After a really long gestation for her latest album, The Garden, the Oamaru musician known as Swingbridge released it last week.
The artist behind Swingbridge, Bridget Ellis, started recording the album in 2018, but its journey began much earlier than that.
Ellis has written the songs over the past 20 years – Day to Day was written when her teenage boys were just toddlers.
The Garden covers a range of topics from parenting to “care and concern about the environment” and personal themes.
Her favourite song is the title track, The Garden .
Inspired by a personal experience and a dry season in Oamaru, the song was a metaphor for a dry garden that appeared dead, but came back to life after a fall of rain.
“The rain came, but in such a gentle way that it soaked through,” she said.
“It just melted and puffed up. Life was still in the soil, and it came back to life.”
The actual process of recording was eclectic.
She recorded the album at Steve Harrop’s Sublime Studio near Kurow, Auckland’s Roundhead Studio and in a stone cottage with “thick walls” on Papakaio farmland, where cows would peer in to watch the recording process.
Ellis experienced delays caused by Covid-19 and a studio cancellation, but saw these hurdles as guides for her album.
When the Christchurch studio she planned to record in lost its space, she instead went to Roundhead Studio, where she met engineer Jordan Stone.
“The album came a few notches up than I thought.”
With little time to rehearse with her Auckland band-mates Chris O’Connor and Eamon Edmundson-Wells, Ellis said the album had more of a “rocky”, spontaneous feel to it.
She found it difficult to put herself forward, preferring to be known as Swingbridge.
“I would like this to be about the music and the songs more than personality.”
She had been writing music since she was 17 years old, but described a bind between being a performer and a songwriter.
However, she enjoyed performing and felt safe singing her own songs.
Being known as Swingbridge also gave her the freedom to include more performers, including Harrop and Lynley Caldwell.
When playing with the right person, it felt like sharing another language, creating melodies she would not have thought of otherwise.
“Something else takes over, and that can be a really joyful thing.”