Features Nomad Muscle Tee
Interview: Amy Mills
Images: Avalon Lane Photography
When your dad is the drummer in The Whitlams and your mum played Glastonbury as the guitarist and vocalist in Sparkadia, the Richmond boys are bound to have musical talent in spades. The Children of the Tribe team had the pleasure of spending the day with musicians Terepai and Tiff Richmond and their little brood of boys - Tainui, Rocket, 7, Fin, 5, and seven-month-old Ochre - recently and it was very clear that music is at the heart and soul of their family life. As well as giving their kids an idyllic upbringing in the Northern New South Wales hinterland, Terepai and Tiff have also been working on some galactic music for kids, Poppy Galactic And The Beat, and will take to the stage at Little Splendour later in the year. We spoke to Tiff about family, their free-range lifestyle and their super sonic new musical venture for little stars.
Who is in your tribe?
Terepai, Tainui, Rocket, Fin and Ochre.
Your family lives in the Northern New South Wales hinterland. What do you love most about the area and why did you choose to raise your family here instead of Sydney?
We love pretty much everything about the area - the air, the trees, how insanely bright the stars are at night. We love the space the boys have to roam, the feeling of the land we're on and the crystals we find in the creek and the proximity to the most amazing beaches with perfect little waves for the boys to surf. We love the incredible melting pot of open hearted, creative people everywhere we turn, and the progressive minds up here. We wanted to live somewhere that was going to help create a magical childhood for our boys and we feel like we've found our place.
You are a mum of three boys. I have two boys and the energy levels are intense! How do you keep them entertained?
I love sending them down to the creek and seeing them set off, wielding sticks with adventurous eyes. That's the stuff mums' dreams are made of, right? But it sometimes takes a bit of prompting. It's so easy these days for them to be entertained externally with screens. I want them to be creating more than they're consuming in terms of their entertainment. I think there's a real collective desire to make sure our kids are connecting with nature and other people and not just a device. So we get them outside, making up games as much as possible - or we plonk them in front a drum kit. We do have a lot of Lego, too.
You’re a guitarist and vocalist and Terepai is a drummer. Does music play a large part in your family life?
Other than the loved ones in our lives - and surfing for Terepai! - music is the centre of our world. There's always music in our home and someone's always breakdancing or busting out a rap at the breakfast table. Terepai was brought up in his parents’ Polynesian family band so it runs deep for him. I'd love to have family jams more at home but sometimes the daily grind takes over and you forget to prioritise it. But this year with the kids’ music we're making, I'm hoping to get everyone involved.
Rocket is an awesome drummer. When we lived in Sydney, he used to get up and play a song or two with Terepai's band at a regular Sunday night gig he had. He was only six at the time. And Fin's just started drumming but is keen on learning electric guitar like me. Tainui is an amazing musician and songwriter, too. He writes songs that have that special, goosebumpy magic.
How did you and Terepai meet?
I'd met him as a teenager at a surf shop I worked at, but it wasn't until years later that we met up after one of his shows, slow danced to The Shins New Slang and then later, under a huge fig tree, got the angle of a wee squat in the bush all wrong and basically filled the seat of my skinny jeans, like a bucket! When the night continued on after that I think we both knew we were in it for the long haul [Laughs].
I hear you and Terepai are about to launch a kids’ music duo, Poppy Galactic and the Beat. Sounds great! Can you tell us a little bit about that?
We've had this dream to make super fun kids music that isn't so “kiddy.” My boys were always in the car asking me to play songs that just had strong rhythms, hooks and build-ups like Fleetwood Mac's The Chain for instance. They'd lose their minds in that build up at the end! So amidst the chaos of family life, we've been working on some demos and are about to launch it. It's fun, electronic, upbeat, dance music that hopefully parents enjoy too. Inspired by some of Joni Mitchell's lyrics and observations by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson to do with us literally being stardust. Poppy Galactic's message is, "We may be small, but we are all galactic" and hopes to bring joy through the medium of shakin' it.
When are you the happiest?
When tunes are blazing and we're all together or when I hook into one of those moments where you sense the perspective of how fleeting and eternal everything is all at once and just feel overwhelmed with joy and gratitude and excitement about being here now.
What does a typical Sunday look like for your tribe?
Pancakes, coffee, beach, friends, getting sorted for the coming week, cosying up with a movie and dreams.
What song best describes your little family?
This Must Be The Place - Talking Heads