Noa May‘s music has a way of crawling into the back of your mind and staying there for months at a time. While her first single “Play Me” was a gloriously tense and moody affair it’s follow up “The War Is Over” represents the flipside of her talents; deceptively upbeat while discussing an issue that is clearly important to her. Both tracks were taken from her excellent debut album “New Born Beast” which was one of my biggest surprises in the past year.
While she is working on her follow up release we caught up with Noa to discuss PJ Harvey, her passion for Arak and bringing back Nina Simone:
Cougar Microbes: What time did you wake up today? Was it out of choice or necessity?
Noa May: I’m ashamed to say I woke up at 4pm today because I am still a little
CM: Describe your music to the uninitiated?
NM: I’m both passionate and neurotic with a dark sense of humour and I think this is reflected in my music. I guess the over all sound would be loosely named alternative but I’m not sure that label applies to everything I do.
CM: How have you been killing time on the road when on the, hobbies?
NM: On the road I seem to be unable to leave the “real” world behind and I binge on political commentators and economy sections. I do have a passion for Arak, an unsweetened anise-flavoured distilled alcoholic drink that is popular in the middle east.
CM: What have been your favourite venues to play? Any Venues you hated?
NM: I loved playing at the Radio EPGB in Tel Aviv, it has the perfect balance between chaos and intimacy and I can’t wait to return there later this year. Thankfully I haven’t had any bad experiences with venues yet, hopefully that won’t change.
CM: Is there a song you are simply sick of playing?
NM: Some of my older materials have gone through a ton of modifications for precisely this reason. I just think it’s a natural process every musician goes through, a certain point you just have to let go and move forward
CM: What is the songwriting process like for you. Are you able to write on the road or do you do this in your off time?
NM: Inspiration comes at very random times: in the shower or at dinner with my parents, just before falling asleep I’m often hit with a blast of ideas and I have to force myself to get up and write them down or they will be lost forever. Often these are my best materials so I don’t want to lose them
CM: Favourite track of yours and why?
NM: I have a special connection with my first single “Play Me” because it always brings me back to the first time I wrote it and also the first time I played it in front of an audience.
CM: If you could record any cover what would it be?
NM: I have already recorded a few covers including the Pixies and Gil Scott-Heron , I love paying tribute. Next, I would love to do a PJ Harvey track because I love and respect her so much but at the same time, now that I think of it, that may be really daunting! I adore her never ending creativity and would want to do it justice
CM: Do your songs go through many revisions via demo recordings?
NM: There isn’t too much tinkering once the track has a shape, even my vocal take are often the first ones. I love that initial rush and am wary of overdoing it so these early deliveries always strike me as the strongest
CM: What came first, the lyrics or the melody?What are your views on auto tune?
NM: Good question, its probably 50/50 for me. Recently i’ve been working with other musicians and I had the pleasure of focussing on the impact of my words much more.
CM: Any other band/bands from your local scene we really should know about?
NM: I recently heard a musician called Noga Erez and I find her so refreshing. She has some amazing songs
CM: Most flattering thing you’ve read about yourself?
NM: I loved getting featured by Tom Robinson of BBC 6 in his Fresh Faves batch. They said I write ” prettily-accented ditties, this one in particular hits the spot” which was very flattering.
CM: What was the first record/tape/cd you ever bought?
NM: It was ‘Nevermind’ by Nirvana. I was on vacation with my parents and we bought some cassette tapes for the journey. Instead we ended up listening to ‘Nevermind‘ on repeat.
CM: What was the last song that got stuck in your head?
NM: While answering these questions Alicia Keys’ New York track came on the radio and it’s been stuck in my head for the last hour, good timing.
CM: What was the last show you paid and queued up for?
NM: I saw both Julian Casablancas and Son Lux recently and both were inspiring in different ways. I wish I could have seen The Strokes in their prime but this was a decent replacement
CM: If you had to bring on artist back from the dead in exchange for sending a living artist down ,which artists would it be and why?
NM: I would definitely bring Nina Simone back in a blink, she still had so much to give and her presence in todays musical landscape is really missed. If you had to twist my arm I would take away Bieber, nothing against the kid but I’m sure even he would agree Nina‘s contribution is far more essential