Shingai’s distinctive vocal style and look always stood apart from her peers like Adele, Amy Winehouse and Paloma Faith. But now she returns with her boldest move yet: an EP that draws on her Zimbabwean and Bantu heritage and throws it forward into a realm that’s all her own. Called ‘Ancient Futures’, the EP is her first solo release, four years in the making, and whirls rebel yells, dancefloor-ready beats and, as she sings on the track ‘Zimtron’, “the beating drums of Africa,” into a daring whole, inspired by the energising experimentalism of Björk and M.I.A. As Annie Mac called lead single ‘Coming Home’ on her Radio 1 show, “bonkers pop music”.
Shingai started breaking new ground in the mid-2000s, when British guitar music was at its height. She was a rare woman in the indie scene and, even rarer, a woman of colour but it meant she had to fight hard against prejudice. “I never felt like I fitted in,” she says of that time, “especially as a black female who plays bass.” She remembers journalists asking her questions like, “How does it feel to play white men’s music?”, even though one of Noisettes’ songs, Sister Rosetta, is named after the female African-American who inspired the likes of Elvis Presley and Eric Clapton. Shingai found it frustrating that Noisettes were boxed in with the other bands of that time. “It was reductive,” she says. “We had rock’n’roll, soul, punk, jazz, blues, folk, dance – loads of references in our music”. That stew of genres, however, gave them a distinctly afro-punk – or as The New York Times put it, “agit-punk” – flavour and, as such, The Noisettes became the first British band to play the leading celebration of that movement, the Afropunk festival in Brooklyn, in 2009.
In 2019, Shingai ignites a groundbreaking chapter with her new EP, ‘Ancient Futures’. The EP finds Shingai at the vanguard of a new era of pop. Live instruments and future forward programming sit comfortably beside the melodies and rhythms inspired by her Southern African heritage. With an effervescent soundscape, the record is fearlessly infused with a soulful yet boisterous energy, making the music electrifying and compelling. Distinguished for her memorising and dramatic performances, be prepared to be taken on a sonic odyssey.
See her website here or find her on Twitter @ShingaiMusic