Noelle Scaggs owes Khloe Kardashian a big, thank-you muffin basket.
If it wasn’t for the dubious reality-TV star/authentic basketball wife/least-adored Kardashian sister ducking out of a multiple-sclerosis benefit that took place in Los Angeles a few weeks ago, Scaggs wouldn’t have gotten the pleasure of introducing special guest Stevie Wonder, which was originally Kardashian’s duty.
“Apparently, the event, I guess, was going on pretty late, and she had been up shooting all day,” remembers Scaggs, on the phone from LA, downplaying reports that Kardashian was in a “snotty” mood. “We were asked to introduce him shortly before we were going onstage. So, it was, you know, pretty much decided pretty early that we were going to do it.”
Nevertheless, being on the same stage with one of her idols was, as Scaggs puts it, wonderful. “We actually found out the day of the event that he was actually going to be performing there as the closer,” she says. “And to be asked to introduce him -- and, then, later end up singing with him as well – was just like a real treat to be able to kind of share that experience – then, tell my family about it.”
At 32, the Denver-born, LA-based Scaggs has been experiencing many noteworthy things, especially now that she’s a member of the LA rock/soul collective Fitz and the Tantrums. For three years, Scaggs has been the mighty-voiced co-captain of the outfit, sharing singing duties with lead vocalist/keyboardist Michael Fitzpatrick.
Scaggs came on board with an already heavy resume. She’s done time performing with other, LA-based soul bands, including The Rebirth and Connie Price & the Keystones, where she first met Tantrums horn man James King. “I came in after the first EP was done,” she remembers, referring to the band’s 2009 release, “Songs for a Breakup, Vol. 1.” “And, then, the rest was kind of all-collaborative songs that I was able to kind of work with Fitzpatrick and do the other vocal arranging for myself and, then, co-writing ‘Pickin’ Up the Pieces’ and all that.”
Ah, yes, “Pickin’ Up the Pieces” – the 2010 debut that introduced the band as riotous party starters who get offended if you just stand there when they’re playing. Scaggs’s raucous, tambourine-spanking stage presence, something she picked up from her days hanging out with rappers, certainly adds a lot to the party atmosphere. “I really put that into the way that I perform onstage, with being able to kind of hype up a crowd and, you know, not just be the singer that just stands around and just sings songs, but gets everybody involved and watching as well.”
The desire to sing came at a very young age for Scaggs. “I think my love for music – and, really, just kind of singing – came from me trying to, you know, get away from the bullies and my junior high school, really kind of accomplishing something for myself outside of, you know, what people were saying I could and could not do,” she says.
Scaggs says as she got to high school, her knack for making a joyful noise became highly respected, getting her into everything from talent shows to school assemblies. While she was at college, she briefly pursued a singing career. “A producer approached me about wanting to produce me,” she says, “and it ended up with me kind of being a solo artist for, like, a year or so.” Yet, after that year or so, she called it quits. “One, I was too young to do any of the gigs that would make you any money in LA, you know. I was barely even 21. And I just kind of stopped and just put my focus into studying. “
She didn’t sing for two, three years (“I didn’t tell anyone I could sing”), just hanging out with the aforementioned rappers and other musicians in the LA soul scene, learning from them how to be both a performer and a songwriter. “I think it really honed in my ability to kind of craft songs and write things that had a familiar spin to them,” she says.
Currently, Scaggs is too preoccupied with all things Fitz and the Tantrums-related – like finishing their upcoming second album -- to take another solo trip. She’s having too good a time getting with other musicians, whether it’s her fellow, soulful Angelenos or legends like Wonder, and performing some hellacious music. “I like people who are really able to kind of expand upon their music,” she says. “And I don’t know – I’ve kind of been given this gift and the way of being able to kind of fit into a lot of different pockets of music, you know.”