Interview with Katie Noonan
Katie Noonan and Karin Schaupp’s newest album “Song of The Latin Skies” debuted at #1 on the Australian itunes world music charts and the ladies are taking the album around the country on their “Songs of The Latin Skies tour”
AMNplify’s Pauli Dee spoke to Katie Noonan about the album, the tour and everything else that makes Katie one of Australia’s hardest working musicians.
Pauli: Hi Katie. Thanks for chatting to me. How’s your day going?
Katie: Good thanks. We’re doing lots of promo today, so keeping busy!
You’re about to kick off your “Songs of the Latin skies” tour with Karin Schaupp in Hobart, right?
Yes, we’re in Hobart, then we’ll fly to Adelaide for the weekend, then on to Perth and all the rest of the dates.
So you’re all set & ready to go?
Have you done much rehearsals?
Yes, we have done a couple of rehearsals because we finished the album in early January, so it’s been a few months since we played together, so we’ve rehearsed just to get the songs back in our minds.
You’ll obviously playing songs from the album. Have you got any other surprises that you might throw into the mix?
Yeah, we have a song by Gilberto Gil that didn’t make it onto the album, that’s a really fun tune called ‘Espresso 2222’ or dois, dois, dois, dois in Portuguese and we also have a little encore up our sleeves, which is an Australian tune, but written in a kind of tango style, so we figured that’s stylistically very close, so we’ll do that song.
You’re taking this tour all around the country. Is there anywhere in particular that you’re looking forward to visiting?
There are a few new venues that I’ve never played in before. I’m looking forward to playing The Quarry Amphitheatre in Perth and I haven’t played in Bunbury for a long time. I think the last time I played in Bunbury was about 15 years ago, so I’m looking forward to that, but really I love all the venues. Quite a few of the venues will have guitar ensembles joining us on stage, so that should be fun. Where else? We’re playing in Berrima. I’ve never played there, so that’ll be great too.
I’ve got a new job as the artistic coach of The Queensland music festival, which is a huge, enormous job, so I’m just looking forward to going back to being a musician again, it’s actually going to be a lot of fun!
Is that the “Songs that made me initiative?”
It’s one of them, yeah. We have over a hundred concerts over twenty eight locations across the entire state of Queensland, so it’s enormous. It’s actually the largest festival in the world in terms of land mass, so it’s huge.
I noticed you’ve got a month off half way through the tour in April and early May. Have you got anything special planned for that time?
Karin will be in Italy. That’s the main reason for the gap, but also my boy is turning twelve and I’m turning forty on the second of May!
I was going to ask if you were taking the month off for a big fortieth birthday party!
No, I’m taking a week off. I’m going up to Port Douglas and having a week with my family, so that should be really nice.
You mentioned the “Songs that made me initiative” Can you tell us a bit about that?
That’s an initiative to empower female singer/songwriters and with a mentor program, we have Deborah Conway, Claire Bowditch and Hannah Macklin, who are three incredible musicians, who will be going around to Mount Isa, Mackay and Gladstone and having mentor workshops around Queensland and we’ll also have a finale concert in Brisbane at The Tivoli and I, myself will go and do some workshops in June. I’m really looking forward to hearing the female voices and stories from around Queensland.
Is a mentorship program something that you had when you were starting out in the music industry?
No. I wish there was. I was lucky enough to be mentored by women that I was lucky enough to tour with and actually one of the first tours I did as a mum was with Claire Bowditch and Deborah Conway in a show called Broad, so it’s not dissimilar to that really, it just has a little bit more of an education mentoring angle to it. So I’m obviously very passionate about empowering female singer/songwriters. We are a minority. Only twenty one percent of ACRA members across the entire country of Australia are women, which is a crazy statistic and I made an album called “The songs that made me,” which was all about shining light on the women that came before me and the next generation and we raised money through the pink ribbon campaign, but as an AG, I will ensure that there are fabulous female musicians included and represented in our programing. There are two specific programs only for women; one is the Carol Lloyd award, which is a $15,000 award for emerging female singer/songwriters and then “Songs that made me” so we have two programs that are specifically just for women.
