NEONNOAH’s New EP Release, Owning Indie Electronic in the Dallas Music Scene

Photo: Jacob Norris

Photo: Jacob Norris

Being a rare mix of local indie and electronic, NEONNOAH brings a unique mindset to the Dallas music scene with their approach to creating meaningful music and establishing their band. They are more than just a music group, but rather a well-established brand. NEONNOAH puts 110% into all aspects of their work, caring about more than just their music but also everything from marketing to their online and physical presence. Their refreshing indie, electronic sound is just what Dallas needs and their vibrant personalities can get anyone excited about what they’re destined for.  We sat down with Esteban, Conner, and Jacob from NEONNOAH to discuss their passion for honest music and what fans can expect from their new EP Bella Vita.

You all come from different states, so how did you guys meet, and how did forming NN come about?

Esteban: It was college, Southwestern Assembly of God (SAGU). We all met and realized we loved writing music together. Our first single was written inside my dorm room — kind of weird, kind of funny.

Conner: We were just best friends and started writing music more when we lived together. We went to one of our friend’s shows, and we were like, we could do that. We write music...and then we were like NEONNOAH, let’s do it. The name was kind of an inside joke.

Jacob: We were at church camp, it was neon night, and I was doing this stupid dance — and my middle name is Noah — so people just said that it’s the neon noah dance.

Conner: I think we said, if we ever start a band it should be NEONNOAH.

Esteban: We’ve always wanted to make it into a neon sign, but it’s too expensive. One day…

I’ve read that you came together because of your strong passion for songwriting and producing honest music. What do you mean by honest music and what are you trying to stay away from?

Esteban: You see these bands — the ones you like & the ones you love. And then there’s the ones on the top 40 chart. They’re just singers who had 45 people write their song for them. The songs that always meant more to people 10 years from when they were written were always true to the person that wrote them. I don’t want to write a song unless I’m feeling it, I don’t want to just say this.

Conner: And, I think there’s a temptation to write something that’s super popular, but we’ve just always wanted to write something that will last 5 years from now, or even next year.

Esteban: You get that a lot. You see all this music that has just come out, and it’s trendy and cool. But no one’s talking about that band. If you think of The Killers or Paul Simon or all these bands that did something they believe in, it doesn’t matter what the production was, because their songs were true.

Crate Diggers: Are those influences of yours? What are some others?

Esteban: Big influences. Justin Vernon of Bon Iver is personally one of mine, and a lot of hip-hop. We all have different ones.

Conner: Yeah, I didn’t listen to Kings of Leon before I met Esteban, even The Killers.

Jacob: I still don’t listen to Kings of Leon. [laughs]

What is it like being in an electronic, indie rock band in a music scene like Dallas that isn't known for having a lot of those types of bands?

Esteban: We didn’t know when we started.

Jacob: Yea, like crap, we’re not metal.

Esteban: When we started, we played shows with the most ridiculous bills, like this sca band, The Rotisserie Chickens.

Conner: We rarely play shows with bands that sound like us. Not like our sound is so unique, but most bands in Deep Ellum are rock and roll or heavier music.

Esteban: The cool thing is when you meet someone that is very similar in style, you become really good friends. Like us and NITE, we connected so fast.

Conner: For the first part of our career, Prophet Bar was our go-to place. Last year we played Three Links, this year we played Dada.

Esteban: The cool thing about this show coming up, Friday, is that — first off the first ever CD release show we did for Reaching for Constellations was at the small side of Prophet Bar — so now we’re playing the big side. And, it’s the same stage, when it was The Gypsy Ballroom, The Killers played. So it’s one of those stages that when I was a kid, I wish I could play. And the fact that we’re playing that stage now is exciting. It’s a cool feeling—like going back to your roots for a second.

Your first EP was made through crowdfunding, what does it mean to see that many people support your project? 

Conner: It was terrifying. [laughs]

Esteban: We didn’t go for that high of a budget either. It was kind of bare minimum because we wanted to make it. How Kickstarter works, if you don’t get it, they don’t give you the money. A lot of people don’t think that amount of money is real, but when we went into it, we looked at it as people are giving us money...We want to make sure it’s worth it. We want people to feel valued by the things we do. We want to add to other people’s lives not them adding to ours.

How does this EP compare to your first one. How have you grown as a band since that first EP?

Esteban: A lot more rock-y. The process was way different. From a dorm room, to Nashville, to Plano. It was a lot of front-end work.

Conner: Way more mature. Songwise and as a band, you can just tell. We’ve been a band for over two years, and last time, we had been a band for 9 months and then wrote our EP, which was very quick. We’re proud of it, but this album — a lot more went into it — more writing, more hard work.

Esteban: There’s six songs we didn’t even record.

Crate Diggers: Do you think those will spill over to an LP anytime soon?

Esteban: We have some stuff that’s exciting. But I don’t think we’re going to do an LP unless we get signed. We’re taking a lot of hints from the hip-hop community on how they’re always putting stuff out. A lot of Dallas bands we look up to, they push out a big record or do a big tour and then fall off because they’re waiting for the next record cycle. We want to do a bunch of singles so we don’t lose people’s attention.

We want to be a band that’s always putting out music, always putting out new content, because that’s what we love to do — we want to write music. And with technology, there’s no reason you can’t put out singles every couple of months.

Speaking of technology, one of your most popular YouTube videos is the Drum Pads 24 video. How did that partnership come about?

Esteban: So just for just that song, “Cosmic”, we used that app. We used to use that app as a joke, forever. We were just doing stupid stuff with it and messing around, like sticking it in our mouths to make it sound like a phaser, random stuff like that. It was hilarious, like a 21st century drum circle. We were getting ready for Reaching for Constellations push, and messing around on the app, and realized there’s no reason we shouldn’t write a song for them. I pitched them the idea and they loved it. That’s part of our big three—we’re really pushing more songwriting, more videos, and clothing. We’re really excited about the clothing. Treating it less like merch and more like something we’d like to wear.

Jacob: More like a clothing brand, but not to that extreme. Just more than every local band’s tee shirt. We have the ability to design better stuff than some people that are just musicians would have. So there’s no reason not to put a little more effort in and make good stuff, even just for the sake of making good stuff.

Esteban: That’s the difference between point A and point B; caring. Really caring about all aspects of who you are. And that’s been our push for everything, just being honest. It’s grown us up as people too, more than just a band.

What can fans expect to see at the EP release show friday? Will you be playing every song off the new EP?

Conner: We’ll be playing every song off the new EP, plus three from the last EP.

Esteban: Expect a lot of angst. We haven’t played a show in a while, so we’re excited. This group we have playing with us is a solid group, so there’s a fair amount of comradery there.

Conner: This is one of the first shows we’ve played in awhile that really compliments our sound.

Be sure to make your way to The Door tonight and check out the infectious indie, electronic energy of NEONNOAH!  To stay updated on everything NEONNOAH you can check them out on Spotify, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Be sure to stay tuned to Crate Diggers to hear more music news and interviews from your favorite local artists. 

 

Amy Johnson