwards
Was there a time when you felt it was going to be music and nothing else?
In the 80s music was the biggest & best thing in my life, I really thought it would continue to get bigger.
When you started on your music career were people around you supportive or did you have to find those people?
Totally supportive! We all helped each other out, were drawn to each other even.
The first song of yours which you really felt proud of was . . .? And why that one?
Eyes Are the Door - it’s the first song I wrote, and I recorded it all by myself on a portastudio, guitar, bass & vocals.
Any one person you'd call a mentor, angel on your shoulder or invaluable fellow traveller?
Martyn Bull - he taught me to play bass & guitar, and he’s still hanging around, egging me on!
Where and when was the first time you went on stage as a paid performer?
Ooooo- that could well be the Empire in 1984, we were headlining, doing 2 nights as you did in those days. It was astonishing - that all those people would turn out and pay to see us! Such a great weekend that was.
Ever had stage fright or just a serious failure of nerve before going on stage?
yes - all the time! Not so much in the last few years, but before then, I would often be nervous for the entire first song.
As a songwriter, do you carry a notebook or have a phone right there constantly to grab ideas they come? Or is your method something different?
I’ve got notebooks all over the house, and in my different bags, and if I’m out on a walk, I’ll use my phone, but I do prefer writing, there’s something about pen & paper
What unfashionable album do you love as a guilty pleasure?
hmmm, that is a tough one - fashionable/unfashionable is such an arbitrary word, isn’t it?
One woman’s crap is another woman’s pleasure…..
Any piece of advice you were given which you look back on which really meant something?
Roi Colbert reminding me why I play music - and that it is for me, and me alone. Trying to please others really is a fool’s game.
It's after a performance/concert and you are in a hotel room or back at home, what happens then?
If it’s not too late, I’ll have a drink or a cup of tea, if I’m at home, I might sit outside and watch the stars, or read my book.
Is there any fellow artist you admire for professional and/or personal reasons?
Still, after all these years, it is David Kilgour, I love how he does what he wants, when he wants, and doesn’t take anybody’s crap, but in a really nice way, he just kinda fades out & away……
And! His guitar/piano playing and songwriting are just plain inspiring and amazing.
And finally, where to from here for you do you think?
A new record! One written with my band. And getting us to Australia at some stage, that would be ace.