Planetary Group took some time to get to know Reb Fountain, an artist from Auckland with a mystical folk sound.
Reb Fountain: Kia ora! My name is Reb Fountain and I’m coming to you live from my garage in Tāmaki Makaurau/ Auckland, Aotearoa/ New Zealand.
Planetary Group: Tell us about your latest release. How did you come to create it?
Reb: Lacuna is my most recent single, and it’s off of my new record coming out on October 1st – it’s called Iris.
Lacuna was actually one of the first songs that the band and I worked on together off of this record. And I made this song quite lengthy – actually it had lots of extra parts to it that ended up getting cut out in the end. Dave [Khan] and I had worked on creating some demos. We brought it to the band and we hit this, um, me thumping away on the piano quite intensely. And then Dave suggested that we remove that and create more of a synth pad and just leave me free to sing. And so we tried that and it, all of a sudden it created this amazing space for the song.
And I mean, I guess in many ways it’s emblematic of the word Lacuna and the kind of essence of the song and the theme as a whole. It’s that sense of how you’ve got all of these parts and all of these experiences and they inform the end result, but often they’re invisible. You can’t really see them. They’re like imprints on you, you know, your experiences, your memories. They make up who you are, but you don’t necessarily see them when you look at the picture.
So Lacuna was made from a lot of that: a lot of demoing and chucking out stuff. When we got to the studio, we were playing through the song and it just… just something wasn’t feeling quite right. And I had this, like I said, these whole other outro sections. And I was like, what if we just chop those?
And at the same time, I think Dave and Simon who produced the record were thinking exactly the same thing and we just chopped them out and it was great! You have to be unafraid or at least a little bit risky in your song development.
PG: Share a bit about your musical journey, from when you first started making music until now.
Reb: I come from a long line of migrants. I was born in North America and then my family immigrated to Aotearoa. But before that my family’s from the Ukraine on one side and Scotland on the other, and it’s sort of been crossing across the Americas for some time. So I grew up with music and kind of folks coming into the house and playing music and then bailing and never seeing any of them again. And when we immigrated to New Zealand, my dad made up a song book and we used to sit around with other migrant families and sing songs and play guitar, and the kids would run around.
It was this real sense of comradery and connection that I found in music. And I guess that’s what really drew me to it, as well as my dad used to play songs to me to go to sleep. I love the way they made me feel. I would say “can you play the song? The one that makes me cry?” It was usually Streets of Laredo or St James Infirmary Blues, which were also two of the first songs that I ever learned how to play. And I guess, map that onto my own songwriting, you know, writing melancholic poetry and putting it to music was initially how I got into music because I needed to express the way I felt. It gave me a voice when I didn’t really know how to speak for myself or to describe or articulate what I was going through.
It took me a long time to come into my own I think, you know, feeling confident enough to have my own back and commit to myself and to my music. And also like I had kids young and was a single parent. And these things take time. But again, all of these experiences, these past experiences and present ones, informed my music and, and who I am. And I love that. I wouldn’t give that up for anything.
And, you know, in many ways the album Iris is his full circle with it. It just really felt like an opportunity to say everything that I needed so much to say, but I couldn’t form into words or didn’t want to, you know?
PG: Let’s talk about the music that you love. Pick one album for each category below & tell us a bit about it!
- An album you grew up listening to:
Reb: There was a few records floating around at the time, and musicians that I was listening to via my parents: Elton John and Split Ends and Gordon Lightfoot, On the Other Side. And my dad would make up these tapes from CFOX, which is a station in Canada or the states… I don’t actually know.
But the game changer moment for me was Marianne Faithfull’s Broken English. My brother and I used to listen to that on repeat, and we call it our divorce album. Our parents were getting divorced, but we listened to that record and used it as a way to make sense of the madness that we felt and then what was going on around us.
She was so badass, and her songs were so punk and beautiful and heartfelt, and her voice just said everything that I wanted to say. No artist captured that moment for me in the same way. And she’s still an inspiration to me.
- The album that influences you the most as an artist:
Reb: I don’t know how to answer that. There’s not one person or one artist. I mean, that’s why you have a record collection. You can’t just get everything that you need from one – there’s this beautiful embrace and you can always welcome new things in, you know, so I don’t know how to answer that.
Last year I listened to Nicki Minaj’s Pink a lot. That was huge for me. I know I was late to the party, but man, again, she gave me a lot of strength. Growing up, Joan Armatrading’s Me Myself I… Women who speak on behalf of you, [who] you feel like you can connect with, who are embracing their own experience enough to say universal things.
Mary Gauthier, Joni Mitchell, Karen Dalton, Aldous Harding, PJ Harvey. I mean, there’s so many. It’s not to say… I mean, and Bob Dylan. His record last year was my lockdown album, you know, Rough and Rowdy Ways.
- The album you currently have on repeat:
Reb: Transmissions: The Music of Beverly Glenn-Copeland. This was a recommendation to me by my good friends at Flying Out – Matthew Crawley thank you. It’s just outstanding. I’d never listened to him before, and the breadth of music is just amazing. It’s been so inspirational. I have to say it was inspirational in the making of my new record. Not necessarily with the musical themes or the styles so much as I guess, being true to oneself. So I would really encourage you to listen to that.
PG: What do you want people to take away from your music?
Reb: When I go and see someone perform and they are authentic and present and committed, that affects me – it reminds me of that in myself, and I really want to do that. I really want to model my best behavior. That’s not because I need to be anything other than myself, I guess it’s modeling how to be self loving and connected because for me, that’s the way that I have survived – without learning how to do that without taking on that task every day, I definitely wouldn’t be here. When I bring music to you, I am bringing all of that essence with it. And when you listen to my record, I hope that it means something for you.
And it won’t be the same as what it meant for me, but I hope that in some way I’ve captured something universal and very human, or animal, that translates. And that through the process of creating these songs, that we, the band, have created something that resonates with you.
And if anything, I mean, that would be a huge bonus. The fact that someone would take the time to listen to my music, I’m very grateful for. But I don’t really want it to be mine anymore; I want it to be ours. That’s what makes it interesting to me.
PG: What’s next up for you?
Reb: So here in New Zealand we are in a Level Four lockdown, which means we can leave the house to go for a walk. Unfortunately I just fractured my toe on the second day of lockdown, so I’m in a moon boot and my dog is looking very sad at me.
I am getting ready for my album release – October 1st is when Iris comes out.
I’m really excited about that. And here in New Zealand *cross fingers*, we will be going on a big tour to support that and share it with people. And that’s really exciting. However, it’s hard for us to get out of the country at the moment, cause it’s really hard for us to come back in. [So] for us it’s going to take a little time. Hopefully later in 2022 we’ll get out, I’m hoping to go to Australia and at least come to North America and visit you.
In the meantime, the best thing I can do is to share this music and anything else that I’ve got going on and whatever crazy videos we come up with. We’re going to do a lot of filming in lockdown. We’ve got a Super 8 camera, it’s fixed, and we got a bunch of film. And so you can expect some, some music videos coming your way soon.