The year 2016 was an eventful one. It was an Olympic year, and the moment the U.K. voted to leave the European Union. Across the Atlantic, a New York real estate guy with a long red tie became president of the U.S. of A.
Year 2016 was also the last time we heard new music from Ngaiire.
More than three years have passed since the Sydney-based singer and songwriter released Blastoma, her Australian Music Prize and AIR Award-nominated sophomore set.
The drought is officially over with the release of “Shiver,” which Billboard exclusively premieres today.
On “Shiver”, Ngaiire (pronounced Ny-ree) takes a trip back to her Papua New Guinean roots in an exploration of life, death and the spirit world.
“Shiver” has already had a life of its own. The song, which she penned with Jack Britten (aka Jack Grace) and Will Cuming (aka LANKS), was shortlisted for the prestigious Vanda and Young Global Songwriting Competition, named after Harry Vanda and the late George Young, songwriters and founding members of legendary Aussie rockers The Easybeats.
The future-soul singer is up for a hattrick of trophies at the 2019 Australian Women in Music Awards ceremony next Wednesday (Oct. 9) at Brisbane Powerhouse. She will perform on the night, and a string of live dates should follow.
Billboard caught up with Ngaiire for a chat about “Shiver” and the path ahead.
Billboard: “Shiver” was shortlisted for the Vanda And Young prize. It’s got so much energy and vitality. Can you tell me a bit about the song?
Ngaiire: Ahh, thank you. That’s really good feedback actually. I felt that as Will Cuming and I started writing it. Jack Grace who produced the track with me truly brought that out even more. This all happened out of my research trip to PNG. I assembled a small creative team to head over for a few weeks where we collected hours and hours of footage and photographs. We started the project back to front, sourcing visuals to extract the music from so ‘Shiver’ was one of those songs. It’s about spooky things, things you catch out of the corner of your eye, the shivers you get in broad daylight that you can’t explain. It’s also about how we choose to acknowledge the afterlife especially during grief — in this case, the grief of losing my Aine (grandmother) and what that culturally and spiritually meant for us.
Will there be more music on the way anytime soon?
There’s more music then we know what to do with which is a really nice problem to have. Now that “Shiver” has opened the floodgates, we’ll be consistently dropping more new material over the coming months. I’m really looking forward to it.
You recently mentored some rising talent from West Sydney for the GRID series. Music is a collaborative sport, in so many ways. Has collaboration shaped your art in the last few years?
100%. The company you keep is so important and all the people that work with me I believe in, not just on a professional level but also as people that the world is made better by. We’re out here feeding people’s souls and that’s a job you need specific people to carry with you.
You’ve a handful of live dates coming up in November. Are there any plans for the United States and Europe in the near future?
For sure. Dying to. I’m hoping for a 2020 visit. My first big show overseas was at Glastonbury and I haven’t done anything since. I also have the most incredible fans in the U.S. who send me really generous messages every now and again so I think it’s time to go see my people on the other ends of the planet soon.