HAVING STARTED OFF PLAYING "SHAMBOLIC JAZZ-NOISE" AS A SOUTH LONDON TWO-PIECE UNDER THE MONIKER SONARFLY, IT WAS WHEN SINGER SHINGAI SHONIWA AND GUITARIST DAN SMITH COAXED THE RECLUSIVE, PERFECTIONIST DRUMMER JAMIE MORRISON OUT OF HIS THREE YEAR SELF-IMPOSED BEDROOM EXILE THAT THEY WENT ON TO FORM THE NOISETTES.
Having found the missing piece in the puzzle to match the soul and smoke that emanates from Shingai's mesmerizing voice they went on to support Babyshambles on tour and became known for unpredictable performances - from a girl that once joined the circus and learnt a burlesque routine that results in a golden egg popping out her pussy - and a reputation as one of the best live bands around.
The Noisettes found themselves signed by no less a label than Motown and since the release of their first full length album "What's The Time Mister Wolf?" have spent all of the past year on tour as a result. The week Shingai and I met, the band had spent three days in America, two in Portugal - back in London for a day before flying to Singapore and then onto Japan - Shingai asked me to take her rowing through Regents Park lake. How could I refuse?
How did you get signed to Motown?
Shingai Shoniwa: Our manager Susan went out to a big party in LA next door to Tom Cruise's house and she had a picture of us, and she showed it to this lady who's Motown's West Coast lady boss. After Susan told her all about us, she was really interested, and was like "Fly them over, I really wanna see them, they're really cute." So basically, 4 days later we were in LA with a gig lined up at the fucking Roxy on Sunset Strip and Barry Hankerson [Motown CEO] was there. Afterwards they took us out for dinner at one of the most expensive restaurants I've ever been to in my life. They ordered a bottle of champagne and said "guys, I'm really not sure what you were expecting when you came out here..." They opened the bottle of champagne and just said "welcome to Motown" and all the handshakes were like the tightest handshakes ever. It was a real fairytale. All on that day, the first time I had been to LA. We should avoid that dead duck there.
Your voice is perfect for Motown. After all your touring, in which country do you think The Noisettes have the biggest presence?
This little girl came up to me the other day, she had these cornrows in her hair, she looked like a little Yardie girl, I was getting on the Victoria line, she was saying, "Your music's really heavy, you look wicked, I love your hair". She had her school uniform on. Funnily enough, it happens more in America, probably because over there we've done more press.
You're probably the only person I know with Matchbox cars or cassette tapes in their hair.
...she was saying, "Your music's really heavy, you look wicked, I love your hair".
Yeah I like toys. I only started doing cars recently - look - today I've got a Formula One car in my hair. I found the first black Ken they made ever in LA in some junk shop from 1986. They had the black girl dolls before, but I guess there wasn't really the market for a black Ken until much later. Oh my God, you are the worst rower in the world, we're getting taken over by three year old toddlers!
Photography by Richard Stow
Words by Xerxes Cook
Shingai wears ivory silk blouse with feather sleeves by Gavin Douglas. Cream and gold hotpants by Collette Dinnigan. Purple embroidered scarf (worn as belt) by Marjan Pejoski.
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Crystal studded black mini?dress by Nova Dando. White boots by Yohji Yamamoto for Dr Martens. Orange tights, her own.