INTERVIEW: Electric Soul Artist NoMBe Talks Authenticity, Feminism, and Social Media
    • THURSDAY, MARCH 22, 2018

    • Posted by: Piera Lolandes

    [Photo Credit: Jack McKain]

    Noah McBeth, aka NoMBe, has been making quite a name for himself lately. If you're not familiar with him or his electrifying, soulful sounds, we are here to help you out. He is a German singer, writer, producer, and composer based in Los Angeles. He is set to release his debut album, They Might've Even Loved Me, tomorrow on March 23rd, but that doesn't mean his creative output up until now has been slim. He's actually been releasing a single each month for the past year, which means you can hear most of the songs right now.

    If you are familiar with NoMBe and his music, it's probably because you've heard some of his songs in shows like Ballers and Outpost. Yup, Pharrell Williams himself picked his single "Can't Catch Me" as the title track for his HBO series. That alone is pretty impressive - I mean, if Pharrell likes it, it has to be good, right? NoMBe has racked up a total of 120 million streams and counting and, fun fact, his godmother is Chaka Khan and he has an all female band.

    In anticipation of his forthcoming album, we recently sat down with the artist to talk all about it. He shared his songwriting process, what he hopes listeners take away from him music, and a ton of other interesting facts. Read the interview in full below and get ready for They Might've Even Loved Me out everywhere tomorrow.

    PIERA LOLANDES: Are you feeling better? I saw that you were a little sick...

    NOMBE: Yeah, I'm still under the weather. Just taking it easy, you know. Luckily I work from home so it's no biggie.

    PL: Cool. So you've said before that your music is kind of electric soul. Do you ever find yourself branching out from that, maybe sometime in the future?

    N: Yeah well, you know, I came from hip-hop and sampling a lot of jazz, funk and stuff, and the rock thing came a lot later. I still don't really see myself as just rock or a guitar player... I always kind of consider myself as open. So electric soul is just the umbrella that everything I do lives under. Whether it becomes more house or it becomes more indie.

    PL: Where are you when you're writing a song? How does a song usually come together?

    N: Every song is really different. I do try to make the song special and make it something that can live just very stripped down and something that I can play with guitar or on piano. But I am a producer first and that's where I have fun with it and try to find a home for the song. That being said, there's no method to the madness. Sometimes I'll have a lyric, other times I'll have a track or I'll just have great guitar chords and that inspires the song. Or just a personal story that I have to talk about and get off my chest. It's kind of the wild west when I'm writing.

    PL: Today is International Women's Day and funnily enough, I heard that you've let the women in your life inspire your new record.

    N: Yeah, absolutely. It's all stories of different circumstances, situations, and relationships with women. And I always correct people, I tell them it's not a feminist album, it's not like every song is this super political angle. It's more stories about my mom or stories about exes or a girlfriend or a hookup or a friend. It's all these personal stories of the last couple of years that made up the album. It was actually very unintentional. I was just writing and writing and then I played it for my manager, two years ago at this point, and he just looked up and he was like: "You realize the whole.. every song you've written in the last month is about a woman." And I was like, "Oh, really?! I didn't even notice that!"

    PL: Really!

    N: [Laughs] Yeah because, you know, it was never a "thing" for me. But then again, I am a feminist and I am very conscious so I dedicate the album to all women, as a matter of fact. And I have a large female audience so it makes sense, especially in current times to showcase that with my art and band and everything.

    PL: How do you take someone telling you that they think your album is fully feminist?

    N: The truth is, it's just a brutally honest album. It's almost like a diary. That actually describes it better than anything else. There are stories about high school crushes or girls I was madly in love with. Girls whose hearts I may have broken and I don't think that on the album I always come out as the good guy or like I have all the answers. It's just stories, you know. Stories that are meant to inspire people and be interesting wrapped in music.

    PL: And I know you said you're a producer and you've let your manager listen to your album, is there anyone else in particular you go to for advice when working on a song? Do you let people listen to any music before it's complete?

    N: Well, it depends. I have certain people for certain parts of the process and there are people whose help I may need finishing a lyric. I'll send them a: "Hey, what do you think? I just can't seem to finish the second verse" or whatever. Obviously the team gives feedback on finished songs and we all kind of input our two cents whether it's like label, management, and A&R. And then obviously my parents, they get to hear everything. It's all across the board, it depends on what stage the song is in but I'm generally pretty open to feedback.

    PL: Now that you mention your parents, were they both a big influence on you growing up? What do they have to say about your chosen career path?

