For a rising artist, one of the toughest decisions that they can make is whether to take the time honing an entire album or release a string of singles to keep the buzz cresting. In the case of singer Noah McBeth, a.k.a. NoMBe, he circumvented that decision entirely. His debut album, 'They Might’ve Even Loved Me', is being metered out in what the singer-producer calls “Frankstein” format after he took a year off to write it.
“Nowadays obviously the industry is very singles driven, it’s hard to be an album artist, which I still want to be,” NoMBE said. “I really like full bodies of work, so we came up with the idea that every song is basically a single on the album, so why not give them their own separate shine and then have them meet up for a kind of album full of singles?”
NoMBe who hails from Germany but spent time in Miami before moving to L.A, is a slinky, cerebral producer whose been cutting his teeth behind the boards long before he ever thought of laying his own vocals and guitar atop his tracks. He started off producing on Cubase, making what he refers to as “cheap, trappy, cell phone music,” but his musical world expanded when he learned how to sample.
“I listened to a lot of artists like Pete Rock and Tribe Called Quest that sampled jazz,” he explained. “I always thought they did that but then when I realized they sampled it and tried it myself it was like, ‘Oh wow.’”
Though his current sound is eclectic (which is part of the reason he released the album single-by-single) there’s a cinematic quality that serves as the connective thread for the album. Highlighted by the swaggering 'Freak Like Me', and the inky, mercurial 'Wait', 'They Might’ve Even Loved Me' is a diverse collection of love songs; his sound echoes Jai Paul and Ben Khan, but with traces of psychedelic rock and narcotizing dance pop. The shadowy sounds craft a noir soundscape for NoMBe’s intense tales of love, loss, and passion. Many of the songs are inspired by specific women from his past, and in the case of 'Wait' he actually sent the track to the one in question, who wrote him back.
“One of our former classmates saw the post and follows my NoMBe page, she sent the post to the girl [as well], because she kind of felt that it was about her. It was within minutes from each other, because I’d just sent her the song, and then I made that post,” he says. “So the girl responded and was like, ‘Oh, our friend just showed me this post that you wrote and this song, I’m very flattered, I don’t even know what to say.”
But while it works as a collection of snapshots from various relationships in his life, NoMBe says that there’s a broader, more universal underlying concept to the record.
“I’ve been really pushing for nostalgia, and the idea of what it feels like to experience something for the first time,” he says. “Whether it’s heartbreak, love, sex or whatever. So all those stories revolve around that.”
That’s a lofty goal, but NoMBe’s music will transport you back to many of those first moments, with his smooth, incandescent vocals painting a surreal, steamy scene. He’s clearly a first-rate songwriter with an eye for the nuance of how to translate his intimate feelings to record, but he also has designs for applying his varied sound to a wealth of topics.
“I always tell the people the next album might be about something completely different. I might feel more in the place where I want to write more socially conscious and political music, and use my voice or something like that. If you get to know me I’m kind of always in my head and I try to discuss these things wherever I can,” he says.
Words: Grant Rindner
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