Interview : Talking to Americana Rising Star Noah Guthrie

Noah Guthrie is an Americana/Soul singer/songwriter, from South Carolina. Noah has one of those voices that you just want to hear all day, it is beautifully soulful and wonderfully soothing.

Noah found fame covering chart-topping hits on You Tube such as his own blues-filled version of LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It,” which, to date, has received over 25 million views.

Noah’s much loved and highly praised covers amongst other projects lead him to his pivotal role as Roderick Meeks on the hit TV show, Glee.

A master of covers, Noah is also a very talented songwriter and his music should not be overlooked. His singing and songwriting skills are where his true talents truly lie.

His new album The Valley is released Friday June 23rd and will be one I cannot wait to get my hands on. Noah has a gift for the written word, his lyrics are stunning, emotive and heart wrenchingly relatable.

He has opened concerts for Ed Sheeran, Neon Trees, Ben Rector, Cobra Starship, Matisyahu, Matt Nathanson and Selena Gomez.

I caught up with Noah to discuss his career from Glee to solo material, his European fans and his up amd coming album The Valley.

Enjoy!

Hannah Compton

Hi Noah, how are you?

I’m good. It’s nice to meet you.

You, too. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your musical background.

I am a singer-songwriter and I have been playing and writing music for seven or eight years professionally. It all kind of started in high school for me, by just doing a couple of videos on line and a couple of cover songs. That just grew into a good way to get my name out there and with a platform to build on, something kind of bloomed out of it. I try to keep going with it and try to focus on the original stuff as much as I can and getting it out there, because that’s kind of my passion.

Since the start, I have done the YouTube videos and I have done cool TV things here and there like Dancing With The Stars; I got a role on Glee and all sorts of stuff. It’s kind of been a crazy journey so far, but right now I am just focusing on music.

I believe you were discovered through your cover videos on YouTube and that your blues cover version of LMFAO’s Sexy And I Know It has had over 25 million views to date. That must feel quite amazing; did you ever expect it to get so many hits?

No, I really didn’t. When I posted the video it was kind of, I guess, a joke to myself – it wasn’t really even a joke, but just doing something kind of quirky that I was going to do. I had been doing a lot of videos for a while at that point and I think I was pretty far behind in putting something out, and I just needed something. I had been playing a blues riff and just started singing ‘Wiggle, wiggle, yeah!’ with it for some reason and thought it would be funny to do, so I recorded it, posted it and the next day it was blowing up. Now there is no way you can even prepare for that, it’s pretty weird.

Well clearly it worked. Was it that video that led to your role on Glee?

Yes and no. I would say just the stuff I had on YouTube in general probably helped. What happened really was that I got refereed to a casting agent on Glee by someone who had seen a show of mine. He knew one of the casting agents and they were talking to him about how they needed this certain person for a role they had been trying to cast for the last season and she said that she needed a shy, chubby kid with a soulful voice. I guess the guy that saw my concert said ‘Hey, I saw him last night. Here’s his number’, haha!

Oh, wow!

Yeah, very out of the blue. Then they called, and, after a little thought about it, I decided to audition for it and I was lucky enough to get the part. It’s weird how things come together.

It’s one of those programs that is one of a kind, and Important to people, especially of a younger generation. How did it feel to be part of something that you know helps a lot of young people? Do you think that the show gave fans not just the opportunity to discover music of all genres, but the opportunity to heal through those discoveries, through the music itself – the music fans and, of course, the Glee fans.

Yeah, I think that when I first got to do Glee. I knew it was a big step and a big deal but until the first episode aired, it almost didn’t feel like a real thing. I would just show up and go through these scenes every day and do what I did, but it didn’t hit me until the first episode was on TV. So, after the first episode went on, all of us new guys got so much reaction from social media and fan mail and things like that, just saying how much they loved the new characters and how they related to them.

Every now and then you would hear someone say “You really helped me through this part of my life.” It’s something that is always weird but very humbling and just an experience that you really can’t describe to someone, you know? Until it happens – and it happens to everyone on certain levels- when someone says, “This got me through a hard time, this music helped me out.” It creates a really cool connection which you then form with that person.

I always say music is a healer.

Yeah, absolutely!
Has the Americana sound always been the direction you wanted to go into musically?

I think as far as where I am right now, I have kind of found my fit in this ‘Americana almost Country sometimes’ sound. I kind of really solidified that in the last couple of years. I have been very influenced by Americana and Country and Folk. I have also always had that soulful undertone to my voice. Growing up, I was listening to classic rock and old soul guys and all sorts of different music and a lot of r and b when I was a kid too. But I have always had a little bit of soul, and when I just sit down to write, it tends to be more Americana-Folk-Country realm. I like it; it’s a cool genre to be in.

You are set to release your sophomore album in June, which I am really excited about. It’s actually been three years since you released your last album. Can you tell us a little bit about it? Would you say you have changed or grown as an artist since the last record?

Oh yeah, yeah – definitely. I think this next album is more me than the first record, not that I don’t like the first record but this next one is a little more personal in some songs – and I think the sound overall is kinda more where I feel at home. But I think if I was just going to sum up this next album, I would say it’s just another snap shot of me in my career and in my music and my journey, as cheesy as that sounds, ha! Who knows how I will change in the future, but now this is the kind of music I love making.

This one is also a little more personal to me because my older brother and I self-produced this record and it’s all us. That makes it more personal – but more scary too, because everything that you hear is all our decisions. It’s something we are very proud of.

You should be.

How would you describe yourself as a songwriter?

I think it can vary but ultimately, I guess I am more of a story teller – if not a story teller just kind of, and it sounds weird to say, but more of an emotional interpreter when it comes to songwriting.

Oh, I like that!

