Courtney Noe Unapologetically Empowers Women

By Rhiannon Levengood

Born and raised on the Oregon coast is aspiring R&B artist Courtney Noe, who combines her eclectic list of talents with a strong feminist message to make sure that you know her name. Her gifts range from singing and performing, to designing her own clothing and binge-watching Hulu. As of recently, she has dabbled in the visual arts and released her very first music video for her single “Like That” from her debut EP Invisible Crown.

On the surface, Courtney blatantly displays her sexuality through transparent lyrics that describe exactly what she wants from a sexual partner. She wears an alluring attire comprised of a black corset and matching panties as she seduces the male lead and reveals their intimate moments from the bedroom. After your first watch through, you’re left feeling sexy and wanting more.

And you’re in luck, because there is more to “Like That” than meets the eye. It starts with Courtney’s overall message to women, all women of all ages and identifications. She tells us, “I basically want to promote strength, and no matter what size you are, you’re dope, and boys are okay, but they can wait on you.”

Courtney reminisced about the production of her video and the decision to keep what society would call ‘flaws’ in the final cut: “But, when I was watching the video back, I saw all these weird angles, and you can see the cellulite on my leg. At first, I wanted to cut all that out, but then I was like, ‘Well, I don’t know of another music video that’s this sexual, but [the artist] just looks perfect already, or the editors did major editing to make her look unattainable.’ So, I was like, ‘You know what, let’s just do it. I like to be able to be real, that’s part of my brand. Let’s go, maybe it’ll make someone feel fierce.’”

With female empowerment on the rise, Noe cites four women in particular who’ve inspired her the most. “Definitely Rihanna. I’m really obsessed with Sarah Paulson right now. I think she’s so gorgeous, but also so refined and very intelligent. Beyonce, obviously, she really pushes the bar.”

Although, the woman she seemed the most passionate about was Lady Gaga herself. “I love Lady Gaga, especially during her Superbowl performance,” she gushes, “I was watching it, and loving it, but I knew that social media would attack her for having that tiny piece of skin that everyone was talking about […] Even though she’s dancing around for like 30 minutes, and I can’t even do that on the treadmill. I just love how she doesn’t cower, she goes above it. She kind of was one of the—at least for our generation—one of the women that’s like, ‘Here’s me, take it or leave it. And I’m super welcoming to everybody.’ I try to aspire to that.”

Not only is Courtney Noe poised on her fashion, music, and confidence, but her rights as a female in this world, too. When prompted what advice she would give to a fellow woman, she advocated: “I’ve noticed that women say sorry a lot. […] I don’t remember if it was a quote I read, but someone said, ‘Stop saying sorry and just be present in the situation.’ So, I’ve really tried to be more aware of it by saying, ‘Oh, pardon me’ or ‘Excuse me’ but not apologizing for things that we don’t need to apologize for, because I know we’re really notorious for doing that.”

When it comes to aspiring artists like herself, she urges, “Don’t stop because it’s basically a numbers game. If you stick around long enough, you’re bound to make something happen.”

Read on as we chatted with Courtney Noe about 90s fashion, her long and short term goals, and how her video resonated with family and friends.

MM: So, tell us a bit about yourself. Where did you grow up? Do you play any instruments? How did you get into singing?
Courtney Noe: I grew up on the Oregon coast in a very small town up river, so I lived in the country basically. I’m the only child, so it was just me and my dog. I always sang in my room, and have always wanted to be a singer, but I kind of put it on the back burner once I got into high school. I restarted it halfway through college. I can kind of play the piano, enough to write a song.

MM: How did you get into sewing your own outfits?
Courtney: My mom sewed my Halloween costumes and outfits for me when I was little, so I wanted to learn how to do that too. She put me in 4H, the sewing club, so I learned how to sew there. I stayed in it from 4th grade until I was a senior in high school.

MM: When you’re not performing, writing, stitching, or anything, what is your favorite thing to do to kill time?
Courtney: I like to go running, and I like to box, and I really enjoy a good Hulu binge. I used to read a lot when I was younger, so I’m trying to get back into that because I feel too attached to my phone.

