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Interview: Noveller

5 April 2016

Noveller is the solo electric guitar project of Brooklyn composer/filmmaker, Sarah Lipstate. She’s responsible for Fantastic Planet, one of the finest albums of 2015 and has recently been the opening act for Iggy Pop on his latest tour. The Big Takeover was able to catch up with her through email to discuss anxiety, Austin, and touring.

BT: Now that Glacial Glow and No Dreams have been re-issued, How would you define your progression from those releases to Fantastic Planet? Is there an eternal theme through all of them or do you see each LP as separate?
I wrote the music for each of those albums under very different and distinct circumstances so I feel that emotionally they are very different but tonally they have many similarities. Glacial Glow was my last all-guitar album. Around the time Glacial Glow came out, I started working with film composer Nathan Larson scoring several films and that opened my mind up to the possibilities of expanding my instrumentation for Noveller. On No Dreams and Fantastic Planet I embraced using synth, piano, voice, and some sound libraries from my scoring work to augment my guitar tracks. I feel that expanding my sonic palette allows me to move forward in really exciting ways. At the same time, I’m still discovering ways of processing my electric guitar to create new sounds so I feel that I’m expanding in both directions and it’s a very rich time for me creatively.

BT: What is the single most important element to your work outside of the guitar?
I hate to admit it but I think that most of my creativity springs out of my anxiety. It’s almost as if my music has evolved into a processing mechanism for my anxious energy. Composing and performing focuses me and allows me to feel happy because I’m channeling all of that stress into creating something positive.

BT: Fantastic Planet is quite broad in its variety of sound and texture, can you give some explanation as to what led you there?
I wrote Fantastic Planet during a transitional period when I moved from NYC to Austin. I ultimately only stayed in Austin for 6 months before returning to Brooklyn, but while I was there I fully embraced the change of environment and took advantage of that new space to create the album. For the first time, I had a dedicated home studio set up for me to work in whenever I wanted. When I needed to take a break, I’d walk my dog down the old farm road that I lived on and take in the trees and wildlife for a while. I felt free and vulnerable in a way that is very hard for me to achieve in Brooklyn. I think that the diversity of sound on Fantastic Planet is a reflection of the sustained focus that living in Austin afforded me.

BT: What do you hope people get from your music?
I hope that it makes people cry with a smile on their face. That’s how it makes me feel- exhilarated to the point of tears.

BT: You’ve toured with St. Vincent, the Jesus Lizard, and right now you’re with Iggy Pop, what is your take away from the tour experience? Does it inform your work/art? Are you able to write while on the road?
The most exciting thing about touring with these incredible bands is having the opportunity to watch them play night after night. I feel that I learn so much from seeing them on stage performing their craft because that’s when their passion is unleashed. I’ve also been asking a lot of questions on this tour with Iggy Pop because there are so many amazing musicians involved but a lot of those questions tend to be gear-related. Talking to Iggy is exhilarating because he’s lived so many different lives and still is fiercely passionate about music. He reads the music reviews in the New York Times and The Guardian and then checks out the artists that seem intriguing. That’s how I ended up on this tour, because he read some words about me in the paper and then invested the time into getting to know Noveller. That level of curiosity and drive inspires me and that filters back into the music.

Noveller is currently on tour with Iggy Pop. Her latest, Fantastic Planet, as well as re-issues of 2011’s Glacial Glow, and 2013’s No Dreams are available through Fire Records.