Meet Na Noise, the New Zealand Lofi Band Making Waves
Born and raised in the heart of Karangahape Road's music venue culture, Na Noise is a band rooted deeply in community. The sonic lovechild of Hariet Ellis, Yolanda Fagan, and Christopher Varnham, Na Noise's sound has grown and morphed over the past few years of playing as a tight-knit three piece. Fresh off their performance at Ones to Watch, Ash Wallace sat down with the fuzz pop band to dive into the world they have created.
Principal songwriter Yolanda and bass player Hariet connected initially through the Kings Arms, an iconic venue in Auckland where Hariet worked. The pair formed a creative relationship that has traversed Yolanda's countless musical projects and lit the match that would soon become the Na Noise fire. "We haven't gotten away from each other since and have always been influential in each other's projects." After originally playing as a duo, they felt a lot of pressure to create a sound large enough to impact a room, so when they met their drummer/percussionist/keyboardist Chris, it was an obvious fit.
Describing their first album as a 'stitching of sonic palettes,' the band wears their influences on their sleeve. Paying homage to the likes of Ian Svenonius and '60s R&B girl group vocals, Na Noise aren't afraid to bring powerful components of different genres together. However, even more pivotal than musical references, has been the influence of their community. Citing key players in the New Zealand indie scene like Noa Records, Sunreturn, Stink Magnetic, and 1:12 Records as their greatest supporters and influences, Na Noise have been soaking up the sound of Karangahape Road for years. "We listen to what's around us and we write to be a part of it," says Yolanda. It's no coincidence that Na Noise are beloved by the scene that they give back to wholeheartedly.
Although the creative impetus is typically germinated by Yolanda, the unique dynamic of Na Noise as a three piece can be heard and felt in the arrangement and instrumentation. A key focus lies in putting together a live performance that can't be matched. They are constantly spit-balling concepts to make shows more engaging and dynamic for the audience and for themselves on stage. "We give ourselves permission to do weird stuff and feel confident in it because three people have signed off on it. The decisions we make aren't always the prettiest but they're the most fun, and on stage it's about keeping ourselves entertained."
Their debut album Waiting For You won the band the acclaimed Auckland Live Best Independent Debut Award at the Taite Music Prize Awards in 2021 and saw the trio named as 'Best Alternative Artist' at the 2021 Aotearoa Music Awards. Waiting For You is an 11-track journey of fuzz, dance, clever vocal arranging and drum machine glory. Since its energetic release, the band have built an 'accidental' visual aesthetic that dives into the raw and the retro, bringing lighting, fashion, and drama to the stage and their videos.
Following in the footsteps of many other iconic indie bands they call their peers, Na Noise are building community every day. "Na Noise is wider than just us. It's about every single creative who collaborates with us." An ethos that is rare in 2022 and speaks volumes.