Artist to Artist: Noah Cyrus by MØ
Noah talks to her "We Are..." collaborator about her debut album and the ups and downs of the music industry.
Noah talks to her "We Are..." collaborator about her debut album and the ups and downs of the music industry.
Photography: Luc Coiffait
Styling: Henna Koskinen
Text: Jake Viswanath
Noah Cyrus is still taking the music world by storm, but on her own terms. Since her landmark debut with "Make Me (Cry)," the rising artist has refused to abide by anyone's rules and followed a versatile path in the singles following, whether it's the banjo-led hoedown of "I'm Stuck" or the lovestruck acoustic vibes of her newest single, "Team" featuring MAX. It's an easy out to proclaim that Noah is getting by with the help of her famous family, but that would be ignoring her self-grown passion for songwriting and the diverse soundscape of her own offerings. And regardless, she doesn't really give a fuck what you have to say about that.
So appropriately, we linked Noah up with friend and "We Are..." collaborator MØ, whom Noah chose for the song because she similarly doesn't give a fuck about what you have to say, to talk about everything from the music industry to that one time they were almost rained out from performing a radio show together. Oh, and Coachella, of course. Those conversations never end.
Noah: Hi Karen!
MØ: Hi Noah! Where are you at?
Noah: I’m in LA at my house, I just got back from Bali. Where are you?
MØ: Oh shit, that sounds so nice. I’m in Denmark and it’s raining so I’m a bit pissed off.
Noah: Well it’s cold in LA, so…
MØ: Okay! That makes me feel better.
Noah: Yeah, it’s cold and gloomy.
MØ: Sounds nice. Did you have a nice Coachella? It was so nice meeting you there but we didn’t get to talk a lot, so I wanted to see if you had a good time.
Noah: Oh yeah! Oh my god. Coachella was fun actually, I didn’t get to see anybody but you perform, honestly, I sat over in the VIP grass and I watched your whole set which was amazing. And like everybody else, I watched a second of Post Malone and a second of some DJ I don’t know, but I just walked around and I realized that at Coachella, you basically spend your entire day trying to find who you want to hang out with, and you’ll text them and be like, "Hey, let’s chill in the VIP section" and then you walk to the VIP section and they’re like "Oh, I just left and went to the Sahara tent"! So you hop in a golf cart and go to the Sahara tent, and then they’re not there anymore! I was literally chasing people around all of Coachella, and I ended up leaving on Sunday, but I had a really fun time. A crazy story actually: my friend, Holden, had a disposable camera and he was talking pictures on it all around Coachella. He ran into me and my boyfriend and took one picture of us, he lost his camera, and someone tweeted me the picture and everything. They were sending Holden the camera back and all of the pictures from Coachella, but they literally tweeted me, "Hey Noah Cyrus, I just found this picture of you on a disposable camera I found, like if you want it".
MØ: Oh my god! That’s pretty crazy, but that’s nice he gave it back.
Noah: I know, it’s wild. It was crazy though, I was like of course I want it, but it is so crazy that someone actually found that, know what I mean?
MØ: Yeah, totally. But that sounds fun!
Noah: Yeah it was cool. How was your Coachella?
MØ: It was great, I was so nervous about the show so it wasn’t until after the show I started doing something besides being overwhelmed by fear and by excitement, it's like oh no. It wasn’t until after the show I was like, "Oh my gosh, yay! Coachella!" Then I was so tired I went home pretty early cause I had been so "Oh my god, oh my god," but it was great.
MØ: But I was really feeling great, so that’s good.
Noah: That’s how I was all of Coachella. I was working the whole week before, so I didn’t even stay late at the festival, every night I was in bed probably eleven, 11:30 the latest, every night of Coachella.
MØ: Yeah I feel you, it’s that thing when you want to work a lot, then once you finally have a pitstop it’s like "Yay, party time!" Then actually you’re super sleepy.
Noah: Yeah, you’re like ‘I’d rather sleep’.
MØ: Haha, that makes sense. Okay so, Noah, can you tell a little about how We Are... came about?
