Tumbleweeds Indeed


We made it all the way to the bottom of Aotearoa!

Our southest gig was on Rakiura/Stewart Island, which was awesome! We got to check out Ulva Island and enjoyed a few night with South Sea Hotel and a Sunday gig with all the locals, a reaaal treat!
Once back from the island, we headed to Invercargill and then to Queenstown where we had a fun and busy week of gigs and hanging out with rad people, then back down to Te Anau for a gig at Redcliff Cafe- such a gem of a spot with SUCH good kai… Seriously…

We had a bit of time from here to work on our album and check out the Milford Sounds, and we were so lucky to have met the kindest souls in Dunedin at a previous gig who let us crash at their holiday home here, so we had a fire to enjoy and keep us warm as lil mittens!
We drove out to Milford Sounds through the snowy mountains (ataaaaaaahua!) and through the big ol’ tunnel to the sounds! All was going well until we were heading back up to the tunnel on our way home, through the tunnel we heard something burst under my seat… it was scary! We had no idea what it was, and I was worried the car might blow up while we were in the tunnel and the whole mountain crumble on us and everyone else driving through with us… A little over the top, yes, but it was bloody scary.
We pulled over as soon as we were out and all the other cars drove on by.
The engine was steaming like maddddd so, she had over heated bit time, so between the snowy mountains we waited for Jamba to cool down. It took a while and we were freezing as one would be between snowy mountains. We heard a few earthquake sounding sounds and realised they were tiny little avalanches happening at the top of some of the mountains, no way near close enough to be worried, but the sound was something else.
Eventually, we started our van back up and rode down the mountain. About 20 mins later (eyes glued to the thermostat) we saw the heat level reach the top again and knew we needed to pull over. We were going to stop at the next open spot, driving down the mountain when everything shut off. Charles carefully steered us down the road, hand on the handbrake to a spot between trees where we waited again to let Jamba cool down. A little Robin joined us.

Jamba didn’t start up again nor was she showing any signs of starting, so I flagged down a car and they drove me to the nearest pay phone (no wifi in Milford Sounds FYI). AA and a tow truck were on there was, and the kind couple dropped me back to Charles to wait an hour for them to reach us.
When they did, the guy was quite surprised that it wasn’t just needing a jump start (as if we would have called a tow truck for a simple jump start!). He knew straight away this was a big problem, and an expensive one, let alone the tow out…

$7500 was too much for us to spend to fix her engine up, so we found a plan B, which turned into a plan C fairly fast.

We are now in Invercargill, where we will remain until Jamba is ready to roll.

Plans have changed and things have come up that have really made us question if this is what we should be doing, this pretty insecure, unstable lifestyle we’ve chosen, at least for now… And the answer is pretty simple for us. We are right where we are meant to be! Bumps in the road and all, we are convinced about this.

And we’re delighted to be learning some rad things as we go! We’re working with the mechanic to sort the van out, we’re staying with a super loving and kind whanau who feels a bit like home to us, and we’re heading home so very soon.

We chose this on-the-road, music full time lifestyle, and it’s so different, and so good, for us! We just miss family a bit too much right now haha but in a couple of weeks we’ll be home… for a lil while 😉


How do we spend our days?


Ya know what? This is pretty great.

Sometime’s people ask me “so, how do you spend your days?”, with our ‘luxury’ of time… Well, we just do what we gotta do. Which results in quite a mix! Some days are those days that just happen so fast; you’re looking at your computer ticking things off the list, email after email (admin- which, i’m kinda enjoying tbh) or, you’re working on a song and suddenly it’s dusk. Our days are a mix of eating, meeting people- old & new, writing new songs or recording the ideas we’ve caught in our heads or on our voice memo’s…And sometime’s they’re day’s like this one i’ve decided to tell you about here…

We had a gig on Wednesday night in Christchurch, and decided that Thursday would be a ‘weekend’ day for us. We drove out to Akaroa after a treat breakfast from our friends who’s driveway we’d pulled up in (bacon & eggs- perfect start!) and then we took our time getting out there- via a MEAN coffee stop at Lyttleton Coffee & Co and drove the most beautiful autumn drive to our freedom carpark in Akaroa.
We had the most stunning weather- where the lake’s and harbour looked like glass! And jumped on our bikes upon our arrival to explore a new place. AND WHAT A PLACE.

