Exclusive Interview: Leah Nobel On Songwriting, To All The Boys, and Everything In Between

Exclusive Interview: Leah Nobel On Songwriting, To All The Boys, and Everything In Between

You may recognize Leah Nobel as the creator of Lara Jean and Peter K’s perfect love song, ‘Beginning Middle End,’ from the movie To All The Boys: Always and Forever, but Leah Nobel is an artist all her own too. The Nashville-based songwriter writes music that crisscrosses several genres, but it all boils down to the same sparkle that makes Nobel the kind of artist we need on our playlists.

On the To All The Boys: Always and Forever soundtrack, Leah Nobel crafted a love song that was picture-perfect for Lara Jean and Peter. The song amassed millions of streams and was the number one trending song in the US. And in 2019, she released her album Running In Borrowed Shoes, an album adapted from interviews with 100 real people. Now, her new EP sheds more light on her personal journey as an artist. Fans of ‘Beginning Middle End’ from the To All The Boys trilogy will love this EP.

Her new EP, Love, Death, Etc. presents a project that leans toward more personal themes of grief and anxiety, as well as whimsical, dreamy expressions of love. Songs like ‘Clear My Head’ and ‘Over The Moon’ are perfect for a chill summer night, and her ethereal reimagining of the classic ‘Dream A Little Dream of Me’ is a gorgeous modern take.

The Honey POP was lucky enough to hear from Leah herself, as she spoke to us about the EP, song writing, and her To All The Boys experience!

Image Source: Album Artwork by Anna Hedges and Rowdy Domstead via Leah Nobel Instagram

You just released a beautiful new EP. What does the Love, Death, Etc. EP
represent to you and which song is closest to your heart? 

Thank you. This EP is a bit of a sonic pivot for me. Typically, my albums are pretty
evenly split between folk and pop sensibilities, so this record feels like a little bit of a left
turn into a more dreamy pop space. I think it represents a new chapter where I am not
afraid to experiment sonically. I also like that some of the songs are about heavier
topics (anxiety and death) but that they still have a lightness to them that doesn’t weigh
the album down. I think the song that is closest to my heart is ‘We Never Really
Leave Each Other.’ I recently lost one of the most important people in my life (my
grandmother) and my own song has helped me process that grief.

Can you tell us about your writing process? Where do you draw the most
inspiration from?
 
I think I find most of my inspiration for songs just by trying to pay attention to the world
around me. I try to be a good listener. Or “eavesdropper” to be more accurate. I get so
much inspiration from listening to other people talk in every day environments. I also get
inspiration from reading, TV, nature, and curve ball— memes! I am a title and theme
collector and always have a running list in my phone. I often start with a concept, then
music, then melody, then words. Although not always in that order.

Your lyrics and ethereal sound are both very visually vivid and rich. A lot of
fiction writers describe creating their stories like watching a movie play out in
their head. Does that resonate for you when it comes to writing music? 

On occasion! I would say that ‘The Ones that Make It’ played out as a little movie in my
head as I was writing it but I can’t think of a lot of other examples in my creative life
where I have felt that way about a song.

How did the To All The Boys experience come about? What was the coolest part
of it?
 
I had received a brief from my publishing company from the music supervisors of a new
romantic comedy. Me and my collaborator Quinn Redmond didn’t know what the movie
was called, but we received a few vague plot details and keywords in the brief. We
decided to take a crack at using that brief as inspiration for writing that day and
just serendipitously happened to write something that worked for the film. We worked
with the supervisors closely for the next 1.5 years to create two different versions for the
soundtrack and to tailor them specifically to the moments in the film. I really didn’t think
anything of it when I left the session the day that we wrote the first version of the song,
other than that I enjoyed the time spent creating with my collaborator and thought the
song was sweet. I’ve been in the business long enough to learn that usually the
moments where you aren’t forcing anything or trying too hard yield the biggest fruit. The
coolest part was seeing a special screening of the film before it aired. It was emotional
to see my song weave its way through the plotline.

Image Source: Big Yellow Dog Music

How is the process different writing a song for a movie soundtrack vs. writing
music for your own album?
 
