From Bach to Cello-Rock!
Great to be featured in Indie Artist Buzz again! This piece is hot off the press…..
Late this summer we featured rock cellist Noah Hoffeld in our Indie 5-0 series here on independent Artist Buzz. TODAY we get the opportunity to delve deeper into Noah’s psyche. Below tells us in his own words what the transition from Classical cellist to rock cellist was like:
Moving from Classical into Rock wasn’t easy to do. Though many artists in Rock’s brief history have been inspired by Classical Music, only a few were full-on classically trained. When I think of it, just a handful come to mind- Zappa, Johnny Greenwood, and that great pianist who plays on Freebird. I’m sure there’s a bunch I don’t know of. In Jazz, there’s Miles who, like me, attended Juilliard. It’s cause Classical Music is a very picky head, almost religious in its worldview. Devotees eschew other music like zealots shun a foreign prophet. Though I’ve known some Classical musicians to use Rock as a muscle relaxant, for one to actually pick up a guitar would be beyond bizarre and would cause everyone, them and anyone in a Marshall Stack’s radius, extreme discomfort. Why? Because from a young age they’re taught to revere Classical compositions like Sacred Scrolls. Then they feel powerless to leave anything worthwhile of their own to the future, beyond their interpretation of what has come before. And when asked to improvise, most recoil in utter dread and shame. Sad, no?
To prison-break that mind-cell takes enormous desire, or overwhelming need, like in my case. If you’ve been to the movies, you know the music teacher determined to make you great or destroy you in the process. After four years of abuse, I wasn’t gonna blaze a mind-blowing solo trail, unseating Yo-Yo Ma. And as I was graduating, cello was just making its way into Rock with geniuses like Nirvana. Perfect timing! In sessions with Rock musicians, I discovered new challenges without the sticky head-trips.
I found being around songwriting was infectious and it wasn’t long before I was writing too. Really just a hobby at the time, I liked the results and the process. I kept at it while observing the means and methods of the masters. My hands on the cello, my ears on the songs: how a lyric was shaped to powerful effect or a turnaround thrust a pre into a chorus. Songwriting is wizardry for sure. Me, the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
Now every time I tried to stop, writing came back. I was a surgeon trying to amputate his own arm and it wasn’t gonna happen without a lot of blood. Too much for me to shed and survive. So bit by bit, I learned to record and produce. I made my new LP ‘Play Human.’ Found my Inner Rocker. These days rocking out’s the only way I can fully express myself: The cello is there, weaving in and out of grungy guitars and f’d up synths- freed from the Classical cellblock. And I’m free too, to sail the High Seas of Rock and catch the big bad soundfish who swim the Inner Ear Canals.
Playing my own tunes gives me a deep satisfaction I never knew possible. I know Classical Music will always be in my heart. And I’ll always practice it to stretch my cello chops. Who knows? Maybe someday I’ll return to the Classical stage and perform. But for right now I’m happy rocking out, cello-shredding my days away for the Gods of Rock n’ Roll on High.
- Noah Hoffeld
Visit Noah’s website and Twitter to keep up to date with everything going on in the cellist’s world.