Be on the lookout for NEONNOAH, Dallasites! This indie rock band thrives in creating a unique sound with fresh songwriting far beyond their years. Bandmates Esteban Flores (sings and plays guitar), Conner McKinzie (sings and plays guitar), Jacob Norris (plays synth and keys) blend indie rock, pop, electronic, and alternative into their music.
NEONNOAH’s debut EP “Reaching for Constellations” released last year. This year, singles “Atlas” and “Dancing with the Lights On” off their sophomore EP “Bella Vita” released. “Bella Vita” will drop on Sept. 23.
Interview questions by ChinLin Pan and photos by Parker Conley
What are you most looking forward to the most for “Bella Vita”‘s release in September?
Esteban: From the time we started working on “Bella Vita” I knew it was going to be a special record. We all wanted to write a record that felt timeless to us. I hope listeners would feel the same way we did when we first heard these songs.
Conner: Not too long after “Reaching for Constellations,” we wrote a number of songs that we loved. To me, the songwriting, the production, and the just the sound as a whole was much more mature. So the hardest part is waiting to put those out, and I guess that’s what I’m most excited about. I’m so ready for people to hear what we’ve been working on. A lot of people have this perception of what NEONNOAH is, which isn’t necessarily bad, but I think Bella Vita will change that perception.
Jacob: I’m just most excited for everyone to hear the new music. Like Conner and Esteban said, they are new, more mature songs that mean a lot to us.
How did you guys meet? And at what point did you decide to “band” together?
Esteban: It’s interesting how our paths crossed. Conner and Jacob have been best friends since high school. I met Conner in college. We both loved writing music together in the dorms. After we all became friends, starting a band was a pretty organic process. The three of us loved music and wanted to create something that we’d be proud of someday. It definitely became real to us when we released our first single “Disaster.” I don’t think anyone expected us to be where we are now when we started recording demos in Conner’s childhood room. Sometimes life throws you an opportunity that you can’t pass up. This band has always felt like one of those opportunities.
How did you decide on the name “NEONNOAH”?
Esteban: It’s actually a weird story. The name doesn’t have very much significance. Jacob hates dancing. So he made a go-to move called the “neon noah” just in case he was in a situation that required dancing (we’ll have to show you sometime). We made a joke that if we ever started a band we should call it that. Six months later, we were NEONNOAH.
What’s the inspiration behind “Bella Vita”?
Esteban: Bella Vita translates to english “beautiful life” or “good life.” After all the songs were written we started to realize the theme of the record encompassed a lot the aspects that make life beautiful. Love, ambition, heart ache, faith, doubt, etc. We were on our patio one night after rehearsing and joked about calling our EP the name of our apartment complex (Bella Vida). After not much further discussion we landed on the title “Bella Vita.”
What was it like working with producer/songwriter Josh Varnadore and EP engineer Shane D. Wilson?
Esteban: We knew Josh before we started working on this record. In a lot of ways, he’s had a hand in the band since it started. Working with him was a really natural process. He knew the vision for the record and pushed us to be the best versions of ourselves. It felt a little uncomfortable at times because we weren’t used to certain things like tracking the instruments live or recording vocals the way we did, but It always turned out better than we could have done on our own. Making a record with someone who values songs above tones was super inspiring. It made us feel like we were making music instead of building some sort of audio machine. Shane worked on a ton of our favorite records. We were equal parts excited and nervous to meet a legend. He has such a great grasp on making records. We were particularly excited to work with someone who values using real gear. It would have been easier to use software/plug ins to make tracks sound good, but going the extra mile to make sure everything was authentic added to the overall feel of the record. Shane and Josh Both had great senses of humor which made the process more fun for everyone.
Which rock bands inspire you?
Esteban: I’m really into passionate songwriters. I’ve been really inspired by bands like Kings of Leon, The Killers, Frightened Rabbit, Foals, and Mumford and Sons (last two records). I have a bad habit of binging on these bands for weeks at a time. I guess it’s because I love the way they make me feel.
Conner: I really love Coldplay, Bombay Bicycle Club, and Colony House.
Jacob: Michael Jackson, Phoenix, and Beach House have all influenced the way I write parts and think about songs musically.
If you had to choose one music artist–dead or alive–to arm-wrestle with, who would you pick and why?
Esteban: I’d arm wrestle Justin Vernon (Bon Iver/Volcano Choir). I would most likely lose but hopefully we’d become friends afterward. I can’t think of a situation where we’d have to arm wrestle without knowing each other in the first place, but if that opportunity ever presented itself I’d totally do it!
Conner: I would definitely arm wrestle Chris Martin from Coldplay. I think he’d beat me but I’ve always wanted sit down and talk with him. Hopefully an arm wrestle would lead to a date with Chris Martin.
Jacob: I would arm wrestle Jack Steadman from Bombay Bicycle Club because I probably have a good chance of winning and I think he’s one of the coolest dudes.
You can follow NEONNOAH on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, SoundCloud, and Twitter! Don’t forget to check out Shuffle Online on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat @ShuffleOnline to find out more about rising music artists!