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Interview: Khiana Noel
[gallery type="slideshow" link="none" size="full" ids="151755"] What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today? Music started and stays as a way for me to express myself. It's always been the thing that helps me process and communicate best. I started writing songs super young, my mom has song books dating back to five years old. But I was scared to sing in front of people. I used to make them close their eyes and turn around. Then one day my sister posted a video of me singing to youtube (Don't search it, it's long gone lol) and it got around my high-school freshman year - that really propelled me to pursue it. What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity? I love to be in nature - hiking, camping, kayaking, anything attached to the earth helps me feel grounded. I also love working out with my trainer Lance, at Block Fitness Nashville. I find inspiration when I give my mind time to rest and explore life in other ways, whether that's being in nature, hanging with friends, or doing something fun with my dog Biscuit. I'm also big into video games, me and my roommate will gel out and play Halo for hours. How long has music been your career? I started taking trips to Nashville with my mom when I was fourteen - So I guess since then. But 2020 was the big professional leap for me when I quit my job(s) and started doing music full time. Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music? Nashville, TN. This city has CHANGED my life. I started out writing country music (I mean, it is Nashville) and started working with some really talented artists in that Genre. I met Marty Dodson, and Clay Mills, who run SongTownUSA, and they have been great mentors to me ever since. After a while of living here, I started expanding my genres and really felt at home in pop music. Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played. Performing for me has been.. a journey. I remember playing small local talent shows in Winston Salem, NC, where I would jokingly (kinda) make everyone turn around and close their eyes. It took, and still takes a lot for me to feel confident performing, because at my core I'm pretty introverted. But the best show I've ever played was a sold out show at The Listening Room - Everyone in the audience was so amazing, and I was really able to tell my truth through my music. I ended up connecting with amazing people who I still keep up with on socials, and they still support my music to this day. There's nothing better than that. Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already? I love playing really intimate venues like Bluebird Cafe, or The Listening Room - because at my core I'm a song-writer, and those settings really allow me to play the songs the way they were written, with all the raw emotion. But I'd love to be able to jam out and feel the energy of a room like Marathon Music Works, or even bigger. If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket? Julia Michaels or MGK. They're both artists I listen to a lot, and relate to in different ways. What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into music? Don't quit. I know everyone says that, but it's true. I remember hearing this advice when I first moved to Nashville and it really hit me - "It's not about who's the best, it's about who keeps going." If music is your passion, it's not a competition. There are music lovers EVERYWHERE and your stuff will hit someone the way mine can't, and visa versa. There's listeners for everyone's story. If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be? Don't be afraid to be honest. I think when I started writing, I was so caught up in making it "commercial" or "catchy" and I didn't dig deep into what makes the music me. Thank God for therapy, now I know what I want to say, and it matters less to me if it ends up on the radio and more that it reaches someone who needs it. Of your songs which one means the most to you and why? A song called "In God's Ears". I wrote it after my grandma passed away. I play it at every show in her honor - she was a performer herself, as a professional ballerina. It gives me a chance to give her one more stage every time I play it. Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most? That'd be a question for my best friend Kelli lol. She's always showing up at my shows and asks for certain songs. Space (a song I wrote but cut by the artist ACORN) is usually a go to request.
What is the creative process for you, and what inspires you to write your music?
I feel like there's so many answers to this. I get a lot of ideas out of nowhere - driving, in the shower, asleep, my phone is filled with half awake voice memos. I usually like to start with melody, because that's what always comes to me first. Then it's just about figuring out the best way to tell the story. A lot of it is "brain dump" where I write down anything and everything I'm thinking/feeling, and then I make it into lines that make sense in the song.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
I talk a lot about mental health struggles, love, heartbreak, all things I've experienced. Music is my therapy in a lot of ways. Some things are really hard to talk about - but I know if I feel it, I can't be the only one, and that's why I write.
Do you ever have disagreements when collaborating and how do you get past them?
Of course - A lot of the time I'm writing rooms with upwards of 5 people. That's a lot of brains thinking on one idea. I think the best way is to remember that the song is King. We're all trying to make it the best it can be - I always like to write in rooms where no idea is stupid, and everyone feels comfortable enough to share their ideas and thoughts. And the ego gets left at the door. My idea might not always be the best for the song, and the song is what matters. Collaborating takes a lot of trust and respect, and as long as everyone enters the room with love and the trust that the song will be the best it can be, no disagreement can't be solved.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
Release a ton of music, make new friends with the people that listen to it, and grow my outreach to those people. I want to genuinely connect with the people that listen to my music. I have a new song coming out soon (date TBD) and it's a really special one to me. I wrote and produced it, and got to collaborate with friend and musician Kaleb Kinyon on the drums. I'm really excited, it's a pop song with pop punk influences, which makes my heart so happy because I grew up listening to pop punk music. Social Media Links: https://www.instagram.com/khiananoel/?hl=en https://open.spotify.com/artist/699NZLpR4x2eOZbR0DOCp5