Go baby go! The Noisettes are back and dare we say it, better than ever…
Taking their own advice, the band have definitely not upset the rhythm (see what we did there?) because their new album, ‘Contact’ is so good we just had to shout about it!
And what better way than to get up close and personal with the band’s beautiful singer and bassist Shingai Shoniwa…
Hi Shingai! So we know you as the vocalist and bassist for The Noisettes… Did you always want to sing?
I’ve always wanted to perform. Ever since I was about 6 years old, I started watching musicals and knew my life would be on stage.
Can you tell us a little about The Noisettes and how you met your fellow bandmate, Dan Smith?
The Noisettes were formed out of a hunger to provide a more interesting form of pop music, covering anything from funk and rock n roll to old school jazz and new forms of dance music. We just wanted to explore and make crazy pop music as we felt that was what the industry was missing at the time. As for Dan and me, we met at college and always used to jam together… and then those jams turned into songs!
What inspired the name of the band?
The name was inspired by that one sweet left at the bottom of the tin at Christmas – you know, the one only your drunk Auntie or your toothless Nan wants to eat! It’s the one that’s just got a little TOO much of everything – truffle, strawberry crème, dark chocolate, nuts… Well that feels like Dan and me! We thought it would be quite a comical joke… but the idea just stuck. It was meant to be temporary but then people thought we were taking our name from ’60s girl groups like The Ronettes and The Marvelettes, so we kept it!
You’ve worked with some big names on your new album, ‘Contact’ – can you tell us about the process and why you chose to venture out to the US?
We wanted this to be an international album. On our first, we were signed to this really amazing record company Motown and we recorded a lot of it in America. The second was pretty much a UK pop album. This time round we wanted to explore working with really big hit makers, so when we had the chance to work with Will.i.am and Ne-Yo, we couldn’t turn it down! L.A is amazing and it brings out different qualities in you as a musician, New York does too. It was just nice to keep this album really international.
If you could collaborate musically with anyone (dead or alive) who would it be and why?
Probably Jimi Hendrix, Ertha Kitt… I’d love to see what the process was for some of the old stars from the music halls – i.e. before people started making records and when the biggest names used to go on theatrical tours all around the world, touring the world on ships and going from port to port. There’s definitely something to be learned from the greats!
Have you ever been completely star struck and if so, by who?
I was star struck by PJ Harvey when we first met. I didn’t know we were going to see her, my friends surprised me and everything I’d ever wanted to say went out the window – it was so frustrating, I basically just stared at her!
Lionel Richie was pretty amazing as well. He knocked on our dressing room in 2010 back when we played Emirates and asked to see my Mum! I’d met him six months before when we were at The BRIT Awards and he’d offered to take a photograph of me because my Mum was in hospital and he’d remembered. So when he saw we were playing, he came to our dressing room with his body guard and said “How’s your Mama?” – it was the first gig she’d come out to in a while and it was amazing. It was all about them really, but that was definitely a star struck moment.
The new album marks an anticipated return to the music scene after 2 years – where have you been?
We haven’t left! I think it was really important that we took some time off the road to really think about the emotions we’ve wanted to convey – to get the right balance of uplifting songs, happy songs and also, autobiographical songs, which can be quite painful to share with people. So we took the time that we felt the record deserved and I think it will be something that’s really, really timeless. There’s something for everybody – it could be in anyone’s record collection!
Let’s talk fashion, do you have a style icon?
I’m really inspired by males like Sidney Poitier and Andre 3000 and love the dandy style of dressing from double-breasted jackets to Jeremy Brett in Sherlock Holmes and Poirot too! In terms of girls, again I really like Ertha Kitt – I love the days when women would just stroll out of the car looking fabulous while still keeping that down to earth attitude. I think I take something from every era in counter culture. I like the style of Jim Morrison, the 60s, even the early ’90s like Salt-n-Pepa but I pretty much like anyone that has fun with their style and references their personality in the way they dress.
What about your own personal style?
My personal style is fun, cheeky and eccentric – it’s a whirlwind and there are no rules! I think it reflects the rainbow and spectrum of my experiences, emotions and desires. I’m from a big African family where everyone is outspoken and flamboyant so every day is just a new way to express yourself, it’s almost like a show! I like to dress in a way that makes me feel like I’m not taking life too seriously, but I can still afford to spend an extra 20 minutes deciding on a pair of shoes.
Are you a Topshop fan? If so, what pieces are you coveting at the moment?
I am definitely a Topshop fan; I was actually in store today!I was fortunate enough to do a collaboration with you back in 2009 at V Festival and to this day, those outfits still stand the test of time. We designed a red tassel jacket with African beading with the team and my then stylist Nazrin, and that outfit is still like “WOW”. As for recent stuff, I love Topshop‘s brogues – I’ve got them in white but they’re getting really battered, so I need to get a new pair! And I love all the fun Afrocentric stuff and pop art references, oh and I recently wore the pink dress with the cut out!
Phone off, a quiet moment in the steam room, then having a fresh fruit salad and calling your Mum or your sister, having a good laugh and watching TV!
Do you have any favourite London hangouts?
Apartment 58 is fun and Groucho, if you want to watch fellow celebs making a fool of themselves! I LOVE riding my bike around Syon Park and having afternoon tea. And anywhere that has live music; The Montague Arms in New Cross is good and Irish pubs are always a laugh.
And finally, what songs are top of your summer playlist?
Anything by Erykah Badu – a psychedelic, soulful number
Looking For The Magic by Joan as a Police Woman
Home Run by Misha B
The Noisettes new single, ‘That Girl’ is out on August 13th, followed by their album, ‘Contact’ on August 27th.
Until then, check out their Facebook page for a free download of the track, ‘Winner’ – video below!
And click here for a sneak preview of their new single, ‘That Girl’.