Family Swank: Noah Chenfeld
Only 17 years old. Taking the stage by storm, one venue at a time.
This week’s Swanker won a tri-state high school Grammy competition and within the last two months has opened for folk artist Seth Glier and alternative singer Suzanne Vega. And yet, dude’s still not old enough to vote or go turn up at the club. With experience that trumps his age, 17-year-old New York native singer/songwriter Noah Chenfeld is an up-and-coming artist worth keeping an eye on. Sit back in the cut while we speak about his latest single, songs that we’re embarrassed to love, and keepin’ it 100.
Mass Appeal: It seems like you have some sort of a Midas touch or maybe you just know the right people, but it seems like every time you release a single, something magical happens. Has anything gone down since the release of you latest joint, “Get Lost“?
Noah Chenfeld: I’m really happy with the way “Get Lost” has been received. A few great music blogs wrote about it and it seems to be connecting with the youth.
MA: You told me that the song is about moving out. We’re both high school seniors getting ready to start a new chapter in our respective lives. Have you connoted “Get Lost” with the whole college process?
NC: Honestly, I can’t say I have. I have written other songs about the whole process of leaving home and starting anew, but “Get Lost” is specifically about moving apartments. I lived in the same apartment my whole life, and when my family was in the process of moving a few months ago, I knew I had to write a song about it. There were so many memories and little things about my place that I was going to miss, and so I wanted to get some of these feelings down on paper
NC: Oh yeah. Julian and The Strokes have been huge influences to my music. Is This It has basically been the soundtrack to my high school life. Julian has a label now and I really dig a lot of the music he’s putting out.
MA: From indie rock to hip hop, you’re a very versatile artist. Which genre do you feel the most gravitational pull toward?
NC: I love both genres but I spend more time with rock. The thrill of playing with a rock band has always woken me up. Writing rock songs is always a journey and I love playing piano and the guitar. But there’s nothing like kicking a hot freestyle.
MA: We all have songs in out iPods we’re embarrassed for liking and knowing all the lyrics to. What are three of yours?
NC: I don’t usually get embarrassed by songs I listen to, even if they are really really cheesy, but if I had to choose, I’d go with: Backstreet Boys “I Want It That Way,” The Buggles‘ “The Plastic Age”, and R Kelly’s “I Wish” (really not embarrassed about this one though, how could you dislike this song?)
MA: How did you get your start in the music game?
NC: Music has been playing in the house ever since I can remember, plus my older brothers constantly sang the hottest songs as we were growing up, which inspired me. I remember the magical feeling of hearing Beatles tunes for the first time as a youngster. I started writing songs at around eight or nine years old and since then I have been writing and playing constantly. When I was ten years old my camp counselor introduced me to freestyling and I have been spitting ever since.
NC: Yeah that was a thrill. The movie sends a good message about bullying and I was honored to be a part of the project.
MA: Talk to me about your band, The Box Story. How did you come up with that name?
NC: When I was really little, my dad used to tell my brothers and me these stories before bed where we would start in a box and whirl around to another place and time: we called them box stories. They were always wild adventures and when it came time to name the band, my brother Dylan and I had no ideas. After months of frustration someone suggested The Box Story and it felt right. These days though, I release music under my name.
MA: In December of 2012, your band headlined The School Hurricane Relief benefit concert at Webster Hall, raising over $5,000 for Super-storm Sandy victims. How, if at all, has that informed what you’ve done since?
NC: That was a great event. Hundreds of people came out to support the cause and hear good music. I definitely want to be part of something like that in the future. Music is a great way to bring people together for issues that need to be dealt with.
MA: Though you are just shy of 18 years of age, what do you wish to see in the future generations of music and what do you think about our generation? Are we repping or could we be doing better?
NC: I hope that future generations will continue to tell stories in their songs. Storytelling in music is a great way to capture a moment and I would hate to see it dissolve in the coming years. There is so much going on in music today that sometimes it’s hard to keep up. The music I’ve heard from my peers has been fantastic. One night I’ll see a new folk rock band, the next night a more alternative punk thing. It makes for a very diverse New York music scene that I love being a part of.
On that note, my first show back from recording is March 10th at Webster Hall Studio with my new live band. If you like tasty jams and raps come. If you don’t, you should still probably come.