12 Sep 2017

Lawrence Arabia unplugged

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm, 2:22 pm on 12 September 2017
Lawrence Arabia

Lawrence Arabia Photo: supplied

Ahead of this year's APRA Silver Scroll Awards, James Milne (aka Lawrence Arabia) plays a couple of his own songs and shares some others he reckons are deserving of the songwriting prize.

Milne won the Silver Scroll for his song 'Apple Pie Bed' in 2009.

He tells Jesse Mulligan he has mixed feelings, at best, about his stage name.

"Every day I wake up with cold sweats about being called Lawrence Arabia … It's hard to google and it's just a really silly name."

Part of the reason he has a pseudonym is shyness.

"It's hard to come out of my shell, but I found myself on stage just screaming and going crazy and it was such a release. I can sit and be a wallflower a lot of the time so for me, it was this amazing release of all this pent-up subconscious stuff."

Milne had what he describes as an ordinary middle-class upbringing in Christchurch and got a degree in politics before becoming a musician.

"I just kept wanting to hang out at pubs and go to sound checks and talk to musicians."

Writing songs doesn't come as easily now as it did when he was younger, he says.

"There's something about youth, it really flows in an exciting way.

"Once you've done something you block off that avenue, so you're having to find a new thing. And the older you get the fewer avenues there are and if you've got to find more tricky ways to problem-solve and make a new thing.

"When it works it gives me more joy than anything… It might not happen as often, but I'm still hunting for that joy."

James Milne performed 'The Listening Times' from the 2012 album The Sparrow and 'I've Smoked Too Much' from the 2009 album Chant Darling.

He played:

'Hot On Your Heels' by The Mint Chicks

"As a songwriter, I'm in total admiration of how everything flows … it creates envy in me."

'Get Some Sleep' by Bic Runga

"It's like the whole song is an endless chorus – it's just chorus after chorus – which to me is a joy to listen to, really."

'We're So Lost' by Voom

"[Buzz Moller] has got the knack of writing an incredibly sad song … It just works, and it's just one of those uncanny things where they use chords in a way that makes you feel sad."

Get the new RNZ app

for easy access to all your favourite programmes

Subscribe to Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm

Podcast (MP3) Oggcast (Vorbis)