Shingai: 'Music is indiscriminate and can make you feel you belong in a place you might stick out'

Shingai Shoniwa: 'Music is indiscriminate and can make you feel you belong in a place you might stick out'

The Noisettes frontwoman discusses the South African-inspired tracks off her debut EP ahead of her headline set at Kelburn

As the frontwoman and bassist of early 2000's favourites Noisettes, Shingai Shoniwa is synonymous with a certain retro-pop sound that, at the time, distinguished her from her indie counterparts. It might have been a few years since the group's last release but Shingai continues on as a solo artist, having just announced the next chapter in her career with debut EP Ancient Futures, set to be released later this year.

'Making this EP has been a huge undertaking and a sonic adventure like no other,' Shingai explains about the process. 'The record was created in a number of different places including LA, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Brighton, Milan and London. Noisettes had some amazing musical experiences playing at Lake of Stars, Malawi and HiFA (Harare International Festival of the Arts), Zimbabwe. It further inspired [Noisettes guitarist] Dan and I's musical process and was a natural step after three very different albums. For me, this project is an evolution of myself as an artist and, musically, is an evolution of Noisettes.'

The first two singles off the new EP, 'Coming Home' and 'Zimtron', sparkle with an energy that is wholly absorbing, radiating lively South African rhythms and melodies.

'They were both inspired by a lot of 70s and 80s Southern African rhythms. Thomas Mapfumo, my uncle, is a legendary musician. I grew up with such a rich musical culture, so it may have been easy for me to take it for granted as it was always there. "Coming Home" is more of a love song and still shares the playfulness of "Zimtron", but this track was designed to get people on their feet dancing.'

Shingai Shoniwa: 'Music is indiscriminate and can make you feel you belong in a place you might stick out'

The two tracks signal the overall theme and feel of the EP, but Shingai is also keen to note the importance of her connection to Africa, which runs throughout the album's varying soundscape.

'Although I grew up in London, my culture has always been an intrinsic part of my nature,' she says. 'Music is a huge part of black identity in the UK and culturally it has given birth to countless subcultures such as reggae, sound systems, soul, jazz, rock'n'roll, garage and punk. I was really lucky to grow up in a household which celebrated all of this music and more. Music has played a massive part in uplifting the community I grew up in and bringing together people from all walks of life. Music is indiscriminate and can make you feel you belong in a place you might stick out.'

Having previously headlined festivals and sold out tours across the country with Noisettes, Shingai is no stranger to playing legendary live sets. And with summer festival season approaching, she's excited to get out there and share Ancient Futures with fans new and old.

'I love Scotland and it's one of my favourite places to play in the UK, with authentic music fans,' she says about her upcoming dates. 'I feel this record is going to take on a whole new dimension at festivals. It's a rhythmic record with lots of percussion, call and response that the crowd can sing along with. Our band are lovely and the vibes on stage will be infectious. It will be my first time at Kelburn though, so be gentle!'

Kelburn Highlights

LTJ Bukem
Fri 5 Jul, The Landing
Jungle innovator plays an exclusive set on the mighty Electrikal Sound System.

Fantastic Twins
Fri 5 Jul, Viewpoint Stage
Solo project of French producer Julienne Dessagne, who performs as part of the Optimo Music 10th Birthday Takeover.

Man of Moon
Fri 5 Jul, Pyramid Stage
Edinburgh two-piece who create atmospheric and psychedelic garage-influenced rock.

Acid Arab
Sat 6 Jul, The Landing
Parisian duo mix electronic music with Eastern sounds and vocals.

Sat 6 Jul, Pyramid Stage
Experimental and electro-pop sounds from the Scottish producer.

Heir of the Cursed

Sat 6 Jul, Pyramid Stage
Glasgow-based singer-songwriter pens ethereal music, taking inspiration from her dual Kenyan and Scottish identity.

Nathan Fake

Sun 7 Jul, The Landing
Electronic wizard and Ninja Tune artist arrives at Kelburn, with a live AV presentation in tow.

Sun 7 Jul, The Landing
London DJ, illustrator and radio host, who also happens to be a valued member of the Rhythm Section family.

Kelburn Garden Party, Kelburn Castle and Country Centre, Largs, Fri 5–Sun 7 Jul. Shingai plays the Viewpoint Stage, Sat 6 Jul.

Kelburn Garden Party

Kelburn Castle provides the fairytale setting for this eccentric music festival. The graffiti project for which Kelburn is known is just one of the items of hand-made décor, art and lighting that make the event a feast for all the senses. Six stages and various pop-up nooks host the musical programme, an eclectic mix of…