Australian songsmith Noah Earp has released his new single The Raw and the Cooked, a broad, sweeping stroke of alternative folk-rock, October 7. To accompany the single, Earp has released a self-made film clip that endears the viewer with its undeniable quirk. The Raw and the Cooked is the first taste of Earp’s debut album Disinheritor, an enlightening collection of songs that demonstrates a rare ear for unexpected harmony.
Jen asked Noah some questions about ‘The Raw and the Cooked’.
Thanks for your time. Your album “Disinheritor” has just launched, how have you been feeling in the lead up to this date?
It’s been a good run, I was just looking forward to finally releasing it. It’s spent a lot of time in the oven.
You used Pozible to help you achieve your goal to get your album out to the world, was that a positive experience for you? You were really well supported.
Yeah, the Pozible thing was great, because apart from getting the money together to get the ball rolling, a lot of people came out of the woodworks to get behind it, and there were a lot of supportive messages. I was in Sydney when a lot of the donations and messages were coming through, and it was a nice feeling to have all of that coming all the way from home.
I love the video that you have made with the roller skates (pretty sure that I had a pair like that as a kid) for ‘The Raw and the Cooked. I had to watch this a couple of times as it was so funny. Love the ending, I will make sure I never cross you! So you came up with the concept and decided to have some fun with it even though the song itself is not really comedic. Any funny stories you can share that happened during the filming?
I see the song as partly comedic – but I guess it’s that mixture of humour and darkness, which I think the video also has. The funniest thing that happened during filming is something I actually caught on film but had to edit out: at one stage Lachy was skating around on Swanston St with a photograph of Danny’s character, asking strangers if they’d seen him. We did a few takes of that, and then on the third take he accidentally took a dive and fell straight on his arse. I’ll save it for the director’s cut if it ever gets released.
It is great to see some local sites in Melbourne, I always love to see that. When you were filming it did you get some very strange looks?
Absolutely. The best was in the skating park, where you can actually see this group of kids start to form around Lachy as he falls all over the place. The funny thing is, the kids were being really supportive – every time he fell they’d cheer and say “that was great!” I couldn’t even tell if they were being sarcastic, they were being very professionally deadpan. I guess skating all day makes you age fast.
Are you planning on more music videos seeing that you are interested in filming? You are very creative!
None for a while now. But it’s something I’d like to get back into when the project is right for it.
‘The Raw and Cooked’ is about a person trapped in a bad scene, can you explain the inspiration behind the song?
I like your way of thinking that tomorrow we are going to be someone’s history books, this is all too true sadly. The more I think about the concept, I feel that when writing this, it is 3 am and I can’t sleep due to the long to do list that is weighing on my mind. Interesting! Was that your intention to get across the message that our worries today will be forgotten soon?
Yes, but I’m not sure I’d say that they’ll be ‘forgotten’. They’ll be remembered all right, but they’ll be judged. Just like we look back on past civilizations and the way they did things and wonder how they could sacrifice humans or keep their women locked up, or believe in weird things that don’t make sense to us anymore.
I have listened to the album a few times now and two songs stand out to me the most. The first, ‘Old Shadow’ , I totally love the meaning, well the way I took it was that wherever I go I have this baggage that I really need to leave behind. As I said it is early in the morning! Was this the intentional meaning?
Yeah, that song has enough space that the shadow can stand for a few different things. I like to write songs like that, I don’t like to force my interpretation of what it’s meant to be onto other people.
Was this song always going to be the first track on the album? I feel that it is a great choice.
We tried a few album openers, but somewhere along the way that one felt right. Once I’d made that decision, it was actually quite tough, because I became more obsessed about getting the song right – that particular track had the most amount of revisions and changes, every little last thing was tweaked just to make it what I thought needed to be a strong opener. We changed the key, we changed the tempo, we changed the arrangement, we slowed it down in the mixing stage, pulled out all the stops. So I’m glad it worked!
The other song that I connected with was ‘Sweetest Mistake’ Totally relatable song. Wow, I feel that you wrote this song just for me. I love it when I get that feeling. I find the music video simple but very effective in getting the songs message across.
