A Chat With Ngaiire

Interview of Ngaiire by Freya Bennett

Hi Ngaiire, how are you?

Just flew in from Italy. Quite jet lagged. Thought I’d nailed it the second night but then the couple next door started sexing quite audibly up against my bedroom wall till early hours of the morning. It was so loud and so close I felt like I was watching virtual reality porn…without the visuals. Back to square one on the lag.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I like white cheese and bread with olive oil. My grandmother gave birth to my mum by herself. I have over 25 first cousins. I learned how to do Maori poi in primary school. The first car I learned how to drive was a manual Ford Falcon. I have koumpounophobia which is a fear of buttons. I paint but not so much anymore. I love the Canadian band Metric. My favourite sport is soccer. My name means red flower.

Where do you call home?

Sydney, but I am also tied to Papua New Guinea and New Zealand.

How would you describe the music you create?

Anti-cerebral, nostalgic, and like you found a map to the treasure chest that you were patient enough to sail, hike, and dig for.

You’re album Blastoma has just been released, congrats! How are you feeling?

Like my last born child just left home for the war.

What do you love about the process of making a record?

Finding out new ways of doing things and the reward of trial and error.

What do you not like?

Hitting brick walls. Dead ends. An unfinished song.

Do you have a favourite song on the album?

“I Can’t Hear God Anymore”. It’s the most poetic of all the others.

You’re about to go on tour, what is the most exciting thing about touring?

The journey that music permits you to take in a whole hour or so with a couple hundred strangers all the way to pure unity.

What are the three most important things to take on tour?

Toothpaste (I would say toothbrush but without toothpaste there’s no point), my iPhone, and my musical equipment.

If you could play a show anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Probably somewhere in a Middle Eastern desert.

Who are your musical heroines?

St Vincent, Erykah Badu, Aretha Franklin, Beyonce, Bjork, Nina Simone, etc.

Tigress is a magazine aimed at empowering teenage girls to achieve their dreams; what advice would you have for girls getting into the music industry?

Never apologise about having an opinion about anything. You can play ball just as hard as the next guy.

What is the funniest thing that has happened on stage?

I once tried to see how far I could get making up words to my own song as I’d forgotten how it went. It ended up sounding like I was possessed by an ancient demon who was trying to communicate with ‘the other side’ using a language not yet heard of. My mission to improvise successfully was aborted quite quickly when I realised I just couldn’t get away with it.

If you weren’t doing music, what would be your career of choice?

Something related to flying. I wanted to be a pilot but realised I was too short so I moved my sights to aeronautical engineering. Music eventually consumed me.

What do you wish you knew at 15?

That you shouldn’t just lose your virginity just because the other kids are doing it. Not that I lost it at 15, but there’s always that urgency as a kid to grow up quickly.

Where do you go to relax?

I live partly down in Berry which is 2 ½ hrs out of Sydney. My parents have a little farm down there with hammocks, a pot belly stove, and chickens. Country air does things to my brain.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

If there’s a will there’s a way.

Do you have any final words of advice?

The president of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf once said, “If your dreams do not scare you they are not big enough.” I grew up in a third world country (PNG) to a mother who had to bring up two girls in a society that didn’t value their women enough. Mum taught us the meaning of having ambition and an education and that our dreams are the most precious thing we own. Now having lived in Australia for 15 years and having the opportunities that I do at my fingertips I sometimes forget the freedom of only having your dreams to hold on to. You must NEVER stop dreaming.


‘Blastoma’ is out now and tickets for the tour are available here.


Freya Bennett

Freya Bennett is the Co-Founder and Director of Ramona Magazine. She is a writer and illustrator from Melbourne, Australia who loves dreary grey days, libraries and coffee.
With a passion for grassroots activism and creative community, Freya began Ramona Magazine as an alternative to boring, image-obsessed media. Ramona Magazine is founded upon Freya’s core values of creative expression, equality, kindness and a little bit of feminist rage. You can follow her @thecinnamonsociety

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