We had the good fortune of connecting with Jeff Noller and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jeff, have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
Giving up has gotten a bad rap. Failure isn’t a bad thing. Who really has things work out just as they planned? Dreams are great, but you can wear yourself down to a nubbin scratching at the same, unchanging, dream for decades. I have changed my career focus at least three times in my adult life, and I suspect there’s a few more to come. Give something 2 or 3 years, and if you haven’t seen a progression, not success mind you, but a progression towards a goal, pivot to something else. Keep on quitting and pivoting until you find the point where what you enjoy meets what you’re good at. Sometimes tossing in your cards is the only way to get the winning hand you’ve been waiting on.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
The best way to practice an artistic pursuit is to not have your whole income hang in the balance of its success. Success in art of any kind requires the approval of others in the form of financial or promotional gains. This stress can make you bitter at the thing that used to bring so much joy. I have toured for labels, been through the grind of churning out albums, and even spent time writing and selling songs in Nashville. By the end, I did not enjoy music. That started my pivot into sound design for film, making videos for businesses as well as bands, and podcast producing. Burning out on music allowed me to find the secret to sustainability in a creative enterprise: you’ve got to diversify. It wasn’t easy to switch into totally new mediums, but it was worth it. The internet is full of how-to videos on every subject, and if you couple that with a good bunch of connections in the creative world, you can jump from project to project without getting worn down doing the same thing every week. The added bonus is once I had other streams of income set up, I was able to make music again, just for me. I was beholden to no one, and I could make any kind of song, or soundtrack, and not have to hang my entire life on it. I am most proud of the kind of music I have created when it didn’t have to fit in a prescribed box. The main takeaway is I am always learning and changing. I only know the best way to do things now because I have already tried all the wrong ways.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Classic LA tourist spots need to be hit, since everyone always asks if you’ve seen them. A movie in Hollywood Forever Cemetery, perhaps one in the Cinerama Dome. Eating on the rooftop of Gastro Garage or Musso and Frank’s (if you can afford it). Walking up to the Griffith Observatory or even just driving through the hills is a good way to get a feel of the city. Though I’ve always liked getting a little out of town, which may be best these days. The natural splendor within reasonable driving distance is often overlooked. The beaches of Malibu, wind through your hair on the road out to Joshua Tree, or even heading up to Big Bear for a weekend. To get the full experience, I think incorporating the many easily accessible biomes is a must.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Growing up in Minnesota, there was no shortage of professional music studios to book time in. Plenty were willing to just take the money of naive teenagers looking to record their band, and give them a half-ass recording. After sifting through a few of those, I landed at Winterland Studios, where owner/engineer Todd Fitzgerald actually took the time to listen to the opinions of a 20-year-old punk. He sat behind a massive Neve board, turning mysterious knobs, and explained all the little moves he was making to get the sounds just right. Over the years, I kept going back and getting not only high quality recordings, but an education on audio recording and sound design. When I finally got my own recording set up, I was well-versed in the art of audio. He was the first to show me the magic behind the scenes, and that a career can be made off-stage and away from the crowd (mowhawk optional).
Other: Band Website: https://iamskittish.com/