Catching Up With Noelle Scaggs From Fitz & the Tantrums
There’s no shortage of band’s seeking inspiration in the stacks of vinyl records released by Motown and Stax. Retro will always have a certain charm to it but the best bands use that inspiration to create a new sound. Fitz & the Tantrums have proven over two records that the music they love can be taken in fresh new directions. The band’s sweat drenched live shows and relentless touring schedule have earned them an army of fans from young indie hipsters to veteran soul and R&B fans who see the authenticity in the band’s music. Recently, I caught up with singer and songwriter Noelle Scaggs to discuss the band’s new record, life on the road, and her career in music.
The new album expands the band’s sonic horizons without completely losing it’s pop-soul roots. When you began writing the record, was there a conscious decision to expand the sound?
Yes, we really wanted to take a portion of the sound that we initially started with on the first LP, and bridge the gap of our live show. We didn’t want to create a carbon copy of the first record, and wanted to really challenge ourselves. This records creation was quite different from the first in that we didn’t really have the chance to play the songs from Pickin’ Up The Pieces live before the songs were recorded. When we were writing and recording More Than Just A Dream, we had nearly 3 1/2 years of touring under our belt so the energy of our live performances and the interactions with our fans were really fresh in our minds. When Fitz and I were coming up with the lyrics and melodies of the songs we naturally began creating elements that could work well in a live setting, as far as calls and responses abd big choruses that you could hear translating through an arena sung back at you from the audience. We really wanted this record to be a fun album that showed our growth as a band and as artists.
You’ve had the opportunity to work with a long list of artists outside of Fitz & the Tantrums. Is there one recording project that stands out as truly special?
I really have enjoyed working with all the artists that I have had the honor of collaborating with, but I have to say I was really geeked out on working with LL Cool J. I mean can I say more than that? It’s LL!
The band seems to have been touring non-stop for the last few years. How do you keep each show fresh as a band?
I think we allow ourselves the space to just give ourselves to our fans, we feed off their energy, we really try and create an environment that allows people to just lose themselves for a couple hours, to enjoy the songs. I’m not sure if we go in thinking we have to do something different every time, but we really push each other, we work off one another. I believe this is the only way any band on stage can stay fresh beyond changing up the set or adding more songs every now and again. It is a natural progression.
What has been the most memorable gig as a band?
For myself it was the first time we played in front of more than 10 thousand people at our first Lollapalooza. We were on the main stage playing just before C-Lo and Eminem. We had so many fans there who knew our music, it was pretty amazing.
Your Facebook page has maintained an organic, fun vibe as the band continues to grow. How involved are you with social media and staying in touch with the fans?
We honestly are completely involved in the social media realm of our interactions with fans, from our instagram posts to our twitter accounts etc., Fitz and I are constantly moderating our fan pages, it becomes a bit hard to respond to every comment etc, but we try and give our fans a peek into our lives as much as we can. I have to say our social media outlets have been an integral part of our success as a band in obtaining the fans that we have, we have some die hards!
Growing up, who were your earliest influences and who are some of your current favorites?
I grew up with everything from The Temptations, Teena Marie, Aretha, James Taylor to Tupac and Tribe Called Quest. Some of my current favorites are Yelle, Disclosure, and Leanne La Havas.