Noah: Yeah, I mean We Are..., ha-ha. "We Are..." is all obviously about social media, and kind of the insecurities around social media, and how people have become addicted to their phones and altered children’s minds to what they need to look like, what they need to dress like. And after I got that song figured out and it was almost finished, I was just like, "What about having Mø get on the record?" Because Mø, I mean I feel like—sorry I feel like I’m talking about you like you’re not here—but I was just talking to my team like, "She doesn’t give a fuck about what people think about her appearance, she dresses the way she wants to dress." When you came to my show at the Troubadour, your outfit was so sick.
MØ: Aw that was so nice! I loved that.
Noah: So "I don’t give a fuck" with your Docs and your ankle bracelet and all of this stuff and it was just really really cute.
MØ: Aw you’re so sweet! Thank you.
Noah: I don’t know, you just have the coolest look and you don’t go for this glammed, Instagram-pleasing look. You're who you want to be, and you’re truly like a rockstar, and that’s why I wanted to put you on the record, because I was like, "This record needs a rockstar on there that is so I-don’t-give-a-fuck."
MØ: That’s so funny because when I saw you play at the Troubadour, that is actually what I thought when I was watching you, I was like "Oh my god she’s such a rockstar!" The way you were rocking out on stage, and you were a pleasure to work with. I remember when I got the song sent over, I was like, "Oh these vocals are interesting, and you had already recorded all of your parts and I felt like you sounded so sick on it, so I was like "Shit, I’m gonna do a duet with this lady and it’s going to be awesome."
Noah: Aw, thank you. That’s so sweet. I know, I’m like blushing now.
MØ: So, when you do music and stuff, do you write on your own? Or the same people or different people, like what’s your favorite way to do it?
Noah: Yeah, I mean I definitely make friendships and connections with a lot of writers and producers that I enjoy working with and that I enjoy writing with.
Noah: I like writing with people. I think the times that I’ve closed myself off to not writing with people, I haven’t gotten the best product because I haven’t had anyone to go back and forth with and really discuss what’s going on in my life, what’s going on in their life. It’s so important to have that connection.
MØ: Yeah, it’s so important to have that dynamic. I totally get that.
Noah: That’s why I love working with Labrinth because he’s like a brother to me, he’s so good and I love working with him and we have a lot of stuff coming up together. I definitely like making my friends in the music industry.
MØ: I love the song you made with him. So good.
Noah: Thank you. I definitely made friends with the people I like to write with, but I’ll also write with people I haven’t met before or producers I haven’t met before because how are you supposed to make those friends without trying? Especially when I’m in the studio, I just kind of like fuck around with guitar and piano with the producer and write off of guitar and piano and we build it around that.
MØ: That’s nice, I think that’s a really good way to start. I actually I love working on a beat or flow with someone close, I feel like when you start on the piano or the guitar, it opens up so many possibilities.
Noah: Yeah it really does.
MØ: What’s your favorite song, the song that you’re most proud of?
Noah: I would say probably "Make Me (Cry)" or "Again". "Again" is one of my favorite songs that I’ve put out so far.
MØ: Both of those I really like.
Noah: Thank you. They really came from who I am, and they really represent me and my feelings. Those songs are actually a lot more like the music that’s about to come out.
MØ: Oh my gosh that’s so exciting!
Noah: I’m excited to go that route because that’s very me, and it’s very true to who I am. Another song that I’m super proud of that isn’t out yet I actually just wrote in Bali, it’s called "Good Cry", and I can’t wait for that to come out because I’m so excited.
MØ: Oh wow, so in Bali, was it like a writing session? Were you there for music?
Noah: Yeah, I was there with Oak. I don’t know if you’ve worked with Oak or not?
MØ: Oak! Yes, I have one time, he’s really nice.
Noah: Yeah, he’s the best. I love Oak! So, it was his writing camp and we were there for a week.
MØ: That’s awesome, what was the name of the song? "Good Cry"? That’s a dope title.
Noah: Thank you.
MØ: Who do you look up to?
Noah: Man, I admire so many people in the music industry and not in the music industry, obviously this is going to be controversial because Kanye said some things the Internet did not like, but, musically, I’ve always looked up to Kanye. Kanye is an incredible producer and I’ve always looked up to him musically. Musically. Let’s underline that, you know. I love Kanye’s music, and I really admire Ben Howard also as a songwriter and producer. They’re in two completely different genres obviously, Kanye and Ben Howard, but he’s obviously a huge inspiration to me.
MØ: Yeah but that’s nice, I love him.
