PAUL BUSCH | Tonedeaf.com
WHEN YOU THINK OF female musicians from Papua New Guinea who have migrated to Australia and who possess a truly amazing set of pipes, combined with a whimsical flair for style and their politics also appear to be in the right place, who do you think of?
Rightly so, maybe you don’t think of anyone. This is all about to change.
The artist in question is Ngaiire and she moved to the Land Down Under at the tender age of 16. The travels of her academic parents brought her to this foreign land.
While here she has honed her musical skills and spent a good number of years working alongside Blue King Brown. But now, Ngaiire has arrived as a solo artist.
Lamentations, her debut album, has been getting excellent reviews. Soulful, funky and mixed with lovely beats and a warm feeling, this is one album that people should keep their ears out for. Partially written in Tokyo, recorded in Jervis Bay and put together here, it is a truly remarkable debut.
“It was a difficult process, particularly the writing process in Japan. I had never gone on a trip where I was essentially and primarily there for the sole purpose of writing. I blocked out a few weeks to do this and thought it would be awesome and cool and amazing”, Ngaiire said.
“When I got to Japan it was really hard to put myself in that headspace of where I was going to write and write every day and create new songs. For me it does not happen that way. It was quite draining for me and Aaron Choulai, who I have been writing with.
“It is important to empower other younger woman living in this country to be proud of where they come from because that is what makes them who they are.”
“We would spend hours in this little underground bar just outside of Tokyo and just be wasted by the end of the day. We did end up getting four really good songs out of the work but it was a major challenge”, Ngaiire explained.
Lamentations may have been a difficult labour but it was worth the pain and struggle. Produced by the artist, keyboard and beat master Choulai and bassist Tim Curnick, the result is a true representation of what the singer can do.
Ngaiire is spending much of her time on making sure the world hears this record but she does have other irons in the fire. For over eight years she has been working with Blue King Brown and it’s evident in her voice that she was blessed with that musical education.
She also is involved with a project entitled Walk A Mile In My Shoes which is performed by The Barefoot Divas. This is a chance for indigenous woman to empower other woman with their art, music and poetry.
“That project is still on going and I think it will for the next couple of years. I think it is important to empower other younger woman living in this country to be proud of where they come from because that is what makes them who they are.
“Music gave me the ability to talk about and feel all the things that were going on in my world.”
She realised from an early age that music was something she could use to make life more pleasurable and steady for herself.
“When I was about 11 or 12 and I was living in PNG and singing was just one of those things I did. I listened to a lot of music. Life there has loads of craziness and so many unexpected things happen like volcanic eruptions, witchcraft and voodoo and blah, blah, blah.
“As a kid growing up in that kind of society I needed an outlet. Music gave me the ability to talk about and feel all the things that were going on in my world. That seemed like the natural option for me because music is a very big part of our culture”, related Ngaiire.
“I think I always sang and really, I cannot even remember that far back. It seemed like something for me that was always there. As I got older I really tapped into it”, she added.
Her parents are academics and, as Ngaiire put it, “they are constantly studying stuff”. They first lived in Lismore NSW. What were the changes that impacted her the most with this cultural shift?
“I have become more confident within myself. In the society I grew up in, for women in particular, they were not so much allowed to speak up as much and look people in the eye. I recall when I was 16 that I never felt comfortable doing that because I thought it was disrespectful.
“When I became more accustomed to Western society I realised that it was the opposite here in regards to eye contact. It was a massive change for me as it is for many individuals who come to Australia from different cultures and ethnic backgrounds. It is a constant balancing act of living within your natural culture and the one you have migrated to”, said Ngaiire.
And is about to be performed live across Australia commencing the second week in September. With beautiful dreamy tracks like Fireflies, the funkier Uranus and the beautiful Abcd, audiences should be knocked off their feet hearing her sing.
Ngaiire. Learn how to pronounce her name and then go discover the soulfulness of her art.
‘Lamentations’ is out now. Read the review here.
NGAIRE AUSTRALIAN TOUR 2013
Thu 12 Sep - Oxford Art Factory, Sydney, NSW
38-46 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst
Sat 14 Sep - Republic Bar, Hobart, TAS
299 Elizabeth Street, North Hobart
Thu 19 Sep - Transit Bar, Canberra, ACT
7 Akuna Street, Canberra City
Fri 20 Sept – Baha Tacos, Rye, VIC
2203-2209 Pt Nepean Road, Rye
Sat 21 Sep - Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC
301 High Street, Northcote
Fri 27 Sep – The Small Ballroom, Newcastle, NSW
139 Maitland Road, Islington
Sat 28 Sept – Heritage Hotel, Bulli, NSW
240 Princes Highway, Bulli
Thu 3 Oct – Brisbane Multicultural Arts Centre, Brisbane, QLD
102 Main Street, Kangaroo Point
Fri 4 Oct – Solbar, Sunshine Coast, QLD
19 Ocean Street, Maroochydore
Sat 5 Oct – The Northern Hotel, Byron Bay, NSW
35 – 43 Jonson Street, Byron Bay
Sat 12 Oct – Jive, Adelaide, SA
181 Hindley Street, Adelaide