“I could see her body hair in the photo and as a young 13-year-old girl, that meant so much to me. I just thought it looked so sexy and so right, it’s so freeing for a young girl to see that.”
Angie Hart is talking about a musical mentor who came along at a formative time in her life. One whose impact was immediate and powerful.
Hart says Neneh Cherry and her song ‘Buffalo Stance’ delivered in one fell swoop a taste of what was possible. An idea of an attitude that embraced both strength and vulnerability, staying true to yourself without foregoing all the fun of striking a pose.
“I was very much a big hip hop fan, which was very male dominated,” she says. “I’m not a hip hop artist, I’m a melodic being and I write about my feelings, that’s what I do. I feel like Neneh Cherry straddled those worlds because she’s very personal, and political and definitely a hip hop artist at the same time and she had this great swagger.
“At that time for myself, I didn’t really know how to shape what was going on inside and how to take that on the outside. I was afraid of certain aspects of myself, and also wanting to protect certain aspects of myself so I spent a lot of time dressing as a boy. I really needed that suit of armour.
Neneh Cherry put it all out there, she was protected, she was tough, she was also soft and vulnerable. To me that was untouchable but also really accessible.”
You’d think if you got the chance to meet someone who had such a significant impact on your life, you’d jump at the chance to talk to them, right? Not quite so for Angie Hart.
Her band Frente’s recorded their second album in Spain with producer Cameron McVey, known for his work with Massive Attack and Portishead, as well as Hart’s idol, Neneh Cherry, to whom he’s also married.
Basically, if I really admire someone, I will not talk to them under any circumstances.Angie Hart
Cherry would come in and out of the studio, but, sadly, contact wasn’t on the cards due to a celebrity snubbing habit that Angie wryly admits to.
“Basically, if I really admire someone, I will not talk to them under any circumstances,” she says.
"That could be the worst possible thing in the world. The next worst possible thing in the world is to completely ignore them, which I did to Neneh Cherry!”
Over her decades of making music, Angie has been keen to present a true sense of herself and her experiences and that includes not hiding her Australian accent. There was a lesson she gleaned from Neneh Cherry’s playful vocal delivery.
“She has a few different heritage lines running through her blood and we’re all so particular about whether people keep their accent or not,” Harts says.
“She’s very slippery about her accent and I really like that. It’s very hard to do that in an authentic manner. It sounds very true to me when she plays around with all the different places she’s lived. She lived in Sweden, she lived in the UK and the US and she has all those different accents in her songs. They are all stances, and she definitely postures and you don’t really see that in female artists.”
Hear more about the song that changed it all for Angie Hart on Don't Look Back.