Staying away from Facebook and Twitter

Singer- songwriter Hollie Fullbrook (left) will appear at three events for the Singapore Writers Festival.
Singer- songwriter Hollie Fullbrook (above) will appear at three events for the Singapore Writers Festival.PHOTO: SINGAPORE WRITERS FESTIVAL

Put away your smartphones and stay away from social media - they stunt your creativity, warns award- winning New Zealand singer- songwriter Hollie Fullbrook.

Fullbrook, the frontwoman of indie folk band Tiny Ruins, says her smartphone and social media are essential while she is on tour. But when she is working on new songs, she stays away from both as much as she can.

"With smartphones and everything, you're always reaching for your phone when you have moments of time when you could be letting those thoughts develop," she says in a telephone interview from a music studio in New Zealand.

"I had to remove Facebook and Twitter from my phones. I can check them only when I have my laptop around. It's a good way of ensuring that I'm not checking things all the time."

Acclaimed for her lyrics as much as she is for her music, she is a good fit for the Singapore Writers Festival.

This weekend, she will be participating in three events at the festival: a song-writing workshop on Saturday, a panel discussion on the emotional impact music has on listeners on Sunday and a solo gig on Sunday evening.

  • BOOK IT /SONGWRITING WITH HOLLIE FULLBROOK (TINY RUINS)

    WHERE: Hall, Timbre Music Academy, 1 Old Parliament Lane

    WHEN: Saturday, 10am

    ADMISSION: $50 from Sistic (go to www.sistic.com.sg or call 6348-5555)

    WHY MUSIC INVOKES SUCH RICH EMOTIONS - PANEL DISCUSSIONS

    WHERE: Chamber, The Arts House, 1 Old Parliament Lane

    WHEN: Sunday, 11.30 am

    ADMISSION: $20 Festival Pass from Sistic

    SWF STAGE HOLLIE FULLBROOK'S STORY SONGS

    WHERE: Chamber, The Arts House

    WHEN: Sunday, 8pm

    ADMISSION: $25 from Sistic

For the 30-year-old singer, whose band's second and most recent album, Brightly Painted One, was awarded Best Alternative Album at last year's New Zealand Music Awards, the words are just as important as the melodies when it comes to crafting songs.

"I don't develop a song unless it's lyrically interesting to me. If I were just trying to fill in the gaps with any old words, I just wouldn't get any satisfaction from it even though the music side of it is kind of what emotionally engages me. It's more the lyrics that engage my brain," says Fullbrook, who made her debut in Singapore at the Esplanade Recital Studio in 2012.

At the panel discussion, to be held at The Arts House Chamber, she is looking forward to meeting fellow panellist, British science and culture writer Philip Ball.

She describes one of his books, The Music Instinct: How Music Works And Why We Can't Do Without It (2010), as an "eye- opener".

"For someone who has been playing and listening music my whole life, I'm learning so much from this book that I never really thought about before," she says.

While she says work on the follow-up to Brightly Painted One is still in its early days, fans can look forward to a new EP she recorded with fellow New Zealand musician and songwriter, Hamish Kilgour. Titled Hurtling Through, the seven-track EP was recorded while both were doing shows in New York and will be released next month.

When she is not on tour, Fullbrook keeps busy with non-music work, specifically babysitting and doing administrative work for an engineering company.

"Once I got home and I had found my feet again on the ground, I actually launch myself into finding a part-time job and not just for money reasons.

"When you come off a tour, it can feel very weird not to have anything happening in your day - that can be overwhelming when you return.

"So I started being nanny to a couple of kids and I also have an administrative sort of job for a sustainable engineering firm. These are the things that keeps me grounded in the real world."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 27, 2015, with the headline 'Staying away from Facebook and Twitter'. Print Edition | Subscribe