Ngaiire’s Savvy Seven

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Sydney future-folk/soul songstress Ngaiire (pron Ny-Ree) is flying high in 2014, having cemented her place as one of Australia’s most dynamic vocalists and unique performers. Her Australian Music Prize nominated, debut LP Lamentations (2013), showcases stunning vocals over a refined mix of down-tempo electronic glitch, soulful grooves and elegant piano work. With a performance at the Glastonbury Festival a few months ago, album number 2 in the works and her inclusion on the huge international lineup for Soulfest, Ngaiire is one busy woman. These are her savvy seven industry tips.

1.  The best live music venues in my area are…

The Oxford Art Factory has hosted many a great gig for me. Both times I’ve played there the sound has been stellar, and Dan who does lights adds so much to the live show. Being on Oxford St it’s also really accessible for people. I also love The Newsagency in Marrickville for providing smaller artists with an opportunity to just have somewhere to play. It’s about a humble 40 maybe 50 people capacity room but I’ve played some really magical gigs there trialling new material and flexing my muscles for upcoming tours.

2. The music scene in Sydney is…

In and out of my circles there’s been this debate over Melbourne musicians being more about the art and Sydney musician’s more about the money. I feel a lot of Sydney musicians are very good at making music work for them as a general full-time thing with doing corporates or small bar gigs or weddings but get lazy or too challenged with throwing themselves at music in a more creative way. I know full well that we all have to pay the bills at the end of the day but I kind of feel that the focus needs to be shifted a little more on nurturing the art then trying to make it nurture your bank account. Both are great. There just needs to be a balance. Also I can’t really speak for the whole scene but from the part of it that I’m in I feel that there a frustrated few that express exhaustion with trying to play better gigs with their originals. As a start, make the discernment of what you actually want. If you want a career out of original music, maybe it’s time to stop playing so many cover gigs, stop saturating people with music you don’t really want to play and start looking at your original stuff with a bit more strategy.

3. My top tip for artists who self-manage is…

Plan plan plan. Know where you want to go and plan. It’s so much easier for your brain if you write things down. And ask for help. Don’t be afraid to burden someone with your questions. The music industry is about community and connection so make those connections. Even if someone doesn’t reply to an email immediately keep following up. The worst that can happen is that they’ll remember your name as the person who keeps sending them emails. People love knowing that an artist is on top of their business these days.

4. In my opinion, the most important issue facing the music industry is…

I think Sydney really needs more live music venues. Venues of about a 150 capacity room for artists who can’t yet fill places like Oxford Art Factory and don’t really want to play tiny rooms like The Newsagency to meet costs.

5. When on the road, my favourite pit stops are…

Anywhere with good food is where you’ll find me and the band. We’re all pretty big into food and cooking so usually someone will find a place they want to try out for breakfast or dinner. In the summer we always try to make a pit stop for a swim if there’s a beach nearby. Also one of my drummers (I alternate between two) is a keen op shopper so when he’s on a tour there’s always a couple stops at a Vinnies or Salvos somewhere along the way.

6. My biggest career mistake has been…

You can’t see anything as a mistake really. I’ve always been of the ‘everything happens for a reason’ mentality and the music industry has you on an emotional yo yo enough as it is that you can’t afford to dwell on things that have tripped you up. A reason always presents itself sooner or later.

7. My best advice for emerging artists is…

Know who you are without music. Music isn’t everything. Pour yourself into it but never make it completely about you or never ever think that your life won’t go on if you don’t ‘make it’.

You can find more Ngaiire on Facebook, TwitterYoutube, Soundcloud and on her website.

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