Graham Reid | | 8 min read
The mysteriously-named noemienours from Sweden is in fact the very interesting Noemie M Nours (aka Noemie Dal) who has a PhD and is a freelance translator fluent in French, German, English, Swedish and Dutch.
She came to Elsewhere's attention when she sent a short and polite email asking if we'd be interested in writing about her fourth album Tardigrade Bounding .
Her name and the album's title – as well as her description of her music as “All-ages bear-saving non-ideological vegan drug-free home-recorded lullabies from the forests of Sweden” – piqued our interest enough to give it a listen and . . .
Well, we wrote about it here and it really is something different, beguiling and . . . did we mention different?
It has actually been on frequent repeat play at low volume in Elsewhere's office for the past week.
We commend it to you (it is on bandcamp here, as are her previous releases) and to our surprise we learned she had actually performed a couple of shows in New Zealand in 2019.
Given her thoughtful, quiet lo-fi music and background it's no surprise that her answers to a few questions are so interesting . . .
Where did you grow up, and with who?
I grew up in Belgium, but I have always been some sort of lonely child, playing on my own little corner, and I still am. I had a brother and sister who were 12 years older than me, so I never really connected with them. My father was absent and busy with his job, while my mother never actually understood my approach of life and was prescribed antidepressants when I was in my early teens, so there never was any real relationship between me and my family actually.
I also never really found any actual friendship among other children, I just had some relations with a few children who were rather ill-intentioned and did not really like me actually.
In my early childhood, I received a Grams Bear teddy which I still have, which became my surrogate mother, who had a deeper understanding of things, and also she was cool because she was cooking pies and playing the electric guitar. The name ”noemienours” actually comes from that.
Grams Bear is ”Maminours” in French, so I felt like Grams Bear was my true family with a real deeper meaning, that my family could not understand at all. I do not have any contact with my family today, because they are simply too superficial.
Was music an important part of your childhood?
Not really in my early childhood, I think I even had a period where I thought that music just sucked, because it was related to superficial attitudes and I thought that life meant something more than that.
But then I got into Suzanne Vega when I was about 10 years old, then it became more important to me.
What are your earliest childhood memories of music which really affected you . . .
I tried to follow some music class for children, when I was really young, about three years old and the teacher had an approach that was unbelievably stupid and aggressive.
So I just ended up crying, never went again to that course and still have that feeling that most music teachers are just awful and do not understand a single thing about intuitive composition or the approach of self-taught musicians, which in my opinion is much more relevant and efficient.
Was there a time when you felt it was going to be music and nothing else?
Well, music is a very important part of my life, but actually, I prefer keeping it in its full integrity than potentially damaging it by professionalizing it.
My philosophy is to keep music as an ”otium” thing, and I have the same approach about studying at university as well.
I work as a translator beside it, so for me this is where my income should come from.
I find musicians who try to make a living of their art completely unbearable, because they do a lot of things that affects the quality of their music. So, in my opinion, most musicians, who think that music should be their first income source, have just become entirely irrelevant to me.
But of course, this means that music is more meaningful in my life, which is some sort of love story, I would rather say.
When you started on your music career were people around you supportive or did you have to find those people?
A so-called music career has only been possible for me, once I moved to Germany in 2015 to do my PhD. It became possible for me to release music on bandcamp with an entirely DIY approach, where I had not to depend on anyone’s support to have the right to exist as an artist.
In Belgium, I felt like most people I knew were patronizing about the person I was, which actually began in my family and their deceptive morals. As a consequence, I never felt I had any possibility to release music or exist as an artist in Belgium, because the environment just did not understand a single thing about my personality since my earliest age.
As a consequence, I simply trashed any music or song I ever wrote while living in Belgium, and I just try to focus on writing new material since I moved to Germany then Sweden.
The first song of yours which you really felt proud of was . . .? And why that one?
I played music on a bontempi keyboard, when I was very young, maybe 7 years old, I do not remember exactly, and I invented some succession of chords, which I really loved and still do, but it was more like some ambient music, I just played that part over and over through the years, so it became like some sort of dream-like ambient motive.
