By now, an avid fan of the Australian music scene should know who Ngaiire is. They should know of her discography, the outfits she wears on stage, that cathartic vibrato, and those scrumptious harmonic lines that have seamlessly become her trademark.
Let’s see the Press Club serve up something as delicious as that huh?
‘Once’ is the new single from the little lass, taken from upcoming sophomore full-length release Blastoma. The world has had to wait a little longer than expected, but she’s back. The track is smooth, it’s groovy and laid-back, and the vocals pack a Louisville slugger – fortunately, it’s one of those songs that get’s stuck in your head before you’ve even allowed it to cross the threshold. Really, when you first hear it you are left pretty satisfied, no outrageous out poor of emotion, just the slight tap of the head…. Then you hear it again, and you have miraculously learnt the lyrics of the chorus in entirety. You hear it again, and it’s the verse. Hollering the line, “bubble-gum bubble”. When a song can do that to you, it’s selling some magic.
The construction is not as outlandish as most electronic-pop outfits. Overall, the new installment is set to incorporate more rhythm and blues elements, thanks to Ngaiire’s work with Jack Britten (aka Jack Grace). Yet still maintaining a clean commercial outlook, as Paul Mac has also jumped on board. These two have been all over the new album, and it’s a marriage so natural you’d think it’s legal to have a three-way ceremony.
(When I wrote that down, it seemed a little suggestive – Not the case)
I anticipate the album will be intelligent, calculated, and molded to perfection.
I sat down with Ngaiire at a recent gig, to talk about her new style, her stint overseas, her personal life, and all things relevant. she’s a true gem!
Are you looking forward to tonight’s show?
I am, I’m a bit nervous because we haven’t really played the new songs in front of anyone yet. We premiered ‘Once’ the single at InStyle Magazine had a little women of style awards thing, that was the first time and it got received really well.
But because everything quite electronic these days for me, it’s quite dubious getting up there with a laptop and all this hardware. Anything could go wrong, but yeah, I’m really happy with how it’s all sounding
How did you feel about the performance for Instyle Magazine?
It felt really good.
It’s one of those things where, you know, it’s just, we were the only entertainment there and it was full of rich celebrities drinking lots of Moet and getting drunk and having a good time and talking to everybody. We had a good response, we had people from Claudia Karvan, To Jessica Mauboy, to Kirk Pengilly from INXS come up and say how much they love the new single, which was amazing.
Yeah, so it’s really cool.
I guess it’s nice to have it validated by other artists…
Yeah when you have been in the studio the last year and a half just working on stuff, and life happens and just going in and out, just being human. You just forget that this stuff is going to go out to people and when it does and people appreciate it, it’s like ‘Wow, this is why we are doing it’
You mentioned everything is a bit digital now, Lamentations saw increasing use of synths and funky beats, is your new album progressing even further electronically?
Yeah well I chose to work with Paul Mac on the next one, just because I’ve worked with him for over 10 years now and he’s mentored me, and he’s been like a big brother to me and he’s really taught me about performing and being professional, about rehearsals and just simple things you really need to know as a new artist. And I kind of felt that I was in a place where I was ready to ‘work’ with him in that capacity. So I started working with him, we started writing songs about a year and a half ago now. We brought Megan Washington in to help write some of the songs, and we kind of put it on the backburner a bit. Jack and I, the keyboardist, went off to Glastonbury for a couple of weeks.
That would have been sweet?
Yeah, we did some writing there, sort of set up a home studio in Shoreditch and just wrote. We were writing beforehand as well, and I brought these songs into Paul and he was like ‘Fuck, these are amazing, who is this guy that you are writing with?’ and I was like ‘It’s my keyboardist Jack Britten’ he was like ‘Just bring him, bring him in’ so it ended up becoming this collaboration between me and Jack who is totally in love with Kanye West and Drake, he’s got that angle, Paul is very kind of sleek and very pop orientated, and there’s me with my weird harmonies, So it’s a really exciting concoction of three minds coming together, and I really feel like calling it ‘Ngaiire Ft. Paul Mac and Jack Britten’, because it’s definitely a group effort.
