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Byron Shire
February 25, 2021

Noonan’s Transmutant Triumph

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The enigmatic and ever-evolving Katie Noonan steps back into the band environment with her latest album release, Transmutant.

Comprising herself, the Captain’s bandmates Stu Hunter and Declan Kelly and newcomer, New Zealand guitarist Peter Koopman.

‘I was kind of wanting to get back to a band thing,’ says Katie, speaking from a busy Brisbane cafe with small children in tow. ‘It was great to have electric guitars and drums, but also a cinematic feel. It feels different this time. I have matured.’

In fact, we have watched the uber-talented Noonan mature in front of our eyes, while her spirit remains the same, she has come a long way since her early days in George. Now living the full life of being mother and musician, Noonan continues to step up to the plate, and returns, as usual with astounding results.

‘When you are a working parent, you have less time so it’s tricky with the creative process. On the first George record we would spend one day per song in the studio as a minimum, 12 days tracking, 12 days mixing. I did Transmutant, in about half the time. I guess we are more economical with the use of time – I think when you have less of it you get better at achieving what you need to achieve in shorter bursts. I have recorded more and more and I appreciate that recording is capturing a moment on this earth, it’s about the spirit and the story rather than perfection.

I am very much an analogue girl, when I can I track live, I think if you don’t get it in two or three takes then move on and come back to it later… unfortunately the evolution of digital technology means really crap stuff can sound good now!’

One of the standouts from the album is Quicksand, a song about the break down of trust.

‘The words of that song were written sitting in a shopping centre on the Sunshine Coast. I feel quite sick when I go to places like that. It made the lyrics come. I thought what do I want to do with this. I wanted something simple. I wanted to create shimmery cool vocal sounds and lots of percussion, a lot of it was worked up in a backyard studio. Later we added the lifting factor – the beautiful young boy soprano Miro Lauritz, he is from the Australian Choir. Sadly his voice has already gone! I am so thrilled I captured him, when he came into the studio, his voice started to drop already, it was getting creamier.’ In a way Katie believed that reflected the fragility of beauty and the need to accept change and loss.

‘I had a strong vision in my head and Colin Leadbetter helped with it, I am not an engineer so I don’t know how to do it.’

This album is different to her last few albums, which tended to be quiet albums. Now the drums are back, so are the electric guitars and Katie said ‘No piano. I knew I wanted it to be a different sound palette. So I went into the studio with Colin and did five tracks. It felt great.’

‘My band is amazing. When I play live I want to keep things open. Stu and I have been playing together now for eight years so we have a language. I think when you play live, your show should evolve and change every night.’

Katie Noonan’s Vanguard presents Transmutant at the Byron Theatre, Community Centre on Friday. For tickets go to byroncentre.com.au or call 66856807.

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