Art To Live With #2: Ngaiire on the Central Coast
by Chris Lorimer·
NSW-based, Papau New Guinea-born future soul artist Ngaiire is a genre-bending musician and artist. Gaining accolades for her renowned vocals, distinctive songwriting narrative including four National Live Music Awards, an FBi Radio SMAC Award for best live act, Australian Music Prize and ARIA noms along with the inaugural Australian Women in Music Award for Artistic Excellence, her artistic journey has seen her gracing the stages of Glastonbury through to Splendour and tour alongside artists ranging from Sufjan Stevens to Alicia Keys to Flume. Her latest album, 3, was released last year and she is currently touring throughout Australia and NZ to promote it (after numerous pandemic-related delays).
Hi Ngaiire, thank you for welcoming us into your home; please tell our Third Drawer Down community a little about yourself: who are you, and what do you do?
Hiii! Of course. I'm a singer-songwriter, creator, mum to a future Spiderman, indoor plant enthusiast, product of the Mariah Carey 'Daydream' era, and lover of chilli coconut rimmed margaritas.
Where do you live currently, and who do you live with?
I live in Darkinjung country on the Central Coast, New South Wales. The household is my lifey Dan, our 4-year-old son Nadav and our two birds, Rex and Piñata.
Living on the Central Coast looks beautiful; what do you love most about living in this area?
Ooooo. It used to be just how we are surrounded by bush and 40-plus beaches, which I still am amazed by, but now that we've been here for over two years, we've also come to love the community and how passionate Coasties are about the region.
Before this place, you were in Paddington, Sydney. Why the move, and is there anything you miss about your old neighbourhood?
Being up here on the Coast is a different pace, but it's one that we've come to find necessary, especially as Nadav gets older. It's also the first time I've been in a situation where neighbours want to get to know you. It was confronting at first: people willing to be neighbourly. As an introvert, it took some getting used to, but Dan not so much; he could make friends with a chair leg. Now we know most of the people on our street, and for the ones we vibe with, we help each other out where and when possible. We share in birthdays, cars, food, and skills; you get the picture. You don't get neighbours like this in the city unless you're lucky.
How do you describe the aesthetic/style of your home?
I'd say it combines modern, cultural and vintage pieces. Most of our furniture we bought off Facebook marketplace, from Vinnies or picked up free off the side of the road. Unfortunately, people tend to chuck things out a lot up here, and we've benefited from that more than a few times. Other items in the house we've spent a bit more money on are pieces we know we'll have for a long time and maybe pass down to Nadav. The walls and shelves hold many Papua New Guinean artefacts that my mum left with me before moving back. Having them around makes me feel close to home and her.
What is your favourite space in the house?
We are blessed to live in the kind of house where that can change depending on how I feel. Sometimes it's my studio, kept minimal and clean so that I can be work focused. Sometimes it's at the dining table in the sun. Other times it's on the couch near the fireplace. When it's cold, I make more of an excuse to work there with my laptop (and then accidentally fall asleep).
How important is food/cooking in your life, and why?
[Laughs] There's definitely a lot of eating in this house. Some people think I don't make music anymore and I just eat! But food and music have very frequently gone hand in hand culturally for my people, and when they do, it's usually to mark something important. It could be as simple as sweet potato cooked in the fire by my grandmother or a whole pig mumued in the ground to mark a big life event or express gratitude. It's also how my family expresses love and brings the community together. Music and food are just as important as each other in our home. I love that they are similar vessels for many things: love, provocation, comfort, revelation, community, joy, politics, and healing.
Tell us about the Third Drawer Down objects you have in your home?
I was immediately drawn to the Giant Corn stool for its obnoxious size and pop art humour. The bite out of the side is everything, and I particularly love objects that create points of conversation when people visit. I also really loved the Echo Park Pottery Splatter mug. I've wanted one for so long! I nearly died when I discovered this was part of Third Drawer Down's collection, so now I drink my tea out of it every morning. Despite its shape, it has the most ergonomic handle I have ever used on a mug, which might sound strange, but it's like anything well made. You can use other not so well made things and not care because it does the job, but then you find something that ACTUALLY does the job better and think, "what have I been missing?". It also has the most sturdy base, which is essential to me as I work with a lot of electronic equipment and drink A LOT of tea while working. Anyways, favourite mug ever!
Lastly, what are the things you're most looking forward to right now? Are you working on anything now that you can share with us? What does the future hold?
I have some new music coming out soon, which I'm excited about, and I'm currently touring in Australia right now. I'm pretty sure we've moved this tour 189 times because of the pandemic! [Laughs] I also have my first US tour planned for early 2023. I got to a position of surrender with all the cancellations. It was a lot of mental upheaval, becoming super anxiety-inducing, so I'm happy that I've rested on believing it's happening when it's meant to happen.
Shop Ngaiire's Top 7 here:
- Afromuses Couple tea towels x Chris Ofili
- Dolly Parton & Tina Turner tea towel x Kaylene Whiskey
- Giant Corn stool
- Then Now Floor Rug x Adam JK
- Splatter Mug Large Short x Echo Park Pottery
- Really Good Candle x David Shrigley
- Anemones Cushion Cover x Margaret Preston
And you can follow Ngaiire here