Soulful and self-aware singer/songwriter, Noah Gundersen, has consistently pulled at his roots to deliver an impeccable array of enigmatic artistry that encapsulates listeners into a realm of sensuality and profound vulnerability. Displaying his trademark charismatic passion and charm throughout his latest release, ‘White Noise’, the mysterious vocalist has created a heart-on-sleeve classic that is packed full of sentimental lyricism. I caught up with Noah to discuss bringing ‘White Noise’ to life, getting a portrait tattoo of Marlon Brando, growing up in Washington, and more.
Congrats on the recent release of ‘White Noise’. From my perception, a lot of your songwriting is poetically rich. Have you been writing for quite some time? What authors or books have influenced your songwriting style?
As a kid and in particular while I was learning to play guitar, I spent a lot of time alone in my room every single day. I read a lot of Charles Bukowski growing up. Writing has always been a way to express things that I didn’t feel like I could express within day to day life with my peers.
Yes. I felt the Bukowski influence because throughout tracks such as “Dry Year”, “Cocaine, Sex and Alcohol” and “The Sound”, it seems as though you are battling something personal as I sense your vulnerability throughout.
Yeah. Songwriting has always been a personal thing when it comes from a place that I don’t fully understand, but it’s funneled through my vision of the world and my experience of the world.
Interesting. Tell us about the intention behind ‘White Noise’.
I had reached a point within my solo work where I was unhappy with the kind of music that I was making. Therefore, I canceled some touring and ended up bunkering down to write a record that I felt that I could be proud of, which took a good part of the summer of 2016. I got up every day and wrote tunes that I finally started to be happy with. I wanted to say something about my view of the cultural climate and also things about technology, social media, and identity without being preachy and on the nose. ‘White Noise’ is about a lot of different things. I wrote of fear, anxiety and trying to understand that my mortality is real; there’s a lot of substance in there. We spent a lot of time making the record and I do feel that it was worth that time. It feels like the best record that I’ve made.
That’s powerful. So, as you were reflecting upon your discography, you decided that you wanted to further expose your core and show a more vulnerable side of yourself?
Well, my work has always been pretty vulnerable and confessional. It was more so that I wanted to capture abstraction without being as confessional or on the nose about things. You know, trying to capture an essence.
That is artistically rich. Do you have any upcoming tour or festival appearance plans in which you will be playing tracks from the album anytime soon?
I am on tour at the moment! We are out on the road and have had a great turnout and kickoff so far.
You recently got a portrait tattoo of Marlon Brando. It looks incredible. Tell us about some of your favorite pieces of his work and what led you to get this piece.
I work with this tattoo artist by the name of Jack Matisse who is based out of Studio Arcanum in Seattle when he is in the states. Jack also works a lot internationally and is primarily in Berlin. I met Jack a few years ago when he tattooed a Betty Page piece for me; he tattoos incredible black and grey portrait pieces. We were going to initially tattoo the other side of my neck. I basically just book sessions with Jack when he is in Seattle and figure out what I am going to get tattooed once I’m there. I recently dug into Marlon Brando and saw a documentary called ‘Listen To Me Marlon’ and I simultaneously felt that there was something iconically tragic and romantic about Marlon Brando and that Jack would nail that portrait. It was an eight-hour session. We started at 4:00 pm and didn’t wrap it up until 2:00 am. I also have a wolf tattooed on my hand by Jack and a bear skull as well.
Wow! Cannot believe that you knocked that out in one session. What’s up next for tattoo ideas?
I am going to do a cover-up piece on my side. There’s another tattoo artist at Studio Arcanum by the name of Spyder and he is going to tattoo a big fighting rooster with heavy black lines and shading. It is going to hurt like a mother f*cker, but it’s going to look great.
It’s all about the end result. If you could sit under the table and listen to two human beings have a conversation to draw inspiration, who would you choose and why?
How about Bert and Ernie? In real life, not on TV. Just Bert and Ernie hanging out at their house having domestic disputes. I would sit and listen to Bert and Ernie just go at it at home.
Don’t we all strive to get to that childlike state? Last but certainly not least, any closing messages for your fans?
I would not be able to do this without our fans. We have had incredible support from them over all of these years and we have met a lot of people who have come to multiple shows over the years and keep coming back; that means the world to me. Thank you