    N: They're my biggest fans. They were obviously there from day one [laughs], I've been very blessed. My mom noticed how musical I was very early. She encouraged my grandparents to give me a chance with piano lessons and all that. My dad was in the industry so he was always skeptical at first. He wanted me to do something a little bit more safe because he just knew how tough the business could be but he's an artist and when he realized that I was very serious about this and realized that there are actually good songs, he's been nothing but supportive. Early on when I was in high school he was like: "I really don't care about your grades, you're really good on piano" and that's kind of the dynamic our relationship has had.

    PL: So with this album you released a song a month, what inspired you to do that?

    N: It was a couple of things. In the process of writing and producing the record we ended up with a bunch of songs that all felt like singles that all kind of had their own name and genre. It wasn't very cohesive, you know, in a cool way. One day we were just like: "What if we did one song a month for a whole year and just put them out and let the fans decide what single they gravitate towards?" and it made a lot of sense. It was very stressful but I'm glad we went through with it. Everybody got to hear the palette and now they'll get a few more extra songs that they haven't heard with the release. I'm really, really excited.

    PL: That's a good way to keep your fans engaged.

    N: Yeah, totally. I've always wanted to be an album artist that has a body of work, but people's attention spans are so short nowadays that if you drop something, they're really not going to pay attention to 15 songs.

    PL: You just played the Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival last Saturday, how was it?

    N: It was great, it's a great festival and it's only their second or third year, I believe. They did a great job, the production is really great, and they treated us well. Unfortunately I didn't get to spend too much time there. We had a set flight right after to San Diego for another music festival called CRSSD. But I hope I'll be back there in the next couple of years and play another set. The crowd was amazing, just a lot of energy. A lot of friends went up from Miami, - I actually went to Miami Dade for music business but dropped out after two semesters - but I still have a lot of friends in Florida and it was great to play with some familiar faces in the crowd.

    PL: Tour is coming up, do you write while you travel?

    N: Yeah, I do voice memos a lot actually. I'll just spitball, I'll sing melodies, and like, snap my fingers. Sometimes I'll play some guitar or piano chords and then I'll go back home and write into that. But it's hard to split your brain between live and recording. They're two pretty different processes.

    PL: What is one thing you cannot go on tour without? Can't be your phone.

    N: You said it can't be my phone?! Hmm it's tricky, it's tricky.. I would say I really, really could not do without my survival kit that has vitamins and everything. It holds my toothbrush to lotions and bandaids. I think every musician on tour has a kit like that. That's really important. If I forget that at a venue or show I would have to go out and buy all those things again.

    PL: And you're very active on social media. How do you feel about sharing certain aspects of your life through platforms like Instagram?

    N: Yeah, it depends. I mean, I share a lot. I give a lot as far as my process goes and certain situations but I am less inclined to share family things. I don't post many personal, personal pictures. If I do live stories, people ask me a lot of questions and I like to answer them. I also try to respond to all the DM's even when people are asking me about how to do something production wise or how a program works. I like helping people get their start and stuff. So I'm not very secretive in general, I think.

    PL: So you enjoy helping others that look up to you and your sound?

    N: Definitely. I remember I had to learn most things myself and I enjoyed being on my own in that way sometimes, but I could've saved so much time if there would have been things like Youtube tutorials that would explain how to make a track or explain how to mix. But when I started there weren't things like that. I wish even Instagram would've been a thing for me back then and just hit up an artist and ask questions, so I just try to make myself available in that type of way now.

    I did a session the other day with an artist that I really respect and so I was looking forward to it. In the session they told me that they had been listening to me since high school and I was like: "Wow, that's crazy!" They made me feel really old! I'm only 27 but at the same time I thought that's really interesting, and now I'm listening to their music. So there's no point in having secrets about how you make your art or anything like that.

    PL: Touching on the subject of age, your lyrics sometimes can make you seem older than you actually are. Has it been easy finding the words to explain your life experiences and then put them into songs?

    N: I don't think it's easy for anybody, to be honest. Writing a great song is work. For some people it's easy to write a song but I think the really good lyrics come from writing a lot or just having a lot of experiences. Part of that is also looking for it in weird places. I like watching movies and I pay attention to the dialogue in them and literature and the way things are written. Just the art of getting a point across is what ultimately makes a great song. I'm a fan of classic songwriters but I'm also a fan of Migos. There are times when they say something and no one else can say it that way and it just works. Honest stories, you know. I wanna tell something that gives you an inside on the person that I am. That's what I like listening to, authentic music and for people to feel that, whatever it is.

    PL: And with the release of this album, is there anything else we should know before listening to it?

    N: It was four years in the making and some people find it interesting that I wrote, produced, and mixed the whole album. Which was a lot of work. It was a difficult process but I'm glad it's all done and coming out. I hope people like it.

    They Might've Even Loved Me is out everywhere via TH3RD BRAIN tomorrow, March 23rd.
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