getting to know... ngaiire


How has music influenced your life from a young age? It saved me as a kid. My parents were some of the first in their families and villages to graduate with degrees. They lived through the height of Papua New Guinea’s independen­ce from Australia, and education meant distancing from culture in order to thrive in a new urbanised middle class. Normally, the village community would help carry you through life, but my siblings and I grew up with uncharted problems. We didn’t have the safety net of our family network. Music was a real lighthouse: a teacher, a healer and a confidant. Favourite type of music to listen to in your downtime? I like to listen to things I can’t sing along to. I just wanna vibe, so John Coltrane has often been it for me. Tell us about your relationsh­ip with fashion. I love clothes. I adore wellmade things and I love the magic of the raw materials my ancestors used to create their own identity, whether for the battlefiel­d or for ceremony. You’ve toured with some pretty huge names! How did you manage your nerves? Not very well! I remember meeting Shirley Manson from Garbage once with my friend Billie. Billie probably questioned her friendship with me as I was slobbering all over myself like a dumb dog. What’s an issue you’re super-passionate about? Racism. I never knew what racism meant until I came to this country, and I now know how messy and complex it can get. Especially when you find yourself in more commercial environmen­ts. Oof! It gets ugly, and the tokenism gets challengin­g to navigate.

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