If you run into Noe Carmichael between nine in the morning and five at night, you’ll see a businesswoman. Perhaps you’ll notice her long and colorful nails, but in quick passing you will likely chalk such highlights up to the quirks of an edgy young corporate professional.
Beneath that daytime facade, though, quirky doesn’t even start to cover what is happening beneath the surface.
After business hours, it’s a different tune and story for Carmichael. Step into her realm, and you’ll be squarely in the intergalactic presence of Saucy Lady, a seasoned Boston DJ and self-proclaimed space goddess of funk. For starters, she will probably be wearing a blue wig.
Carmichael has performed around the Hub as Saucy Lady for a decade, the whole time building up a reputation as the orchestrator of irresistible disco and funk sets, but also as a figure of outrageous fashion and outspoken personality. Drawing inspiration from the nightclub scenes of yore mixed with her love of disco, jazz, and r&b, she sets the mood with humor, flash, and sky-high platform boots.
At the same time, behind the glitz and glamour Carmichael is known for, there are lots of other moving parts. Her background is rooted in stylistic juxtaposition; cross-cultural, multimedia-inclined, campy, and classically trained, Saucy Lady is an exercise in balance.
Having come of age in Yokohama, Japan, Carmichael says that she had access to multiple different cultures. Raised on Grace Jones, Sun Ra, and the free jazz that her parents played for her, inspiration came from many corners. After moving to the Hub for college, Carmichael recalls being struck by the physical space of America, and has since made it her mission to fill up as much of it as possible with cosmic grooves.
“Boston is a transient city,” she says. “People don’t stick around. A lot of them don’t appreciate this place.”
Carmichael has collaborated with a diverse roster of artists and labels—in the latter category, her tracks have been pressed by the likes of Dopeness Galore, Street Muzik, Kadokawa, Midnight Riot, Soul Clap Records, and her own label, Audio Chemists Recordings. But despite her international roots and overseas performances—her cuts with the Boston hip-hop group Hybrid Thoughts, for one, have caught fire in Asia—as an artist Saucy Lady feels an obligation to develop and grow in and with the Boston scene. Through countless sets, hours spent hunting for sounds in dollar bins at record stores, and in excess of 60 singles, more than a few of which have come out as limited edition collectible vinyl releases, she’s made this her musical homebase since her 2011 debut, the fittingly titled Diversify.
“I just really want people to learn good shit,” she says, noting that her goal behind the decks is to bring attention back to DJs and disco with an inventive sound. She continues, “That’s my job.”
Fast-forward eight years and through innumerable shows and tracks, and Carmichael is now back on her full-length grind with a sophomore effort, Supanova, which drops on April 16. Packed with intergalactic synths, jazz, funk, and local artist features, it’s both a concept album and a sensory experience.
“It’s not just auditory,” she says. “It should be felt and heard and experienced. It’s all combined for me.”
Leveraging everything from ’80s comics to the cosmos, Carmichael cracks open a new groove fit for 2019, but that also pays homage to the concepts that have motivated her up to this point. Visually, she had animator Steven E. Gordon, a past contributor to X-Men, Avengers, and the ’80s cult favorite Jem handle the artwork, making for a stunning multidimensional plot line.
“I feel there are so many sensations and sounds from my childhood that have been lost,” she explains. “All the plastic and glitter and over-the-top music production—it was all so new then, and we’ve forgotten them. I want to bring back that feeling.”
With confidence, sensuality, and just a touch of silliness, Carmichael aims to keep on fanning funky flames, all for the betterment of Boston.
“I’m just tapping into the charisma and fearlessness that’s inside all women,” she says. “Every lady has some sauce in them.”