Quick Spin: Noelle Scaggs of Fitz and the Tantrums

Fitz and the Tantrums

It’s one of those stories you tell about that favorite band, the one you saw years back, when they were just starting out. The moment you heard the notes and knew that this band was something, that this music was unlike anything you had heard before. You stopped whatever you were doing and stood there to listen, taking in the tune, finding the beat with your fingers.

For me, I first saw the band at the Taste of Beverly Hills. The inaugural event, now better known as Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival, took place in September of 2010, just a month after Fitz and the Tantrums had released their debut album, Pickin’ Up The Pieces. I was at an evening event, taking in all the Hollywood types mingling around me, when Fitz et al started to play on the main stage. Piling a few bites onto my plate, I wandered out of the big white tents to take in the show, a wine glass safely secured in my other hand, before taking a seat at one of the tableclothed tables set out behind rows of concert chairs. The soulful tunes pulled me in, with the stellar pipes of lead singer Michael Fitzgerald and his powerhouse vocalist sidekick, Noelle Scaggs, making unmistakable musical magic.

Now on the heels of their second album, More Than Just A Dream, it seems as though the band is everywhere these days, from Jimmy Kimmel to SXSW, opening for Bruno Mars and Dave Matthews later this summer and fall – and singer Noelle Scaggs couldn’t be happier. After cutting her teeth with acts like Mayer Hawthorne, Damian Marley, and the Black Eyed Peas, Scaggs is right at home being an integral part of the skyrocketing ensemble. “I’m pretty much living [the dream gig],” she explained to Daily Blender. “Every opportunity we have had with this band has been a dream come true.”

Q: Have you always wanted to be a vocalist?
A: I have been singing since I was 10 years old. I wasn’t focused in doing it professionally until college but I’ve always loved performing and song writing.

Q: When you’re touring, what are some of the cities you love to visit?
A: I really enjoy New York, Paris and Chicago. I have a lot of friends in each of those cities. As far as performing, though, I have to say Boston and Seattle are two of my favorite cities to play in. The crowds get loud and I love it!

Q: What’s a typical day for you when you’re out on the road?
A: Depending on how much time we have to cruise around, I really like looking for a great spot to eat and a cool place to shop.

Q: Tell me about the new album. How has the sound within the group evolved since the band’s debut?
A: We really pushed ourselves a lot on this album in making sure we didn’t create the same album twice. Fitz and I really wanted to bridge the gap between our live show and the album. We all spent a lot of time on the road together so I think our experiences with just traveling and performing and having all of these energetic moments with our fans really helped set the tone of where we wanted this album to go. We wanted it to be a record that connected with people in a joyful manner, musically and lyrically.

Q: When you’re writing, or even between gigs, who are you listening to for inspiration?
A: We all listen to a wide spectrum of music. I grew up with a lot of R&B, hip-hop and classic rock music, 80’s pop. This album is an amalgamation of those things. Fitz and the boys are all children of the 80’s and a lot of the musical elements on this album reflect that, from the usage of the vintage synths to rhythms, melodic structure of the songs.

Q: I’ve heard you’re the foodie in the group. What was a favorite meal you had recently?
A: I recently visited a new restaurant called Lafayette in NYC. It’s a French brassiere-inspired restaurant. I had the most amazing foie gras there – it was as good as the foie my friend’s Parisian grandmother makes. The food was divine!


~Jennifer Matthewson

*Photo credit: Fitz and the Tantrums

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