Leah Nobel discusses her new EP, Music Licensing and making the move from Austin to Nashville.
Following a successful year including “Ride The Butterfly” taking first place in the Pop category of the 2014 Indie International Songwriting Competition as well as “How To Behave” being featured in The Girls Guide To Depravity on Cinemax, Arizona native, Leah Nobel decided to double down releasing two EP’s in one year following a successful Kickstarter campaign.
The first, Strangers Again, with its melancholy vibe is familiar territory while the recent release Just Like Sunday has more of a summer time feel that also features some stretching stylistically for Leah.
Leah just recently moved to Nashville after spending several years in Austin. This isn’t her first experience with Nashville, Leah started making the trek here in 2009 working with Producer Mark Prentiss and they have worked on three projects over the last few years.
Leah began work with Austin area Producer Keith Gary earlier this year and completed both projects before making the move to Nashville to focus on a more dynamic methodology to get her music out there. The music business infrastructure is what sets Nashville apart and gives Artists like Leah the opportunity to be more collaborative musically and in presentation.
The first single being released is “You Got Me So Good” which adds a new texture to her repertoire with its retro Soul ala Amy Winehouse Back To Black girl group vibe meets Tracy Nelson (Mother Earth) vocals.
Brad Hardisty / The Nashville Bridge: How was the gig the other night at The Basement?
Leah Nobel: It was great. We had a pretty good turnout that night.
Was it a Songwriter Round style show?
It wasn’t a Songwriter’s Round. There were five of us that played on Sunday so we did about a 35-45 minute set and it was great. It was really great.
Did you preview some of the new material that came out?
Yeah, so , Sunday was the start of my national release of my new EP that came out the 15th. We played a lot of stuff off of that record. I don’t know if you’re familiar with what I did this year but I released two EP’s six months apart.
I saw that you had a good Kickstarter campaign and you are working with the same Producer?
Yeah, I worked with the same Producer. We played a little bit of both the first EP and the second as well.
I did read that 2014 was a successful year. I guess you decided to crank it up and put out some material.
Yeah, well it was really time to make a new record but I decided I didn’t really want to do it in a conventional way. I sort of made some observations of how the music industry is changing and the way people consume music is changing. I wanted to do this double project so that I could do two separate projects with two different flavors and have them both come out in a year. It is kind of nice to have the time between because it kind of keeps people engaged now.
The two EP’s; are they thematically totally different or musically?
Yeah, thematically they are totally different. The idea was to showcase two different styles of writing that I like to do which is I love to write sad music, you know, more melancholy songs so the first EP that came out, Strangers Again was my melancholy piece. The second [Just Like Sunday] EP, which came out last week is a super light, upbeat, sweet, Pop album. Definitely, there is a thread of continuity between them. You can tell that they are part of a project but, thematically you have the dark and the light.
Okay, so Strangers Again is kind of an introspective piece whereas Just Like Sunday is more of a go-to “summertime” music style.
It’s called Just Like Sunday because I just felt like these songs were songs that reminded me of the weekend or reminded me of music that I listen to on Sunday when I’m just kind of hanging out or cleaning my house. The second record was designed to be simply sort of fun and sweet.
Tell me a little bit about your Producer?
His name is Keith Gary [Mike Meadow, VELO, Ray LaMontagne, Coldplay]. He produced both records and he is based out of Austin, Texas.
Ok, so you’re based out of Nashville as far as living, but you’re still tied to Austin as far as production?
Sort of, the first couple of projects that I did, I actually did in Nashville. But, at the time I wasn’t living here. I have spent the past four years in Austin so I recorded the new projects in Austin, I moved here [Nashville, Germantown area] in May so, I have only been here for a couple of months. Maybe my ties will be different, now that I won’t be living there or working there. But, I do love the city [Austin] it treated me right,
I was going to say from some of the reviews I’ve seen, you’ve got a lot of support in Austin. They still see you as a hometown person.
