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Indie Artist No/Me Talks Music, Societal pressures, and the Challenge of Being Consistent Online Today

No/Me is an LA-based Israeli-American artist who writes indie pop music with a gritty sound. While her music is dark, off the stage and out of the studio No/Me is a bright and enthusiastic person. When I spoke with her, each answer was completely candid and felt completely genuine. Her vibrant, sharp, and humor-filled answers  emphasizes the meaning of her single “Consistent”: whether you like her or not, her honest personality is a constant, and she’s not willing to forfeit it for anyone.

 

What has your overall experience been like in America versus Israel, and has this impacted your sound at all?

I grew up in America, so if anything, it’s like Israeli music influenced my sound because I grew up listening to Israeli music while in America, and then when I go back to Israel it’s like I get inundated with Israeli music and I’ll go to concerts all the time, because the live musicianship there is much more communal in sense. Rather than here, in a rock band that’s a four-piece band, they’ll have like eight players on stage. So it’s really inspiring to just see the textures and the type of melodies that coincide together, so that influenced my music a lot because I try to integrate counter melodies in all of my songs. So you’ll hear the top line, you’ll hear my vocals and my melodies and what I’m singing, but underneath you’ll hear these really cool, different melodies that I grew up listening to in Israeli music.

 

Has living in LA made your use of Middle Eastern percussion and Israeli concert structure stronger?

Oh definitely. It’s kind of like a candy that you really want, and because you don’t have access to it, it makes you want it more. So because I’m so far away from that music when I hear it now, it gets me more excited. Where as I love rock music, and I’m surrounded by alternative and rock music, that I mostly listen to, but the second I hear a Middle Eastern melody or instrument I get really excited. And because of that I have my brother playing darbuka, which is an Israeli hand drum, to kind of add that spice in my music and my sound.

 

What’s it like making music with your brother? Is it ever difficult balancing that sibling dynamic?

It’s a little bit weird, because I look up to him. And the way that we do it is, once I’ve finished most of the production on a song and almost everything is done, we bring him in and have him add the drums to it. So, it’s kind of scary opening my songs up to him first, of all people. Because, ya know, my lyrics are very personal and honest. And he sometimes doesn’t know certain things about my life until he hears the song. So that can be a little bit nerve wracking and awkward, but it’s worth it to have him on the songs.

 

Is it ever daunting or scary for you to have to bare your soul through your music to crowds of people, or is it more difficult with that personal connection to your brother?

It’s more difficult with the personal connection to my brother, for sure. But I think sometimes it’s not daunting in much in public, it’s just… I typically I write when I’m feeling something very strongly. So let’s say someone cheats on me – in that moment I want to kill them, but of course I’m not going to kill anybody. But I will write about how I want to kill them, and I have a song coming out on my EP where I talk about using a steak knife. Now, I would never actually do that – but I sing about it. So when I’m on stage it’s interesting to see the lense that people view me through. Because afterwards it feels like they see me as this kind of psychotic girl, which I’m sure I have a little of that in me. But at the end of the day, I’m a really nice girl. It’s funny and odd to see the way that people view me after shows, because I promise I don’t kill people.

 

By creating that character and that scary sound, does it make it easier for you to perform behind the mask?

Well the thing is it’s not really a fake character. I write when I feel very deeply, and I’m incredibly sensitive. The smallest thing can hurt me a lot. But bigger things can really just pierce me. So when I’m writing, the words are coming from a very real place. So what I have to do before I get on stage and before I sing any of my songs, I just have to really put myself right back in that moment where I felt something so strongly that I had to write about it. That helps me really deliver the message across as though I’m singing it for the first time – because I feel everything again when I’m on stage.

 

What sparked your need to write “Consistent”? Was there a particular instance?

Well, I think it was about more than just a dating site, I think it was more about social media in general. So I think we put this mask on. Whether it’s on dating sites, or it’s on Instagram – we’re kind of just like Oh my God I’m amazing! Life is perfect! I go hiking every day and make açaí bowls!” Which I actually do, and really enjoy – but, that’s not who I am. I also… get upset pretty easily. As I said, I’m really sensitive. I mean, I struggle with anxiety. But the thing that I was trying to convey with consistent is yes I’m flawed, and yes I can be f****d up, but at least I’m showing who I am. And I don’t want the lense of social media to just be the way people see me. So I really make an effort to make my music reflect who I actually am. So I’m consistently pretty down on myself the whole time, in all the verses. I mean I seem like I’m neurotic, and my family thinks I’m crazy – but you know what that’s fine, and that’s who I am, and I’m not going to pretend to be someone else.

You raised money during the 2016 election, has politics and today’s political climate impacted your craft at all?

Hell yes! To be totally honest, I have a lot of anxiety surrounding President Trump, and I usually start most of my days watching The Daily Show with Trevor Noah because I like to get a handful of the news, but in a funny way so I don’t get… well so it doesn’t make me really sad to watch the news. Yeah, so you’re not totally let down by the world! It’s like funny, ya know? But so anyways, when I’m in the studio oftentimes I end up writing about him. There are a few songs that I have that haven’t come out yet, that are about Trump, but… I try to make it more of a global issue. I have a song called “Pass me the knife and I’ll eat you alive” and for me it’s a song about people, and especially women, who don’t have as much representation in America and around the world. So it’s about how if we take power, we’re going to be so much stronger than you. And I think that we’re finally taking that power, and I think that it’s my job as an artist to stand up for women, and stand up for people who don’t have a voice. Because otherwise, why would I do this? You know, I have this platform for a reason, so I have to use it. Otherwise it’s a waste of a platform… I mean I have a stage, I need to say something. I need to have a message.

 

So Israel has been in the news a lot, and in all of your bios and socials it lists you as distinctly Israeli-American. Have you faced any difficulty because of Israel being under the spotlight, and people having such strong opinions on it?

I haven’t really. I’ve received a few messages of people asking me if I’m Israeli. Which sometimes confuses me, only because I’m very vocal about being Israeli? Typically I’m not afraid to answer any message that I receive, because I think that important to be honest and have communication with fans, especially because I’m a new artist and I’m just cultivating a support system. But when I get messages like that I’m a little bit confused, because it feels a little instagative. So I try not to think much about that. And if someone wants to have an open conversation with me, and wants to message me and see what I think, as long as they start on an open page I’m happy to share my thoughts on the topic. But I haven’t faced anything negative actually. It’s a lot like the American government right now – just because President Trump is our president, doesn’t mean we agree with what he says. And Israel on the news has a lot to do with feeding Netanyahu, and just because he’s the prime minister doesn’t mean that Israelis agree with him.

 

Finally, if you had one final message for the people, especially girls, listening to your music, what would it be?

Honestly, You’re a boss-a*s  b***h! And try to remember that every day, we get down on ourselves for the smallest things – for a f***ing pimple, nobody cares about your pimple but you! And it’s taken me so many years to realize that. Like I’ve only started going out in public without makeup and without a bra, and I’m in my twenties – I should have been doing that earlier. But because of the patriarchy and because of advertisements, I feel like I need to be this perfect thing, but you can be perfect without having to present a face that isn’t yours. Do whatever makes you happy.

Featured image via No/Me’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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