Brian Hill has a spark. It’s in his style. The way he talks. And it’s definitely in the music he makes. A New Yorker to the core, Brian has been serenading on guitar for shoegaze artist Tamaryn until now. Now he’s taking the NYC underground music scene back into his own hands.
Think of Brian Hill and his band the Noh Starrs has featured some musicians we already know and love including Laena from Feels and Jeff Fribourg and Joo Joo from Froth. It alternates but these entities known as the “Noh Starrs” bring Brian and his music to life.
As for influence, aside from life itself, we can credit Lou Reed, David Bowie and T.Rex…But these are merely the ingredients that add to Brian’s essence when he makes music. Still, you can’t personify his sound with a single genre, because he’s taking elements from everything he loves and making it his own.
Below you’ll find his new single, “The New Yorker” debuting today exclusively for What Youth, and a very interesting interview with Brian about how he landed on this sound. —Asal Shahindoust
What Youth: Explain your relationship with music, where did it all start?
Brian Hill: No one in my family is musically inclined at all, but my grandmother was a poodle skirt wearing, swing dancing, rock ‘n’ rollin wild child in the ’50s. When I was 6, I found a bunch of her old doo-wop and R&B records in a closet. She had great taste: Little Richard, The Miracles, Roy Orbison, Tommy James — I still have some of those records. I put them on, my legs start shaking, and that was pretty much it, been hooked ever since.
Apart from being a musician, WHO is Brian Hill?
First, I am not a musician. Not in the conventional sense anyway, the virtuosic, or aware formulaic. Music is one of many areas I am interested in. Second: Who is who ? Who are you ? What do you do ? Individual identity is a farce in the age of instant gratification, aesthetic, and the google-search. The only possible way left to find out WHO someone is, is to find them. Find me, if you are magic, these carefully arranged pixels won’t help anyone figure that out, nor do I want them to, and I might as well change tomorrow.
What bands have you played in before? How does this new project differ from those?
The past is prologue. I’ve written for and played in many bands. At the time that I wrote the majority of the record I was going to the dream house religiously. It’s a favorite place of mine in NYC. Once you hear the pulses, clicks, drones, standing waves, they all come back together and you can visualize the sound wave. I don’t think I have ever visualized sound so clearly in all my life. I can see its shape. You come out after and you can hear so clearly it is like you’ve never written before and you get to make up your own whole new language. This project is purely an outlet for my stream of conscious.
Describe the feeling playing live as the Noh Starrs gives you.
Pure euphoria. Everyone in the band are beings that I love and respect immensely, and sharing that hour with them is a shattering reevaluation of my reality each and every time. Sometimes I have a waking black-out on stage and don’t remember the things I do after, like a fit of sorts.
What key influences go into creating your music?
Collaborative experimentation with the people I love and the mental state of absolute freedom, which maintaining is the absolute and only recourse when considering the idea of influence and creativity..
Give us a taste through words what the upcoming full length is going to be like.
Absolute simulacrum. We have a few surprises, maybe even a hit. Who knows. Personally, the record is a sort of psycho-geographical survey of my experience living in New York City — I moved here when I was 14 — the highs and lows of that really. I spent a lot of time here or in Europe, so the coming and going has a big part to do as well.
Your new single “The New Yorker” is very reminiscent of 1970s underground NYC punk. Tell us what NYC and being a New Yorker means to you as a musician.
’70s NYC is certainly a very potent influence, not only musically. A lot of the people working here at that time have been massively influential in my world. I finished the lyrics to that song one night after patiently watching Vito Acconci pull stories out of his manilla envelopes and read aloud about some of his time in NYC in those years while making The Red Tapes. It was a disaster. I loved every second of it. The song itself has nothing to do with him. It is all very personal and fantastic.
What’s in store for Brian Hill in 2017 that we can get excited about?
Our full-length is coming out, we will do some touring for that. I am also directing a series of videos that I am very excited about. We have a second full-length in the works that I hope will come out this year as well. For my birthday, I am going to go to the jungle and hang out with some sloths. I am also going to self-publish a short book I wrote about nano-biological-computation and the singularity with some photos I’ve been taking. I’ve also written a collection of poems from the point of view of a hyper-intelligent sentient pixel that I would like to make into a film and project onto that windowless Verizon building in Tribeca. You know, the very ugly one. 2017 is shaping up to be a busy one.