Song Deconstructed: ‘Elon’ by Novaa
The experimental pop artist from Berlin explains the make-up of her recent single, which was inspired by the tech mogul
Rising Berlin-based singer/producer Novaa released her eagerly anticipated self-titled debut album last April. An evocative journey hand-in-hand with faithful instrumentation, accompanied by a seductive and seemingly effortless fragility, her self-titled debut long player made for an impressive introduction to a wonderful new artist’s own reality.
Experimental pop artist Novaa continued to enthral with new track Elon, an ethereal, introspective thought piece that floats seamlessly over atmospheric electronic beats. Taken from her brand new album The Futurist due later this year, it follows on from her recent singles, Drones and AI Am In Love.
We asked Novaa to explain how the track came to be, taking in the music, lyrics and production behind a song that we learned really was inspired by Tesla founder, Mr Musk…
The moment my brother was able to talk he asked questions. My mum always told us about how he followed her around the house asking questions about everything he saw, heard of, or thought about 24/7. Now that he is older he obviously doesn’t follow people around anymore asking tons of questions, but he still loves to analyze and debate about things. So non-surprisingly he started studying a subject – physics – that answers a lot of the questions he had back then and he has now.
I have never been as intelligent as my brother, he was always really fast and good at finding a connection between two things he knows and gaining new knowledge from that. My brain preferred thinking in and about emotions and creating and making up things. But this attitude of constantly asking questions and questioning things was something that both of us shared and still share today.
We can talk about one topic for hours, and there are two things that fascinate both of us the most; the mind/consciousness and the future. The mind because it’s endlessly complex and literally the world that one lives in, and the future because it’s also endlessly complex and the world that we are going to live in.
Thanks to my brother I learned a lot about new technologies and ideas and developed a deep interest in ideas about and of the future. I read books, listened to podcasts, talked to him, his friends, my family, my friends, and got more and more upset and also excited about the future.
During that process, about three years ago I had a vision of writing an album about the future. I wanted to write songs that future portrait scenarios without judging them. Elon was the second song I wrote for the album and came into being right after a talk I had with my brother about Tesla and Elon Musk.
I’m not gonna lie, I’m pretty proud of the lyrics of this song. When you first listen to it they sound pretty generic, almost as if they don’t matter but the more you listen to them and to what I am saying, the more things and details you find there.
Elon is supposed to be a song that’s fun to listen to but I also wanted it to have some hidden facts about autonomously driving electric cars in there. So I hid certain facts and info in the, at first seemly superficial, love song lyrics. For example, in the second verse, I’m talking about how people are fascinated and intimidated by Elon and driving in autonomous cars, and how we can hear them gossiping about it because – as it’s an electrically powered one – it’s barely making any noise.
The first thing of this song that came into being was the chorus line. After that, I wrote some verses with a friend of mine. All of it sounded very plastic and forced and I wanted it to sound a bit more chill and light. So I rewrote the verses and produced the song from scratch, starting off with only the chorus line.
I like writing songs with as little chords as possible and using the elements I put in there as purposefully and effectively as possible. So I think I only used three or four chords in total in this song and doubled lots of the vocal melodies with instruments. For example, the chorus line is doubled by a guitar (played by lovely Hannes Porombka), and in the second verse there is a string section doubling my voice. My aim is to write tiny songs with big emotions and this is what I also wanted for Elon.
In The Studio
As I produced the song myself I spent lots of time at my home studio finding the right sounds, recording and editing vocals, programming drum sounds etc. But once I was happy with what I had I spent one day with a part of the Novaa family – Dennis Kopacz (my mixer and sound engineer), Ben Jost (my drummer) and Lorenz Stegmaier (playing the keys) in the studio. We listened back to the track and added some additional drum sounds we recorded at the studio. Dennis mixed the song and passed it on to Robin Schmidt who mastered it.
Normally I write very personal and intimate songs. This one is also personal in a way but it’s connected to a very public topic and even talks about a public person. So writing this was new to me and exciting. I hope that people have as much fun listening to this song as I had creating it. The future holds many challenges, let’s make sure we move closer together to find solutions and don’t get divided by the struggles that we face.
Elon is out now and Novaa’s album The Futurist is due for release in September 2020. For more info, go to areyounovaa.com