JPR Live Session: Noah Gundersen (2017)

Dec 8, 2017

Noah Gundersen has been peddling sincerity and introspection in musical form for almost a decade; songs that give listeners a taste of the emotional nectar in the pit of another human’s gut. He’s been dredging up viscous fistfulls of his own being and shaping them into little waxen votives, candles meant to illuminate the territory between shameless confession and hopeless redemption, for all of the other twenty-somethings who’ve been groping around in that long existential shadow.

At some point this whole process must have lost its charm. It was two years ago that Noah, like some artistic ouroboros, began to sing the words “Am I earning the right to live by looking in a mirror? There’s nothing more sincere than selfish art?” The cyclic ritual of self-induced nausea, staring in the mirror mouth agape, waiting to wretch new words and sounds, was catching up with him. Not long after, in the early part of 2016, he sat down for a show and felt like he was dying. “Instead of my life up to that point flashing before my eyes, it was my future. A future playing songs I didn’t believe in... pouring my soul out into a vehicle I no longer recognized or loved.

Noah turned to a fellow songwriter, who shared this mote of reassurance from dancer and choreographer Martha Graham: “No artist is pleased... There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.” This crisis was an opportunity for the serpent to relinquish hold of its own tail, for forward motion. To turn his gaze away from reflection, and maybe instead at the mirror itself, alternate voices and distorted perceptions that throw their weight onto the human psyche in powerful ways, but evade expression in introspective storytelling.