After appearing at the Diamond Jubilee Festival last weekend, Noisettes are set to play a host of other events. Frontwoman Shingai Shoniwa tells JODIE JEYNES she’s looking forward to a summer of fun.
Until THAT Mazda 2 advert made them household names (and their song, Don’t Upset the Rhythm, a No. 2 hit), London band Noisettes were largely unheard of outside the London music scene and fans who’d caught one their electric appearances at festivals and high profile tour support slots.
Off the back of that 2009 hit, their second album, Wild Young Hearts, was a huge success and featured another famed TV ad song – Never Forget You, from the DFS commercial.
Meanwhile, the blockbusting Twilight franchise included Sister Rosetta, a track from Noisettes debut album – What’s The Time Mr Wolf?.
Now, the band return to our musical conscious with a song that’s set to soundtrack the Olympics.
Yes, this band know how to get their songs stuck in your head (and sell records!).
The duo, who lost their former drummer – Jamie Morrison – in 2010, release Winner on August 13 and the track has already been adopted by the Olympic Council.
Charismatic frontwoman Shingai Shoniwa explains: ‘It’s actually a coincidence, but the song’s become a bit of a backdrop to the Olympics.
‘Our aim was for it to be a pick-me-up song after a bad day. You know, when your heel breaks and you just take off your shoes and carry on walking anyway.
‘It’s a feelgood song. We were listing to some of those American cheesy, but empowering, pop-punk beats and artists like Shania Twain and Tina Turner.
‘The Olympic council heard it in January and they loved it.
‘They thought the official anthem they’d chosen was on the snoozy side of things, a bit midtempo,’ she continues, controversially.
‘So they’re easing it into the Olympic backdrop, which is great,’ adds Shingai, 30, who sings lead vocals and plays bass in the band alongside guitarist and old art school classmate Dan Smith.
The duo will play an Afrocentric-inspired remix of Winner at the River of Music Olympics event in July, which sees music from around the world on stages along the River Thames.
‘It’s all about embracing the different nations competing in the Olympics. It’s a huge feat. They’ve got musicians from places like Malawi,’ explains Shingai.
‘We’re planning to draw upon my African heritage,’ continues the former BRIT school pupil who has been compared to everyone from Deborah Harry and Kate Bush to Billie Holiday and Diana Ross.
Noisettes will also play tracks from their upcoming third album, Contact (released August 27), at the Olympic concert.
Shingai says she felt pressure from the weight of anticipation for their third long-player, following the success of their last album, but it helped to have changed record labels to Transgressive.
‘The team was more our team,’ she explains. ‘When you’re on a big label you have to share and get in the queue with hundreds of other acts on that label.
‘But you get more attention with a smaller label and that allowed us to be more creative.’
So, how does Contact compare with the much rockier and raw What’s The Time Mr Wolf? and the upbeat pop groves of Wild Young Hearts?
‘What’s The Time Mr Wolf? was written in a cold, damp, South London rehearsal rooms in 2005/2006 without many resources. We had a couple of amps between us,’ remembers Shingai.
‘Wild Young Hearts was like our coming out of hibernation album. It was more summery. It was written in a more relaxed atmosphere. We had a lot more gigs under our belts and a lot more instruments at our disposal – piano, backing vocals, strings...’ she continues.
‘This album is more our autumn. We know what we’re doing and we can really, really have fun with it.’
She adds: ‘We want it to be an exciting pop-dance crossover album.
‘There are songs that are perfect for a Sunday outing down to the beach and there’s late night dancing music too.
‘It’s been a natural evolution because everyone brought something different to the project, like the Yankees, you know?’ she says it a mock-Brooklyn drawl.
She’s talking the band’s time in LA, working with people like Will.i.am’s writing partner, Jean Baptise, who co-wrote Winner.
‘We had so much fun working with him,’ she beams.
‘A lot of UK acts go to America and turn out a pop hit with a broad American brush stroke over their sound, but he said “don’t change”,’ explains Shingai.
‘He really draws upon your personality and lets you be part of the writing process. So we had Dan’s guitar riffs, his heavy beats and a no holds bared lyrical approach.
‘We really enjoyed it. It’s good for your craft to work with a variety of people. It was a big melting pot,’ continues Shingai, who also worked with Bernard Butler, plus writers who work with Christina Aguilera and Beyonce.
As well as enjoying working in LA, Shingai and Dan loved their time off there too. Shingai remembers: ‘We had an open top Mustang and we would bomb it down to the beach in the morning blasting out Steely Dan and old school disco.
‘And, when we had couple of days off, we drove down towards San Francisco listening to all the country music radio stations,’ she continues, bursting into a made-up country song.
The pair even wrote a song about their beloved Mustang.
Rag Top Car has been one of the favourites at the ‘litmus test’ gigs and festivals the band played last summer.
They also previewed the new album at the Diamond Jubilee Festival in Battersea Park last weekend.
And they will headline at Blissfields near Winchester at the end of this month.
Shingai loves festivals and says they are the highlight of her calendar.
She says: ‘That moment when I look out from the stage and the sun is going down, I get that feeling that I am where I’m supposed to be.’
...Guillemots, who she worked with on their track Made Up Love Song #43
I absolutely love Fyfe [frontman Fyfe Dangerfield]. He’s definitely a musical ally and someone whose music I really love.
...meeting Ronnie Wood recently
We’re rehearsing in the same place. He dropped in and said he loved to play Never Forget You on his radio show. We hope he might guest and do his thing with us at one of the festivals this year.
...the biggest star she’s met
I met Lionel Richie at the BRITs and I told him that my mum was recovering from cancer and would love a signed photo of him. Six or seven months later, we were on the same bill at a festival and my mum was there. He remembered and he came and had tea with us. I have a framed photograph of it on my wall.
I like to go a bit hippy – bold colours, floral prints, flowing material – big, flowery, colourful things that blow in the wind when you run.
Or, a simple playsuit, a big hat and some stand-out sandals or customised wellies.
DID YOU KNOW? Shingai voices Teal and sings the theme tune for CBeebies show The Adventures of Abney & Teal. She says: ‘When my nephews come round, all they want me to do is sing the theme tune’.
WHERE & WHEN
Noisettes headline the main stage at Blissfields festival near Winchester on Saturday, June 30, from around 9pm.
The festival takes place at Vicarage Farm in Woodmancott from June 29 to July 1 and also features Charlotte Church, Patrick Wolf, Guillemots, Spector, Josh Kumra and King Charles, among others.
Day and weekend tickets are available and cost £16 to £79.45 from blissfields.co.uk, seetickets.com or 08448718819.
HEAR NOISETTES NEW TRACK WINNER AT portsmouth.co.uk/audio