We’re working on our first album at the moment, which is inspired by our native birds in Aotearoa. Much to our delight, when we were riding, we were called into the bush, up a hill past an old cemetery by the most beautiful call of the Korimako, the Bellbird. Their tunes rang out over the harbour and through the big trees above, it was glorious! They’d swoop by making a pretty sweet propeller sound and then call out to their friends perched in other trees. Among the Korimako were a few cheeky Tui who made their sound loud and proud too. Charles and I were in a bit of a wonderland here and are planning an a cappella song for this one! With the hum of the lawn mower a few yards away, and the ring of cicadas and the songs of the birds, we’re now so excited to try replicate a lil something from this scene!

There was a little French deli we had passed in the township en route, which I popped my head into and was instantly inspired to make a little french/italian feast for our evening meal before our fishing adventure was to commence.
Fresh bread – the final loaf first called my name and then I grabbed a little pottle of fresh basil that must have been picked from a nearby garden, a few slices of beautiful Italian salami and a home-made bruschetta which i’ve written the recipe for at the end of this blog because Charles think’s I nailed this one.

A bit of reading followed our content tummy’s meal and at 8pm we set off on our bikes to the wharf with the lights.
No bites. Nothing at all. At 10.25pm we were about ready to finish up and head back to our home when we saw a rather big looking fish zoom past and under the wharf… “Just one more try” on the line with no bait but a few sparkly flasher rig.
SURE ENOUGH, a big ol’ fish grabbed the hook and Charles walked around the wharf to the step for “she’s a big one!”.
A big ol’ Blue Moki she was indeed! It was SO exciting.

We called it a night after this, as this sweet fish would be enough for the two of us, and let me tell you what we made with this fresh fishy-fish fish!

Morena came with quite an excitement as our fish was ready to be fried up and enjoyed for breky- we’d filleted and cleaned the fish in salt water the night before and all we did with it next was fry it up in a bit of olive oil, pepper and fresh lemon. MY goodness, it was good.
With the rest, we’re making a fish curry for my brother and sis-in-law who’ve let us park up in their driveway for the week. YUM.

Well this blog certainly became pretty foodie din’ she!

Hope you enjoyed the read!
Time to record a song now.

XO Emily

PS, here’s the recipe 😉

Emily’s bruschetta recipe:

2 x tomatoes
half a small onion
a dollop of olive oil
parmesan cheese – grated
salt & pepper to flavour
half a lemon

Chop the tomatoes & onion nice and fine, add the olive oil, s&p and squeeze lemon on till it’s reached the tanginess desired.

Enjoy served on lightly fried fresh bread; fry with a cheeky bit of olive oil and sprinkled with the cheese- it melts- it’s a dream! Top with a few bits of teared basil and add Italian Salami if you fancy! *A Shiraz goes super with this simple dish!

Southbound are we!


The time has come when we finally start cruisin’ south with the music!
I want to say ‘finallllyyyy’ (cause we are soooo ready for this!), but then I think about all that’s been so far and I wouldn’t change a second of it, not even getting a bit sick and actually having to stop for a couple of days. It’s all been gooood.

We’re currently in Papamoa, i’m drinking a mean coffee at Charle’s cuzzies home opposite the beach. Taking a moment to write a few things down.
Let me tell you a little bit about what we’ve been up to!

1. WEDDINGS. If you’ve been following us on Instaaa you’ll notice that there’s been a wedding every single weekend for the last 2 months. A total of 10 this summer, and every one has been SO special!
I’ve been a bridesmaid 3 times for 3 very beautiful friends of mine, inside and out! With each of these weddings comes a hens party – i’ve experience such things as making dumplings, drawing a nude man and horse riding at Pakari! I’ve been pampered to the days with all my gals and this has been quite a treat really.
My gals each married their love’s and it’s been insane to witness such a full summer of LOVE.
We learnt that our lil duo can carry a dance floor into the night pretty good! Love us a bit of Doobies and Wonder.

2. Home is wherever!  We’ve stayed in our van quite a bit… but honestly, we’ve probably had the same amount of nights in friends and families home as we have in our lil home on wheels. What a treat it’s been. We’ve been spoiled by such warm hospitality and have even had strangers at gig’s let us know we’re welcome to come stay at theirs some time- how sweet is that!