Is there one song in particular that you connect to the most or is it too hard to say?
I connect to all of them in a different way. But ‘Build Me an Ark’ gives me the biggest chills..
You mention that you have too much stuff on stage when you perform, can you tell us a story about a gig that was difficult because of this?
Haha, pretty much every single one! It’s not so much that we have the world’s most gear, it’s more that we have more gear than a supposed ‘folk’ act. (To be honest, I don’t really think I am a folk act.) We often have to sound check a fair bit, because we imporovise every gig which means we really have to hear everything. There have been a couple of gigs where we didn’t really get a sound check and we had to wing it, I think there was one at The Retreat where the drummer was looking at my feet the whole time to find the guitar rhythm…
So….. your album artwork for the album what was the inspiration behind that? Did you design that yourself?
The design was actually done by the band guitarist, Danny Cox, and the bass player Louis Gill took the photo on the front cover. I think I always wanted a photo on the cover, and the deep blue colour just kind of worked with the music. It also happens to be my favourite colour.
Thanks Noah, I wish you all the best for the release.
The Raw and the Cooked rambles comfortably across its three and a half minutes, generating a sprawling acoustic soundscape that lifts and inspires the listener. Evoking thoughts of Father John Misty and Radiohead, the track nestles sweetly underneath Earp’s inimitable vocal, then climaxes in perfect chaos. Of the track, Earp says, “The Raw and the Cooked is about a person who is trapped in a bad scene. At first she seems really cynical, but actually the cynicism masks a certain naivete. We all have this to some extent – nothing is too neat and nobody’s perfect. I liked the idea of a love song that wasn’t…in the end this pretty love song fragments into a million pieces, because life is scary and chaotic.”
The clip for The Raw and the Cooked is lovingly homemade by Earp himself, and features charming characters, including Brisbane musician Laneous and band member Danny Cox, in iconic Melbourne scenes. Affectionately tongue-in-cheek, the clip was inspired by several wasted hours spent watching extreme sports and skateboard tricks on YouTube. Earp laughs, “I thought it’d be cool to grab some GoPros and film an extremely untalented person making an absolute mockery of themselves and the sport. I thought the album was serious enough…I have a habit of doing music videos myself. It’s not generally advised, but I like learning about filmmaking, and I’d rather learn about it by jumping in and giving it a shot.”
Earp’s debut album Disinheritor demonstrates the troubadour’s insatiable taste for poetics and symbolism, encompassed within a balanced acoustic/electronic environment. The result is tender, suffused with melancholy, marked by Earp’s delicate vocal tone and unforeseen tunings that unsettle as much as they ease. Recorded with Jonathan Dreyfus (Gretta Ray, Lester the Fierce), Jez Giddings (Kingswood, Dallas Crane) and Craig Harnath at Hothouse Studios, Disinheritor includes many pleasant surprises – even a duet with the 2016 winner of Triple J Unearthed’s Unearthed High competition, Gretta Ray. Of the record, Earp enthuses, “We’re not supposed to think about the fact that tomorrow we’re going be somebody else’s history book. So I guess all of these loose threads in the album – the love songs, the songs that play on religion, the songs that play on politics – they’re all set in the knowledge that this is just a flash in the pan. In some songs, that’s a vision of terror. In others, it’s where all the most important and beautiful things in life have their basis. It’s a debut album… but the irony is it all comes across as a swansong.”
Noah Earp, alongside a full band, will launch Disinheritor at an exclusive gig at renowned Melbourne venue The Toff in Town on October 27. Thrilled to finally put the record out into the world and to perform it live for the fans, Earp says, “I really enjoy performing these songs live, partly because I don’t do it that often, and partly because we always leave a bit of room to improvise. The band is solid and they know the songs so well, we really try and rein in on the moment using the words as the focal point. It’s a big sound – I like to think of us as oversized chamber music. Folk musicians don’t book us for gigs because we have too much stuff on stage!”