Naomi Greenwald Naomi Greenwald's forthcoming self-titled debut (self-released on May 5th) is a rich and highly textured collection of the sounds that have made a lasting impression throughout the singer/songwriter's life. While subtle, many of the different genres and artists that she listened to while growing up in Northeast Pennsylvania shaped the direction of her music - from the sounds of '70s rock (such as Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin and The Allman Brothers) to a number of American folk and bluegrass artists (Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Alison Krauss). Not content to just build on the past, however, Naomi became interested in the sounds of indie rock after first hearing The Shins and Mark Kozelek in college at NYU, and has since incorporated its alternative stylings into her own music.
For the first several years in New York City, Naomi concentrated most of her time on her studies, but immediately after graduation she formed a band (which consisted of various members of the yet to be formed Bling Kong and Up the Empire) and began playing shows throughout the city. Naomi continued to perform for the next couple of years - both with a band and solo - and also recorded two demos during this period. But within three years of graduation she decided to return to school for her masters and though she played a handful of acoustic shows she found herself quite immersed in her studies.
After nine years in Manhattan and Brooklyn, Naomi moved to Los Angeles to pursue a PhD in Literature. In the summer after her first year, unsatisfied with the sleepy state of her music career, she paired up with producer Rudy Haeusermann to begin recording this new seven-song EP. Besides Neil Thompson (of Low Red Land), several reputable Los Angeles musicians were invited to play on the album. The music that unfolds on this emotionally-charged effort is a direct result of Naomi balancing both her music career and continuing education simultaneously - with the influences of indie rock, Americana music and her studies in literature apparent throughout.
Traversing several genres, Naomi Greenwald has crafted her own unique sound on this engaging EP that is accessible but also leaves the listener wanting for more. With guitar in hand, Naomi has begun playing live again in LA and is planning a West Coast tour in May. She has begun to collaborate with LA musician Jessie Fleischer (aka Lots of Love) who - if schedules and stars align - will be joining Naomi on the road this spring/summer.
Naomi Greenwald track listing
1. Secret Assembly
2. Desire To Fall
4. Be Well Away
How does it feel to hear your song played?
Naomi Greenwald: It feels unreal; it makes me want to turn to someone next to me and ask them if perhaps I am imagining that I am listening to myself through the speakers. But, it also makes me really proud just knowing all the hard work that went into the album, whether it be from my producer or the other musicians who played on the recording or my friends and family who helped in other ways.
Was there a moment when you knew you had made it?
Naomi Greenwald: Maybe when I called my hair salon the other day to make an appointment and they were listening to my music? Not sure I have made it yet in the way that such a thing might have happened had I not burned some songs for my hairdresser, but then again, I am writing to Australia right now!
Describe your style?
Naomi Greenwald: Probably like most people, I think my style is some sort of amalgamation of all the different sounds I have listened to over the year, which in my case is rock and folk with an indie sensibility. But there is definitely something distinctively nostalgic about my music, at least to me. At the core, my current songs are still reminiscent of the first song I wrote in my basement when I was thirteen.
Did you have any pre-conceived ideas about the music industry?
Naomi Greenwald: Big time. I lived in New York for nine years before I moved to Los Angeles and I had lots of friends who worked in the industry while I was going to school. Success seemed completely random; sometimes hard work paid off but other times it was simply a right time right place situation. There are so many talented musicians, especially in that city, and I was intimidated to say the least and back then I tended to approach it already thinking that having a music career was a pipe dreamI forgot to remind myself that there are thousands upon thousands of people that want to hear new music!
Do you write your own songs? Whats your inspiration?
Naomi Greenwald: Yes, I write my own songs and unfortunately my inspiration is usually from bad relationships etc., although if youve listened to the album, you probably already know that! Its a total cliché, but it cant be helped, its spontaneous. Ill sit down with a guitar and then suddenly theres a songwell, when it works outand its usually about something pretty depressing despite my best efforts to write about something beyond myself. I have tons of unused lyrics written from different perspectives and some concerned with current social or political issues but I dont write in the way that I carefully put words to music
Instead, it all happens at once but thats on my (long) list of things to work on.
Do you prefer performing live or recording?
Naomi Greenwald: As a solo artist, Id have to say I prefer recording because in the studio you get to finally materialize all the layers and instrumentation that youve been hearing in your head. My producer, Rudy Haeusermann, did an amazing job of helping me make what I was hearing happen. But, I do also like to perform though I admittedly get pretty nervous. Playing with a band really helps that and it makes performing a lot more fun.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced along the way to your musical success?
Naomi Greenwald: I want to say convincing people that they want to listen, but in truth it has been convincing myself that people want to listen. I think that my approach this time has been totally different than in the past; Im much more confident that this is what I should be doing and that people get excited about new music I think my approach is making a difference.
Whats a typical day like?
Naomi Greenwald: Insanity! I am living a double life as I am a fully time PhD student as well as a musician. I am in classes and I also teach a freshman writing course at 8 am twice a week, which means I get up at 6! So, between practicing and writing music and reading and preparing lesson plans and when I can, going for a run, Id say Im kept pretty busy. But I love it, I am one of those people that seem to get into trouble the more time I have on my hands.
What is your top pick-me-up trick?
Naomi Greenwald: Driving. But not because I live in LA. When I was in high school in small town Pennsylvania, I used to drive around just to get away even though there was no where to go, like kids do in movies. It wasnt that I needed to get away from anything in particular, but like most of my friends, I was angsty and there were few outletscreative or otherwisethat were accessible. And so I would drive around by myself listening to music because thats what I used to do when I was little with my older siblingsin fact, thats how I got into music. Anyway, I still do that now to clear my head but I just have to be sure to avoid the LA traffic!
Whose music do you admire most?
Naomi Greenwald: Right now I am pretty obsessed with Bon Iverthe layered harmonies, the lyrics, the instrumentation, its all there. For instance, when I first heard Skinny Love I wished I had written it myself. I have been equally obsessed with The Shins and Cat Power for similar reasons. Cat Powers Good Woman gave me shivers when I heard it live. I guess I admire songs that are seemingly simple but are evocative of something you didnt necessary realize you needed to have expressed. I have never made a mix for someone that didnt have Sun Kil Moons Carry Me Ohio since it came out and since Mark Kozeleks big into covers, I hope he doesnt mind if I one day attempt to perform it. But I probably should have mentioned Fleetwood Mac, Van Morrison, the Shangri-las
I admire them all for so many reasons!
What do you do to relax?
Naomi Greenwald: I go out to dinner. Aside from travel, I spend most of my money eating out or grabbing a drink with a friend or a family member. I worked in the restaurant industry for years but somehow it hasnt affected my appreciation of a great meal and a glass of wine with people that I love. Perhaps its because I grew up with such a big, crazy (and wonderful) family that going out has been such a treat. Or potential minor catastrophe, it depends on who your asking
What music/artists do you listen to when you are not playing your own?
Naomi Greenwald: Everyone I mentioned above and so many more! Band of Horses, Horse Feathers, The Band, Cowboy Junkies, Aimee Mann, Built to Spill, The Wrens, The Pierces, Iron and Wine, Dolly Parton, Neutral Milk Hotel, Jose Gonzalez, Lesley Gore, Lucinda Williams, Midlake, Songs: Ohia and on and on and on.
One rule you live by?
Naomi Greenwald: Nothings urgentin terms of life goals at least. It seldom works, but I try to remind myself all the time that nothing is urgent, that things take time and patience and a lot of goes. In the moment its hard to remember this, but in retrospect, its always so clear: nothing is urgent!