Ngaiire, singer and songwriter

You can always time travel to rediscover who you are ...

Growing up in Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia, Ngaiire was exposed to the creative arts from a young age. Her parents took her to as much ballet and opera as they could, and the sounds of everything from reggae to Mariah Carey to Cliff Richard were all regularly heard in Ngaiire’s house. After studying for her Bachelor of Jazz Studies at the Conservatorium of Music, she became a household name on Australian Idol (remember that?!), followed by extensive world tours as a backing singer with Blue King Brown. In 2013 she released her debut album Lamentations, which led to an inclusion in the Glastonbury Festival line-up and tours with Alicia Keys and John Legend). But Ngaiire’s biggest project to date – the June release of her sophomore album Blastoma – has seen her recognised as one of Australia’s most unique and fearless artists. We chatted this year’s highlights and Samuel L. Jackson dance solos with Ngaiire ahead of her slot at Splendour in the Grass from July 22–24.

Congratulations on Blastoma! With the release of your sophomore album and all of the touring you’ve done it’s been a big year – what have been the highlights?
Having people sing ‘Diggin’ & Once back to me has been a real kick. That’s never happened to me before so it feels bloody fantastic.

What was the biggest challenge involved in putting together your second album?
Swallowing and regurgitating at the same time. Trying to write positive songs when you feel like you’ve been hit by a meteorite is rough.

How have you grown as a singer/songwriter between Lamentations and Blastoma?
I have grown a lot. I learned that it’s liberating trusting in other people’s creative input and having it in turn breed greatness.

What do you hope listeners take away from the album?
That you can always time travel to rediscover who you are.

You’ve got a huge set coming up for Splendour in the Grass this month – do you have any special plans for the show?
My band will be entirely made of holograms, Skittles falling from the ceiling, light sabres – for everyone – and a dance solo from Samuel L. Jackson. This is all untrue although I wish this was what my life could be right now.

This year’s line-up is pretty phenomenal – who are you most looking forward to seeing?
James Blake. I’ve seen him once before at Glastonbury Festival but this time I’m going to run up on stage and cling to his leg like a small child. Can you imagine?

Who would be your dream collaboration, living or otherwise?
I want to make some art with some film artists like Paul McCarthy or Matthew Barney.

What are some words of wisdom that you live by?
If there’s a will there’s a way.

What’s next for you in the future?
I’ve just started writing the next album which I’m SUPER pumped about. It’s going to be wild if we pull it off. My friend and I were just talking about making a mini art film together so that could be a thing. Other than that I’ve also got my label Maximillian Brown to develop, so there’ll be limited sleep after Splendour!

If you are lucky enough to have scored yourself a ticket to Splendour in the Grass, you can catch Ngaiire on the Saturday at 12:15 pm on the Mix Up Stage.


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