Wellington-based, wayfaring solo artist Wallace has released her debut album, + Other Colours. The 13-track album features collaborations with producers such as Planeface, Lewis Moody, Dennis Neuer, godriguez, and Danny Barwick, and came together between Wellington, Sydney, London and Berlin.
Wallace combines elements of soul, hip hop and pop with her jazz-influenced lead vocals. The songs reference the artist’s childhood in Wellington and adult experiences in Sydney and London. Here, Wallace takes us behind the scenes, sharing details of each track’s origin and meaning.
Wallace – ‘+ Other Colours’
Venus, the Birth Of
One of my best mates found a huge faded print of Botticelli’s ‘The Birth of Venus’ years ago. It was completely faded blue with a hefty gold frame, stunning in all its faux glory. I wasn’t shy in letting my friend know how much I loved it and how jealous I was that it hung on her wall and not mine.
A few years later she moved into a smaller space and knowing how much I adored it, gave Venus to me to look after. It sat sideways for a year in my little studio apartment in Kings Cross as it was far too big to fit on my walls but I didn’t care. She had a huge presence in my dinky room and was begging for a song to be written about her.
She inspired me to write about how powerful women are often ridiculed and sexualised for no reason, labelled things their male counterparts aren’t, like abrasive and sassy. Venus is a complex and endlessly inspiring queen to me and now hangs proudly above my bed in New Zealand. Let’s just hope there’s no quakes anytime soon.
Of all the tracks on my album, ‘Every Stroke’ is very close to my heart. After my granddad passed a few years ago I found myself processing my grief by writing about our shared love of the water.
As a child I would stay at my grandparents’ house that overlooked Titahi Bay. Granddad went swimming religiously every morning and would take me along too. We’d ride the lazy river, tackle the wave pool and brave the hydroslide.
Produced by Dennis Neuer at the infamous Jazzanova Studios in Berlin, ‘Jane Doe’ is a call to women to unashamedly find their name and claim their place. The lyrics explore both my feminist ideals and my love of true crime stories.
I had the many mantras of a podcast I’m obsessed with, My Favorite Murder, running through my mind while writing the lyrics. They implore women to “Fuck politeness” in uncomfortable situations and trust your intuition when your inner alarm is going off.
I am a terrible plant mother. Even a grim London lockdown didn’t unearth a maternal instinct in me. Moral of the story is that, although I love orchids, I should never be put in charge of the wellbeing of one. And, as it inevitably dies, I’ll feel guilty and miss the person that gave it to me even more.
Wallace – ‘Orchid Care’
I am notoriously terrified of any kind of confrontation, so when someone does something shit I usually just exit myself from a situation and never confront them about it. This is a song about how good it feels when karma catches up with them without me having to do or say anything.
Got a little bit nostalgic with this one, thinking about 11 year old me at Timezone in Wellington drinking vanilla Coke, playing dance revolution and checking out boys in their head-to-toe Planet 8 looks.
I had this amazing English teacher in high school who got me really excited about language. We were studying an intense poem one day and a scene was described as being an “eternal instant.” It was the day I fell in love with oxymorons.
I lived directly under a flight path in Sydney for a few years. We had a great courtyard that we spent a lot of time in in the summer drinking. I always loved how we all would pause conversation for exactly the right amount time then launch back in like nothing had interrupted us.
Wallace – ‘Arcade Queen’
Ae Fond Kiss
‘Ae Fond Kiss’ is inspired by a famous poem written by Scottish legend Robert Burns. I used to listen to Eddi Reader sing this over and over:
Ae fond kiss, and then we sever;
Ae fareweel, and then forever!
Deep in heart-wrung tears I’ll pledge thee,
Warring sighs and groans I’ll wage thee.
I was very homesick for NZ at the time I wrote this. Instead of missing a lover’s kiss I was pining for the terrible weather in Wellington and my little duck egg blue house up on the hill near the wind turbine in Brooklyn.
‘Pantone Home’ is my second collab with the incredible Danny Barwick. I fell in love instantly with the beautiful sampling of pianist Colin Hopkins. I’m not quite sure why, but it made me think of home. I didn’t find out till after I’d finished all the lyrics that Colin is an architect by day. Was meant to be.
‘Pantone Home’ is essentially a walk through the duck egg blue house I grew up in. I’ve clearly inherited my mum’s obsession with colour – my folks’ home is literally a rainbow and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Everything in the song is 100% true. Our lounge is in fact painted the most badarse mustardy/ limey yellow; we watch the telly in a bright red art deco lounge suite; eat dinner on Crown Lynn plates in every pastel shade (one of the famous swans lives in our bathroom too); and try not to touch the exposed pink bates in the walls (sorry dad, I know you’ll finish renovations one day).
Commentary on how creepy it is that it’s so easy to track us now. The internet is amazing but terrifying.
Good As Gold
Inspired by my beautiful mum who says this a lot, and one of my favourite stores in Wellington that sells clothes I can rarely afford.
Ok, Ok, What’s Next?
I’m a West Wing mega fan. “OK, OK, what’s next?” is something that’s asked often on the show and seemed like the perfect question to end my debut album with. It’s also the sign off for the West Wing Weekly, a podcast analysing, in great detail, every episode of Aaron Sorkin’s masterpiece. Told you I’m obsessed. Shout out to Hrishi and Josh.
Wallace’s debut album + Other Colours is out now.
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