I was listening to some of the stuff, and you can definitely hear those rhythm and blues elements, so perhaps that’s Jack’s influence
Yeah definitely, he loves gospel-sounding chords. He’s a bit old-fashioned in that way, but he’s also in love with people like Rihanna and Beyonce, and the fact that those artists can take any kind of song from any kind of producer and you know immediately that it is a Beyonce and Rihanna song, and they own it. It’s been such a massive journey, getting to a spot where we are all working on the same wavelength.
Because you know, there is Paul who is nearly 50 now, Jack who is 26, and then there is me, and working with two people who are in different stages of their career could be quite dubious, but it’s working out so well
I’ve noticed that there is a male vocalist featured on some of the samples I was given, who was that?
That was Jack. Yeah, I actually can’t wait for his stuff to come out because it’s so ridiculous. His stage name is Jack Grace.
So the new album is called Blastoma – Where has that come from?
Blastoma is a small tumor, and I actually had one when I was a kid. I guess the last 18 months were kind of challenging. In that, Jack and I went to Glastonbury, came back and both our partners broke up with us on the day that we got back. I’ve been working with my partner in my band over 5 years, so that kind of tipped everything on its head and Jack was going through the same thing. My brother disappeared for over a year and he came back the day after I heard the news that my former partner wanted to break up with me. And then, I just burnt myself out from the last album and just did not want to write another album. I just was finding it really hard to get into the next one, and now finally I feel fine about everything and where everything is at. I guess in a sense, naming it Blastoma is kind of an affirmation to me to remind myself that you can always get through these things. Even if it’s cancer or death, but I got through that, and all these other things I went through are fine. Hopefully, that’s an affirmation to other people – that they can do whatever they want and dream. It sounds so corny!
I mean songwriting itself is therapeutic, did you feel that when you got back into it?
No! I hated it! I hated the first single, I hated it from the minute we wrote it. From the minute we started writing, I just had no desire to write anything new. I was just so exhausted, even questioning myself on whether music was the thing I wanted to do…
So how did you get over that hump?
Just you know, time. You go through your grieving and your healing processes and you find new love. Things start looking up and you realize you’ve been a whinging dickhead and get over it.
It’s kind of like a hangover – the only thing that can cure it is time…
Yeah, that’s it! That’s totally it.
What was working with names like Sam Dixon like?
Sam Dixon is so ridiculously talented, and just such a lovely guy. We had fun hanging out in London. We’ve got Ainslie wills on the album as well which I’m really excited about because I’m just in love with her voice.
Is she featuring?
Yeah, she’ll be on ‘I Can’t Hear God Anymore’.
Now your stage shows, your mum used to make costumes for you when you were a kid, am I correct in saying that correlates to your eccentric outfits?
Yes and No. My mum definitely made stuff for me growing up. She was so creative in that when we entered costume competitions at school, we’d always win because she would go nuts with what she used as material. I guess that influences, or transfers down to me, that I like to make headdresses to wear on stage… I love theatre.
Your live shows are great, but it’s been a while, and there are a lot of fans around Australia that are itching to see you again. Do you want to say anything to them?
I guess the message I want to communicate to people with this album because it’s a little less like the last one, is you don’t have to be what people say you should be. Speaking on a creative level, you can always experiment and you can always do what you want. Creativity shouldn’t be in a box. I think that’s what I tried to do with the new stuff, is just learn from other people. It’s quite hard for me anyway, collaborating with other people because I’m just really quite specific in what I want to do and with how I write. I just want people to keep pushing themselves.
Ngaiire will be launching the new single in both Sydney and Melbourne, with support from The Vaudeville Smash, New Venusians, Left and 30/70. These shows are set to be one tremendous return to the Australian music scene. Good vibes at a good party – miracle combination. Check out the new single below!
Ngaiire ‘Once’ Single Launch
Friday 31st of July
w/ The Vaudeville Smash + 30/70
The Shadow Electric, VIC
Tickets via Shadow Electric
Thursday 6th of August
w/ New Venusians + Special Guests
The Newtown Social Club
Tickets via Ticket Scout