Papua New Guinea-born future-soul singer Ngaiire will soon be winging her way to Perth for the AMP Capital ART BALL at the Art Gallery of WA. The evening’s stellar line-up also includes 80s inspired pop juggernaut Client Liaison, along with 2016 ARIA award-winning ‘Best Breakthrough Artist’ Montaigne and local hip-hop artist Mathas.
We touched base with Ngaiire to get her advice for emerging musicians and find out more about the mind behind the music.
Hi Ngaiire, how did you get involved with the ART BALL?
They approached my wonderful booking agent Rob and of course, I said yes. My favourite audiences would have to be in Perth, hands down.
You covered a Tama Impala song for Triple J’s Like a Version in 2015. Are there any Perth bands you are listening to right now?
Funny, I was just listening to Gareth Liddiard’s solo album ‘Strange Tourist’ on the way home this afternoon. My goodness, what a treasure that man is. There is no one I know telling stories the way he does. A few years ago I was in Melbourne rehearsing some pretty gnarly compositions for the Australian Art Orchestra. After one of those intense rehearsal days, exhausted and staring into our glasses of wine my mate Sam said, check this out – chucked on Strange Tourist, turned it way up and I watched myself try to pick myself off the floor. Whatever you got in your waters, I want it.
As a singer-songwriter, do you have any all-time favourite lyrics?
‘I’ll close my eyes, then I won’t see, the love you don’t feel when you’re holding me’ – Bonnie Raitt’s ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me. I swear I choke up every time I hear those lyrics. So simple but as someone whose has their heart broken a few times I know exactly what moment she’s talking about. Takes you straight back there no matter how ancient that history is.
When you’re not busy writing, touring and running your own independent music label, Maximilian Brown, what’s your favourite way to spend your downtime?
To be honest, just sitting by myself. I’m around people 24/7 so those moments by yourself become more precious.
You’ve been bilingual from a young age. Can you teach us how to say something in Tok Pisin?
Ha. My partner tends to overuse this one now that he’s learned it – Sisi wawa. I think it’s slang from the area my mother comes from, but it basically means you’re in the mood!
What advice would you give to budding young Australian musicians?
Plan. If you’re doing it by yourself and you still don’t have a team around you, it will seem like you’re banging your head on a brick wall sometimes. I can guarantee you that if you have at least a basic plan of where you want to go in even 6 to 12 months you’ll feel lighter. I’ve found countless times that if you just keep moving in a purposeful direction even when you can’t see where you’re going, people you want on your team or career opportunities you want will start to find their way to you.
You’ve been to Perth before for PIAF (Perth Festival). What are you most looking forward to doing on this visit to Perth?
I’m not sure if I’ll get to see much of Perth this time around, but I heard there’ll be live tattooing at the Art Ball, which I’m so down for.
What’s next for Ngaiire?
The third album! My creative team and I have just gotten back from a massive research trip to my heritage country PNG. I’m an Australian artist but I’m also a part of the growing multi-cultural sector of the Australian music industry. I want to try to celebrate and educate the world on some of the wonderful and unique things about PNG that you probably don’t get via the news or sources like National geographic. A lot of people don’t even know where PNG is. Other artists have been able to place certain things about their cultures in a contemporary context like M.I.A with her Sri Lankan roots or Rihanna with her Bajan roots but this hasn’t been done for PNG just yet! Super excited.
Ngaiire will be performing at the ART BALL on Saturday 20 May. Head here for tickets.