Definitely, yeah. I moved there for four years. I just recently moved to Nashville so, Nashville isn’t quite my home yet. Not yet, at least.
You’ve moved around some, where did you start performing?
I’m from Arizona so that’s where I started performing.
You got involved in a Café scene. You’ve talked about a couple of artists that you were into in California. How did that get things kicked off for you?
I started listening to music when I was a teenager kind of falling into that café scene. I didn’t discover them from going and seeing shows. I did through the internet and at that time I had just begun to write music and I didn’t really know what I was doing, where I wanted to head, sort of stylistically. I was definitely really inspired by artists like The Weepies and artists like Joshua Raven and Ingrid Michaelson and people like that.
What affected you the most as far as inspiration or your sound when you were living in Austin for four years?
Yeah, well Austin is an amazing city, it’s got a really good edge. It’s got an eclectic group of people that live there. I think that during that time that I lived there, I grew a lot as a person and as an artist because there are so many amazing artists in Austin and they are very diverse stylistically. I had, just like, a lot of friends there who I played music with and went to their shows and what they were doing would have crept into my psyche and my ideas of recording and what I wanted to do with my music. It was just really cool to be surrounded by all those incredible Musicians and Artists. The cool thing about Austin is it’s a mixed bag because Austin is a really great place to play music and enjoy music and there are so many positive people there.
So, now you are in Nashville. You can have your choice of publicists, getting your media out there and getting tours lined up. How do you find Nashville to be for you? How do you like it here?
Courtesy Leah Nobel
So far, so good. I mean, I’m from Arizona, originally, and living in Austin has some Southern influence to it but, Nashville feels very different, culturally, to me. I’ve never lived in the South, so, it’s beautiful but, it also has been an adjustment. So far, it seems really good. I have been getting involved in doing a lot of songwriting as far as licensing purposes for other people and there is really just a good creative energy here. There are a lot of people that are really working hard and it is really good to be around because it is motivating. Everybody has been really supportive too. I don’t play Country Music. I would classify my music as sort of Folk Pop. People have been really receptive to it, which is really great. I wasn’t sure, although, Nashville is expanding in terms of the genres that it supports. I wasn’t sure how my music was going to translate here and, so far, it has been really great.
Who do you work with here in town?
Well, I’ve been kind of travelling a lot and I recently moved here. The show at The Basement was actually my first show in Nashville. So, I don’t have yet a repertoire of people that I am performing with. I’m sort of in a state right where I am just trying to meet and network with as many people as possible so I can find my home, people to work with and people to play with.
What’s the first song that you are pushing off the new album?
It’s called “You Got Me` So Good.” It’s kind of a breezy Motown influenced track and it kind of turned into the perfect slow dancing song which is, kind of, something I really like. I’m really proud of that song.
You had a mini tour planned that kind of fell through so, what are your future plans?
We were supposed to go out with Eric Hutchinson and he was on tour with Kelly Clarkson and she ended up cancelling the rest of her tour because she was sick or she had vocal cord issues so, that tour ended up falling through which was a really big bummer. We don’t have anything concrete that we have announced yet. I’m really focusing on writing for licensing and getting involved with pitching my music and writing for television and film. That’s definitely a big thing that we’re focusing on right now, for sure. Also, we are starting to crack into the College scene. I graduated in 2010 but, it still feels like a pretty great place for my music. So, we are kind of figuring out how we want to approach that this year. Unfortunately, I don’t have any official dates that I can announce yet..
It sounds like you are getting a foundation going.
That’s what I’m working on. You know, you have to rebuild when you move to a new city personally and also musically, I left my band and I left my fan base and everything in Austin so I have this wonderful new band here which has been great and like I said, I have just been focusing my energy on networking and writing and meeting people and kind of find my own base here.
I think you’ll enjoy it here.
Courtesy Leah Nobel
It’s been really good, so far. I can feel it growing and changing more. I’m living in Germantown and things are getting built every day around me with new construction projects.
- Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN