Katie Noonan, musician and songwriter, Sunshine Sounds
I am so very grateful that people give my notes a home, and without that connection of concerts and being in the moment and part of something bigger than myself, I have feel pretty lost ...
The return of live music to Brisbane has been akin to the sun breaking down through dark clouds, so you couldn’t pick a better name for a music tour than Sunshine Sounds. Beloved home-grown musical talent Katie Noonan has been cruising across southeast Queensland alongside internationally renowned cellist Louise King and Fijian-Australian soul songstress Andrea Kirwin, bringing the joy of live music to audiences far and wide. The Sunshine Sounds tour will be arriving at the Brisbane Powerhouse on Sunday November 29, showcasing a performance that celebrates music and friendship. We chatted with Katie Noonan about creating during the age of COVID, finding newfound vigour for performing and what she’ll be bringing to the stage later this month.
To start, we’d love to know how you’ve been spending this tumultuous year. Did you pick up any new hobbies while in lockdown?
I have focused on the gratitude of being able to be home more with my family and being a domestic goddess (!) shopping frugally and enjoying cooking and cleaning! I also gave myself the time for beach walks and more doggy cuddles. After the most stressful four years of my life – as the youngest and first Queensland artistic director of the Queensland Music Festival and and as the music director of the Commonwealth Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies – I have also allowed myself to own the exhaustion and let it be. Honestly though, after the initial shock of nothing on the horizon work wise, I have been so busy applying for as many grants/jobs as possible to try and keep my creative dreams alive and create work for myself and my arts community.
Did you spend much time working on new music during this period? If so, has the context in which the material was created played an impact on its overall sound?
I have written a couple of songs but, to be honest, the deep stress of economic worry combined with the deep care and concern for my national arts community has been fairly overwhelming. I am treating myself to a three-day songwriting trip over on Quandmooka country (North Stradbroke Island) in a couple of weeks so am hoping the muse will visit. It often does when I am on that magic country!
We’re excited to see you hitting the stage once again as you bring your mini tour Sunshine Sounds to Brisbane Powerhouse. You’ve been performing alongside Louise King of Cello Dreaming, who we understand you’ve known for more than a decade. What can you tell us about your friendship and what the two of you are bringing to the stage?
Our Sunshine Sounds tour has been a wonderful opportunity to proudly celebrate two wonderful fellow Queensland artists from Gubbi Gubbi country. Louise King and I met at Brisbane Powerhouse in 2007 as part of the Queensland Music Festival and became kindred spirits right away! She is a brilliant internationally renowned cellist who fell in love with a chippie from the Sunshine Coast and moved here to make a family – lucky us! She has focused her extraordinary talents into education and mentoring for the last decade, but is now emerging into a new exciting career as an artistic director and full -ime performing artist.
Joining us is beautiful Fijian Australian soul songsmith Andrea Kirwin – she writes really gorgeous heartfelt songs that have been so lovely to hear over our eight concerts together. It has been so wonderful to share the stage with these beautiful musicians and to get to know them more as friends. Louise and I are now Andrea’s official big sisters – her tiddas! We also have characters that emerged on the road – Mavis (me), Mildred (Louise) and Marcia ( Andrea). I can feel some sort of Kransky sisters-type show emerging, perhaps!
You’ve played countless shows throughout your career, but we’re curious to know if current events have fostered a newfound appreciation or a renewed vigour for performing in front of audiences?
They have – 100 percent. I have missed playing live so very much. I have never had an extended break from making music in my 20-year career – it was like this huge aching hole that I could not touch the sides of.
Australian pianist Anna Goldsworthy put it so eloquently recently in her article for The Weekly, saying “Performing is an act of communion: with the composers, with your colleagues, but also critically with your audience, which almost wills the experience into being. It offers a mode of connection that can feel telepathic. It was the internet before the internet, it is social media that feeds rather than depletes.”
Are there any aspects of life as a touring musician that you’ve found yourself missing more than you expected?
Just seeing the extraordinary variety of lovely humans that come and listen and share in music making with me. I am so very grateful that people give my notes a home, and without that connection of concerts and being in the moment and part of something bigger than myself, I have feel pretty lost.
The show promises to bring “some much needed sunshine and succour” to audience members’ souls. What brings sunshine and succour to yours?
My family – my amazing husband Zac and our two delightful teenage boys Dexter and Jonah and our beautiful Sassy the Staffie!
Finally, what do you think are some positive steps people can take to contribute to the collective healing of the post-COVID-19 world?
Think for your community and spend accordingly. Buy local, support local artists and businesses and celebrate the world-class awesomeness of our local creators.