Interview and Article by Bre Cura
Photos by Doug Vasko
With a certain way of capturing feelings that are impossible to put into words, Noah Kahan’s songwriting method drips with truth and emotional vulnerability. The anxieties that so many of us hide are never easy to discuss, and yet they are so poetically humanized in pieces like ‘Cynic’ and ‘Young Blood’. Noah’s insightful outlook on life is infectious, and his desire to share his innermost struggles allows for a perfect translation of private thought to spoken words.
We asked Noah if he ever thought there was too much an artist could share, or rather if he saw a benefit in keeping some of the themes in his songs vague. He responded, “I personally believe there is a way to be interpretive while also being as vulnerable as possible, or as vulnerable as I’d like to be. Vulnerability and emotional honesty is important because I believe, that at our core, human beings share many similar feelings and emotions. From my personal experience, hearing an artist say something that I felt only I was experiencing, or that I thought I was alone in has often times been the only thing to pull me out of that loneliness. It’s that shared connection of experience that truly makes music great to me, and I think being too vague doesn’t always provide that for a listener. That being said, all great music is up for interpretation. There is a balance to be struck between specific and nonspecific, and it is the job of a great songwriter to distinguish it.”
Noah told us how his songwriting, specifically on his new album Busyhead, has impacted his own understanding of life’s struggles. He said, “In many ways I believe the songs I wrote for Busyhead have allowed me to see my problems and my anxieties for what they really are: problems. For so long I have carried these issues around like they are part of the fabric of my soul and spirit, or some fundamental flaw that I’ll never be able to vanquish, that when I finally saw them, on paper, and saw the connection so many people have had to them, they have lost some of that gravity. It’s been a very therapeutic thing.” Saying, “They’ve carried me through it all,” Noah looks to artists like Bon Iver, Mt. Joy and Gregory Alan Isakov for his musical inspiration. We also asked Noah if any songs were hard to write because of their depth. He said, “‘Carlo’s Song’ was painful for me to write. I was in great pain when I wrote it, and I am in great pain when I play it. It’s just hard to always revisit that experience, albeit it very important. It’s my greatest joy to be able to memorialize my buddy with that tune. ‘Cynic’ was also difficult for me to write, because the anxieties illustrated in that song are very specific to my career, and I was hoping not to alienate anyone.” Being open to sharing your fears with the world is a feat in itself, and going on to sing them in a room of strangers is what we believe to be peak artistry.
Noah has set out on his first headlining tour this fall, the Busyhead Tour, spanning over 25 cities across North America, and continuing on in a select few cities in Europe. We asked Noah how this touring experience has been different now that he is headlining, and if there were any added pressures. Noah said, “Headlining has been a dream. Just seeing the tangible result of hours and hours of bullshit hard work has been so rewarding. My fans are everything to me, and I’ll remember this tour the rest of my life. I actually don’t feel any pressure at all. These people are here to see me and I’m here to see them, easy as that.” We also wanted to know if there were any songs he was excited to play this tour, to which he said, “I love playing “False Confidence” because the folks seem to go nuts for that one. I also love playing “Young Blood.”
If you haven’t already bought tickets to The Busyhead Tour, there is nothing we encourage more. For tickets, you can click here.