Until now The Beach Boys and Katy Perry have had the last word when it comes to catchy hooks about the cutest girls in the world (not to toot my own horn). But when NoMBe, also known as Noah McBeth, released his single "California Girls" his lyrics exposed the wild side to the lovers of the sunshine, amiss beats worthy of navigating throughout your eardrums. The track begins like any summer fling, effortless and steamy before the tempo picks up and shit hits the fan. As McBeth chants "take it off" the story has unraveled to be the tale of a girl addicted to a lifestyle that will never sustain her. We talked to McBeth (born and raised in Heidelberg, Germany) about what sustains him and his journey with music that has landed him in Southern, California with a viral track– soon to reach 1 million plays on Spotify alone. Stay tuned for his EP Mood Indigo slated for release later this year.
OC Weekly (Taylor Morgan): What did you grow up listening to?
NoMBe: I listened to a lot of commercial hip-hop, Wu Tang and Eminem. With my Dad I listened to a lot of Michael Jackson. I also remember waking up to my grandparents cooking and playing Bach, we listened to a lot of classical music together and that's definitely influenced my music.
What other jobs have you had to supplement your artistry?
I started working at 14, as a barista, at a café. I was getting paid 5 euro's an hour and my colleagues would talk about me behind my back. It was awful but I was proud to be working and making my own money so I rolled with that for awhile. My second job was working at a little movie theatre as a projectionist. I loved the experience, when the lights dimmed, the soundtrack, the whole vibe. I felt like Brad Pitt in Fight Club.
Were you pursuing music at that point?
Yeah! When I wasn't at school or at work I was making music. I started producing hip-hop and making instrumental beats. That's the first thing I was infatuated with. When I was 14 my Dad got me a limited, student, edition Cubase, which is a program common in Germany. My best friend was the only person I knew who had actually put out a song and was a rapper. He explained how everything worked. How to record, program, sample, he taught me about file formats. I then figured out what certain sounds do to each other when they are layered. Ironically [the same friend] gave me his mic almost 10 years ago, when he stopped making music. That is the mic that I recorded "California Girls" with and when I was finished recording that song the mic broke. We talked a few weeks ago when I released the single and he said 'remember when we were hanging in the basement as little kids rapping?'. I owe him a lot.
What's the recording process like for you?
I like to program drums pretty early in the process. Once the drums are tight I get inspired to write more melody. Lyrics usually come later. The only ritual I have, between balancing tracks, is watching stand up comedy clips.
What do you watch?
Oh man, everything! Louis CK, George Carlin, Chris D'Elia, Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, Richard Pryor. I thought about becoming a comic for a long time. I still think about that actually. I write sketches but I've never had the confidence to step on stage to tell my jokes. I guess people feel that way about music. They want to learn how to play the guitar but get intimidated by the overall idea so they don't do anything. But music for me is an obsession.
So you need music?
If I don't make music I get depressed and I start to feel like I have no purpose. It's not even a choice at that point. There's also the fact that I love listening to music and I love creating. I want to be part of the population of musicians so that I can make people feel good with my art. I also come from a family of musicians. My Dad and I have a bond over music and he's very proud that I'm a musician, that reinforces what I'm doing even more. So everything in my life revolves around music now.
How did moving to LA in 2013 influence your music?
It was really in LA where I started recording guitar and singing. My Mom was the one that encouraged me to do so. I released Change of Hearts (his first EP) in 2014 and have continued writing and recording vocals. I began writing "California Girls" one night when my girlfriend was asleep in the studio. I came up with "She loves the sunlight" and the rift, it felt really good. I didn't know what it was about then but it became a story of a girl that ditches a guy that cares about her for the quote unquote California lifestyle. Matt Cohen, they call him Bongoboy, did the videography for the track [released just last week]. I had this idea of it being like the movie Kids.