Never stop running: in conversation with Running Touch (Music Insight)
It has been a crazy 12 months for Running Touch. The enigmatic Melbourne-based electronica and dance artist has made a fast rise on the back of positively reviewed live shows at Splendour on the Grass and Groovin’ the Moo last year, as well as songs like This is Just to Say getting regular airtime on Triple J Unearthed. All of this has culminated in the release of his debut EP, A Body Slow, due for release on March 31.
He calls Music Insight from the USA, where he’s just been on his first-ever international tour, playing several shows in Austin, Texas, as part of SXSW.
“It’s a very different kind of vibe,” he says.
“It’s a different ball park. Last night I had the first of two shows, my first two international shows that I’ve ever played, and I had very, very low expectations; my whole team did. But it was all very positive, so I’m very happy about that.”
International touring is very much a new thing for Running Touch, a man who likes to keep himself anonymous and enigmatic. Even he admits that being an enigmatic artist has been done to death these days (especially with artists like Sia) but admits it has become part of his style.
“When I first started it was more of a personal thing… it suited who I was at the time and what I wanted to do as a project and was reflective a lot more of me. Over time it just developed into being in sync with the project. I feel like the music is ever-changing, the live show is ever-changing, and I think not having a solid state to represent that kind of makes it more fluid, it’s an ever-changing project that doesn’t have anything to represent. That’s my logic to it.”
That enigmatic style has not only been the only thing drawing people to his shows. His blend of acoustic and electronic sounds with an almost soulful voice has been a major drawcard in the success of his live act. His blossoming live show has also been helped along by learning from other artists at festivals – an experience he admitted was extremely beneficial and educational.
“I think that’s a good testament as to what you should be thinking as an artist, because in the Australian music scene, a lot of artists [are] in that very saturated and very heavy-hitting middle band, where it’s very hard to have any kind of spark. So, when you look at artists, or more specifically artists at these festivals, it makes you go, these guys are better than this in certain aspects. What can I do to play to my individuality, and what can I do to pick my flair in comparison to them? A lot of people will be better than you at a lot of things and you have to find where you’re good at. So touring with artists, you get a lot of insights. Yeah, this act is better than me at this thing, but is there something they’re not doing that I could do?”
His growth in writing experience has emerged in his music too, with songs like Courtesy Of and Aubrey (featuring Ira Horace O-W) off the new six-track EP showcasing a more refined and progressive electronic sound.
“[Ira Horace O-W] is actually a good friend of mine,” Running Touch says.
“He’s not really a rapper per se; I had to really force him into that role. That project was so collaborative and I was very, very lucky. He was always a good writer but he just never really wanted to step in front of the mic. So, it wasn’t very hard for me to, sort of, test my comfort levels because I knew him. I was like, ‘Dude, you should really do this, you should give it a try.’ It adds a whole different flavour, and it was something that I think will definitely follow in future projects with me and him.”
Aubrey is a definite crowd pleaser on A Body Slow and seems destined to be played in a club. Running Touch went through many different and elaborate concepts for the upcoming EP, before settling on “a fleeting, reminiscent moment of revelation, like something someone said to you that you weren’t necessarily friends with at some point in time, and then that little instant two months later completely changed your life.”
What does he hope listeners will take away from the album?
“The first track is quite mellow, more acoustic, and more acoustic elements to it, and then by the end of it you’ve got tracks like Aubrey, which is a very pulsating, very dance tune. I’m kind of hoping that people will see, ‘Yeah, he is daring enough to at least begin experimenting with something’, even if it is not incredibly experimental, I just hope it’s a good introduction for people to that.”
A Body Slow EP by Running Touch will be out March 31 2017, and his national tour starts April 21.