Tour break chat with Noah Kahan
22-year old singer/songwriter Noah Kahan is currently touring North America as a headliner to promote his new album, Busyhead. With over 200 million global streams to date, Noah has become one of the most buzzworthy artists you should watch out for.
On September 27, Noah Kahan performed at Variety Playhouse in Atlanta, Georgia. Artist JP Saxe kicked off the show as Kahan's supporting act. Fans of these two acts claim it was "the best night of live music they'd ever experienced."
Dark Matter had the pleasure of conducting an interview with artist Noah Kahan. Our questions are in bold. Here is how it went down:
While I was doing some digging, I happened to come across this article that claimed you started writing music at eight years old. That is pretty impressive, tell us a bit more about that!
I started writing songs when I was eight. They were all terrible, and uniquely depressing. I performed my lead single “Wednesdays Are The Worst Days Of My Life” at my 5th grade talent show, and was forced into mandatory therapy by the school administrators.
At what point in your career did you decide you wanted to pursue music for the rest of your life?
I’ve known since I was young enough to understand the idea of “career” that I wanted to be a musician. There was never any other option, or any plan B. Music is all I was willing to fight for. So thank god it’s worked out so far.
Which artists could you say have inspired your style? Any favorites?
I’m constantly inspired by other artists, but some have been more impactful on my choices as a singer and as a songwriter. Vocally, I’m very inspired by Ben Howard, Hozier, and Bon Iver. In terms of my songwriting, I find a lot of inspiration in storytelling. Gregory Alan Isakov, Neil Young, Cat Stevens, and Paul Simon in particular.
When do you feel the most creative?
I feel the most creative in the morning time, in the moments after being outside in nature, and after any kind of emotional catharsis, because letting go of mental stress and tension can allow for clarity and total honesty.
What does a regular day in Noah Kahan's life look like? Paint us a picture!
Ok here’s the picture. I think it’s going to be familiar. I wake up, stare at my phone, eventually get out of bed, and subsequently shower. After the shower, I usually like to brush my teeth. Not a huge breakfast guy, so I usually just skip that step and return to staring at my phone, comparing myself to other people and effectively ruining my mood for the next, let’s say, 12 hours. Rinse and repeat baby.
As of now, what has been the most memorable moment in your career?
I’d say the most memorable moment of my career so far has been doing late night television. It’s such a scary undertaking. After finishing Colbert, I was just so hyped on myself.
Any special or crazy fan encounter?
One time, this girl in Europe gave me a piece of her hair in an envelope. It was super fucking creepy. That was the only time I’ve ever felt a little creeped out. Otherwise I am consistently flattered by my fans, who are all wonderfully loyal and fantastic individuals in their own right.
Tell us a bit more how "Busyhead" came about. Walk us through the process.
Busyhead was a collection of stories about my life in the last 5 years. I have been on a strange and overwhelming journey since signing a record deal, and I wanted to document that journey every step of the way. Eventually each of these stories began to fit into the larger narrative.
How has tour life treated you so far? Did you do anything special to prepare for it?
I’ve tried super hard to stay healthy on tour this time around. It’s a scary thing to feel sick in front of 1,000 people, so I’ve been doing my best to eat well, work out, think positively, and sleep as much as I can. Tour life is overwhelming but mostly fantastic.
Any goals for the upcoming year? Or special projects you can tell us about?
I’d like to release more music I’m proud of and continue to have people give some sort of shit about me.
Last but not least, If you had the power to change anything about the music industry, what would it be?
Great question. There’s so many things that could be done better. I think the biggest issue is the lack of common ground between artists and executives. The artist has everything to lose. I think if these folks stepped into the lives of touring musicians they would treat them with more compassion and understand the mental illness, self destruction, and anxiety that runs rabid among artists on the road. The fact that touring for 8 months (plus or minus) a year is compulsory to success for an artist is a dangerous precedent. I would make sure artists had better access to music industry specific mental health counseling. I really could have used it starting out. Instead I felt like I was ungrateful or selfish for thinking anything other than “This is my dream, how can I complain about it?” The truth was, many of us are young people willing to do whatever it takes to live this life, sometimes at the cost of our own. We need a dialogue between those higher up making these decisions and the artists living at the cost of those decisions.
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Catch Noah on tour:
Oct. 7 – Washington, DC // 9:30 Club Oct. 8 – Philadelphia, PA // Union Transfer Oct. 10 – South Burlington, VT // Higher Ground Oct. 12 – Montreal, QC // Corona Theatre Oct. 13 – Toronto, ON // The Danforth Music Hall Oct. 15 – Detroit, MI // Majestic Theatre Oct. 17 – Madison, WI // Majestic Theatre Oct. 18 – Minneapolis, MN // First Avenue Oct. 19 – Chicago, IL // House of Blues Oct. 22 – Englewood, CO // The Gothic Theatre Oct. 25 – Portland, OR // Wonder Ballroom Oct. 26 – Vancouver, BC // The Commodore Ballroom Oct. 27 – Seattle, WA // Neumos Oct. 30 – San Francisco, CA // August Hall Nov. 1 – Los Angeles, CA // The Fonda Theatre Nov. 2 – San Diego, CA // House of Blues