Any one person you'd call a mentor, angel on your shoulder or invaluable fellow traveller?
I would say Grams Bear is that person, since she is my surrogate mother.
Where and when was the first time you went on stage as a paid performer?
I would say the first time I actually went on stage in decent conditions, was when I played in December 2018 in Stockholm, it was the first noemienours show, and the first time I felt like being respected for my music and doing a music that is truly my own.
Ever had stage fright or just a serious failure of nerve before going on stage?
Playing live is definitely not an easy thing for me, since my life philosophy is quite different from most people, as I am vegan, never drink alcohol or do drugs, but being a woman makes things even more difficult, as the musical world is still basically male-centered.
I would not call it a failure or a fright, but, for instance, I had to refuse to play the last show of the tour in New-Zealand in Auckland, because I felt like not being respected at all, with issues about the accommodation, the people not letting me eat before 4PM, not letting me sleep at night, people from the audience showing up with alcohol and also having to deal with personal family issues from the guy setting up the show, which had nothing to do with music at all.
As a consequence, I had to consciously and responsibly refuse to play the show, because the basic elements to play my music were just completely denied. My music is some sort of magical experience, so it can not exist in this kind of context.
As a songwriter, do you carry a notebook or have a phone right there constantly to grab ideas they come? Or is your method something different?
I never had those notebooks (the actual book not the computer) since my early teens to write songs, I do not use phones to keep track of ideas at all on the contrary.
The way I keep notes is usually rather unstructured, so anyone trying to understand them must have a hard time, but this is intentional, this is meant to be some secret language, that can not be deciphered by the non- initiated.
What unfashionable album do you love as a guilty pleasure?
I am a big fan of ”Diamonds and Pearls” by Prince. I have always been a fan of the song ”Prince Alone in the Studio” on the ”Wild love” LP from Smog, but the thing is that the music from Smog or Palace became irrelevant to me after ”Red Apple Falls” and the end of the Palace moniker.
So my approach now is to find songs like ”Back in School” or ”The Weaker Soldier” actually in the Prince/Love Symbol discography where they actually are, because they were one of their main influence.
But I already loved this Prince record at the time it came out in 1991 to be honest.
Any piece of advice you were given which you look back on which really meant something?
”I don't smoke, I don't drink, I don't fuck. At least I can fucking think” or ”Go vegan” were basically the most crucial pieces of advice I was ever given in my life.
It's after a performance/concert and you are in a hotel room or back at home, what happens then?
I usually like to read a book in those moments, that is almost unreadable for most people, like a George Eliot novel for instance.
But this can be tricky when the jet lag is really difficult to deal with, like when I toured New-Zealand in 2019.
It happened sometimes that I would just fall asleep without even noticing during that tour and so heavily that I would sleep for several hours in a row, and feeling like falling into a hole completely. It was a rather weird feeling, which made the whole tour a bit difficult.
Is there any fellow artist you admire for professional and/or personal reasons?
I am a big fan of David Pearce from Flying Saucer Attack. I think he really invented a musical style, that had a lot of influence on my songwriting and particularly for the last couple of years.
I listen quite a lot to those albums, particularly Further, which gives me this whole ”living in the forest” feeling, although my house is already in the forest actually. The technical approach to record his songs is also some kind of blueprint for my approach to home recording on a reel-to-reel 8-track.
I do not really understand people who say that they do not hear the lyrics in his music, for me they are quite clear and essential to the understanding of his music, but possibly less meaningful without the feedback.
And finally, where to from here for you do you think?
Well, I am busy recording a fifth LP at the moment, so I hope it will be released before the end of 202. I am also working on some art book/cookbook with vegan recipes and drawings, which I hope to be able to publish at some point.
There are also some discussions about possibly tour Japan when it will be possible to travel again.
I will just keep on my DIY approach, maybe I will spend more time also writing books in the future, but I still hope to be able to keep on recording music on my 8-track as well.