Speaking of amazing Australian singer/songwriter, you recently sang on Tina Arena’s new album. You sang “Burn,” right?
Yes, I got Burn. I was hard to pick a song, because there’s so many great ones, but that’s one that I clearly remember when I was growing up as a great one.
So you got to pick which song you did, they weren’t allocated or anything like that?
I think I suggested a few, you know I was like I’d be happy to be x,y,z and Burn was one of them, so that went well, so I really stripped it back and it’s very different to the original.
Is there any other artists that you’d love to work with, that you haven’t worked with yet?
Oh so many! Joni Mitchell is my hero, if I could do anything with her, it’d be amazing. Vince Jones is another one of my heroes, look I’m up for anything! Creativity is boundless!
You do a lot of collaborations. What’s the difference for you between working with others and working solo?
When you collaborate, you really get challenged as an artist because you have to grow out of your comfort zone and learn new things from other musicians who have strengths that you don’t have. I’m just always searching to get better and … you know, you’re only as good as your next gig or your next song.
My next question was is it important for you to try different projects, is that for the same reason?
Totally! I like challenging myself. Musically I have a voracious appetite for lots of music!
Does that mean no more George? Will we see you perform with George again?
I don’t think so, but never say never! We reformed for our twentieth year, which was really special and fun, but I don’t feel the need to do that, I just feel that it’s not s step forward. Having said that, the reunion shows were so awesome, so never say never!
I have to say when I was researching you, there was a LOT of content out there, you do so much and you must be a very busy woman. How do you fit it all in?
I am very busy! I think last year I was too busy and I was pretty exhausted and I feel like I’m still getting over last year actually. My new job as a director is new and a very exciting challenge, but I’ve never worked in an office and I’ve never had staff or worked in an office environment, so that’s a new exciting, interesting challenge and I’ve had to learn a lot of new things, so that’s quite a challenge! I much prefer musical challenges, I’ve got to say! (Laughs) but I’ve learnt a lot from it, so that’s a good thing.
Well don’t burn yourself out, remember to rest!
Yeah well my children and beautiful husband look after me.
You’re lucky! I wanted to end my interview with a quick, fun thing I like to do called One Random Minute, which is just a quick list of weird, random questions. You ready?
Yeah, of course! Sounds fun!
One Random Minute
What did you have for breakfast?
A toasted sandwich with avocado, tomato and cheese
What do you prefer, apples or bananas?
Tea of coffee?
Summer or winter?
Really good ice-cream! Sarah Lee French vanilla, that’s my go-to!
What animal makes the best pet?
Staffy! My animal is the best pet!
If you couldn’t sing, what would you be doing?
Well I wanted to be a human rights lawyer. I did actually get into law. I worked really hard at school because I wanted to keep all my options open and I got into a law degree but ended up going with music instead! So I’d probably be doing that. Or I’d be producing or curating festivals or something like that.
I highly recommend catching Katie & Karin at one of the below dates.
FRIDAY 17TH MARCH
SATURDAY 18TH MARCH
GARDEN OF UNEARTHLY DELIGHTS
SUNDAY 19TH MARCH
GARDEN OF UNEARTHLY DELIGHTS
THURSDAY 23RD MARCH
FRIDAY 24TH MARCH
BUNBURY ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE
THURSDAY 11TH MAY
CITY RECITAL HALL
FRIDAY 12TH MAY
LAYCOCK STREET THEATRE
SATURDAY 13TH MAY
FRIDAY 19TH MAY
A & I HALL
SATURDAY 20TH MAY
QUEENSLAND CONSERVATORIUM – GRIFFITH UNIVERSITY
THURSDAY 8TH JUNE
FRIDAY 9TH JUNE
SATURDAY 10TH JUNE
SUNDAY 11TH JUNE
JOAN SUTHERLAND PAC
FRIDAY 30TH JUNE
MELBOURNE RECITIAL CENTRE