There’s a constantly applicable nature to soul music, whereas sometimes pop music can be periodical.” — John Mayer
As I was searching for the right words to start this article, I stumbled across this quote that put it perfectly. Soul music is a genre that reaches through the speakers and hits you deep down. It speaks to the human spirit we all share in a primal way, which is why the genre has had such long standing success and the all time greats like James Brown, Ray Charles, and Aretha Franklin, among many others, are still widely listened to today after decades.
Noon Fifteen is a progressive soul band from Ithaca that hopes to blaze their own trail in the soul scene. The five-piece band consists of frontwoman Mandy Goldman on vocals and guitar, Samuel Lupowitz on keyboards, Joe Massa on guitar, Harry Nichols on bass, and Phil Shay on drums. Lupowitz and Nichols also provide vocals as well. They pull inspiration from a myriad of different influences including “1960s California and Liverpool, 1970s Memphis and New Orleans, and DIY ethos of the internet-powered music scene”, as their website (noonfifteen.com) puts it.
Formed in Early 2016, Noon Fifteen is a prime example of what happens when you make the best of a bad situation. Everyone was already involved in the music scene through other shared projects. Joe and Mandy played in one of Sam’s former bands, and Harry would frequently borrow Sam for his own project. When the two projects came to end near the same time, it only made sense to create a group from the pieces. With the addition of Phil Shay, they come together as Noon Fifteen. Their mission is to create vocal heavy songs that focus on songwriting and rich vocal harmonies, in unique yet relatable song structures.
Creating original music is never any easy task, but when you have five people pulling inspiration from so many different places, it can be a challenge to make it all come together smoothly. Noon Fifteen took on this challenge artfully with their debut EP “Volume 1” which was released in December. Everyone agreed that the release of the EP was their biggest milestone to date, but each added that this is only the beginning. You can listen to the 6 song EP on noonfifteen.com, iTunes, Spotify, and Bandcamp among other platforms. You can also subscribe to their YouTube channel as they are releasing “in-the-studio” videos for each of the songs they recorded. However they suggest you come and pick up a physical copy of the EP at their upcoming show at The Range on March 31st with “The Phryg”.
The music writing process has always seemed like a magic trick to me, especially for bands. You take a group of different musicians, each with their own taste in music, style of playing, and life experiences, and you combine them all to somehow come out with original music that people want to hear. Fortunately for us, Noon Fifteen has gone out of their way to share their music writing process with us with their podcast which is available on their website, and most podcast platforms. Lupowitz is the mastermind behind this out-of-the-box way of sharing their music and the story behind it. When I asked him what drove him to this idea he replied, “I like to make the music-making process very transparent. We live in a time when music is more accessible than it’s ever been, which is wonderful, but it can start to feel like songs are just sort of these omnipresent products that you can call forth with the touch of a button. I’ve always been as fascinated with the craft behind songwriting, playing, and recording, as I am with the music itself, and the podcast was a fun way to connect that process to the end result for the listener -- plus you get a sense of the band camaraderie.”
Goldman also added, “We also wanted to cater to other musicians like ourselves, who are fascinated by the craft and the process. We all learn something every time we hear about the process of our fellow artists, and I think we even learned about each other and our music more in making it.”
Noon Fifteen is another prime example of talented original musicians that help make our music scene so special. They’ve only starting creating their own brand of progressive soul music, but already their sound makes you want to listen again and again. With the added bonus of insight into the meaning and process of writing those songs, you seem to be able to connect to the music that much more. Make sure to check out the podcast and see them at The Range on March 31st to see what I mean. •