Vocalo Radio

Chicago's Urban Alternative

Current track



Johari Noelle: LA To Vocalo’s Studios In 30 Hours

Written by on October 14, 2022

Johari Noelle is back in Chicago for a brand new show at The Promontory. She stopped by the Vocalo Studios right on the heels of her epic 30-hour drive from California to break the show down for listeners on Mornings With Bekoe.

Formerly Chicago-based, the Angeleno singer-songwriter Johari Noelle released her debut EP, Tycsol, or Things you can’t say out loud, three years ago. Coincidentally, that’s around the time she last sat down with Vocalo host Bekoe — and since then, she’s made some changes.

Aside from the obvious address change after moving to the West Coast, Noelle hinted at some serious effort she’s been putting into her performance game since she left Chicago a few years back. Upon moving to Los Angeles, she took notice of the extra infrastructure put in place to build upon artists’ skills. She began working with movement coaches and personal training, with the goal of putting on more dynamic performances.

“When I lived in Chicago, I always performed the same way,” she explained to Bekoe. “And while I enjoyed that, I just wanted to up it up a notch and build my technique up as a performer and as an artist.”

Her Friday show at the Promontory aims to put all this work to fruition. “An Intimate Night With Johari Noelle” features opening performances from Chicago and LA-based artists and what she feels are enhanced performances of songs fans know and love, plus some new releases.

Artists performing alongside her include Matt Muse, Pierce English and Emery Kelly. The performance starts promptly at 7 p.m. CST with Pierce English. Merchandise for Johari Noelle’s new songs and 2019 debut EP will be sold at the show. Find more information and tickets on the Promontory’s website.

Stream Bekoe’s conversation with Johari Noelle now to hear the two discuss how moving to LA has affected her artistry, missing Chicago food, her new single and what fans can expect from her live performance…

Bekoe: Johari Noelle with “Show Me” off her debut EP “Things you can’t say out loud.” You gotta whisper when you say that. In Chicago, that voice you hear in the background laughing? Oh, yeah, that’s Johari Noelle. Welcome to Vocalo Radio! 

Johari Noelle: What’s up, what’s up? Hey, everybody!

Bekoe: So, off-air, right? First and foremost, how are you doing after this 30-hour drive?

JN: I’m good. Yeah, 30 hours, it was insane. I definitely would not recommend, I definitely would recommend you to fly, or if you drive, take your time. But yeah, no, that drive was crazy. I’m exhausted, but I’m so happy to be here.

Bekoe: You’re talking about “take your time.” That’s exactly what y’all did!

JN: We didn’t take any time!

Bekoe: Congrats for making it back here in the Chi. And I’ll let people know… where you came from in a little bit. But let’s talk about “Things you can’t say out loud.”

JN: For sure. 

Bekoe: That project released when, like three years ago?

JN: Yes. Last time we talked. Yeah, 2019.

Photo by Rakim Winfert.

Bekoe: So with “Things you can’t say out loud” releasing three years ago, what are some of the things you’ve noticed that changed for you, musically?

JN: So much, honestly. I think that the subjects, the things that I talk about are becoming broader and more vulnerable. And just the vibes,  I’m experimenting a lot more sonically, with just different sounds. Up-tempo, mid-tempo, just trying new things.

Bekoe: With that being your debut album, were you nervous at all of releasing it and really jumping into this musical journey of yours? 

JN: At the time, no, not at all. I was like, “I’m ready. Let’s go.” I was super excited to get that out. That’s still one of my favorite EPs.

Bekoe: Now, Things you can’t say out loud — what’s something you can’t say out loud, something… just, I’m gonna say, subject matter. You don’t even got to say it, but what’s something of a subject that you feel people keep on hush or wouldn’t say too loudly, speak too loudly about?

JN: I mean, primarily, relationships. That’s a given, everyone keeps that kind of like hush-hush. So I tried to dibble and dabble and share a little bit at a time. But I would say relationships.

Bekoe: Relationships is a very good subject matter, right there. Is that how the EP came about? Was it from relationships, or just things you were dealing with at that time?

JN: I think it was from both relationships, and just my personal life and growth and development as a young girl, and really navigating life, coming into adulthood and what those things felt like. Feeling regrets, feeling vulnerable, feeling love and happiness and feeling insecure.  “Crazy Lonely” is one of those songs, I know you mentioned that’s one of your favorites. But that song’s about really being insecure, and just me kind of laying that on the table with the person and putting that in a song. So it’s about kind of addressing all those things that sometimes our ego doesn’t allow us to talk about. 

