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An Interview with Noah Kahan – Touring, Trials, & Tribulations

Noah Kahan is a musician hailing from Vermont who has rapidly found success. Noah’s song “Mess”  has reached millions of streams on Spotify and climbed through charts. “Hurt Somebody” was an instant hit, going triple platinum in Australia and gold in Canada, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, Switzerland, and New Zealand as the third most played song in Australia in 2018. Noah has not only toured multiple times, but he has also released many hits, music videos, and collaborations. As Noah prepares for his upcoming headlining tour this fall, I got the chance to interview him and learn more about his music, mental health, and message.

 

You’ve previously toured with other artists, do you anticipate a big difference in touring as a headliner?

I cannot wait to be headlining this fall. Opening is fantastic because you’re able to get yourself in front of a bigger audience, but you run the risk of having folks who don’t necessarily want to hear your set. Headlining, on the other hand, is unique because each person there wants to see YOU. Their attention and enthusiasm are focused directly on you, and with that, you share an intimate connection. Headlining is every artist’s dream.

Do you think that your album will differ greatly from your previous releases? How so?

My album continues the story that my singles have been telling for the past few years, I think. The songs are vignettes into my life as a person going through massive change, both in my surroundings and in my understanding of the world I live in. The songs all follow a lyrical and musical through-line that I want to become a signature of sorts.

Noah’s album cover courtesy of Republic Records

You’ve worked with Quinn XCII who is a rapper, which is a different genre than your own, what was working with an artist from such a different genre like?

Working with Quinn was a highlight of my life so far, I’ve looked up to him and his music for so long, so it was a dream come true to be able to actually collaborate with him. It was easily the best collaborative experience I’ve had to date.

Who are your main musical influences?

I grew up listening to music on my mom’s iPod. She listened to so many great artists, people like Paul Simon and Cat Stevens, and bands like the Bright Eyes and Counting Crows. All artists that tell a beautiful story with vocals and lyrics leading the charge. As I expanded beyond the limits of my mom’s iPod classic, I started to listen to artists like Bon Iver, Gregory Alan Isakov, and Sufjan Stevens, all of whom I fell in love with. I feel like their songs are all small pieces of my soul. Their ability to express varying emotion through their lyrics and melodies continues to inspire me.

You’ve had so many hits recently, do you feel any pressure to keep this up?

I put a ton of pressure on myself. Honestly, it’s usually an unhealthy and unnecessary amount of pressure for someone to be under, but this is what I signed up for. I try to write about whatever I’m feeling, and I always try to be honest with myself in my songwriting, so I have a constant source of creativity. I’ve had to learn, though, that great songs don’t come whenever you call them, but when you least expect them. With that in mind, I’m constantly writing and creating and hoping the next one is a big one. Hopefully, some more coming soon.

Did your time in Costa Rica have any influence on your sound/music?

I was able to see a part of the world that doesn’t necessarily have the means and access that folks in America do. I was able to get a perspective on how lucky and privileged I have been in my life, and my time there taught me to take nothing for granted.

You’ve been somewhat open about your mental health, do you think it’s important to do this?

Yes, it’s the most important thing anybody with a platform can do. Spreading awareness about societal issues is a responsibility for those who have people who will listen. If we don’t, who will?

What is the main thing you are trying to express to your listeners through your music?

I’m trying to tell folks they aren’t alone in what they feel, whether it’s in their heads or their hearts.

 

You can see Noah on tour this fall, and listen to his latest album out June 14, 2019, on all streaming platforms.

 

Featured image via Noah’s team at Republic Records.

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Written By

Helen Ehrlich is a writer who enjoys politics, activism and charity work, music, and all things literary. She lives in America where she attends school.

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