MM: What’s the most challenging aspect of your career so far?
Courtney: Probably booking shows to play that can fit the show I want to perform, because of my dancers and I’m not known enough yet to get a big enough venue. And I personally don’t like to record new music because the recording process is very stressful for me. Which, obviously you have to do or else you’re not going to have new music. It’s something I have to get over, but it’s a challenge.

MM: What would you say is stressful about it?
Courtney: I don’t like to try and record something unless I feel like I’ve nailed it at home, and a producer just wants you to try stuff on the fly to see if it works. I just want to practice it a hundred times beforehand. So, I have to learn to relax and be more organic with it. And learn to realize that not everything needs to be planned out all the time.

MM: What are you most proud of from your first EP, Invisible Crown?
Courtney: I’m proud that it was super DIY. I learned Photoshop and did my own cover, and my own website design. I’m proud that the songs, even though I’m pretty much over them at this point, but I think that they stand on their own very well still. I think it’s a high quality project for the amount of money I had to spend. And the fact that it was the very first time doing anything like that.

MM: What is your favorite lyric from the EP, or if you have any new songs you have a favorite lyric from?
Courtney: I’m writing a new song called “Beg”. It’s more of a hip-hop vibe. It’s kind of like “Like That”, but a little bit edgier. The lyrics are pretty explicit, but I find them super hilarious. “She’s only good for cooking and cleaning, but what you need is a good feeding.” But for some reason, I think it’s like the funniest thing I’ve ever written.

MM: Do you have any short term or long term goals leading into the release of new music?
Courtney: I’m gonna do another EP. I’m working on that now. It’s probably gonna be just like 6 legit singles, and then released as an EP. And I really wanna play a summer festival this year, even if it’s just in Portland, Oregon. I want to do something a little bit larger.

MM: How has the response for the video for “Like That” been? Are your friends and family supportive? Did you receive any criticism for it?
Courtney: It’s been pretty positive. The only criticism I got was that someone said the lighting was too low, which I was already well aware of. Something that I thought was cool was that two of my mom’s friends reached out to her and said, “Courtney’s video made me feel so much better about myself.” Because one of them had been gaining weight because her mom passed away. And she’s like 50s-60s age and I just thought that was cool that I reached an older demographic. Obviously, it’ll resonate more with our age group, but it still had the same message that I wanted to send. So, that really made me happy.

MM: Was there a particular time you faced sexism while becoming an artist?Courtney: Yeah, pretty much every time you go into a bar. It’s different now because my backing band is all guys, so I don’t think people are as apt to say things because I’m surrounded by them. But I think that other guys in the Portland area industry are like, “Oh, she’s a girl. She’s doing pop music. She’s worthless.” Because there are other girls in the area that I think have a little more respect because they do more hip-hop and jazz stuff. I’ve reached out to some of the guys before and they won’t answer to do shows. So, I’m just like, “Okay! I’ll just wait for you to come to me!”

MM: If you could tour with any artist, who would you want to tour with and why?Courtney: I lowkey wanna tour with Iggy Azalea. I think that would be so fun, even though I know she’s really controversial. I also think it would be cool to tour with somebody that’s not my genre, per se. I feel like Bruno Mars would be fun. Or, like some kind of rock/country band. I like Gin Wigmore, she’s more like rock. I’d like to fuse genres together.

MM: What was the first ever album you bought?
Courtney: I’m pretty sure it was the Spice Girls, and it was the tape. And it said SPICE on the front in different colors.

MM: What is the last album you’ve been listening to nonstop?
Courtney: I recently just started listening to Kanye’s Life Of Pablo because I didn’t listen to it when it came out, because I was a little annoyed with him at the time. I just started listening to it because someone got mad at me on Twitter for something I said, and I was like, “Oh my god, I feel like Kanye!” I’ve been listening to Kehlani’s new album, too. SweetSexySavage.

MM: Do you have a favorite tv show?
Courtney: Oh my god, I love tv! I’m obsessed with Parks and Rec. It’s life-changing. I like Girls. And I try to stay up each night to watch Jimmy Fallon. I love him, I think he’s funny.

MM: From Parks and Rec, which character do you identify with the most?
Courtney: APRIL!

MM: I can definitely see why. I was going to ask why, but I know why. Are you more of a cat or dog person?
Courtney: I like cats! I’m obsessed with corgis, though. That is like the only dog I’ll lose my shit over.

