According to Upstate New Yorker-turned-Bostonian Noah Whiteside, “the truth is in the music.”
His brand-new LP, Songs From the Basement of Your Heart, greeted the world on September 24th. The record is a collection of 10 songs full of textured sound and heavy production, yet at the same time containing incredibly personal, heartfelt lyrics. Inspired by the relationship and mental health troubles that many twenty-somethings know all too well, Whiteside sought refuge in the studio and crafted songs out of his own heartbreak.
Whiteside initially found his footing in the Boston punk scene, yet also takes a great amount of inspiration from the iconic artists of the 60, 70s, and 80s. He says, “It’s probably odd that that list of influences inspired this new electronic record I’m releasing but I think inspiration can be found in all types of music.”
We had the pleasure of speaking to Whiteside and learning more about his many musical inspirations, his songwriting process, and what his next steps as an artist are.
Being a Berklee graduate, one could assume that you know your way around a piece of music. When did you first become interested in pursuing music as a career?
That is a bold assumption (haha). I first got into music in elementary school when I first heard artists like Counting Crows, Green Day and Neil Young, but I didn’t seriously want to make it a career until I was introduced to the likes of The Beatles and Elton John. The whole ‘Artist’ thing really appealed to me because they weren’t just getting up there, doing their tunes and going home, they lived that artist in all facets of their lives, and that really appealed to me and sparked my songwriting journey.
How would you describe the sound and style of Noah Whiteside?
I would boil my sound/style down to pop songwriting with electronic arrangements. All of my songs are written on the acoustic guitar before I even play a key on a synthesizer. If a song doesn’t sound good on an acoustic guitar around the campfire is it really a good song?
Was your musical style influenced by any artists in particular?
My style is influenced by a wide array of artists. Having already mentioned the fab four and Sir Elton, bands like The Rolling Stones, The Ramones, Oasis, Blur, Gary Newman, Kraftwerk, The Smiths, Sting, Joy Division, New Order and a lot of 80’s top 40 artists really helped shape this new frontier of electronic pop that I’ve been traveling on. At heart I’m a punk kid who came up listening to bands like Bad Religion, NOFX and The Clash, but I’ve found ways to bring all of my influences together in a way that (hopefully) makes sense.
So, we were hoping you could talk about your new album, Songs From the Basement of Your Heart. What’s the inspiration behind the record?
This record was written and recorded in the eye of a hurricane that consisted of a breakup and general mental health/life issues. I had just turned 25 and everything was kind of crashing down all around me and I sought shelter in my home studio away from all the noise, and nine months later, this collection of songs was born. The record has a lot of dark textures and tones to it that perfectly express my headspace at the time of writing.
This record consists of 10 deeply personal and vulnerable songs. How do you know when you have a quality song ready to be cut and distributed?
The most important lesson I’ve learned as an artist is to know when a song is done. I’ve been guilty of editing and mixing songs till the point where they sound like pure nonsense, so I’m very careful of when to draw that line. If a song sounds good, then it is good, and vice versa. That’s my ruling on this matter.
What does your songwriting process look like?
I write a lot of my songs while out on walks. Walking around the city with my headphones in, I tend to come up with melodies and lyrics that I record into my phone then take back to the studio to build on them. Noel Gallagher said ..”great songs fall out of the sky, you just have to be there to catch them or Bono will..” and it’s 100% true. I don’t sit around banging my head on the wall trying to write a tune. You can’t force the process.
What does success as a musician and songwriter mean to you?
Success as a musician and songwriter to me is being able to communicate my thoughts and ideas to listeners and have them identify with it. Someone saying, “hey that one song, I really liked that, it helped me out” or something like that, that’s the real success. It’s not impossible to make a living being a musician/songwriter, the challenge is being consistent and honest with your audience.
Moving forward with 2022 just on the horizon, what might fans expect next from you?
After the promo rollout for this record is completed, I’m going to retreat back to my apartment and record another record. I try to write a song a day no matter the quality to keep the gears turning, so hopefully over the winter I’ll be able to construct an EP or even another LP. I’m also toying with the idea of taking the songs out of the apartment and playing some shows so if anyone reading this knows any musicians that are up for the challenge, drop a line. Haha.