INTERVIEW: Running Touch
A mystery, producer and multi-instrumentalist rolled into one, Running Touch is a pinnacle of burgeoning sonic diversity and ferocious output. From his founding endeavours with oddworld overlords Ocean Grove (and ongoing added magic with the group in-studio), to expanding his solo adventures, Running Touch brings a flash of sharp and otherworldly pizzazz to everything he touches; a fact readily on display both on his most recent track Juno, as well as his ongoing Post Modern Collective live sessions, bringing together a dizzying array of local fellow musical mavericks.
Having most recently flexed his live musical chops late last week, playing his biggest headline show to date at Melbourne's Sidney Myer Music Bowl, and unleashing round 2 of the PMC sessions, playing his new tune Juno alongside Hayden James, Vera Blue and international Bass-queen Blu DeTiger, 2021 is only just getting started for this immensely talented individual. And amongst all the musical concocting and live shows, Tiana Speter grabbed a moment with the man himself to chat storytelling, evolution and more. Interview below!
TIANA SPETER: Hey, thanks so much for chatting today! I have to say, you’re starting off 2021 with a bang already – a new tune, gigs and festivals on the near horizon and no doubt this is just the very start of an explosive new phase for you. First things first, let’s chat ‘Juno’, it’s a creamy charmer and a fun little insight into where you’re at as an artist presently. I’ve read you talk about the song being a kind of escapism for you, what sparked the fictional narrative you ultimately embraced on ‘Juno’? What inspired the story of Sandro and Juno?
RUNNING TOUCH: Thanks for having me. I love stories - novel and film… I just wanted to pack some of that into what I do, giving some lead and character rather than just matching cadence with words. Borrow as many pop culture references as I can fit lyrically and work something. Nothing really inspired the story - but I knew I wanted to centre it around painting. I’ve been writing about that a lot lately.
TIANA: And while ‘Juno’ hints at some expanded sonic territories for you, notably a bit of a bolster on the dance beat vibes, it still really captures that otherworldly ooze you’re so adept at bringing to life. You’re no stranger to a wide array of genres and hypnotic soundscapes with this Running Touch project, and even ‘Signs’ last year saw you somewhat stray outside the electronic realms too...but as an artist, do you consciously feel drawn to shift and challenge your established “sound”, or do you find this evolution just happens naturally? What inspires this trademark sound you’ve steadily cultivated?
RUNNING TOUCH: I think it’s a natural evolution. I’ve never really stressed about making the same thing or worried that it might alienate people. I focus whole heartedly on making my production better and getting the idea aligned with what I hear. I honestly don’t know. I think it’s just being a producer. I’m able to have control.
TIANA: It seems to alien, but obviously so exciting too, to talk about live music after the year we’ve all just endured, and you’ve got a heap on the horizon with Summer Sound Festival, a headline show at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, and also For The Love Festival and Yours & Owls Festival…what can we all expect from a 2021 Running Touch live set, and just how pumped are you to finally get back onstage?
RUNNING TOUCH: More than ever. I never realised how important it was. The experience and the release. It's something I'm going to actively be a lot more grateful and present for!
pic: Patrick Stevenson
TIANA: Amongst all this fun and the obvious lows brought about by the pesky pandemic, you’ve also been steadily working towards the release of an upcoming album. Obviously ‘Signs’ and ‘Meet Me’ have offered glimpses into what may be to come previously, and ‘Juno’ has given us all another peek into the new release…but correct me if I’m wrong, I have read previously that the songs on the new album are all based on a colour? How did you settle on this creative anchor for the album? And how different (or not!) has this album process been compared to your previous releases, pandemic-issues aside (if you’re at liberty to reveal such things)?
RUNNING TOUCH: That's a good question. I had this larger concept, I really wanted to do something layered and bigger than the album. I realised that this is my first album and it’s only about the music, the conceptual stuff is just literal self fulfillment. So, I went the opposite way. I just worked to a colour, that was my only criteria. Carmine is what My Hands looked and sounded like to me. That was the first song I really wrote with only me in mind, so I just went with that.
TIANA: I read somewhere that ‘Meet Me’ was your second go at publishing a short story into a song. How do you normally conjure a Running Touch song, do you have a tried and tested method to bring these stunning tunes to life? Or is it a case of right time, right place and everything magically falls into place…?
RUNNING TOUCH: I like to think it’s always right place, right time. Being calculated just isn’t the same, even though I try to be.
TIANA: And on the topic of stories (full disclosure, I’m a literature nerd and take any opportunity to raid people’s book collections…) - are there any authors/writers who you take inspiration from particularly? And is there one book in particular you’d pack as an essential for some cheeky reading on a holiday?
RUNNING TOUCH: Haha. Love it. Authors? The most recent I’ve actually been inspired by is Ian McEwan. Other wise its mostly misc poetry. I pick up as much stray stuff as I can. Blood Meridian - Cormac McCarthy I’d say!
TIANA: You’ve become quite renowned for your enigmatic place in the music world, and obviously you’re no stranger to some pretty eclectic genres and influences. But was there a particular band or artist who really caught your ear when you were younger and potentially sparked this incredible musical journey that you’re on? Was there a gateway band that started it all?
RUNNING TOUCH: Led Zeppelin was the probably the first band I had a true love for, so I would say that is my gateway. I learnt a lot of what I know off the back of them. When I found dance music, that changed everything for me. Above And Beyond were the first group that really switched me onto that.
TIANA: And to bring us to a close today: you operate as Running Touch as a solo artist, but you’ve teamed-up with other musos and played in bands along the way too…let’s temporarily jump into a parallel universe where you can play any instrument with any band, alive or dead. Who and what are you picking?
RUNNING TOUCH: Damn. Such a hard question. Drums for Beyonce would be sick. Guitar for Led Zeppelin or Simply Red is right up there too.
CHECK OUT THE BRAND NEW EPISODE OF THE 'POST MODERN COLLECTIVE' SESSIONS BELOW, AND FOR MORE RUNNING TOUCH INFO, HEAD HERE.
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BY TIANA SPETER