Lush, hypnotic and brimming with alt pop whimsy, the brand new single Body from Aotearoa New Zealand artist Isla Noon is an electrifying ode to growing up from one of the scene’s most exciting up-and-comers. A dynamic addition to Isla Noon’s ever-growing repertoire, Body is also accompanied by an enigmatic music video featuring the artist herself in a potent display against a fittingly eerie locale.
A single lathered in introspection and intelligent, dense pop sensibilities, Body was originally conceived by Isla Noon in her bedroom, with its early form veering towards ballad territory. Embracing inspiration from the likes of MUNA, Caroline Polachek, Wolf Alice and Troye Sivan, the end result for Body morphed from Isla Noon’s own private musings into a song with ricocheting relatability; and following Isla Noon teaming up with friend and collaborator Maude Morris, Body soon became a robust and vibrant affirmation for self-esteem, vulnerability and the ever-complex road to growing up, as she explains, “It was when I brought the song in to produce with Maude Morris that we realised we needed to embrace the chaos. We pushed the dynamics to the limit when it became clear that the song wanted to take up a lot of space – and so we let it. Growing up, it was always very important to me to be recognised for my ideas, for my creative work, for what I had to say. As I grew into a young woman, I became uncomfortable with the sense that my physical form was preceding those things, that the way I was perceived and treated seemed to hinge on how I looked, dressed, and carried my body. At times, this body felt like a risky vehicle to be in. From such an early age we are flooded with input and commentary on what is and isn’t ok about our bodies. It’s such an overwhelming intrusion on what is really a private relationship. Writing Body was a step toward excavating some of that unwelcome noise from my own mind and extending a quiet peace offering to myself. I think of Body as reclamation of self. I put it forward in all its messy self-contradiction and intensity, in all its cautious intimacy, in all its strength and light.”
With Morris on production and engineering duties, alongside Chris van de Geer, Body’s commanding holistic experience heightens further via its accompanying music video. Directed by Oshara Ardelean, a cinematographer and director also renowned for her work with fellow Kiwi indie artist Kiki Rockwell, the visual accompaniment to Body finds Noon’s raw lyricism and clever arrangement soaring to greater heights in one of the spookiest places Auckland has to offer, as Noon reveals, “I knew from the outset that I wanted to work with a female director for this video and approached Oshara Ardelean, who had co-directed the video for my previous single I Need To Go Home, with an idea for a follow-shot style video that I had in mind for Body. We heard through the grapevine about a mysterious location – a storeroom building at the now closed, and for the most part abandoned, Kingseat Hospital. It is considered the most haunted place in Auckland, and there’s a lot of history, so it was a pretty unforgettable experience shooting the video there. The building we shot in really shaped the final storyboard, which Oshara and I wrote together. Throughout the video, I wanted to play with the idea of making the psychological space physical. The camera functions as a reflection of self that I am at first curious about and questioning, then hesitant to trust, and later fearful of and trying to outrun. The building I travel through represents a headspace, a place where I am alone with myself and that doesn’t always feel safe. Ultimately, I find a way out of this place but instead of leaving, I turn back – thinking maybe it doesn’t have to be like this, maybe I don’t have to run from myself any longer.”
Emerging in 2020 with hit tracks Summer in August, Talk About Us and I Need To Go Home, Isla Noon has swiftly established herself as a dexterous and fresh songwriter. Weaving her unique, alt pop universe, Isla Noon’s releases have been described by Rolling Stone as “glistening dance-pop perfection”, while her musical journey itself stems back to listening to Boney M’s The Rivers of Babylon every night before bed; a core memory and key inspiration for this sharp and engaging artist. Embracing pop music as a vehicle for both physical and emotional release, Isla Noon’s foundational years saw her devouring her parents’ CD collection, with Boney M, Leonard Cohen and lashings of 80s pop morphing alongside her later influences, including Caroline Polachek, Muna, Wolf Alice, Lorde and Robyn. From starting guitar lessons at the age of 10 to studying music at university, Isla Noon’s pensive and vibrant style ultimately took full flight when she harnessed her post-graduate free fall into seeking creative fulfillment and breaking down her own walls as an artist and as a human. Thus, Islan Noon the artist truly arrived.
An avid lover of science and pop, Isla Noon’s carefully-crafted and crystal clear creations, alongside her seamless ongoing collaboration with producer Maude Morris, is now set to build towards a groundbreaking album on the horizon; and for Isla Noon, the continued transition from her solitary creating to sharing her creations with the world is one she is entirely ready for, with Body marking the perfect perpetuation of her incredible journey to date, as she concludes, “Writing Body was such a private experience but when I finished it I realised I just couldn’t leave it there. Almost like the song was saying “hey, I’ve turned into something so much bigger than just you! Release me!”. Playing early versions of it to friends, I realised very quickly that it took on a lot of varied meaning for different people. In that sense it feels like the song is already charting its own course in other lives beyond mine.”
Body is out today, Friday September 22.