JBL Emerging Interview: No/Me on candid music: “I take my anger out in song”

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned – especially when said woman is a talented singer-songwriter. Like Alanis Morissette, Carley Simon, Beyoncé and Adele before her, L.A artist No/Me is at her best when channelling her anger over past relationships into her songwriting. In this Emerging Headliner interview powered by JBL, the artist shows she can make so much more than ‘angry girl’ music…

What is something fans of your music may not know about you?

For me there’s music, and then there’s picking fruit. Those are my two favourite things, actually! I wrote my new single, Remedy in Sweden three years ago. When I left the studio, there wasn’t a lot of fruit growing in Sweden at the time. 

It was kind of cold out, but they had tulips. So I picked a bunch of tulips and I did a fake photoshoot in the bathtub. Then a few years later, I redid the bathtub scene for the artwork for Remedy, and I'm really excited to show people how to make their own remedies on Tiktok using teas by foraging flowers.

What music were you influenced by when you were growing up?

I love Nirvana, The Shins, Regina Spektor and Arctic Monkeys. But then I also loved Israeli artists like Sarit Hadad. My mum only had about three CDs in her car on the way to and from school. 

We would listen to these three Israeli records over and over again and one of them was by Sarit Hadad. She really influenced my music because I really take my anger out in song – not in person – which is great. 

I can make death threats through song and it's cute because I'm smiling, but if I did that in person, I'd be in jail!

What was the first music you bought with your own money?

It was Elephunk by Black Eyed Peas. I just got to work with one of the guys who produced that album and it's been such a nice full circle moment. I'm like, “Dude! You changed my life!”

I can make death threats through song and it's cute because I'm smiling, but if I did that in person, I'd be in jail!

Congratulations on your performance at the 2022 NAMM show on the JBL truck! How does it feel returning to performing live, and how much did you miss it during the pandemic?

It’s my first time performing at the show and I'm excited to be doing it for JBL using the EON ONE Compact on stage. I missed performing so much. I quit music, actually, and I started gardening and ended up doing marketing for a gardening app. 

As soon as the world started opening up last March, I quit that job and I was like, “No, I need to be a musician”. It was like my soul was missing, so to be back performing again feels incredible. 

I feel like since covid I've become a little shy, which I've never been, so for me to be able to bring out a different side of myself on stage feels so cathartic.

Were you inspired to write music during the pandemic, or did you go the opposite way?

For the first year I didn't write anything – I couldn't. I kept trying. I signed a publishing deal and they were putting me in Zoom sessions. I had friends coming to my backyard sitting six feet away – we tried to write together and I couldn't get anything out. I was so depressed. 

Then at the end of the pandemic one of my favourite producers of all time heard my music and he was like, “I'll make an album for you”, and I was like, “Okay, let's go”. 

Immediately I was writing two songs a day and I haven't stopped since. I feel like a full human again.

I don't need a saviour. I'm okay on my own.

Your lyrics are quite candid and not always complimentary to whomever is the focus of them; do you take inspiration from real life events?

It's whatever's on my mind really. Often, I go to the studio and I try to really think about what I'm going to write that day and then whoever I'm working with will play a few chords, and then I freestyle. 

Then the subconscious stuff actually comes out. It's never anything that I plan. It's whatever I'm really feeling inside, which is why it's kind of embarrassing to sing them out loud because I'm like, “Oh, here are my feelings!”

The first song you released was Consistent in 2018. With lyrics like, ‘I die for attention 'cause I feel alive when I get it, I got the best intentions but I tend to f**k them up’ – it’s fairly self critical. How did this song come together?

At the time I was like, “I don't know what I'm writing about”. It's so weird – all these lyrics came out, and now I listen back to it, it's basically saying, “I'm a piece of s**t, but at least I'm consistent and you know where I stand”. I've grown a lot since then. Thank god!

Your single, Saviour takes aim at someone else, with lyrics like ‘F**k the fairy tales and your princess dreams, I'ma give you hell like a killer queen’ – what inspired this song?

I went on a few dates with a guy who drove a Bentley – and I say that because it seemed very flashy. He was so nice though! By date three or four he was like, “Hey, babe, if you want to move into my place, it's all yours, and if you want, I'll take you to Paris next weekend”. 

I was like, “Whoa, I'm not looking for that. I'm just looking for a nice guy. I don't need that”. When I broke up with him, he tried to go to my mum's house to give her and me these $5,000 dresses to get me back and I was like, “Yo, I don't need a saviour – I don't want that”. I'm okay on my own.

With lyrics like, ‘Thought you had control, I'll strip you 'til you're bones, scraping your knees 'til you beg for more’ – we’re keen to hear the real life inspiration behind Pass The Knife

It’s about somebody that I was dating. I found out that he was cheating on me on the same days that we would be together, and that was shocking. 

There's a line like, “Cover you in scars, just to leave a mark, get you addicted, tear you apart”, which is about the last time I left his house. 

I put a lot of love notes everywhere like, “Have the best day babe”, knowing that I was gonna dump him and that he would find all of them. I was a little psychotic [laughs]. 

I was so much younger. I ran into him a month later and he was like, “I saw all of these notes everywhere; I'm such an idiot”. I was like, “Oh really? Sucks for you!”

It's about being your authentic self and showing your weird quirks.

Is it nerve wracking to share songs that are so personal, and do you ever get feedback from the people they’re about?

It used to not be weird for me, and then as soon as I became self aware through covid, now singing the songs I want to die because everyone in my family all of my friends are like, [adopts a sing-song voice] “We know what you're talking about!” 

And when dating too, these guys hear the songs and go, “What's this about?” And I'm like, “Oh, can you please not ask me about my diary?” [laughs]

How do you find navigating the music industry as an independent artist? How do you use digital platforms to get your music out there?

It's cool. Fortunately, in that marketing job I took, I learned how to do a lot of stuff. What I'm going to try to do is see if I can blow Remedy up on TikTok with my fruit picking and tea making videos, because I just love posting them, and people seem to really like them.

I'm a fan of TikTok. I think Instagram is harder; the algorithm isn't really positioned to help artists anymore. With TikTok, find something you love posting about. I have one friend who does impersonations, I have another friend who shows her chickens on TikTok, and these are artists. 

I think it's about being your authentic self and showing your weird quirks. Every singer can sing, but if you tell your story, I think that's where you really connect. As long as you're doing stuff that you like, it's not as bad. It's when you're sitting there singing to your camera or dancing to it where your soul dies inside.

What is your experience with Spotify as an independent artist in a crowded market?

If there wasn't a Spotify, I don't know what I would do. What am I gonna do? Sell CDs on the side of the road? Spotify could be doing a way better job paying people fairly, and one thing that really frustrates me is that the labels really do hold market share with playlists. 

I don't know if the general public knows this, but in the music industry, the playlists give certain spots to labels, so there are only so few spots left for an independent artist. So that makes it really hard, but at the same time, everything's a blessing and a curse. Oh my god, I sound so religious…this is what happens when you have a spiritual awakening!

Do you plan to release more music this year?

I'm releasing a single every month for the next few months. My favourite one comes out on July 8, it's called Different

Then I'm releasing a collaboration with my friends Avi Snow and Julieta on July 29, and I’ve got another collab with a British artist called Mr Cutts, who just produced a song for Stormzy. He's so sick. 

I'm really excited to be releasing everything I've been working on for the last year!