An Interview With Musician Nounverber

Nounverber Logo

Nounverber is a New Orleans based musician; here is a link to his website:

Q: What made you interested in music?

A: Growing up in a musical family, being twelve years old and hearing an interesting guitar solo on the radio, then wanting to make people feel how that made me feel. Young angst and the prospect of creating works of art out of thin air. Maybe girls and money as well. Yes, all of those things in unspecified amounts. Over time, I learned to respect and appreciate the art of composing and it became its own reward.

Q: What kind of training have you had?

A: Formally, I was trained in the art of tenor saxophone in school. As I picked up on music theory, white and black piano keys made sense to me. That translated into harmony and tension and all of the other things that make music interesting. The neck of my guitar went from a puzzle to a map. It’s best to know what you’re doing on some level, but maybe not too much. Too much technique kills the soul.

Q: What is unique about your sound?

A: Just subtle structural things that I don’t realize that I’m doing. I’m too close to it to see it, but if I tried my hand at a waltz there would be something in it that people would recognize as one of my fingerprints. That’s what I’m told, but I don’t hear it. It’s like trying to analyze your own handwriting, I think.

Q: What kinds of things inspire you to write music?

A: The human condition, black and white films and mathematics and being someplace where there’s too much silence. In a crowded room, I’ll map out a busy horn section in my head and try to duplicate that level of dissonance. It’s a way of painting the world as you see it in a different dimension.

Q:  What has been the most effective thing you have done to promote yourself?

A: I took the final version of my Midnight Animal EP and dropped it in the lap of Shelby Cinca, the head of Swedish Columbia records. I hope every other artist on the label recognizes how hard he works to make us look good. Shelby is a wizard at promotion. It’s fun to see him come up with an idea and get so excited about it that you can’t follow his train of thought. Brilliant guy. Every artist needs a Shelby.

Q: Who are some of your musical influences?

A: Early electronic pioneers like Raymond Scott amaze me. Dave Brubeck was a master of time manipulation and Paul Desmond’s saxophone haunts my soul. Bowie was my musical father figure and I’m still in mourning. Pink Floyd, all day long. I bought the entire Tortoise catalog this year because I think their music is a necessity. The Misfits are always a part of what I do, in attitude if not in style. Every sound in Mr. Bungle’s album Disco Volante is programmed into my brain. John Frusciante’s solo guitar music inspires me. Flying Lotus is doing electronic jazz way better than I ever imagined it could be.

Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it effect your ability to make music?

A: I have worked in the collision repair industry ever since I graduated high school. This was going to pay my bills until I became self-sufficient by writing music, but it seems to be taking a few decades longer than I anticipated. I keep a small keyboard in my office that I use to record melodies as they creep into my head. I also license out music to film, commercials, video games, and TV shows on the side. It’s strictly supplemental at this point, though…I’m not moving to Beverly Hills quite yet.

Q: How did you come up with the name?

A: When I was looking for an alias in 2005, everyone was coming up with these “noun plus a verb with ‘-er’ at the end” band names. Monkeythrower, Facemelter, Brainbuster, etc. I used their formula but found purpose in leaving the spaces blank. There’s no specific thing and no specific action being taken. It is a name in structure alone, and I think that lends itself to the androgynous nature of my music.

Q: What do you like about New Orleans?

A: I get a thrill from the polite madness and potential danger of fellow strangers. Find the weirdest looking person on the block and ask them for directions. You’ll never forget it. The whole city supports a certain kind of insanity that I feel very comfortable being around. It’s endearing to my eccentric nature.

Q: What would you change about it?

A: There are truths that people ignore while promoting false ideals as solutions to problems that are self-perpetuating. Elevation above sea level would be nice also. If someone could fix those things, that would be great.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.


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