This local artist’s searing new song is infused with intimate strength and self-reclamation.
Isla Noon’s latest single “Body” is supercharged with her signature lyricism, commanding hooks and accompanied by a triumphant and full-bodied music video shot at Karaka’s abandoned asylum. She has aestheticism, creative direction, and artistry on par with the biggest superstars of the moment, all exploding out from Tāmaki and her indie label Bigpop Studios.
Speaking on her decision to study rather than jump straight into the industry she mentioned the want to grow up a little, to have a ‘university experience: “I was 17 when I finished high school and I graduated at 20—a little more grown up, certainly a more capable musician, and had a community of creatives around me all moving into the industry at the same time. For me, uni and the time it gave me to grow and build community was the right move.
School provided this great structure to life, like a roadmap that showed me I was on the right path. I cheered my friends on as they entered graduate programmes or internships, these well-laid roads in other industries. The music industry has no clear path, and it’s easy to feel like you’re failing when the journey is longer than others’. I also didn’t have anyone giving me an ‘A’ for working on my material, or taking jobs to cover expenses while I invested in my music.
I had to learn how to truly back myself and the time I needed to reach my goals. I also had to have a big face-off with my inner critic—a voice that came in handy when I had essays to edit, but hindered my ability to chill the heck out and enjoy making music after I graduated.”
Any advice for young/student artists?
“Hold on to the sense of play you had when you were young and started doing music for fun . It can be really hard when you feel like you have to constantly be making your best work yet. I like to try other creative mediums sometimes, to be a beginner again and remember how to mess around with creativity that has no end goal or intended audience. And then I try to give myself the grace to have that same sense of play in my music work.”
‘Body’ is your first single since 2021—how have you grown in the years since your last single was released, and was there an intention behind this single being your ‘return’?
“I’ve been through a lot of crazy events in the last two years. Like Truman show level of “wait, is this really happening right now? . I’ve grown immensely through it, and “Body” is a very intentional return to mark that. I’ve had to dig up the scariest fears and feelings in the last few years and face them head on. It captures the vulnerability but also the confidence that I have moved into and will continue to explore with the music to come.”
Tell us about the music video concept—what drew you to filming it at Kingseat Psychiatric Hospital?
“I always knew that I wanted to give the psychological concept in the song a physical presence in the video, but I had no idea how perfectly that would manifest when we got the opportunity to scope out the location. In the video, the building represents a headspace, a place where I am alone with myself but not feeling safe. The camera is a reflection, something I grapple with throughout the video and try to outrun. In the end, I choose to turn back to myself rather than run away anymore, my way of saying that it’s worth putting the work in to build a healthier relationship with yourself.”
So What can we expect from the upcoming album?
“‘Body’ is a good representation! Big synths, big feelings, in the realm of alt-pop, attention to lyricism and double meanings. There’s an overarching concept, and I’m really excited to unveil more of that over the coming months.”