Winnipeg singer-songwriter Sierra Nobel recently talked to ai love music about their musical journey, inspirations, and their latest single “Let Me Out of Here”. Returning from a 5-year hiatus to regroup, recharge, and begin to rewrite their story, Sierra has been fine-tuning their production and songwriting skills, working on co-produced projects with Matyas (formerly of The Weakerthans, The Sheepdogs, Slow Leaves, Imaginary Cities). Since entering the music industry at the young age of 14, Sierra has experienced limited opportunities for women and gender non-conforming people (Noble recently came out as gender non-conforming) and wants to use their re-aligned sense of self and production work to help and inspire others.
Find out what inspired Sierra to write “Let Me Out of Here” and how it ties to their life experience. While reading this incredible interview, make sure to listen to “Let Me Out of Here” down below. Let me know what you think in the comments!
Nice to meet you! Could you introduce yourself to those who don’t know you?
Hi! It’s so nice to meet you too! I am a queer singer, songwriter, musician, and producer from Winnipeg, Canada!
How did you get into music?
When my mother was pregnant with me, my family lived in Ottawa, where I was born. We lived in a duplex, next door to a virtuoso classical violinist from Romania named Ioan Harea who practiced 8 hours a day, every day. My mom became friends with him, his wife, their children, and his mother who also lived with them. She would sit on the couch which was up against the dividing wall of their home, and listen to him play; she said I would always relax inside her belly when she did that.
After I was born, his mother would take me over to their house for a while to give my mom a chance to spend some time with my sisters and get things done around the house. She would hold me in a rocking chair, and Ioan would play for me. Every day for the first year of my life, until we moved to Winnipeg.
My mom always said that since I could talk I would always point out the violin in music I would hear anywhere, but especially in the classical music at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet where my sisters were studying in the professional division. I would also constantly beg to play the violin. It wasn’t until I was around 7 years old when our next-door neighbour, Vincent Ellen – who at that time was the principal bassoonist in the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra – was chatting with my mom over the fence and asked if I had any interest in music. She told him that I begged almost daily to play the violin, and he introduced us to Liz Lupton.
Liz was one of the top violin teachers in the city, and we had just enough money to get by, there was no way my mom could afford lessons with Liz, but she asked my mom to bring me to meet her anyway. I remember her warmth of heart and a huge welcoming smile as she put a small violin in my right arm and a bow in my left hand. It felt so natural, it felt like a piece of my body I had been missing until that day. She taught me how to make a sound – it didn’t screech.
I was enchanted. I remember she and my mom talking privately in the other room, and years later my mom told me what that conversation was.
My mom thanked her for letting me come over and hold the instrument I had been so enamored with for so long, but that she, unfortunately, couldn’t afford lessons right now, and Liz told her that she could see already that I had natural talent, and on top of that, immense passion, and that she wanted to teach me, no matter our financial circumstance.
There of course is more to my musical journey, but that has always been the most important part to me. I owe my entire life as I know it to the kindness of Liz Lupton. Kindness truly can change lives. Remember that folks.
What musical genres and artists influence you and your music?
I think we are all influenced by everything we listen to, and also the people we surround ourselves with, whether that is in person or digitally. I often go through phases of input and output. I will take in music, people, stories, all of the things that can inspire me, and then I will feel full, and will go into a period of letting go of what doesn’t want to stick, and then I will write.
So, I never quite know what will end up making its way in an obvious way, but I’m sure that it all makes its mark in one way or another. I take in as much as I can, and then let it be what it will be.
You have been an opening act and appeared in many prestigious events over the years. What was your favorite experience?
I think one of my favourite audiences I’ve ever played for was the crowd at the Viña Del Mar festival in Chile. I was warned about that audience – they call them “the monster” – because they either love you, or hate you, and if they hate you they will boo you off the stage. I wasn’t boo’d, far from it, and what I experienced was love and loyalty I don’t know if I’ve ever felt from an audience before. That was 10 years ago and I still get messages from fans in Chile, I love them and miss them so much. It’s definitely time to go back.
What have you learned from the music industry through these events or artists you have encountered?
I have learned that being kind and staying humble will always pay off in the end.
Let’s talk about “Let Me Out of Here”. What is it about?
“Let Me Out Of Here” came from a sharing of both my and Rusty Matyas’ (my collaborator – co-writer and co-producer on this song) experiences with mental health.
In 2016 I was living in Nashville and from the outside in I think it looked like I was doing pretty great, y’know, singer-songwriter moves to Nashville, pretty exciting stuff, but the reality was that I was in the deepest depression I’d ever been in, and was experiencing debilitating panic attacks on my bathroom floor every day for months. It was rooted in over a decade of chronic and traumatic stress, experience with abuse of all kinds including sexual abuse and harassment throughout my life since I was very young.
I never took the time to process any of it, because I was always too busy with my music career since I was 13 years old. While I’m aware of how lucky I have been in my career, being a person in a female body in the entertainment industry is far from safe and supportive.
In 2016, the box full of traumas labeled “deal with this later” came bursting open and my mind and body forced me to stop. I came back to Winnipeg, and while I was still performing here and there, I effectively took 5 years off to regroup. Rusty’s side of this song comes from his experience with alcoholism and his journey to sobriety. Alcoholism had him on the brink of death, and music is in large part what helped him heal…what helped both of us heal.
The bed tracks to “Let Me Out Of Here” was one of a series of tracks that Rusty recorded as soon as he got out of detox, centered around a voice note that he made in one of his darkest times, laying on his kitchen floor. Without knowing any of that, the first time I heard the track something about it brought me right back to laying on my bathroom floor in Nashville, and the words “let me out of here” came to my mind almost as soon as I heard the chorus.
We really put our whole hearts into this one, we are grateful for this song, and proud of it, and we hope that it will give someone else the hope they need to reach out toward the light from the darkness.
What do you want listeners to listen for in your music?
Any future plans?
I’ll be spending the rest of 2021 writing and producing an album that I intend to release in 2022. Apart from that, finding some time to reflect on this release and how it feels to finally be “let out of” a box, working towards the next project which will be wholly and authentically me…whatever that looks like 🙂
Make sure to check out Sierra Nobel at the following: