Interview by Thomas Agnew
The first lady of Taylor Gang has a perfect state of mind for the situation she has been dealt with. Yes, Courtney Noelle feels the pressure of coming out the gate with homerun hitting projects. Being a label mate with Wiz Khalifa, everyone who has a release under the Taylor Gang imprint is expected to have an enormous amount success just as he had by affiliation. But by releasing Wishing On A Star without the machine backing her she doesn’t let the expectations phase her. In this part one of our interview with Courtney we talk about her musical influences, the pressure of success, and her strong writing ability.
When people think of Courtney Noelle, what should come to mind?
An awesome songwriter. That’s all in all what I’d want people to think about me when they hear my name. Above anything, above being pretty, talented because I’m more passionate about my songwriting.
Musically, how would you describe yourself?
I feel like all of the female artists that have ever come out have this elaborate story. Like this big story line and this struggle and rags to riches story. I think I’m just really normal. I don’t have a sad story. Of course when I write songs I write about things I’ve been through as far as relationships because that’s what’s really happened. I have sisters so I see them go through things with boys and I see my friends go through things with men. Even if it’s just boyfriend girlfriend stuff, I see how it affects women’s lives. So that’s what I like to talk about. Getting through them, dealing with them, and moving on. All of that other stuff I can’t relate to. I would say I’m just a normal girl singing about normal things.
On your first project, what did you want to display as an artist who had never put together a full project?
My first mixtape I put out, which was Wishing On A Star, was more so just doing it by myself and getting it done. I know I can sing. I know I can write, I know I’m creative, and I know I can write catchy things. I was just like all of that is a given now can you go into the studio, do these songs, really put it together, and release it. I used to be scared of people to hear my music. I used to be really insecure about my music. Only because it didn’t sound like what was on the radio. But when I did it and got actually done with the record and I listened to it as a whole I said “Hey this is a really good mixtape!” I didn’t ask anyone for no help. Didn’t ask Wiz for any help. Didn’t want any features. Did all original music that was all written by myself. I stayed in the studio and was with the engineer making sure it went my way. I think I just wanted to prove to everyone that I’m not just the girl who sings on everyone’s hooks. I can do whole bodies of work. It was a personal triumph the first go around.
Obviously Wiz has garnered much success recently and Chevy is getting great looks. Has there been any pressure on you from friends or even yourself to reach more success on your next project?
Absolutely. When I first did my mixtape I sent it to Artie and was like “Yeah I need someone to help me promote my mixtape. Can you help me with whatever we need to do. We need to be in the blogs.” haha. He said “I really want to help you but I think you can do it on your own. I think it would be mad weird if you just use this power publicist work on your first project. See what you can do and see what happens.” So I put out the mixtape, tweeted it every day, and it was my only source of promotion. It got like 2,000 downloads and Artie DM’d me and said “You did pretty good for just doing it on your own.” Then Chevy dropped his mixtape and got like 200,000 and I was like “Are you serious?! Am I supposed to have 200,000 downloads because that’s just not going to happen.” Haha. Now there’s no excuse. It’s not just me anymore, I do have help, I do have someone who is supporting my music with a big fan base, and so it’s a lot of pressure. Even the people on the outside are like “When’s your new mixtape, when’s it coming?”
Do people think since you’re involved with Taylor Gang that Wiz or others should give you an added push?
Yeah they do. It’s really frustrating. People feel like “Wiz got this money; Chevy got all this money, why can’t they do this?” The whole thing in the music industry is that everyone has paid their way into everything. I think Wiz looks at the situation like I didn’t have a Wiz when I was growing up. I didn’t have no one to fall back on so. It’s not like it’s impossible. You can do it. You don’t need a million dollar budget. He wants the same for us. Because you appreciate it more if you grind hard for it. People just think he’s supposed to blow his whole two year success. But for real he just really blew up. We know he’s been working for a long time. The mainstream success is new so it’s like can he enjoy his mainstream success before he goes all G-Unit for us haha. Everybody has their time and everybody has their turn. When the time is right and when it’s my turn I will do what I need to do, it’ll have the proper backing behind it.
Who did you grow up listening to musically?
I listened to Mariah Carey my whole life. I grew up with my grandma, my great aunt, and my uncle and they had an old record player and played all types of music. What resonated with me was the sound. I liked the old vinyl sound. On the pop side of things about the age I was like 9 or 10 Destiny’s Child was coming out. My mom always had me listening to Toni Braxton and Whitney Houston. Billie Holiday was someone who stuck out to me because my grandma let me listen to her. I think I was 8 and I bust out crying and my grandma was like “What you know about what she saying?” and I said I don’t she just sounds so sad saying it haha. Sade also helped influence my writing. I always wanted to have the glamorous video like Mariah and Beyonce. They were always doing the big things.
Would you say musically you’re safe or pretty daring?
I’m definitely not safe. Just whatever comes out. I’m not going to be like “I need to put out a real risky record” or “That’s not risky enough.” Whatever it is, I’m going to say what I have to say. I have split personalities. I have the CNB side of me where I’m doing my C-mixes and I’m like rap/singing over people’s beats. Then I have Courtney Noelle who’s going through some heart/personal problems. I think I jump the lines sometimes. When I’m singing songs that mean something to me, the feeling that I naturally have isn’t usually some type of “bust the windows out your car” type of record. No crazy stuff but it’s still authentic. It’s real emotions that girls go through.
Do you feel as a singer/songwriter that you have to stick to one lane of type of music? Before there was more love in music and now it’s just trendy. Would you try to bring back some music you grew up on?
Yes. That’s what I mean earlier when I said I’m just your regular girl going through problems just like everybody else. I don’t want to do trendy things. That’s not my personality. I have some records that turn out naturally “Pop” like. I’m trying to bring back SWV, TLC, those types of records. Where there was more love instead of this other stuff.