NoMBe has an eclectic source of inspiration. Lyrically, the German born artist draws heavily from the relationships he has with influential women in his life. Meanwhile, his sound palette combines elements of indie-electronica and soul with a strong prominence of electric guitar. With his forthcoming album They Might Have Even Loved Me on the way, NoMBe’s unique musicality is positioning him as an icon in the making.
When it comes to songwriting, do you write in the heat of the moment or is your music more of a reflection on past experiences?
Good question. I’d say it’s a bit of both each time. I write and produce music impulsively, but then I tell stories that reach pretty far back. Women have been a big source of my inspiration and this album is a lot like a diary in that way.
What do the ladies think about you writing songs about them?
I’m not sure, it depends on what song and what lady. My mother was extremely flattered to have a song dedicated to her. On the other hand ‘Freak Like Me’ almost didn’t come out because of how strongly my girl felt that people would judge her. Then of course there are those songs which only I know who they’re about. ‘Wait’ was a song where a lady found out the day of the release and literally didn’t know what to say.
I’ve noticed a lot of your songs are driven heavily by electric guitar. Do you usually start with a guitar and then build the track from there?
Yes, a lot of the time actually. I also usually have unfinished production bits laying around and will come back to the guitar once I’m happy with the arrangement. The good stuff comes to me while practicing though. I’ve been writing on piano a lot lately too.
You classify your music as ‘electric soul’. Are there any particular artists that influence your sound?
I love a great song and would say I have different influences for different aspects of the process. For writing, I’ve been obsessed with Bill Withers, Frank Ocean, Feist, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Bon Iver, or even Tarantino’s style of writing dialogue. It all depends on what genre I’m writing in [and the] mood. Producers I’ve always looked up to are Daft Punk, Quantic, Quincy Jones, Pete Rock, Damon Albarn, George Martin, Paul Epworth, The Neptunes, but also Flying Lotus, Chaz Bundick, Kevin Parker. I like to imagine that when I hear something I love, it gets saved in my head and I often come back to that when the time is right. Like having a colour palette of sorts. A sound palette.
You were hit up by Pharrell to come up with an original score for his HBO series Outpost. How was that?
Wild. I mean I’ve been pretty close with his partner Scott Vener from their Beats1 radio show ‘OtherTone’, and it was one of those situations where I was too afraid of ‘jinxing’ it. I’ve been working in the sync and scoring world enough to know that until you see music and picture align, nothing’s set in stone. But once it was confirmed, I felt a great sense of accomplishment. It was unreal, like “Wow, I guess this is happening. I guess I’m a professional?”.
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Are there any other artists you’d like to collaborate with in the future?
Yes definitely. I’m really into the Australian band scene actually. So many cool vibes. King Gizzard, UMO, Tame Impala obviously. I’ve just been immersed in psych-rock in general. Then there are people like Damon Albarn or Paul Epworth who are like idols to me. Singers like Andreya Triana, Moses Sumney, Gabriel Garcon-Montano, Noname, Sonder, or this new kid J.I.D. I would love to get Chance The Rapper on a couple new songs I’m working on.
Do you have any plans to come out to Australia to showcase your forthcoming album They Might Have Even Loved Me?
Australia has been top of my list as far as travel destinations go. I might be coming out there in a month to shoot a surf video and hopefully I can play some shows for you very soon.
‘Upfront’ is a series of interviews with interesting people. Read more here.