I had the immense pleasure of interviewing two of my favorite artists, Archie Summers and Noah Nockels, about their creative processes, their new song, and anything else that can possibly be on their minds. Based in Nashville, Summers’ recent releases include “Go Fast” “By Your Side” and “Misused.” Nockels has recently produced an entire album titled “Rightfield, One” with Arkansas duo Rightfield, and released a singles of his own “I Can Wait” and “Pick You Up” . This interview is a big deal though, solely because it will be published right after the release of Summer’s new song (produced by Nockels) “Girl Back Home”. This single has been released alongside its music video, directed by Brandon Exum.
Origin story: How did that go – when you decided music was your thing?
Summers: Honestly, I didn’t start giving a shit about music until I was ten and playing guitar hero. I was bad at guitar hero — for a ten year old — But I really played it all the time. My mom was like ‘You should do guitar lessons,’ I said ‘No’ and kept playing guitar hero. Then she essentially made me take lessons, and I became somewhat competent! I ended up quitting lessons about a year later because my guitar teacher didn’t let me do my 5th Cage the Elephant song in a row for our showcase. She’s such a [redacted].
Nockels: I grew up in a family that does music: my dads a producer and my mom is an artist. They would always play music in the house around me. When I was nine years old I got my first drum kit, and was VERY hyped about that. Then, whenever I was eleven or twelve my dad gave me his old computer with Pro Tools, so I started playing around with that. I didn’t start taking production seriously until about four or five years ago.
Was any of the music you heard around the house similar to what you produce now?
Nockels: Nooo my mom is a Christian artist and my dad is a Christian producer, so music was always there, but I feel like leading worship isn’t for me.
And what about songwriting for you Archie? When did that become a passion?
Summers: I was hanging out with Max (my friend), and we were about thirteen or fourteen. I believe a kid that we both knew put out a song, and it was kinda bad so I told him that I didn’t like it. So he said ‘Well why don’t you actually write a song then?’ I wrote a song that night and I thought it was pretty tight. After that I wrote ten songs in a week!
Were they any good?
Summers: No no noo they were horrible. But after that I was absolutely crazy about songwriting, it completely consumed my thoughts.
Nowadays, how is your songwriting/creative process? Is there a step-by-step ordeal?
Summers: Literally any kind of way you could think of. I’ve never started with words though, it’s always melody first or a nice lil chord progression that I have in mind. For me, I’m using the same 7 chords for every song, so I’m bound to gloss over some things. If anything strikes my ear I just build from that.
How about lyrics?
Summers: Melody comes, or a cadence and then cadence arrives with the melody. I feel like I know what the words in the first line are going to be and I go from there. It starts like gibberish almost, like speaking tongues. Then, the words start to trickle out and then I go ‘What do I think that meant to me?’ and then I build.
Do you write from experience?
Summers: I’ve literally never written about a real-life thing. Actually, only two things I’ve ever written have been about real life and have genuinely happened to me. Other than that, it’s all imagination! Sometimes what inspires me is watching a really sad or disturbing youtube video, and the feeling it gives me, like ‘Damn I feel HORRIBLE right now.’ I try to capture a feeling I have, never a situation. I find writing about a situation really corny, but that’s just my opinion.
Did you always know what genre you wanted to stick to?
Summers: I was always into indie pop, any alternative, and Cage the Elephant. Matt Schultz from Cage the Elephant is the Yung Thug to my Lil Baby. I saw him at a show one time and I seriously almost had a heart attack.
Okay! So Cage the Elephant is definitely an inspiration, anyone else?
Summers: Arcade Fire for sure. And Foster the People, those three dudes! Early days Archie definitely liked Alt-J too.
I’m surprised you didn’t say Post Malone! [we had spoken about Post Malone on many occasions and Archie’s admiration of him]
Summers: I love Post Malone, but I guess he was never an inspiration. When I was 16 and listening to “beerbongs and bentleys” it definitely made me want to up my melody game. I remember thinking ‘This dude is rattling OFF,’ I counted out on “Better Now”; there are SEVEN melody changes. I swear. Seven, in a three minute song. I later found out he was writing with about five other guys, but I was still wildly impressed.
Noah, what were your big inspirations growing up? Any specific producers?
Nockels: Growing up my main influence — and what literally formed me — was Coldplay. It’s all I listened to. When I started getting into producing and really appreciating it, definitely Jack Antanoff. Summers: Aww I knew you were gonna say Jack Antonoff I love Jack Antonoff! Me: We all love Jack Antonoff. Nockels: Obviously Kevin Parker (Tame Impala) too.
How do you start a production project, is it more of a job?