3. Celebrating. Every time we’re somewhere new, with a new group of friends, at a new venue, in another’s home, we celebrate. As well as the weekendly weddings, we’ve kinda been in celebration mode constantly. I LOVE IT. Loving the buzz of always being somewhere new. And then when we go back somewhere again there’s still a reason to celebrate, cause you’re back with these people in this place. Life is a celebration.
We’ve celebrated marriages, celebrated new friendships and old ones, done we’ve celebrated family, and we’ve celebrated the life of our Grandad Looker too. He was a well loved and a love filled man who we already miss.

4. A spontaneous trip to Melbourne! We had 2 of our good friends get hitched in Melbs with a rather short notice announcement of their wedding! It happened to be the one free weekend we had for the summer and so jumped on a plane and had a pretty mean week over there with them and all their friends and family too!

5. We’re WRITING lots now! We’ve kinda settled into our random routine- which is hardly a routine at all, more just that every day is different and knowing it will be and so rolling with it in a productive way. Charles is currently working on ‘Piwaiwaka’- one of the tunes for the ‘MANU’ album we’re planning to release for next summer. WEEEEE get excited about this.

SO all in all, things are swell, and now we’re off to Gizzy! 3 gig’s this week, which means 3 different crowds of people we’re so looking forward to getting to know and share our tunes with.

A special shout out to ‘The Bunker’ on Mt Vic | Devonport, for one of the most special gig’s we’ve ever been a part of. We felt so valued as musicians and adored the way our songs were heard and all the conversation and fun that happened that night.

Bring on the rest!


The best kind of productive


The best kind of productive, I think, is when you’re able to feel rested while enjoying life in a rich way, and at the same time, you get loads of rad stuff done.The last 10 days have been all of these things, and here’s three reasons why.

We completed our Aro Campground Tour!
We’ve been playing music at 5 very different campgrounds over the summer since just before the New Year arrived and it’s been a treat!
Over a month living in a van now and the thing we love most about it is how simple it is. We still cook our own food (and we’re in love with cooking & preparing meals outside!), we set up the van and sometimes the tent if we’re gigging heaps so we can just crash post gig without having to organise the van properly (a small space- and everything has it’s place) and we ride our two yellow bikes so much!

Campground highlights:

  1. The people we meet! Kind strangers who think what we’re doing is pretty cool. We’ve met a nice mix of kiwi families on their summer holidays, and all the other vanlifer’s – who so far have all been from overseas! I think they find it a bit of a surprise that we two are just kiwi’s travelling around our own country- why wouldn’t we though?!
  2. The kids! The BEST campground gig was at Hahei Holiday Campground (such good vibes!), where most kids had some form of transport other than their feet (bike/scooter/other wheel things that I’m not too sure what they really were). We played in the middle of a round-a-bout under a giant Pohutukawa tree covered in fairy lights (yus), and the kids roamed around and around us the entire set! It was the sweetest thing, the ‘human carousel’ we called it. It was sweet when the little kiddies would catch our eye and smile- cute until it made us nervous about them continuing in the flow of 40 or so other kids on their bikes!
  3. The support for our own tunes! We quite like the music we make… and it’s always pretty rad to find out others do too. People joined in with us singin’ “ooooh I’m in love with youuu”, which was a buzz, and the EP sales have been mean! (Just when I thought no one bought CD’s anymore haha!)

I am a jewelry maker again!
When I was 12, I first got into making jewelry, and my rad parents supported it by getting me a super cool drill to make shell earrings and things. I then discovered the clay you shape into things and then pop it into the oven to turn it hard. I remember getting several colours of the clay at the ‘Ellerslie Flower show’ – the same year my mum’s garden got a gold award (the bomb).
I put the clay in a brown paper bag and to my delight I re-discovered the bag of half used clay and have been busy making lil earrings and cooking them up to sell at the campgrounds! It is SO much fun. I’ve missed using my hands and eyes to create things like this- and realizing how much of a joy it is to have time for these things again! Also to my surprise, I’ve managed to sell quite a few! Glad some people like my swirls and colour combos too!

We had a holiday!
“But isn’t your life just one big holiday now?” I hear people think… Well. In a way it is! We’re camping, we’re travelling, and we see new things everyday- including the amazing sea life! Charles has been snorkeling and we’ve been fishing a few times and love that you can seeeeeeeee the life under the sea so clearly!
BUT, we’ve actually found ourselves pretty exhausted. Gigging up to 4 times a week and moving around all the time might be the cause…

So we had a holiday! We went away with some very good friends of ours, played board games, ate well, slept well and felt very rested and ready for the next month of music ahead.
Fortunately our ‘work’ doesn’t really feel like ‘work’- and we did have a couple of practices and did do a lot of admin (which I love love love!). The pace was perfect, there was no rush and endless internet, and so our holiday was very productive, the best kind of productive I reckon.