To me, they feel like completely different exercises. I typically write my personal music
with no agenda. Whatever that song is supposed to be- it is. And I am not a big after-
the-fact editor. When you are writing a song specifically for a movie it takes an extra
level of awareness. You are thinking of the film, the characters and their lives, the
emotion of your specific scene, whether your song is adding or subtracting to the
moment, plus you are in constant communication with the music supervisors. There is a
lot of editing and back and forth to get the song to sit perfectly in the film. Both types of
writing are fun and rewarding- they are just different.

What are some of the most important albums and artists that helped raise you as
an artist? 

I feel like the artists that really helped me develop my own artistry are Paul Simon
especially his album Graceland and surprise! … Enya. She was one of the earliest “pop”
artists to make calming, ambient music, and that essence has definitely found its way
into my own music.

Does ‘Beginning Middle End’ still feel personal to your own life even though it
was also written with the movie in mind? 

To be honest, ‘Beginning Middle End’ doesn’t feel particularly personal to me even
though some of the little details in that song were inspired by moments in my personal
life. It still feels emotional, but to me the song really belongs to Laura Jean and Peter
in To All the Boys: Always and Forever now.

You’re able to portray others’ stories just as well as your own, like we saw with
your 2019 full-length. What drew you to the unique creation of Running in
Borrowed Shoes

When I came up with the concept for Running In Borrowed Shoes I was searching for
more meaning in my music. I was tired of writing about my life but writing a whole record
of pure fiction didn’t feel inspiring to me either. I studied journalism in college and still
have a passion for it, so I felt like interviewing people and writing songs based on their
lives felt like a nice combination of things I was interested in. I am also a glutton for
punishment, so I was drawn in by the complexity of the endeavor. The whole process
from conception to release took about 3.5 years.

We’re obsessed with the aesthetic of your music video for ‘Over The Moon.’ Can
you tell us about the inspiration behind it? What was the experience of making it
like? 

Thank you! The ‘Over the Moon’ music video was created by a super talented collage
artist / filmmaker named Grant Claire from GOODNICETHANKS. The concept for the
video was really his creative vision. I know he wanted to combine the ethereal nature of
the song with both natural and otherworldly whimsical elements. The entire video was
made in front of a green screen- so it was a surprisingly simple video shoot. We had a
really great crew; it was a super fun day.

Image Source: Rowdy Domstead via Leah Nobel on Instagram

One of our favorite songs on the new EP is ‘Clear My Head.’ This past year has
been tough for everyone, so what do you do to clear your head when you need
it? 

There are a couple things I do when I am in a funk. Getting some exercise or going for a
walk helps me tremendously. Calling a friend, meditating, and having a good cry also
makes me feel better.

You’re pretty active on TikTok, so what’s the weirdest side of TikTok your FYP
has made it to? 

I am actually pretty new to TikTok. So far my niche is a little bit of music/songwriting
mixed with some comedy (improv comedy is a hobby of mine so this is fun). I made a
TikTok about a reoccurring dream that I have- which is showing up to high school and
realizing I don’t have any pants on. I think that’s my best performing video- turns out a
lot of people have had that dream too.

What advice would you give to young writers that you wish you could go back in
time and tell yourself? 

Have another job. Until you don’t have to anymore. The more pressure you put on your
art to provide for you financially the less enjoyment you get out of making it. All that
pressure can crush every facet of your spirit.

As the world slowly gets back to normal, what’s on the horizon for you? 
On the creative front, I am already working on songs for another record. Personally, I
am just looking forward to spending more quality time with the people I love. I am so
grateful I can hug them again.

We are obsessed with this EP and we think you will be too! Make sure to stream Love, Death, Etc. by Leah Nobel right here!

What’s your favorite song from Leah Nobel’s EP? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @TheHoneyPop! You can also find us on Facebook and Instagram.

Read more interviews right here!

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT LEAH NOBEL:
FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | TIKTOK | TWITTER | WEBSITE

Featured Image Source: Andreea Fărcaș and The Honey POP Graphic Design Team



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Taylor Alexis Heady

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