Katie Noonan: not George anymore

THE angel-voiced songstress of Australian indie-pop, Katie Noonan, has returned to the public spotlight after a two-year hiatus.

Fresh from recording her new album, Emperor’s Box, Noonan and band – The Captains – have hit the road in support of their epic first single Page One.

The five-time platinum recording artist is in fine voice on Emperor’s Box, a dynamic masterpiece comprising 13 personal, emotive works.

Co-produced by Noonan and Grammy Award-winning rock specialist Nick Didia (Pearl Jam, Powderfinger, Stone Temple, Pilots), Emperor’s Box marks a return to some familiar territory for the Brisbane-born singer.

The album is the sound of a confident, accomplished artist. It’s a lush and at times muscular affair, captured in the studio by a tight unit clearly at the peak of form. And of course, Katie’s vocals shine.

Emperor’s Box isn’t due for release until April 9 but fans can catch a sneak preview at the A & I Hall in Bangalow this Saturday.

“Musically, I’m fiercely proud of it. For me it feels like the best record I have made,” Noonan says.

“It’s the closest thing to George that I’ve done in a musical sense and overall aesthetic sense. I’ve slowly been building this selection of songs for the last couple of years. I wanted to get back to that real organic lush band sound.”

The stripped back sound of Noonan’s catalogue of recordings might have something to do with the fact she doesn’t like recording in metropolitan areas.

“I think it’s very important – my one kind of rule is I don’t like making records in the city, generally,” Noonan says.

“We were artists in residence a couple of times at Sir Arthur Boyd’s writing retreat in Bundanoon ... which obviously fuelled and inspired our process. We did the recording completely live ... kept everything as organic and non digital as possible.”

Noonan’s personal life has also served as an inspiration to her song writing process. Many of the songs on Emperor’s Box were written as gifts for her family and friends.

“Its a lovely thing we can do as musicians,” she says.

“I’ve written songs for friends of mine that were coming through difficult patches with great strength and grace. About five of the songs are about that. Some of them are love songs, obviously a couple of them are for my beautiful children.”

Finding the balance between being a mother of two young children and having a successful career has not been easy for Noonan. She says that in the past, touring with the band meant long breaks from her kids. But nowadays she takes them with her on the road.

“There is nothing more sacred then your time with your children. To leave that it’s got to be something that really matters to you,” she says.

“Luckily at my level, now I can bring them with me. There’s a whole bunch of us that do it. The Waifs, Claire Bowditch, Kasey Chambers ... we’re all kind of similar aged people. Our music is special to us and if it wasn’t I think we would stay home and be with our kids.”

• Catch Katie Noonan and The Captains at the Bangalow A & I Hall this Saturday. Tickets on sale at Barebones Bangalow and Mullum Books, All Music & Vision Stores (Ballina, Byron and Lismore) and www.kupromotions.oztix.com.au. Tickets: $30 (+BF) or $35 at door.

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