So that’s a lil slice o’ us!
Till next time my amigos,

Emily xo

Aro on the road


The last 22 days have been SO full!

Let me tell you a few little stories, the first stories of Charles and my life doing full time music, as our duo, which we call ‘Aro’. We’re living in our new home called ‘Jumba’, our 1994 Toyota Hiace Super Custom van.

On the 16th of December we moved out of our first Looker Nook in Hillsborough Auckland. We sold a lot of our things, and filled a few boxes with the rest.

We started with all the Christmas parties and all the festive-ness one might expect in the week leading up to Christmas, which for us also involved 3 gigs which we called our ‘lil pre-Christmas-tour’. Tauranga; backyard style, intimate, fairy lit, cuzzies garden. Paeroa; The Refinery Christmas party, garden, jolly people, Waitangi day gig in Paeroa booked! And we finished in Tairua; gig on the lawn, neighbours, sea views. It was amazing!

We then had a restful few days over Christmas with quality family times, involving many-a-card-game, swims every day (like rain would stop us!), a LOT of food… of course, and a rather sweet Christmas eve service at the local wee church followed by champagne. Christmas is such a treat!

From here, we began our ‘Summer Tour’! (There’s a poster with all the dates to come below too!)

First stop was Mercury Bay Holiday Park where we were welcomed with some of the best hospitality from the lovely Sam and Luke who run the super tidy and lovely grounds. We headed further North to Kuaotonu to play some tunes at ‘Luke’s Kitchen’- and it was amazing! The vibes, the pizza, the people who danced and whistled and even requested us to play ‘Oh love’ and ‘Pages’ – two of our originals- it turns out they’d heard us at a Sofar Sounds gig a few months back!

The first campground gig was lovely- it was incredibly hot, and we were incredibly thankful to the 7 little kids who came and chatted with us while they helped us pack up our van- and one little girl gave me a flower, which was the highlight of my day.
Ruakaka Holiday Park was our new years destination, and with a bunch of friends this made for a pretty fun time! We were camping right by the front gate and just before midnight a few hundred of the 2.5 thousand staying at the camp came to the front gate for the countdown. Charles was asked to sing us out of the new year and into the new one, along with our new years crew, and sing LOUD is what we did!

It seems quite fitting to have been singing as the clocked ticked over to 2018, this is a year for music for us. No more lacking energy after a long 9-5 day. Our days are music filled and so far, SO good.
The following night we put on a campground gig, and though it had been a rainy day, people came out of their tents 2 by 2 and we had a rather nice crowd of people grooving with us as the dusk became night.

A very special wedding of my best friend and her love drew us back to Auckland for a couple of nights, and once the pair was happily bound as one (with suchhhh a wonderful wedding!) we were back down to the Coromandel for the next leg of the tour.

A slight delay with the big ol’ storm which destroyed a lot of the road we were planning to drive…we arrived on the 6th of Jan in Coromandel Town.  On our arrival we played for a couple of hours at ‘Star & Garter’ and then put on our campground gig to follow. We were set up in front of the ‘Jumping pillow’, which was fun, kids doing flips the whole way through our set! The scene was set and we enjoyed weaving the stories of our songs amongst the music for the happy listeners at this spot. Thankful for all the kind souls who have joined us so far! What a treat this is, truly!

A couple of things I’ve noticed from living in a van…

  1. People approach us the way people approached me when I was a busker in Berlin- with kindness, and with such openness! Even parked up in Browns Bay, Auckland we had people stop just to say hello and have a yarn on the main street. Pretty cool!
  2. People always ask ‘how long’ we plan to live like this… we don’t know, but our van is Self Contained Certified till 2021, so perhaps until then 😉
  3. Cooking in the van is my favourite thing. We have a kitchen in the boot and it’s cute and I have way more space to dance around in it than I did at our Looker Nook, no walls restricting me here!
  4. Our bed is bigger than the one we had at home? Haha I learnt this when I tried to fit our double sized stretchy sheet over it and couldn’t get all four corners tucked in. Bonus: I sleep so well on this bed!
  5. Charles drives me crazy, but I’m crazy about him. So it’s quite okay. We learn so much about each other every single day, and it’s pretty cool!

Until the next blog, my friends, aroha nui!
Emily xo