Dec 7, 2010

An Interview With Singer/Songwriter Noelle Hughes


Americymru: Hi Noelle and welcome to AmeriCymru :) Care to tell our members and readers something about your musical background ?

Noelle: There was always music going on in our house and family. All three of my brothers are musicians (one of whom, Daniel Hughes, is an internationally-known choral conductor, and whose choir, The Choral Project, took 2nd place in the Mixed Choir competition at the 58th annual International Eisteddfod in Llangollen, Wales). Also, my father sang and played the cornet and both of my mother's parents were musicians.

During my teens I began a journal and I picked up a little guitar from a class I had taken during summer break from school. These journal musings later turned into songs.

I also sang in the church choir from age 11. There were two choir groups for kids, but I wanted to sing in the adult choir, because they sang better music! I asked my parents to speak with the director about that and the director was pleasantly surprised. They made a special robe for me to wear and I sang with that group for several years: first as a soprano, then, after a three-month bout of pneumonia, an alto.

Through the late 80's-early 00's, I performed throughout the San Francisco Bay Area in original music bands: Das Tango, a dance-music group, Taste No More, a folk trio with a strong political edge tinged with ironic humor, and World For Ransom, an alternative-folk band. I've seen a lot of bands come and go. I also saw the decline of the live music scene in San Francisco, which is really sad for me--but that's for another discussion!

I took some time off from music due to this last fact, though, as it started to feel like I was just spinning my wheels. I kept writing but I wasn't performing or working with anyone.

A couple of years ago, I was complaining to my brother Dan about how stifled I felt, creatively (I'm also a visual artist and graphic designer, but music is where it's really at for me) and he pretty much slapped me across the head because I wasn't doing music any more!

That was when I decided to record i am me/am i not?

Americymru: Who would you say are your musical influences?

Noelle: My musical influences are hard to track due to the fact that there was such a diversity of musical training in my house growing up. I listened to a lot of Joni Mitchell, Kansas, ELP and Yes when I first started writing, and I think that Kerry Livgren (of Kansas) as well as Jon Anderson (of Yes) and Joni Mitchell have heavily influenced me as a writer. I'm not sure if any of that shows up in my work these days.

More recently, I'm all over the map. I listen to ambient, bhangra, Tom Waits, a lot of indie stuff. The rule of thumb for me is that if it's on the radio I'm probably not going to like it!

Vocally, I'm really trying to stretch myself to become a better singer and I'm always experimenting with my songwriting to express a thought or a feeling. I try to match the emotion to the note and then hang it on the right word. Or visa versa. It depends on whether I have the note first or the word first. It depends on where my inspiration started.

I'm hoping that I've transcended my influences.

Americymru: Your song 'Deeper Understanding' is very haunting both musically and lyrically. Care to tell us a little about how it came to be written?

Noelle: 'Deeper Understanding' was a sketch of a chord progression from a jam session with a friend of mine who wanted to get a duo together. We were going to call ourselves The Mad Hamiltons and had all these ideas about how we would perform and such, but we only ever had one jam session to create any material.

The song is about unconditional love and how the pathway to understanding is true and abiding love; the total freedom of love. Agape.

A lot of my songs explore spiritual themes or emotional challenges, because writing has always been a kind of therapy for me. It's often the only way I can get these things, these thoughts or feelings out. To process them out of my body.

This kind of writing can be a double-edged sword, because it can make the song hard to sing. On i am me/am i not? I have a song called, 'No One Told Me', which is a song I wrote after my father died unexpectedly. For a long time I was unable to get through that song without breaking down in tears in some way. What makes it more challenging with that piece it that it's solo voce!

When I write, I tend to discard the first several vocal melodies I come up with, outright. I keep moving away, moving away, moving away. I almost never want to use the first and most obvious vocal melody or harmony when I'm writing something, because if I do that, I'll never push myself to be a better writer.

Americymru: What is your Welsh connection?

Noelle: My father's mother's family was from Wales. Although I've known this all my life, my father was quite distant from his Welsh-ness and his connection to his family. Since he's been gone, I've felt more strongly than ever to connect with my roots and embrace my heritage. I'm delighted to have found AmeriCymru and look forward to learning more about my past, my Welsh culture and connect with other Welsh people. I have a goal to learn to speak Welsh.

Americymru: Where can people purchase your work online?

Noelle: I am available through:




( and

CD Baby ( as well as


Americymru: Whats next for Noelle Hughes?

Noelle: Plenty! As Auryaun (my stage character), I'm in the process of recording a follow up album that will feature new tracks and a rework of a couple of tracks from i am me/am i not?. I'm also in the process of storyboarding for music videos for 'Deeper Understanding' and a couple of other tracks, which will be filmed using a really unique method. I'll be posting those to my YouTube Channel when they are complete, so your readers will want to subscribe to me there so as not to miss that.

As Noelle Hughes, I've been rehearsing and recording with my fellow chanteuse, Billie Eyeball (of Taste No More and World For Ransom). We should be lining up some shows in the SF Bay Area soon, so look out for that!

Americymru: Any final message for the members and readers of AmeriCymru?

Noelle: I'm offering all members and readers of AmeriCymru a free download of 'Deeper Understanding' when they sign up for my E-Team by going to my website at Just as a special thank you!


A Croeso! Did I do that right?

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