MM: What are some fashion trends you’re currently loving?
Courtney: I am so glad the 90s are back. I love chokers. Super distressed jeans are my jam. I really like duster coats right now.

MM: My second part of the question was, if you could bring back anything from the 90s, what would it be?
Courtney: I do love a good slip dress. Because it’s basically like lingerie, but you get to wear it in public.

MM: Waffles or pancakes?
Courtney: WAFFLES! I love waffles.

Be sure to follow Courtney on all of her social media so you’re the first to hear about her next releases!

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Spotlight: Between Giants

By Paula Araujo

The great thing about art is that it is up for interpretation of the viewer. It can mean anything to anyone. One day, Tyler John found himself in an art gallery in downtown Orlando where he was captivated by a piece entitled “Among The Giants.” It just so happens that this artwork had been the sign he was looking for. This moment inspired the title of his new project, Between Giants.

Tyler elaborates, “The picture was of a man walking along a path surrounded by these massive trees. The trees were looming over him, casting shadows on his path. At this particular moment in my life, this piece really spoke to me. The man wasn’t among the giants, he was between them. I saw it as an idea that no matter what is surrounding you, be it your anxieties, your fears, your insecurities, your circumstance, you can always move forward and stay on your path. And that’s what this project is to me, it’s my path and my direction when the problems surrounding me feel larger than life. This project is my hope, and that’s what this music and the name are all about.”

Tyler’s musical journey began a few years back when the opportunity to perform presented itself thanks to his best friend. Being on stage and performing in front of a crowd was an indescribable sensation. Tyler recalls the memory as a pivotal moment in his life. “I could never articulate in words the way I felt that day when I stepped on stage to over 150 people and performed for them. I got to watch the headliner and listen to that crowd scream their lyrics back at them as if their life depended on it. That moment solidified my love for performing and entertaining and showed me what music can do to bring people together.”

On March 1st, Tyler officially launched his project, Between Giants, by releasing his first single  “My Truth.” Tyler has a myriad of talents and this idea allows him to showcase all of those muses. He explains,  “I was in desperate need of a project where I could be free to explore, create, and express myself fully. I set out to cultivate a sound that was unique, fresh, and dynamic and that is how this solo project came together. I still wanted to create something that was larger than just one person, so in my live sets I play piano and guitar, and sing simultaneously. My music is a mosaic of a multitude of different genres and influences.”

With charming vocals, a catchy chorus, and intricate instrumentals, Tyler successfully captures the sound he is after with his new single. The song is one about self discovery, something Tyler had found himself having to confront frequently while creating this new music. One of the most challenging things for Tyler is being completely vulnerable. He shares, “I have a lot of troubles being trusting and opening up, and I needed this project to be genuine. It’s scary to put your deepest feelings out into the world for other people to judge and interpret. But I was able to push past those fears and write about genuine struggles in my life.”

By persevering, Tyler has discovered new ways in which the importance of music has played in his life.  He says, “I learned how important music was to helping me express those problems and this helps alleviate a lot of my feelings.”

This is the beginning of bigger things to come. With his ambition, Tyler dreams of touring worldwide and playing iconic venues. “I want to be in the position to be living off my music, and in a position where I can connect with and entertain as many people as possible. I want to sell out Madison Square Garden. I want to tour the entire world. I want to make a lasting impact in the world and leave it better off than I found it.”

Stay up to date on Between Giants here:

Spotlight: JNNA

By Paula Araujo
Photo by Douglas Newton

With such vivid childhood memories that include dancing around to Aaron Carter’s “Aaron’s Party” to performing Alicia Key’s “If I Ain’t Got You” at music recitals, it’s no surprise JNNA has found herself as an aspiring singer and songwriter. Because of the support from her parents and siblings, JNNA was able to explore her passion for music from a young age. However, it was her time in college that truly helped pave the way for where JNNA is today, and she’s incredibly grateful for it.

Born and raised in California, JNNA attended Santa Monica College and studied communications. During her time there, she realized she wanted to follow her dreams and pursue a career in music. She recalls, “Everyone else there knew exactly what they wanted to do and majored in topics that they wanted to make careers out of. I, on the other hand, realized that taking those classes was just me playing it safe. I wasn’t happy and I knew the only thing that made me truly happy was music.” Continue reading “Spotlight: JNNA”