Renowned for breaking down genre boundaries, Katie Noonan’s technical mastery and pure voice makes her one of Australia’s most versatile and beloved vocalists. A mother, singer, producer, songwriter, pianist and business woman, this 4 x ARIA Award winning and 7 x platinum selling songstress first received widespread praise as the angel-voiced songstress of indie-pop band George and has since taken audiences on sublime excursions through Jazz, Pop and Classical music. Her latest venture is a collaboration with internationally acclaimed guitarist KARIN SCHAUPP who have just released their second album project together, Songs of the Latin Skies, a follow up to 2012’s ARIA nominated groundbreaking release, Songs Of The Southern Skies. We recently invited Katie to chat with us about everything from touring tips to issues facing the industry. This is Katie Noonan’s Savvy Seven!
1. Who was your first musical inspiration? Why?
Annie Lennox – bad ass singer who did super interesting things with her voice, created pop music that was accessible yet experimental and difficult to pigeon hole and didn’t use her boobs to sell her music – unlike a LOT of other female singers in the 80’s! She continues to be an inspiration – particularly for her efforts to use her music as a vehicle for good, especially in relation to important humanitarian issues.
2. What advice do you have for someone who’s about to record and release their first album and go on their first tour?
Good luck!!!! I would say a few things:
- This is your first musical statement to the world, so be brave and bold, try and sound like no one else and remember you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression – so take the time you need to craft your world.
- Work with people you trust. Making music comes from a place of vulnerability so make sure you feel supported and empowered by those around you.
- Take time to ensure your whole package reflects the integrity of your work – your imagery, your press releases, your posters, your venues etc – everything needs to have your unique quality stamp on it and connect with your work.
- Enjoy touring – practise lots so you feel confident, don’t party too hard and allow your lifestyle to effect your gigs negatively, minimise alcohol and dairy, eat well, try and sleep well, drink lots of water and have a blast! Doing gigs sober is the best as you will play your best so if you can do that great… but if you do wanna have a drink just make sure the amount doesn’t effect your ability to put on an awesome show.
- Try and connect with your audience, talk to them and be grateful they are there and listening to you.
- Show respect to the crew and venue staff – they are there to help you , without them you are stuffed! Every person in the venue is important and it is a privilege to play music to people who care enough to come.
- Also BYO water bottle – we are a bad industry in terms of environmental impacts so that is one basic thing you can do that will save waste and the planet – yay you!
3. How do you record your initial song ideas?
Into my iPhone generally, used to be my little Walkman and into a notebook but now it’s all into notes and voice memos! It makes the songwriting process so much easier, quicker and more convenient for collaborating.
4. How has your music practice and performance changed over time?
Geeeee that is a BIG question! I would say the main thing is my practise has become much more concise and efficient as I am way more time poor now so I make practise really count.
I also need to set writing time as the business of life gets in the way too much otherwise, whereas I used to kinda have the delicious freedom of boredom to bring songs to the surface more regularly. With my performance style I have really just tried to focus on the minutiae a lot more yet also relax at the same time…hmmm !?? I try to radiate warm and loving energy into the room and fill it with good things!
5. My top business tip for new artists is…
BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME. Be brave, follow your gut instincts, be kind and work bloody hard!
6. My biggest career mistake and highlight has been…
I don’t really do the regret/mistake thing – every mistake is a lesson that has helped my process moving forward.
My biggest highlight was probably my first sold out solo show at the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall about 6 or 7 years ago in a concert with an amazing chamber string orchestra, my guitar brother Cameron Deyell and my hubby saxophonist Zac playing my tunes. That was a privilege and an amazing achievement to make as a solo, self managed independent artist.
7. In my opinion, the most important issue facing the music industry is… What do you think can fix/change it?
People not paying for recorded music. I know it is an ancient issue but I still think the value of recorded music and the basic understanding around the whole process of creating recorded music and the investment in that process is not there. I don’t get a bottle of milk for free so don’t see why I should get music for free! I have never and will never illegally download someone’s art – aural, visual whatever…it is someone’s art and it is valuable. My last independent album I invested approximately 90K all up and not one cent was to me personally!
Also the lack of Australian music on Australian radio – Australian radio should sound Australian! The minimum broadcast stats are pitiful. Having said that though – the live scene is stronger than ever and that is awesome so it is a constantly evolving and exciting world. At the end of the day no matter what – nothing will ever replace or replicate the magic of a live gig – so live musicians are safe!
Katie will be playing shows around the country over the next few months. You can find tickets to her remaining dates through the links below
SAT 13 MAY IPAC, WOLLONGONG, NSW
Tickets: www.merrigong.com.au/ // (02) 4224 5999
FRI 19 MAY A & I HALL, BANGALOW, NSW
SAT 20 MAY QUEENSLAND CONSERVATORIUM BRISBANE, QLD, GRIFFITH UNIVERSITY
Tickets: www.qtix.com.au // 136 246
THU 8 JUN BENDOOLEY ESTATE, BERRIMA, NSW
Tickets: http://www.bendooleyestate.com.au// (02) 4877 2235
FRI 9 & SAT 10 JUN STREET THEATRE, CANBERRA, ACT
Tickets: www.thestreet.org.au/ // (02) 6247 1223
SUN 11 JUN JOAN SUTHERLAND PAC, PENRITH, NSW
Tickets: www.thejoan.com.au/ // (02) 4723 7600
FRI 30 JUN MELBOURNE RECITAL CENTRE, MELBOURNE, VIC
Tickets: www.melbournerecital.com.au/ // (03) 9699 3333
For more information on the tour and the new album head to http://www.songsofthelatinskies.com
For more content from Katie, head to A Session with Katie Noonan for her contribution to our video courses.