10 Questions with | Cleggy
Cleggy (real name Noah Clegg) is a British singer-songwriter from Leeds, England. Championing guitar music and thought-provoking stories in his lyrics, Clegg draws on his “fire triangle” influences which includes Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams and Sam Fender, but cites Queen, Arctic Monkeys, The 1975, and Paolo Nutini as other specific influences. Although only fifteen years of age, Clegg has proven himself to be a one to watch with his heartfelt ballads and pounding indie anthems. Indie Boulevard spoke to Noah about new single 'Providence Green', creative process and many more.
IB: Hi Noah, finally we had a chance to chat with you. You are young, you are 16 years old (if I am not mistaken), but you are moving up the musical ladder pretty fast. Tell me how it all started.
Noah: Hi! yes it’s been a long time coming but yes we’re here! Yes I’m 16 now, scary I can’t lie! Thank you very much, still many a step in the musical ladder to climb, but I’m getting there. Yeah so it all started for me in music from an early age really. People talk about really obscure musical influences from when they were three a lot of the time in these types of interviews, but realistically the thing that made me realise how cool music was, was my Grandad playing Queen in his car when I was young, I’d been allowed to sit in the front seat so he told me to turn on the CD player, and the first thing that plays is Bohemian Rhapsody. My dad was probably the biggest musical influence of them all for young Noah though, Once the musical floodgates had been slightly opened for me with Queen, my dad showed me the Arctic Monkeys, Oasis, Rainbow, Bon Jovi, and all the classic rock hits. My mum tried all the activities she could to get me hobby when I didn’t fit in at school, bless her. I tried horse riding and fencing and all sorts, and the last thing on the list was drums, and I have been drumming ever since, so I thank my amazing mum everyday that she had the faith in me to try music, and that her and my family encouraged learning it. And then I learnt guitar myself, and had piano lessons from school, and worked out I could carry a tune about 4 years ago!
IB: When I heard your music, I felt an incredible drive. You have already released 2 full length albums, and now your new single 'Providence Green' is out. Who or what inspires you to keep making music now?
Noah: Thank you! Yes I worked hard in those early years. Those albums were like a trial run, not official albums but they were essential in helping me find my sound early on, and you can hear the progression from when I was a Queen fan on “The Place I Call home” , you can really hear it in tracks like High Up In The Sky and the guitar work of Let me Out, to when I discovered new indie when I was about fifteen - the likes of Sam Fender, The 1975, Gerry Cinnamon and every indie artist under the sun, Fender’s influence really is there in tracks like The River Caves and Humberside Romance for me, I was writing to be like him. After experimenting with combining all these influences from young life to now, I’ve realised I could make any song in any genre dependant on if I liked the song. That was my sound. And who inspires me to keep making music? My biggest influence ever is Bruce Springsteen, music doesn’t get any better than the boss with the E-Street Band, it just speaks volumes to me, so seeing that he is still kicking at 74 or whatever really does inspire me to keep going. And also, I faced a lot of bullying and jokes at school when I first started out, so my goal in music is to just show them why they were wrong.
IB: My boyfriend plays a lot of FIFA on PS and every year there is a great soundtrack to it. So, it seems to me that your new single, and any of your tracks, would fit ideally into one of the series. What do you think about the idea? Do you like football in general?
Noah: I’ve played Fifa for years, so that is the biggest compliment a musician who loves football could get. Yes it has that energetic edge to it I guess, I could close my eyes and see Haaland blasting a goal in to it. Football is what I would’ve probably done if I wasn’t a musician to be fair, I played centre forward for school and my local, scored like a hat trick every game in the 17/18 year, 11 year old Noah thought he was Cristiano Ronaldo. We’re all city fans in our house, and in our family. So I would be so down to see Providence Green in the mix with people like Two Door Cinema Club and Catfish, the very band that kicked off my indie obsession.
IB: Let's talk about your new single 'Providence Green.' It's a song about a girl who broke your heart, and not just yours. Did this story really happen to you? And if so, has this girl heard your song?
Noah: Unfortunately, yes, Providence Green is a very, very true story, the events of the days that it happened over are exactly how it’s demonstrated in the song. I guess we all know a boy or girl who has done that to someone. The funniest part is, none of the events actually took place in Providence Green, even though it is a real place. The song’s ideas came from when I found out two people I new individually from different groups started dating, and I knew something wasn’t right. But that is only scratching the surface of the song’s lyrics. The lyrics all happened to me, the "fortnight in foreign country” line is when I went to Ibiza for two weeks and someone just goes and gets with someone else. If she has heard it, she won’t know it’s about her unless she analyses the lyrics like the Poetry Anthology, but as she “forgot all about me”, I can’t imagine she’s heard it. If she has, thank you for gifting me arguably the best song I’ve written until now! And I’m not particularly sorry for using the story! ahahahah
IB: Describe your creative process? Do you have any unusual things that help you focus and start working?
