The Collapse Board Interview | noon:30
By Bianca Valentino
I first discovered the amazing Brooklyn/D.C. band noon:30 – Blue (vocals + bass) and Aissa (noise + guitar) – when Everett True wrote about them here on Collapse Board. He praised the ladies, describing them as “protest music like mainstream commentators keep saying doesn’t exist these days” and as reminding him of “great lost 80s femme-punk duo Toxic Shock”. They’re one of the most interesting bands I’ve heard lately. They describe themselves simply as electronic-rock but I believe there’s so much more going on. I’m with Everett when he talks of noon:30 blowing his mind! I’m excited to hear their new EP they’ve been busy working on…
What inspired you to start noon:30?
BLUE: I wanted to experience what life would be like if I lived it for myself and under my terms. Music has always been in my veins. I just needed an outlet.
I’ve heard that you’re sisters?
BLUE: Who told you that? I thought we kept that a secret.
AISSA: She’s not my sister, she’s my brother.
Why are you called noon:30?
BLUE: It was a toss-up between noon:30 and Fists Full Of Unicorns. The first one won.
Tell me about your neighbourhood, what’s happening music and arts-wise?
BLUE: A few years ago you could walk down almost any street in Mt. Pleasant and hear bands playing. [I’m] not quite sure what is going on now since I spend most of my time writing new material and teaching kids music.
AISSA: I live in New York so I’m sure music and art of all kinds is happening. I mainly keep to my world and inner thoughts, just shy of a hermit, not really into scenes, so I don’t know. If the artists and musicians are not our friends, not at our gig, or not taking a class with me at Dubspot I don’t really know what they are about or doing. Hum, I feel like I should have made something up so I’d come across cooler.
What was your first introduction to music?
BLUE: I feel like as soon as I was born I was introduced to music. All throughout my childhood, music was played or being sung by either myself or my family.
AISSA: Oh I cannot even remember; music was always around me growing up.
What was your musical up bringing like?
BLUE: Being from Detroit, Motown was very much a part of my life. My uncle would sing old school songs, as well as my aunts. I also joined an acting troop and was frequently asked I sing solos.
AISSA: My dad used to play the guitar in a blues band, so it was natural for me to want to play the guitar and play music. When I told my Dad I wanted to play the guitar, he just went out got me a guitar and took me to my first lesson, didn’t blink twice. And I think since then, that has been my whole experience with my drive for noon:30 — I don’t blink twice.
When did you start writing songs?
BLUE: I was writing songs when I was about eight years old.
noon:30 has a real punk vibe, what was your first introduction to punk rock?
BLUE: Honestly I feel like I was introduced to punk when I met Aissa.
AISSA: I was in high school; a friend introduced me to Bad Brains, Fugazi, Minor Threat, Black Flag, and so many others. But when I was younger I was very much (and still am) into industrial rock and electronica. I would have thought that would play a bigger influence in our sound. But I guess there is something about the expression in punk music, the protest and rawness of it, that took center stage as an influence in our music.
What attracted you to it?
BLUE: It was dirty, raw, hard and nasty. All things that I really like. In that order.
Who are the artists that have had the biggest impact on you? How have they impacted you?
BLUE: Hmmm I really like a bunch of artists. Waaay too many to name. I like feeling like I can teleport… Bjork does that for me; Kelela’s voice makes me feel like I’m floating. Honestly Aissa does the same. They each have reminded me how lucky we are/ I am to have such a gift.
AISSA: Blue. She has an amazing voice, she’s the best band-mate one could ask for, and she constantly pushes me (even when I buff up against her) to be better. There is no other artists that have had a stronger impact.
You’re currently recording a new EP; how’s it all going? What can you tell us about it?
BLUE: I think it’s great. But I guess all artists will say that about their project, yes? It’s a perfect story of the biggest storm.
Is there a certain mood you’re trying to capture with the new EP?
AISSA: When we started writing we were in a state of anger over feeling disempowered our experiences in the band, and issues in our personal lives. However, when we completed the last song for the album ‘Dream’ there was a lot of acceptance and self-empowerment. So the EP really brings you the feeling of moving from rage to revenge to acceptance and love.
Lyric-wise what are some of the themes that you express on the new songs?
BLUE: This EP was writing while I was in a place of anger. So lyrically it tells the story of my rage mixed with the love of embracing it.
What is your recollection of the first show noon:30 ever played?
BLUE: Ha! Wow ummm it was fun and interesting. I was so scared and raw. Almost like a calm chaos. Waiting to bust into this world of music but being scared shitless… but so ready for it.
Describe what happens mentally-physically-spiritually for you when you are on stage.
BLUE: I morph. All the nerves vanish and I am no longer myself. My mind goes blank. I feel like I’m floating. I live for those moments.
Why is playing music important to you?
BLUE: Because it’s the only time I feel real.
AISSA: It’s the only way I can fully express myself, what I’m feeling, and who I am in that moment. Words always fail me.
Do you feel music can be revolutionary?
BLUE: Fuck. Yes.
AISSA: I don’t believe you can separate music from society. I think now you have more of a recipe for music to be more revolutionary than in the past thanks to DAW – being able to create music “in the box” so to speak – and the internet (YouTube, SoundCloud, etc.). Now the division between the “professional” musician – who can afford expensive studio time and has the backing of major labels to distribute their music – and everyone else, is gone. Now if you have a voice and a drive, you have an audience that will listen. Granted it might not be as large as those on big labels, but any revolution and evolution will always have small beginnings.
I was speaking to my friend Drea from PYYRAMIDS not too long ago and we were discussing that in our experience (as women of colour) that there doesn’t seem to be too many ladies of colour for younger ladies to look up to or identify with in the electro-rock world; what are your thoughts on this?
BLUE: I mean if we are looking at it from a mainstream view then yes. But I feel like from an underground scene- we are plenty. Just have to turn the radio off and you will find them.
AISSA: Yes and no. There were definitely not that many women of color to look up to in the electro-rock or electronica world. I think the younger generation after this one will have women of color idols in electro-rock and EDM, as I see a good number creating amazing work, which for me now includes Drea (thanks for the intro!).
What could we find on your playlists of late?
BLUE: Bjork, E.D. Sedgwick, System Of A Down, & Kelela.
AISSA: So directly from today’s playlist (drum roll please): Thomas Azier, Austra, The Knife, Deadmau5, Andy Stott, and Raime.
What is your biggest dreams and hopes for noon:30?
AISSA: …we leave a legacy that inspires other when we are gone.
What are some things (other than music) that noon:30 really care about?
BLUE: I care about love.
AISSA: My family, my Buddhist practice, if they will make a Battlestar Galatica movie, tree houses, obliterating tyranny of all forms, did I say tree houses?, the digital divide, music technology, and tree houses.
Is there anything you’d like to bring to our attention or raise awareness of?
AISSA: Yes, I had the opportunity to volunteer last year for iGotITToo, a NY based organization dedicated to preventing the growing digital divide in the world by offering information technology courses. It was an eye-awakening experience on how far reaching digital inequality can affect the under-served/low-income population. In terms of health care access, job opportunities, education, I could go on. It’s deserves more attention.
What’s next for you?
BLUE: Everything. All-encompassing and in between.