Well, I work very much off my own feelings because sometimes the story isn’t all there until the whole song is written. I can have like an overall mood that I’m in, or that I’ve felt or there could just be any number of topics, but it’s mainly always going to be about feelings. I have to be in a certain vibe when I start writing – it’s way less hippy than it sounds, ha – but I just kind of have to be in the mood. So it starts with a mood and I kind of craft a story from there, but I can still put myself in the story-teller category.

I really like that, emotional interpreter, that’s a great way to describe it.

My overall goal for my songs and my performances is that I want to make people feel things, whatever that may be – I just want people to feel the songs and the music. I think there is a lot of stuff out there right now that isn’t necessarily about feelings, and that’s fine, but I really enjoy feeling music and that’s probably why I listen to so much sad music, haha!

I am the same. It’s funny how music that’s sad can at the same time be uplifting in a way, just because it is relatable and makes you feel less alone with what you are feeling – and Country and Americana is definitely the right genre for that.

Yeah, I think so.


Your new album is called The Valley and you have a pledge in place – looks like you have met the target, congratulations on that.

Yeah, thank you so much.

You’re welcome. Tell us why these pledges are so important, because many artists do them now. I guess it’s also a good way to show people just how much hard work goes into making an album.

Yeah, it does. I think crowd sourcing is something that is a crazy thing that has come along recently and I am always looking for ways to avoid it, because you never want to seem like you’re hurting. When you do it, it’s not because you are hurting but there’s a lot of time and man power and money to making a record, especially if you are wanting to mass produce it, and really get it distributed to the right channels. It just takes a lot of effort and I think crowd sourcing makes us find a way – instead of just going out there and asking for money you are really more connecting with your fans on a different level. You get a good idea of where your support comes from and who will stick with you. I am so blessed with such amazing fans so far and they have always been loyal and really great. They have always supported me, so the pledge campaign went about as perfect as I wanted it to.

They are great, as they give fans the opportunity to purchase some wonderful and rare items as well. It’s a brilliant idea.

Tell me about the singles Love You Now and Pardon Me? What are the stories behind the songs? How do you decide to release a song as a single?

I think as far as how we decide to do a single , once we had done the record, we go through it and kind of see what feels right – for some reason you can just figure out what a single would feel like.

Love You Now is more about a dullness that has come up in a relationship and you’re trying to revitalise and rekindle that flame and bring the relationship back to where you thought it would be – or maybe where it was at the beginning of it.

Pardon Me is like the exact opposite. It’s kind of told from the perspective of someone who had pretty much lost everything in love and given all of themselves to another person and it’s basically about it being over – and did anything matter?

Again, I like sad music, haha!

You have a video for Pardon Me. Do you have a lot of involvement in your videos and how was the video shot? It looked cold. Was it your dog in the video?

No it isn’t, ha! I am still trying to figure out the best course of action when it comes to planning music videos – it seems like such an overwhelming task to do and you really have to find the right people. You have to know when it’s not your forte and I went into that music video with an overall feeling and a mood of how I wanted it to look and feel. I found a guy called Brayden Heath out of Nashville and his brother, Boston Heath – he’s the guy in the video. They were like a dynamic duo and I had seen some of his work and just thought we could work well together. Once we got to the storyboard status we just went back and forth, tweaking things here and there and just sort of figured things out. I’m happy with it; I think it turned out nice.

Oh yeah, it’s beautifully shot – a lovely video, very cinematic and interesting – and I wanted to watch it all, but it did look cold.

Yeah it was cold, haha! It was definitely cold!

You toured Europe in April. How was the experience, and how do you find European audiences in comparison to US ones?

Oh, my gosh! I absolutely love them. Oh, yeah, we love European audiences. I think that was my third or fourth time in Europe. Germany is one country that is always really, really great to us and so is the Netherlands. I haven’t done the UK as much as I want to, but I am hoping that will change.

Good, good!

The European audiences are just fantastic! Not only do we have a good fan base but they are so quiet and listen so well. There are certain similarities with American audiences but really it seems like such a difference because, a lot of American concerts will be in a bar or some kind of louder setting. It’s not that people in America aren’t listening to you but it’s just harder to get that whole ‘listening room’ feel unless its set up that way from the get go. But man, Europe – it’s like that at every single show. It doesn’t matter what room it is , it could be a full loud bar, but everyone gets up and listens, which is really cool.

We are very attentive.

Yes it’s fantastic and unique. Every musician I have run into who has played Europe says, ‘Man, they’re so awesome,’ and I am like ‘Yeah, they are, haha!’ I love Europe and should be getting back soon – actually In August.

As well as doing your tour, and I have to ask you about this for my own personal geekiness, you took part in a Glee convention in London with Starfury Conventions. Now I used to go to Starfury Conventions all the time about ten years ago and they are, in my experience, the best run conventions, the most fun and most intimate. How was that experience for you – and how is (event organiser) Sean Harry?

Oh wow! Oh man, haha! It was good – and he was good. It was a fun time – I had never done one before. I had a very warm welcome and met lots of people; Sean was great and very accommodating.

I miss those conventions dearly and glad you got to be a part of it.

Oh, me too, it was so much fun.

Well, thank you so much for talking to me today. It’s been an absolute pleasure and I cannot wait for your album and will also hopefully get to see you live soon. I’m really hoping you will get to be at the C2C Festival

Thank you so much, thanks for the conversation.

http://www.noahguthrie.com

@only1noah

https://www.facebook.com/only1noah/

The Valley by Noah Guthrie
https://itun.es/gb/GJT7ib

https://www.amazon.com/Valley-Noah-Guthrie/dp/B06XXQNXVZ

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Valley-Noah-Guthrie/dp/B06Y2LJRWF

 

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