Noah Dillon has been making waves in the Australian music scene, bringing infectious and joyful indie rock anthems contrasted with vulnerable and introspective lyricism. Noah's heart-on-his-sleeve approach to songwriting is characterised by funny, honest, and relatable lyrics that encompasses different stages of relationships and adolescence. The band emphasises self-expression and individuality, asking us to challenge gender expression, our inner monologues and the societal structures and foundations in our everyday lives.
The start of October saw Noah Dillon release their 5-track EP, Don’t Change For The World (Like It’s Changing Me). On writing the EP Noah explains, "The overall message is one of learning to love yourself and navigating the relationships around you. When I listen back to the songs together it really points to a time in my life where I was (and still am) figuring out who I am whilst navigating relationships, grief and love. This is a self-exploratory look at who I am and how I am being shaped.”
Two EP's and various singles in and Noah Dillon have already outdone themselves: whether it’s a biting guitar solo ('That's Just How I Feel'), a carefully considered, vulnerable melody ('That's Your Teeth Between The Lies'), or a vivacious and cathartic rock anthem ('That's Just How I Feel'), this band is one to keep your eyes on. They certainly have a formula for success, making their debut appearance on Triple J's Like A Version this week. If recent developments are any indication, it's only up from here.
Read our interview with Noah Dillon below:
What was the inspiration behind the EP and the title? I want to know... how is the world changing you?
With the title, it's a lyric from the end of a song on the EP called ‘Make You Cry’. And as a whole, the EP is about the world and social events, and how everything in your life, specifically from when you're 18 to 22 , starts to shape who you are and how you come out of your adolescence and become an adult. Those things can be positive or negative, and I was thinking a lot about the fact that there's lots of things that can happen to you, but it doesn't need to change who you are; It's important to only change in positive directions, yet sometimes we can be pulled to change in negative directions. So I guess it was a reminder to myself and also, I guess a little bit about the fact that sometimes you need to change your situation in relationships, which is a really hard thing to do, but it's better in the long run.
Tracks on the EP, especially the single ‘That’s Just How I Feel’ that you released earlier in the year, really are a homage to self-acceptance and individualism, challenging gender norms... You really put your heart on your sleeve in your writing… Have you always had this outlook on life or are they more recent revelations you’ve drawn on writing this EP?
I feel like not throughout my whole life, no. I grew up in, I would say pretty masculine dominated place, in an all-boys school. So I think it was definitely something where I came out of that situation and reflected on everything; Who I was and where I was at changed a lot. I think, once I was out of there, I could see so clearly how those environments encourage that mindset (toxic masculinity).
And I think that's why I feel really passionate about it is because I definitely can reflect on where I was and who I was and be like, "That was such a product of that environment I was in." Stepping out of it is so critical to see the full picture and let yourself be who you want be and do what you want to do.
You have released a couple of music videos now collaborating with director Daniel Hildebrand… I want to talk about your most recent for ‘Losing Touch’. There’s some strong imagery and what seems like metaphors in with your visuals; How did you conceptualise the video?
Yeah. I used to just get so freaked out about the whole video side of music because it was just so foreign into me and I was like, "Oh my God, this isn't what I signed up for." But then I realized that it's such an important way to show the audience what you really want to portray in your songs. It can be quite a clear way to show what your intention is with music.
Once I figured that out and let myself be expressive in that way, I loved it. I really loved it. Me and Dan work really well together and come with the ideas together. It usually takes a lot of conversations and a lot of unpacking of the songs and the sentiment behind it, and then letting ideas and visual stimulus just drop in and being as creative as we can. We just shoot for the stars and think as big as we can and then reign it back in.
Do you guys construct a narrative first or do you more like to think about the visual elements that would go along with your songs?
I think narrative stuff in videos can be amazing, but in my experience, it’s been hard to capture the narrative the way that you can picture it in your brain. You almost need actors I feel. With the 'Losing Touch' video and maybe the 'That's Just How I Feel' video we focused a lot more on aesthetic, and the art of the shot and how we can represent the narrative instead of having to just show it from start to finish.
I want to know who are the artists that you get inspiration from sonically when you write music?
I draw inspiration from a lot of different genres. I think specifically, there seems to be a cross over between folk, storytelling and the conveying of emotions with almost punk or rock influences. I think artists like Julia Jacklin, Courtney Barnett and Big Thief from America, they all really blew my mind with how you can express emotions and how you can tell a story.
I've gone through a huge Modest Mouse and Modern Baseball phase. Bands like IDLES and Fontaines D.C solidified the fact that I like music that represents what you're trying to say lyrically through the soundscape. I think that's why, when it is talking about heavier issues or talking about uplifting things, we try to just match the music to that emotion. It's all over the show, and I think also being a band that is just under my name, it ties us less to genre. I can just write the song about whatever I'm feeling and then that's what it is.
I want to talk about 'That’s Your Teeth Between The Lies'… It holds a very different tonality to the rest of the EP, and the positioning of the song is right in the middle, followed by 'That’s Just How I Feel'… It’s almost like this song about realisation and bitterness followed by another song about acceptance and forgiveness. The two songs just give of completely different understandings … What was your creative process behind the song and why did you decide to throw in a more stripped back ballad in comparison to your usual upbeat indie-rock anthems?
I feel like that song is a good representation of where all the songs start, as they all start as a solo-ish songsand then the rest is band influence and getting creative with the other elements. Some songs just feel good on their own. I can't really explain why it is, but it seems quite clear cut to me when I'm like, "Okay, that one's more of a solo emotional song."
Again, I think it's trying to match the soundscape to the emotion of the song and what I want to represent. That one felt like it was really personal to me and therefore that required it to be more stripped back and more raw. It’s a hard one really, to know whether more instruments will benefit the song. Some of my favorite songs are so simplistic in their format that it's important to remember not to add all the time, sometimes subtracting is good.
Did you write 'That’s The Teeth Between Your Lies' before 'That’s Just How I Feel'? It seems like very two completely different stages of a grief and healing process there.
Yeah, I think I did actually. That's what I want to show in the EP as well, some movement through adolescence and relationships and everything.
You guys kicked off your tour this month… What have you been most excited for about staging this EP and bringing it to a live audience and what has been your favourite songs to play live?
'Make You Cry' is really fun to play live, and 'That's Just How I Feel', feels really good as well. I think they have big live moments. It's funny because we recorded them 10 months ago and then haven't been and able to play them live since, so it's just been listening to them back and I feel like lots of them are live songs; They were written and recorded to be played live. It was really fun to be able to put them back together and play them how they were intended to be played again.
Dillon and his band – guitarist Sam Rocchi, drummer Jack Hill and bassist Claudia Genovese – are performing a string of live shows across the country through October to early March in celebration of their new EP, wrapping up their tour in Melbourne. You can grab tickets for the remainder of their tour here.