We are family
THE family that plays together, as the saying goes, stays together.
It’s certainly true for ARIA-winning singer Katie Noonan and her husband, lauded saxophonist Zac Hurren who, among their many other musical endeavours, form two thirds of jazz trio Elixir.
While touring sometimes keeps them apart – Noonan recently toured with classical guitarist Karin Schaupp – it also brings them together.
As well as the many other projects she fronts from George, the band she started with brother Tyrone, to Skin, her solo album, or new band The Captains, Elixir has always been bubbling away in the background, a musical respite.
This month the trio – the other member being Stephen Magnusson ( all pictured) – released an album, First Seed Ripening, six years after the last.
Noonan and Hurren have been married for six years and been together for 12. They have two boys, Dexter and Jonah.
Theirs is a love affair that began when they met as students at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music.
It was one of those moments of which memories, and movies, are made. They were passing each other in the hall and both looked back over their shoulder to check the other out. ‘‘ We did a double take,’’ Hurren says. ‘‘ We did the full thing where we turned around,’’ Noonan says. They both finish: ‘‘ And caught each other checking each other out.’’
‘‘ He was like, ‘ Whoa, that chick’s got huge hair’,’’ Noonan jokes. Hurren laughs: ‘‘ I thought she was a hottie.’’
The pair took an advanced harmonic theory course together. ‘‘ I remember hearing Katie singing and I thought, ‘ holy sh--’. That’s when I first realised not all singers were sh--,’’ Hurren laughs.
Noonan had moved from the classical course, inspired by her opera-singing mother, Maggie Noonan, to jazz.
Hurren admits to being a musical snob. Apart from listening to AC/ DC and NWA at 13, when he heard Count Basie at 14, he didn’t listen to anything else again.
It was a mutual education, because it was through Hurren that Noonan discovered the depths of modern jazz.
Since their early start as musicians, after graduating from the ‘‘ Con’’, Noonan and Hurren have been lucky and talented enough not to have done anything else. Hurren regularly plays in his group the Zac Hurren Trio.
Noonan has explored numerous projects, the latest of which, the band The Captains, released a record, Emperor’s Box, last year. But the pair have always considered themselves part of Elixir.
So what’s it like playing in a band with your other half?
‘‘ It’s probably better to ask the third wheel, Stephen,’’ Noonan says.
‘‘ For me, music and family makes perfect sense because music-making comes from a place of honesty and love and all that stuff which comes easily with my husband.’’
They rarely fight and make a habit of being open and honest with each other.
The couple also have a fresh honesty with each other when it comes to their music.
‘‘ Zac is pretty much the only person whose ears I trust,’’ Noonan says.