Bekoe: And you released it in 2019, which was some time ago. 2022 is here. And I see you’re pushing out merch for “Things you can’t say out loud.” I want to ask you, what made you want to push out merch now that you’re starting to put out new music?

JN: Yes, great question. So as I’m putting out new music, I just wanted to create more awareness around just like me and my vibe and my aesthetic. But I also didn’t want to let “Things you can’t say out loud”  just fall to the back. That was such a great project, and I wanted to give fans and listeners who love that project something to have with it. Just because music never dies. And I think, sometimes, we let time dictate how valuable something is. And I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to say, “This is still an amazing project. I still perform these songs. I still love this music. People still love this music. Why not give something to people that enjoy that music?”

Bekoe: Why do you think artists fall into that type of mental space where they feel like, once they put something out, okay, it’s done?

JN: I have no idea, honestly. I have no idea. I think a major part of it is social media. You know, with TikTok and just the attention span of listeners. And I think we start to believe that our time-span is shortened, on our art, which is not true at all. Somebody can catch a song you put out four years ago and be like, “Wow,” and it can resurface. That happens all the time in music. That actually happened with my song “Release,” from “Things you can’t say out loud,” this year. It got picked up and it just started picking up steam again, and I was like, “Wow, this is… this was like in the middle.” It wasn’t a single it wasn’t anything, it just picked up recently and a lot of fans have been coming to me like that’s their song. They dance to it. They make Reels and TikToks to it, and it just shows me to never give up on the music.

Bekoe: I love to hear it. Do you remember what platform it picked up on? 

JN: Spotify. And YouTube. Actually, it’s a DJ. I’m gonna butcher his name, but I’m just gonna call him Bobby. Bobby, he’s an incredible DJ on YouTube. But he does these mixes with R&B, primarily. And he added my song to one of his playlists. And he also carries a playlist on Spotify. So, all of those subscribers on YouTube and his followers on Spotify rushed to that song. 

Bekoe: Shout out DJ Bobby!

JN: Shout out to Bobby!

Bekoe: That’s what I like to hear. Well, we finna, you know, keep things rolling, because we got “Regrets” loaded from “Things you can’t say out loud.” I don’t know if you’re located in Malibu, but I know off-air we were talking about this 30-hour drive from LA. 

JN: Yeah. 

Bekoe: So, you know, how has the move been for you, to LA from Chicago?

JN: Surprisingly, it was great. I already have hella friends from Chicago that had already moved to LA. So everybody was super welcoming. And it was also a great way for me to meet other people in LA that I probably would not have met on my own. But there’s also been great people that I’ve met on my own. So it’s been a great place to just network and get to know people, and also get close to friends that you were close to back home in Chicago, too. 

Bekoe: Was that a planned move at all? Or you just jumped out on a leap of faith?

JN: Primarily, there was an opportunity there with one of my family members, and then I joined with faith to just go for it and just try a new city out and see if I can branch out and perform there and do shows and create and collaborate with artists and producers out there.

Bekoe: Has it been working for you? Because from what I see…

JN: It’s been pretty dope, it’s been cool. I’ve got a few writing placements working with other artists. And that’s been fun, just tapping into my pen and being able to collaborate in that way. It’s also been great working on my own music and getting in with other producers and experimenting more sonically, it’s been really fun.

Bekoe: So do you feel at all that LA has helped develop you musically?

JN: 100% yes. And the reason that I say that is because there are so many infrastructures there to do that. For me, one of my biggest things that I wanted to improve on was just performance, doing shows. When I lived in Chicago, I always performed the same way. And while I enjoyed that, I just wanted to up it up a notch and build my technique up as a performer and as an artist, just to put on more dynamic shows. So I got in with performance coaches and movement coaches, and then I started personal training just to get my stamina where I wanted it to be. Just doing all of the things to try to develop more, and I think that there are way more resources out there for that. Which is amazing, but I mean, it’s not better than Chicago, don’t get me wrong. But when you’re looking for a technique, you know what I mean, I think it’s a great place to visit and work there.

[continued on next page]

Pages: 1 2