Noah: Yeah, he’s amazing and I’ve always looked up to Gaga. Gaga is so I-don’t-give-a-fuck, always does what Gaga wants to do.
MØ: Oh my god, yes.
Noah: I’ve always looked up to her because she’s just a strong woman that’s always done what she wants to do for herself and for her music and, and I admire that. But obviously, hero-wise, with the recent shooting in Florida, I really look up to Emma Gonzalez. I love her, and I think she’s truly a hero being able to go up there and talk the way that she talks, so collected and graceful after something so terrible had happened.
MØ: I think these days it’s really important to be political and aware of who you’re rooting for.
MØ: Did having a famous family put pressure on you when you started your own music career?
Noah: I mean, no.
MØ: Was it something you thought about or was that not even there?
Noah: You know, people compare me a lot, which is annoying as fuck, and so it causes some emotional distress with how fucking annoying it is, but, I don’t know, I didn’t really care. I was like,"I’m just gonna put my music out, and people are gonna compare me to whoever they’re going to fucking compare me to and I just gotta fuck up or shut up, honestly." That’s the only thing I can do, and you know, if I love music and I want to make music, then it’s not about who my family was or anything, it was about the music all along. I think that made it difficult in the beginning to get over those fears of comparison, but I mean, I want to make music, and also, there’s pros and cons to everything. The pros of having a musical family is that they are people I can talk to and people I can relate to with what I’m going through in my life. When I’m tired and I’m having a hard time with my schedule and I need someone to relate to me with that, it’s nice to be able to call my dad or my sister.
MØ: That must be so nice.
Noah: Yeah, and it’s nice to be able to talk to them when a bad article comes out, or when you don’t know what to do with a record, anything like that. You know that they relate to that.
MØ: For sure. There’s no one in my family in music, it must be so nice to have that, it’s like a solid rock you can go to if you’re in trouble. Also, another thing is that you as an artist, it’s so clear to me that it comes out of passion, you have this huge passion for music and you are your own type of artist, and I really admire that.
Noah: Thank you so much, you too. Ever since—Ok, remember that time we were at that show in… I don’t know what state we were in, but that show that almost got canceled.
MØ: Oh! It was that radio show. Yeah it was raining like crazy and I remember you came down and I was like, "Oh my gosh you are so cute!"
Noah: Yeah, I think we might have been in Philly or something it was you, me, and Super Duper Kyle or something.
MØ: Yeah, when was this?
Noah: I don’t know. I always call him Super Duper Kyle because of his Instagram handle.
MØ: Who is Super Duper Kyle?
Noah: You know Kyle! You know, "I spy with my little eye, nan a nan a na…" That song?
MØ: Oh yeah! I remember that, and I remember being so happy you were there, that was awesome. Have you learned anything about the music world that you only realized when you started making your own stuff, or were you well-equipped?
Noah: You know what? It was pretty well-equipped for me because my mom had been managing Miley for such a long time, and obviously went through my dad...
MØ: Oh right, that’s cool.
Noah: ... my dad’s stage, and everything like that. When my dad was early on in his music, my mom saw all of that firsthand, and saw what not to do, and what to do, and she learned about people whenever they could be really on your team, or when they are on your team, so my mom had me really aware and ready for all of that. I would say that I was well-equipped and I hadn’t had anything thrown at me yet that I would be shocked about, because it was something I had been around my entire life.
MØ: Makes total sense. What’s the one thing you love about the music industry, and one thing you would change?
Noah: I think you get to share your feelings and you get to share things with your fans that you wouldn't get that across any other way, and music is such a healing thing. If you’re sad, you listen to music. If something goes wrong, you listen to music, and music just heals. So that’s an amazing thing about the music industry, is that it really does heal people. The downside to the music industry is that sometimes, when you’re in it and someone tries to knock you down, like an article or one of those sites that only talks shit, you don’t really have somebody to heal you when you’re making the music that heals people, then you get hurt, and you take a lot of that. I’ve always dealt with Perez Hilton, or whoever. The snakes on the Internet that make their day better by hurting you or bringing someone down or by commenting a shitty comment, that’s the downside to the music industry, honestly. But I think that’s not just the music industry, that comes with everything, honestly. Everybody gets it, it’s a normal thing. Whether it’s an online source or some kid from a high school commenting on somebody else’s page, you know?
