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Have You Heard? #11: Ngaio

Ngaio

Musician, poet, writer, producer, DJ and radio host.

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Welcome back to Have You Heard? – an interview series highlighting the people behind Bristol Beacon.

Each month we speak to colleagues, artists, fans and friends and ask them to share their thoughts on our transformed venue, as well as the music that matters to them.

Introducing…Ngaio

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Ahead of her EP launch next month in our brand new venue space, Weston Stage, we spoke with Bristol-based vocalist, DJ, spoken word artist, producer and inclusion and diversity consultant Ngaio. She gave us a glimpse of her forthcoming EP ‘Four Quarters’, the challenges she faced in establishing a unique live set-up for the show, and her recommendation of ‘River’ by iBeyi.

Having lived in Bristol since she was 9, Ngaio’s relationship with Bristol Beacon is one that stretches back to her childhood. She first performed on stage in Beacon Hall with her school choir, then more recently as a mentor to young people, and a music facilitator. She is also the voice of our Story Wall that maps our musical and cultural history from 1867 to present day.

Next month you’re celebrating the launch of ‘Four Quarters’ with us – what can you tell us about the EP and what can audiences expect from the launch show?

This EP has been two years in the making and is all about finding internal balance in an unsteady world. Maybe it’s the time of life I’m in now, or the years of therapy, (or both!) but this whole project is about coming back to yourself. Learning to love and forgive yourself, learning how to put yourself first, learning you don’t need to be perfect and being honest with people around you. It’s about the need for growth and change and accepting the pain – but also the joy – that comes with that.

Audiences can expect a show that brings together my musical experience of being a live vocalist and a DJ – it’s a show that is being curated to be danced to and it is a celebration of the self. I want everyone to leave feeling musically nourished and empowered to go and take chances on themselves and leave the fear of perfection in the past.

What makes a stand-out live performance for you? 

A great live experience to me is when I really get to know the artist and they make me think in a new way whilst also showing me something musically that I didn’t know before. The top performances that come to mind for me on this front are seeing Erykah Badu at Forwards festival and seeing how she recreated her classic songs in a completely new way which is what I’ve implemented into reimagining songs that I wrote 8 years ago for this show.

Sampa the Great at Rough Trade was incredible, just being able to truly understand her as an artist due to the way that she interacted with the audience gave us new insights into her songs and made us feel seen as Black women and those with roots in the Afro diaspora. Blue Lab Beats, also at Rough Trade, seeing how they fused together an MPC doing live production and playing live instruments at the same time, totally opened my eyes to what was possible and started the wheels turning in my brain into what my live show has now become.

Your live shows have previously ranged from performing with a full band to DJ sets and this time you’re doing something completely different. What can you tell us about your set up for this show and any challenges you might have faced along the way?

My dream with my music has always been to travel – with my show but also to collaborate with artists who I meet around the world. I’ve been so blessed to meet interesting, creative people wherever I go and wanted to be able to share my music and collaborate wherever I went, which is why I made it a priority to learn how to bring the skills I have together.

As a vocalist, I could always feature on a track, as a DJ I could turn up anywhere with a USB and play, but there was a disconnect between these two mediums that I love fiercely and enjoy performing as and I wanted to bring them together because they’re both me. So this was my opportunity to do it!

The main challenges I’ve faced have been really technical things around mapping the sound and knowing what things I want to control whilst on the stage – but also how to make it fun! What are we doing if we’re not having fun?! So that’s been hard to do, but last week I cracked it with the help of Lorenzo who Beacon brought in as a mentor to support me and has been invaluable, so now I can’t wait!

What are you listening to right now?

I’m always listening to iBeyi and they have been a huge inspiration to me as artists since I first heard them almost 8 years ago. I’ve never managed to see them live, but I love how they bring together electronic music and soulful vocals with such clear messages behind their songs.

There’s a nod to their first music video River in my music video Goddess, which is out soon, so if you’re also fans, let me know if you spot it!

Ngaio (LIVE) – Four Quarters EP Launch

Thu 6 Jun 2024, 20.00
Weston Stage

Infectiously danceable with interjections of poignant spoken word and unapologetically raw, introspective lyrics.

Book Tickets

Have You Heard? iBeyi – River

(XL Recordings, 2015)

 

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