Nockels: The whole producing ‘being a job’ thing is very new for me because Archie is one of the very first people that I’ve produced for. I seriously offered to do it for free. Summers: Yeah that was f****** insane. It was literally just us. But yes I completely separate producing for hire and making music. When I sit down for myself, my process is very similar to Archie’s in terms of it being gibberish first. When it’s production for hire, it is a lot more stressful. Not with Archie though, because me and him think very similarly and we both think the same shit is cool Summers: And I don’t bring him any trash shit! Lately I’ve been able to say ‘No’ to trash — now that I have a job that’s paying rent. With producing, your reputation is worth more than anything and I’m actively making sure that I’m putting everything into what I do.
How long have you guys been working together?
Summers: I believe a couple years, since April 2019. Everything I do is filtered through Noah. He’s definitely the final music opinion.
And how involved are you in the production process? Do you give Noah total creative control?
Summers: I’d say pretty much yes, 75% percent completely Noah and I chime in for 25%. What he thinks is right is usually the same thing I’m thinking. And honestly, I’ve never said or thought ‘I don’t like this’ whenever he shows me anything. It’s just small tweaking is all I do. I can come up with ideas, but Noah translates it all to actual producing language. We truly spend fifteen minutes trying to understand what I’m trying to say. In the actual recording of the music I’m not completely clueless; in a sense that I know what I want the song to sound like. Everything I write is the bear minimum — just me and the shitty acoustic I have — and Noah fills in the rest.
Okay tell me about the new recording of the new song. How was filming the music video?
Summers: The recording went pretty smoothly, we literally fleshed out the song in a day, which is insane. We recorded it at a studio in Noah’s house and polished vocals at our house, all in a day. This was in November, so a while ago. The music video however, filming it, was f****** horrible. The music video is going to look GREAT don’t get me wrong, but being there sucked. Most of the time I was freezing cold, and wet. The “Go Fast” music video was definitely the easiest for me. This next one (“Girl Back Home”) will be a lot better though! One of the big differences between this music video and other videos I’ve done is budget for sure. This is much more of a conventional music video with Brandon Exum directing it. All I gave Brandon were ideas and the concept that I wanted, and he made it what it is. He’s the pro, and totally knows what he’s doing. I would definitely work with him again.
What has been the big difference between “Go Fast” and “Girl Back Home” in terms of growth as an artist?
Summers: “Go Fast” sounded less like me I would say. I still really like that song. It’s a great song, but I do believe that “Girl Back Home” is a lot more specific to me. The new song is more my actual sound than my previous ones. I definitely don’t think I found my sound just yet, but I’m confident in the direction I’m taking.
Nockels: I feel like in whichever direction you’re growing, I’m growing too. And every song we do just gets better, which is cool. Me getting to produce with an artist that I believe in and with songs that I’m passionate about makes me get better at my own music.
Has there ever been advice that was given to you that is still stuck with you?
Nockels: My dad is full of awesome analogies, and he’s just always been so encouraging. He always says this thing — it’s a little difficult to write down, it’s more of a visual thing. He says: ‘You can’t ever stop or slow down, you have to keep working and working because there is an opportunity that’s going to meet you. But, if you are just stagnant and not focused, when the opportunity is supposed to meet you, you aren’t going to be there to take it.’ I always think of that. I seriously don’t want to miss an opportunity because I’m not prepared. Also! I have another one! Whenever I was in high school and was about to graduate, my parents had asked me if I wanted to go to college. When I said ‘I don’t think I do’ and then bombed my ACT — totally ruining my chances at getting into any college anywhere — they were just okay with that and supportive. The fact that they believed and trusted in me enough to let me just bomb my ACT, and that definitely keeps me going. I remember getting my score back and them asking me what I got, and when I said ‘14’ they just said ‘Cool.’
Summers: My mom and dad are both tone deaf, so music isn’t exactly their #1 passion and love. The summer after my junior year of high school when I told my mom ‘This thing that I’m doing, I’m gonna do it for my life’ she said verbatim ‘I believe in you, what you’re doing is tight, but if you don’t work hard it just isn’t going to happen. If you see something in yourself that is special and that you think you can turn into something, work at it until it becomes exactly what you’re envisioning.’ All my mom knows is hard work, so that was really the best advice, especially during that time. Before that point I wasn’t taking music as seriously as I could have, so she really lit a fire under me.
What are your big goals right now?
Summers: I’d say getting signed by a record label. I don’t want to just take anything — because that’s how people get screwed over. Finding a label that believes in what I’m doing and has my best interests in mind is hard. I’m also not confined to Nashville, I’d go love to go anywhere. The other top priority is saving enough money to make another music video. I’ve been working a lot: 5 shifts a week, school full-time, it’s a little rough not gonna lie. I’m trying to make enough money because it’s just me funding my career.
Nockels: My #1 priority is friendship. Summers: AWWWW STOPPPP!! No but honestly though. Since we’ve moved in together we’ve grown a lot closer.
Summers: Our outlooks have really aligned and we’re going at it together.
HUGE thank You to Noah, Archie, and their team. Don’t forget to tell your mother to stream “Girl Back Home.”
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