Photo credit to Preston Garland.
Near Noir is a new duo between singer/songwriter Zoë Wick and physician-turned-producer Warholla. What brought this pairing together, and how does the collaboration compare to each of your work individually?
Zoë: For me, I had spent a few years doing acoustic shows solo and with a live band, but I really wasn’t listening to acoustic music. I was more interested in electronic and pop music and I wanted to experiment with that sound while keeping the soul and depth I had been striving for in my songwriting up to that point. I was in Austin, TX for SXSW and talked to a few producers down there, and when I talked with Warholla, we just really clicked and loved all the same artists and were inspired by each other’s work. He’s very determined and methodical when it comes to creating a sound and writing a song, whereas I’m more big-picture and feel my way as I go. I think that duality helps bring balance to our process.
Warholla: Originally I was a guitarist and synth player in bands, but when I left for medical school, I didn’t have bandmates to collaborate with, so I began to focus on songwriting and production. I was mostly making John Carpenter inspired 80’s music and crooning over chillwave tracks, music was becoming very isolating and I was wanting to expand and work on ideas that would take on a life outside myself. The first time I worked with Zoë, we got along great, and the songwriting process felt very natural. At the time, I was in school, and our long distance collaboration became an artistic refuge from the medical field. Now, I produce for other artists, and compose for media, so Near Noir feels like a creative center for me.
You each have a past in the mental health field. Can you talk about that, and share how that affects the music you create?
Zoë: Absolutely. So, I do psychotherapy with teenagers, but when I really think about it I don’t think it’s so much that work affecting my music as it is an energy inside me that drives me to make this music and also drives me to be a therapist. Long before becoming a therapist, I was interested in dream analysis, symbology, archetypes, and the process of healing, whether that be from heartbreak or trauma or injustice. I’ve learned a lot more since then, but therapy and music both play the role in my life of creating an intimate space to really look at the dark places that tend to be suppressed or ignored.
Warholla: My focus in med school was Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, so I spent a lot of time working with both children and adults in both inpatient and outpatient psychiatric facilities. I began to realize the universal way that music affects people, and became obsessed with how sounds/harmony/ and lyrics evoke emotion.
“Devil’s Play” is your first original single as Near Noir. Besides that, you’ve released a over and a pre-Near Noir collaboration. What does “Devil’s Play” introduce to fans about this project, and what is the story behind the track?
Warholla: I think “Devil’s Play” represents a lot of concepts central to the project, it’s a dark pop song with a mixture of organic and synthetic instrumentation, and a whole lot of Zoë’s vocals. We experimented with her voice to give the song our sonic imprint, a lot of transitions and ear candy come from processing her vocals.
You mentioned that “Devil’s Play” is inspired by the primal urge for revenge that can occur as part of the grieving/healing process. Is this based off of your experience, or from what you’ve seen out of other people?
Zoë: I’ve experienced it a couple of times… You know, anger is an underrated emotion. There’s nothing unevolved about it. It’s a signal to you about how much is too much, that something needs your attention, and it’s part of a process.
You’re currently working on finishing your debut EP. What do you have left to do on it, and when can readers expect more information regarding its release and details?
Warholla: All of the music is done. We’re still finalizing some of the album art and release dates.
Are live shows something you want to do once the EP is released?
Warholla: Possibly, although I’ve become quite a studio recluse.
What are your goals as Near Noir, and how do you plan to achieve them?
Warholla: Reaching a broader audience, and we recently started working with a company to help get our music in TV and film (movies have always been a big inspiration for me). We’d also like to incorporate more visual components in the mix.
Is there anything I missed that you would like to talk about?
Warholla: If you enjoy “Devil’s Play” and want to hear more Near Noir, check out our dark synth pop cover of Mario Winans’ R&B classic – “I Don’t Wanna Know.”
Listen to Near Noir on any major music streaming site!