Hearing the names Usher, Chris Brown, CeeLo Green, Jay Z, Alicia Keys, John Legend and Diddy sounds like a roll call for the most recent award show. All of these names share one person in common. Gene Noble has either written for them, with them or has been a vocalist for them. We recently caught up with Noble and witnessed his talent up close and personal. The intimate audience was left stunned by such an amazing talent. We spoke with Noble about his inspirations and what singing means to him.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by life uninspired by every day. If I could describe my writing style I would say it’s really about life right now and whatever is going on in my space. I would say as a style of artist that I am the organic kind. Whatever is going on around me is what I tend to write about.
Talk about your background. When was the moment you knew this is what you wanted to do?
I was always doing music. I always wrote and sang and played the piano my whole life. My entire family is musical. It came naturally. I knew I wanted to do this after going to a D’Angelo concert. I knew that was the style of music I wanted to do. Then there are the deals, writing, performing in different clubs, then being dropped from labels and singing for other people have brought me to where I am today.
The strong influence of the church is evident in your singing. Talk about that.
Oh yeah. My mom has only sung in church. Me and my brother were in church about six or seven days a week. There is a heavy church influence. There is a lot of jazz influence, I’m influenced by a lot of things. Being the only Black kid in my school there was a heavy rock influence also. Hip-hop influences me too. It all comes together in an interesting way.
What does singing mean to you?
Singing is my lifeline, breathing; it’s therapy. Music, in general, is the way I express myself. It is the way I express myself the best. I have been able to develop myself through the music.
The title of your latest release is The Rebirth of Gene Noble. Why the rebirth?
It’s a rebirth in a lot of ways. I just started using my dad’s name, my dad died when I was young. I have now lived longer than he did, so this is a way to honor him. It’s a rebirth for me because it’s also a different take on my music. I’m able to do things in a different way. I’ve been expressing myself a lot more freely. I’ve switched up my style musically to showcase the things I like and the things that appeal to me as opposed to fitting into a mold. The rebirth was much needed and I’m not looking back it’s been a great journey.
You have a lyric in one of the songs that you performed the other day where you say “They talk s— about ’80s and ’90s kids when we are just products of what they did.” Explain that lyric.
“All I Give A F— About” is literally a freestyle. It’s what was on my mind at that moment. Millennials get a lot of flack about this and that. I feel strongly about the people who were in power or making decisions to set up things the way that they are. We can’t be at fault. I have another song on my latest album called “Example” that talks about not having examples for certain things. I don’t know what it looks like to be in a healthy relationship because I have not had those examples. In general, millennials are expected to do things they didn’t have examples for.
Your lyrics are extremely personal. Is this deliberate?
There are certain times when I’m riding the subway in New York and I’ll hear a conversation and I’ll think it’s a great idea for a song. Typically, that’s when I’m writing for other people. When I’m writing for myself it’s personal and it has something to do with why I’ve gone through or what somebody close to me has gone through. It’s really my diary.
How has the transition been from being five feet from the spotlight to you standing in the spotlight?
It’s an interesting transition. There are some people where you have to convince them because they see you in a certain light. That’s been one transition. Now, because I have worked with such big name artists and toured the world on such a big scale, sometimes I have to remind myself to stay patient. I have to remember to take the steps that I need to get there instead of getting there immediately. I may not be at Super Sonic in Japan with Linkin Park like I have before, but I’m going to get to that point.
When you mention Linkin Park it makes me think about your range and the different sounds you are able to achieve. Talk about where that comes from.
It goes back to growing up in my house my mom listened to a lot of jazz a lot o gospel. I got my rap and hip-hop influence from where my grandmother lived. I get my rock influence from school me and my brother would listen to a lot of Aerosmith. It all comes down to having those influences to draw on. Honestly, I think more people have those influences to draw on than they express, because I don’t know anybody who has one style of music in their iTunes or playlist. My whole objective is to make sure that everyone can go with me, no matter what the vibe is.
What is next for you?
This new project I’m working on. “For Granted” is out now and I have a visual for that. I’m excited to finish up the project and do some more intimate shows and just build. I literally want to build one by one and make people recognize that even though they have seen me around that this is me.