Katie Noonan’s career thus far has consisted of a series of musical left-turns.
Going solo for the first time, she abandoned the sounds of her band george for the sweet soul of Skin. Soon after, she turned into a credible dance diva with the John Course collaboration Second Skin. Then came the audacious jazz reworking of the Beatles catalogue, Blackbird.
But Noonan’s new album Emperor’s Box, with backing band The Captains, represents something of a return to her musical roots — complex, occasionally bombastic orchestra-rock arrangements with Noonan’s ethereal vocals floating over the top. It’s all very george,
“I feel like I’ve really reclaimed my power when it comes to my decision-making,” Noonan told Sydney Star Observer.
“I left my management and I changed a lot of things behind the scenes. I don’t have a manager, I don’t have a tour manager. I handpicked The Captains, I chose our producer. As challenging as all that is, it’s very rewarding, and I think it’s resulted in my best record to date.”
One of the highlights of the record — alongside collaborations with Josh Pyke and Tim Finn — is a slow-burning duet with Sia, Sweet One.
“Oh, Sia, isn’t she gorgeous?” Noonan gushed.
“I wrote that track with her about four years ago when I was in LA. Sia emailed me while I was there and suggested I stay with her, so me, my husband and my newborn baby went and moved into her little house in the hills.
“She welcomed me into her home like an old friend, and we lived in her home for five days, even though we really didn’t know each other all that well at the start.”
Some have looked on Sia’s loveable kookster nature with cynicism, suggesting it may all be an act.
“Oh, no. She’s incredibly herself, and I think people find that confronting because so many people aren’t, particularly in our industry.
“So many people have this persona that they put on for the stage or for interviews. I’m not like that, and she’s certainly not like that. She’s a genuinely childlike, hyperactive, honest, beautiful soul.”
With such a musically eclectic career, I suggested to Noonan that come the day she ever releases a greatest hits compilation, the resulting album is going to sound a little…
“Manic?” she laughed.
“Music for me is about communicating, escaping and telling a story. It’s about connecting. For me, it’s boundary-free. It doesn’t matter whether you’re male or female, gay or straight, it’s about connecting souls. In that sense, it means I’ve made a fairly diverse set of records.
“But I’m hoping that through those records, there is a thread of honesty.”
info: Emperor’s Box (Sony BMG) out April 9. Kate Noonan and The Captains play Oxford Art Factory on April 8.