MJ Noble on Finding Her Sound In Her New Album, Kind Blade
If you’re looking for an escape, come to the mind of Los Angeles–based electronic musician and producer MJ Noble with her new album, Kind Blade (out June 10 on Doom Trip Records). Noble creates an eclectic narrative and sonic experience through this concept album, taking influence from the drum-and-bass genre while experimenting to find what feels like her. In the process of producing her first solo album, Noble discovered her own unique sound.
Through the use of vibrant lyrics, storytelling and fantasy-inspired electronica, the 13 tracks on Kind Blade tell a story of a girl who befriends a dragon in a faraway world. “Everyone in this world is terrified of and wants to destroy this dragon, but she falls in love. Eventually, she sacrifices herself to save the dragon and in the end, [it] saves her,” says Noble. The dragon character is a reflection of the elements she sees within herself, particularly the parts of herself that scare her. “It’s about accepting that part of yourself, making peace with it and letting it empower you,” she says.
Seconds after diving into Kind Blade, Noble makes it clear that she produced this album as an experience, rather than a collection of dance tracks. As if walking through levels of a video game, each song has a different pace and story. One of Noble’s favorite tracks on the album, “You’re My Treasure,” flows seamlessly through a bouncy and wobbly progression. There are moments of tight, quick beats expressing danger that fall into euphoric, falsetto vocals and flute solos. As a result, I’m reminded of moments playing Donkey Kong Country on the Super Nintendo, defeating the bad guys, swimming through lakes and collecting bananas.
Kind Blade’s cover art, shot by longtime friend J Corso, complements the album’s imagery and narrative flawlessly. The title comes from a line in the album that describes Noble’s overall message—“Anger passes through me swiftly like a kind blade / Sadness lingers as a chronic ache.” She says, “It’s about how anger is a quick fix to grief. It’s damaging and also healing to feel that anger instead of sitting in sorrow.” During her conceptualization, she additionally wished to portray a sense of suffering in art, “being willing to go through all the pain, work and disappointment to provide this beautiful result,” she says.
Growing up, Noble was surrounded by music, as her father played jazz piano and taught her jazz standards. As you listen to Kind Blade, you’ll hear moments of her playing the flute, which she began playing around age eight. She developed an admiration for the drum-and-bass genre as she grew up and dreamt of creating something like it, only with her own twist. “I wanted to make something different,” she says. “So, I would do these collabs with different artists. It was a learning experience, but they never really understood what I wanted to do.” Working in a male-dominated industry, she grew frustrated and decided to teach herself the Ableton program. Her experimentation gave her more freedom to make something she is proud of, and as a result, Kind Blade was born.
As Noble demonstrates in her music, sense of style and storytelling, fantasy has made a big impact on her. “I love going to Renaissance fairs. I used to have a fairy band and we would perform at this masquerade ball every year,” she says. “I would make all the costumes and everything, so all that kind of stuff is just in my personal style. I used to be a big metal head, too.”
“It’s about how anger is a quick fix to grief. It’s damaging and also healing to feel that anger instead of sitting in sorrow.”
Noble’s skills don’t stop at producing music. She’s also an actor, with appearances in Parks and Recreation, NCIS and more. She feels fortunate to balance both careers due to the unpredictability of film and television. “There are no guarantees on what project you’re going to be on next, and there’s so much competition,” she says. “There’s a lot of competition in music, as well, but with acting, you’re a little more reliant on people giving you a shot.” While Hollywood is unpredictable, Noble expresses gratitude that many of her characters are musicians. “I think it’s really cool. I hope to keep booking roles like that because it’s like an extension of who I really am on the screen,” says Noble.
Fused with Noble’s newfound musical freedom, Kind Blade’s playful folklore elevates the 13-track album into something truly original. You can expect a possible tour and a new dance-focused EP later this year. Keep up with MJ Noble on Instagram @mj.noble!
Read more features on Doom Trip Records artists here:
A Million Voices from One: An Interview with Pale Spring
“Take a Little Trip and See”: An Interview with Zac Emerson of Doom Trip Records