Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Night Wakes”?
Night Wakes was the lead single from my newest record. It marks a major transition in my sound. My first record Whisky Priest was very minimalist and fit well in the sleepy-time folk genre. Night Wakes unleashes a whole new sonic palette – drums, synths, samples, electric guitars. It was released well in advance of the record (almost an entire year) in an effort to ease the transition between the two records. I ended up releasing a handful of other singles prior to the album release as well.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
I wrote Night Wakes during a time when I would wake up a lot at night feeling anxious. We had recently gone through a miscarriage, we were expecting our second child and I was seeing a counselor to sort through old wounds and insecurities. “The night awakens all my demons”. My hope through all of it is reflected in the bridge lyric of “I want to fight it all”, sort of as a way of me telling these anxious thoughts that I won’t let them win.
How was the filming process and experience behind the video?
The video was filmed and produced by NOBLE productions (www.discovernoble.com – they are a separate entity even though we share a name). We had a pretty large crew and the hope was to bring in varying scenes reflecting someone having an inner-dialogue taking them out of reality momentarily: a couple in bed with one person disengaged because they are worried, a group of friends having a good time with one person clearly upset. It was a great experience working with so many people and I am absolutely thrilled with how it turned out.
The single comes off your new album when the light comes in – what’s the story behind the title?
The title comes from a quote by the poet Rumi: “the wound is where the light enters you”. I was struck by this quote very early on in the writing process. All throughout I was seeing ways of how we all need healing; if we don’t seek healing we will pass our trauma on to those around us. I love how this quote maintains the gravity of the wound but also highlights how we need to shine light on it in order to heal.
How was the recording and writing process?
I went through writer’s block for quite awhile at the beginning of the process – probably in large part because of this being my sophomore record; different expectations and pressures. Eventually I pushed through and the bulk of the writing came about in the span of about 3 months. Recording was an absolute joy – I bought a bunch of new gear and spent countless hours toying with it to shape the overall sound. I brought in other musicians: a drummer, bass player, and some other guest features.
Last time on your previous record you went for a much, say, analogue and organic approach – what made you want to go full digital and elaborate more on the production and its respective value?
I had always wanted to record something on this scale I just didn’t know how to do it well. After releasing my first record I spent time learning from a producer friend. In addition to this, I had already been through the album-making process so I knew generally what it would take to see it through from beginning to end. I think more than anything I had a new level of confidence from making my first record that enabled me to be bold and take risks with my second record. I am beyond thrilled with how it turned out.
What aspect of grief and trauma did you get to explore on this record?
I explored these themes largely with how they are transmitted interpersonally (i.e. how does my trauma affect other people). Having two children now, I have been inspired to look inward at what has negatively affected me and try to heal those wounds so that I do not pass it on. I was especially inspired by my wife’s efforts to heal her wounds and break family cycles.
What made you want to tackle these rather dark themes?
I didn’t intentionally seek this out – I started writing songs for awhile and eventually took a step back to see what the common thread was between them.
How did you go on balancing the dark aspect with the much uplifting message?
My hope was for the record to be a journey – I tried to connect the songs into one narrative. Toward the end of the record it reaches its most intense moment on track 11 (Child of Earth). This gradually resolves into a nice gentle space for the end lyrics of that song that include the album title “where the light comes in”. Track 12 is the resolution of everything, saying “all the darkness doesn’t own you.”
Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
I was very inspired by a few specific poets and authors: Rumi, Nayyirah Waheed, Khaled Hosseini, John Henry Newman.
Any plans to hit the road?
Not in the near future but we’ll see!
What else is happening next in Ben Noble’s world?
I have a few side projects that I am working on – 3 of which will probably see EPs or LPs out in 2020. Other than that I am getting started on my 3rd album – let’s do this!