Noah: Songs usually start with me obsessing over a band or artist for a week or two, and then trying to sound like them in the most original way possible. Providence Green was different. It started a wave of songs that I wrote on my acoustic guitar after the break up. I used the line “Parents Limousine” to be funny in conversation, but it actually had a rhythm to it, and I improvised the chorus, and eventually I got Providence Green as the title. When I make a song, to test whether it’s worthy of release, I have to bounce like I’m in the audience in my home studio, as I write, produce, record, and release my own songs on my own. It’s called the bounce test. If I’m going absolutely bonkers with it on full volume, then expect to see it on my discography. But all forms of creating and composing music are a coping mechanism for things like exams, and stress for me, so the creative process is exam, well until my live drums don’t sound right cos they’re done in my dining room and I don’t get them right first time! Then I might be a little bit more irritable!
IB: What was the recording of 'Providence Green' like? Do you have a pleasant memory associated with recording this or any other piece?
Noah: Providence Green was a joy to record, because nothing went wrong! Granted, it took a fair few hours, and enormous amounts off tears and chocolate, to mix it finally. But recording it was a dream, because it all came together like the puzzles my Nanna does, every piece just fell into place and I was in full bounce test mode. I kept sending me dancing to it to my mates and they were gassed too, so it was a rewarding process. It originally had saxophone solo, but I used a plugin so it didn’t sound right, and my dad said “put in the best rock n roll guitar solo you can in those 16 bars”, and he was absolutely bang on the money. Love you dad.
IB: You often give concerts. What is the most exciting and coolest thing about live performances? And when can we expect new concerts?
Noah: Live shows are the best thing about the job. Seeing people who are going berserk to songs you wrote at midnight in your PJs, that is why I do music, and I give everything on the stage and do stuff like climb things, and jump ff things, and go in the crowd, just so it’s never boring! There’s the joke I make that I’m a “man of the people”, but it’s not a joke to me, I love the people that come watch me live. Mosh pits, and the crowd singing your songs back to you is the best part about live performances, close second with the ring walk to the stage. And cos my mocks are coming up, none in the diary, but I have had interest from touring promoters, so when I finish my exams, I’ll be doing nothing else except touring the UK, my band and I are ready to go.
IB: What qualities do you think a musician needs to achieve world success?
Noah: A unique sound. Sure, an indie boy singing about a girl that broke his heart - shock! But the actual way the music sounds is a mixture of loads of different indie, so find your blend. You need to be nice to people, that’s how you move up the food chain in this business, and I’ve still got a long way to go but my morals still stand. And also, an image, and identifiable things in your work. For example, people have been going on pilgrimage-esque visits to the Providence Green street sign, and the mirrorball from the video. Find something that people can go see for themselves, so they feel like part of your world. And just keep going what you’re doing if you’re a musician. If enough people like it, you don’t know where life will lead.
IB: You play with musicians at live shows, Are they friends of yours? Is it difficult to get all the guys to rehearsals and who behaves the worst? Let me guess, it's you:)) Noah: I play with my mates who are called the Venus Standard, which consists of David Purvis on lead guitar, Lloyd Howitt on rhythm guitar and keys, Sam Newton on Bass Guitar and Harry “Venus” Brown on drums. We get more messing about done than we do rehearsing most of the time ahahahah, yes it’s difficult as we’re all busy a lot, but we’re working up to a proper live show. And definitely David and I, when we’re combined, no one is safe ahahah, one look at each other in a situation where we can’t laugh, and we do, but we’re all bad sometimes. Sam gets the brunt of my jokes, and gives as good as he gets, Lloyd is just an alien, from another planet, and Venus is clever with his jokes which I in particular am a big fan of. But yes, to answer your question, it is definitely me who is the worst behaved, until I get bored of that and actually want to do some work!
IB: And the last question. Where do you see Cleggy in 5 years?
Noah: In the next five years I’ll be twenty one. I think Alex Turner was 19 when the monkeys debut came out? So I want to equal our very own Yorkshire’s finest and have played a tour, found new fans and audiences. I’d love to get on TV and radio consistently, and tour other places are a support such as Europe and the USA. I can’t wait for the day this all happens, because as long as I believe it will, I will work until it does! And I’d love to do a huge hometown show, preparing for my debut album. Who knows when that will be out? Time will tell. I’m proud of the progress I’ve made as an artist and person up to this point though. And providence green has been the song that has made me think “Maybe this is what I’m supposed to do”. I’ll never stop loving music until the day I die.
Single ‘Providence Green’ by Cleggy available on all digital platforms. Click on this link and read our «Providence Green» review.
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