MØ: Yeah, it’s so weird. With those kinds of things, I’m trying to ignore it, but it can be really hard.
Noah: Yeah, I take it hard too.
MØ: Are you 18 now?
Noah: Yeah. Wait how old are you?
MØ: I'm 29, girl!
Noah: You’re 29?
MØ: Haha, yeah.
Noah: Oh my god! Karen, this entire time I thought you were maybe 20. Like really, let’s talk about that. I thought you were maybe 20 or 21.
MØ: Yay! Nice, oh my god.
Noah: That is so wild.
MØ: I’m going to go tell my boyfriend that right now! Do you feel like an adult, and has your perspective on life, yourself, or the world, changed at all during this time?
Noah: I mean, I guess you could say people are called an adult once you move out and once you’re by yourself and on your own, and that’s great and that’s what I’m doing but you know what? OK, Kanye tweeted once, I think it was during his Trump thing, but I also read that while he was doing that, he wrote "always the student, never the master", and I learned a lot from that, because that’s like with being an adult. You always have something to learn, you know what I mean? Like, I’m 19.
MØ: Oh my god yes. I think that’s you have all of your life.
Noah: You have all your life!
MØ: I don’t even know about being an adult and I’m like…
Noah: Exactly! My mom, who is 50, is an adult, you know what I mean? I still think you have so much to learn between 18 and between 35.
MØ: I totally know what you mean, and I think it’s a good thing you have a lot to learn because I think it’s what keeps life so exciting. It’s like, the more you know, the more that you don’t know, and that’s a lesson almost, I think.
Noah: Yeah, absolutely.
MØ: What can we expect from your debut album? Also, when is it coming out?
Noah: I don’t know, I have a lot of stuff coming out soon, so I’m excited for that. But the album, honestly, I’m working really hard and I’m kicking my own ass to get it done. This album is going to be very personal and it’s gonna show my feelings. I’ve had lots of issues with traveling on the road and getting anxiety and depression and all of this stuff on the road, that’s all carrying onto my music.
MØ: I totally feel you.
Noah: I can’t wait to talk about that and my album, I’m a sad girl. I don’t know how to enjoy that!
MØ: Me too.
Noah: I’m that emo-sad girl that gets to sit around and cry. It makes me feel happy to cry sometimes, that’s what my album carries.
MØ: Me too! It’s such a release.
Noah: It’s such a relief!
MØ: Oh my gosh, I love it.
Noah: Especially being an artist, you have to be on all the time, and you’re going and you’re on and the time schedules get messed up and all of this stuff and it’s hard on your bod. You do get depressed, or your body starts getting anxiety, or you know, anything like that. And it’s hard to juggle that on top of friendships and a relationship and family, it’s so hard to do that. You know, when you’re away from your significant other, you get sad and it’s hard. I can’t wait for my album to come out because it’s going to talk about how I’m not the happiest person in the world, and that’s ok.
MØ: I’m surprised that you are sharing that and including all of that on it.
Noah: My fans, my Cyrens, they go through real stuff. They’re real people. Their feelings, they feel emotions, it’s okay if they want to be in the sad Cyrens club, then we can be the sad Cyrens club. If you all want to sit together and be in a club together, that’s okay. So that’s what I want my body of work to be, is just, it’s okay if you want to be sad. I’m sad sometimes.
MØ: It’s so nice that you do that, and also, they all want you and your real emotions and your true story, so that’s really great that that’s what you’re doing. That’s fucking awesome. I’m so excited for it to come out and for kids to hear more music from you.
Noah: Thank you so so much, I can’t wait.
MØ: That song you did with your boyfriend, is that song going to be released?
Noah: That song's coming out super super soon!
MØ: Oh my god! Okay yeah, that was such an amazing one, that one was my favorite one.
Noah: I’ll have to go tell him that right now, he’ll love that.
MØ: I think I just really want to applaud you for what we talked about for your album. I am working on my second album and I totally feel you on a lot of the things that you were saying and I just think that it’s so important to talk about putting how you feel and all about wanting to connect with these people in an honest way and so yeah, I guess that’s what I want to say.
Noah: Awesome! Cool. And to both of our fans: we love you fans, thank you fans.
MØ: Yes, so much, thank you fans!