Emily: Today, we have singer/songwriter and actor, Noah Guthrie, who has credits not only on Glee, but for opening for Ed Sheeran, Neon Trees, Ben Rector, Cobra Starship, Matisyahu, Matt Nathanson and Selena Gomez. His impressive credits include a cover of LMFAO’s ‘Sexy and I Know It’ which garnered him 22 million views (he has over 53 million views in total from his famed Youtube covers) and he has appeared on NBC’s Today Show, Jay Leno’s Tonight Show, Dancing With The Stars, to say the least.
We are interested in getting his advice on the realities of juggling both a music and acting career, and what it takes to succeed in a duo of industries and stay positive! So Noah, can you tell us a little bit about your creative journey as an artist? In 2014, your CD Among the Wildest Things was released so can you share a bit about that?
Noah: Yeah. So I released my album in 2014. It was really just about 15 songs and, before we recorded the album, I had probably 40 songs written. And we had to narrow that number down. I co-wrote a lot of the songs in the album, so it would be me and another person on songs. Then, there’s one song in there that I wrote by myself. It was really something I needed to do because I had all these songs that I was sitting on. I just kept writing and writing. I finally got a little break with that YouTube cover that I did, and a lot of my other YouTube covers as well. But that one, ‘Sexy And I Know It’, really took off. I think there was a lot more pressure to get something together and get something released. I’m really glad that I did that because I really wanted my original music out there. I’ve been doing covers for probably three years at that point. I just wanted to start adding my original songs into the mix. It seems to be going pretty well and people like the album. I’m very happy about that. Ever since I released it, we’ve been doing little pushes here and there. Things will come up to help it out. It’s been great so far. Last year, I toured the country and supported the album. It was great.
Emily: Sounds great! It’s really important for artists to have as many diverse skills as possible to grab more opportunities. You write your own songs. You play instruments and you have a voice. So it’s really good that you have all those different gifts. On top of that, you understand marketing really great. YouTube is one of the top things out there to truly promote yourself as an independent artist. So you’re able to utilize that with your YouTube covers. So how many covers would you say you had up to this point? What are your favorites?
Noah: I would probably say I think I have around a little over 100 covers up.
Emily: Wow! That’s really impressive!
Noah: Yeah. I’ve just been doing it forever. That’s a rough estimate. But I’m pretty sure that’s around what I have. I think that YouTube is a really amazing platform. If you’re not taking advantage of it to a certain extent, then you’re missing a whole market. I also love the very grassroots way of being in a band, which is playing in shows and getting in front of the audiences, and stuff like that. And that does work. But I think now, everything is so digital and so driven by social media that if you’re not just paying attention to that, then you’re not really doing yourself any favors. I believe we figured out early that we really need to be paying attention to social media. I just figured why not keep doing the covers and see what happens. Now, I’ve got quite a good little fan base. They’re loyal and they’re great fans. YouTube has been a big help to me. It’s been my home for a little bit. Then once I started adding originals into the flow of content on YouTube, people saw them and liked them. I can do that more and start to transition hopefully a little more into my originals, and then, do covers here and there. So it won’t be all about the covers.
Emily: Yeah, it’s very smart to transition into your own work with a mixture of both methods while increasing your fan base. Covers are really commercial and great for clicks definitely! Now, I’m a co-writer of a book called In The Spotlight: Over 100 Voices In Music. We spent a year pulling this guide together, and we feature over 150 indie music artists on their journeys with loads of advice. It’s pretty awesome. One of the biggest pieces of advice we share in the book is about using social media to your biggest benefit. You cannot be a known artist without being a bit more personal with your fans, staying committed to providing interactive content.
Noah: Yeah. It doesn’t take much. It just takes good content, but it needs to be a regular basis thing. I think it’s very important.
Emily: But, of course, you gotta pay your dues, I would say.
Noah: Yeah, I know that for sure.
Emily: I want to talk to you about acting. So you jumped into the acting world after your start in music. How did that happen? How did you see that you had a gift for that? You have done a lot of good stuff with Glee.
Noah: Yeah. It was very strange. It was a very random thing. Acting was never on my radar at all. And then, I was on the road playing music and I got a phone call from the casting department for Glee. They basically called me and said, “Hey, we’re having trouble finding someone for this new part on the last season of Glee. We think you’d be good for the part, I told them, “I’ve never ever acted before, ever. So I don’t know if I’d be good But they were looking for a certain voice. They told me about the character of Roderick. Basically, he’s the chubby underdog who has the voice of Ottis Redding, or something. I was like, “Well, if you need a soulful voice, I guess I can try. I’ll give it my best.”
I sent an audition tape and read some lines. I waited a couple of weeks to hear anything back. Then, a couple of weeks went by, and they said, “Hey, we’d love for you to come and audition in person.” They flew me up to Los Angeles. I auditioned in front of Ryan Murphy, and the rest of the creators and some of the writers. It was very intimidating. But I just got up there and did my best. I guess the next day, they called me as I was getting on the plane. They toldme, “Noah. Hey, you got the part.” I was like, “Oh.” So I went home. I was like, “What will I do?” I think I flew back home for a day and a half and packed up all my things. Then I went out to LA and I lived out there for, I guess, five, almost six months. I literally just got back to South Carolina two days ago. But yeah, it’s been a whirlwind. Acting is a completely different world. It’s very funny. I think I learned a lot. It was a great group of people to be around. They were very good to me, very welcoming.
Emily: That’s awesome. I wanted to ask you about one thing – you’ve seen the acting world. You’ve seen the music world. What are some insider lessons that you’ve learned about working with people across two different industries. A lot of our artists may stick just with music, but it’s really good for them to be in multiple directions, multiple industries, more opportunities. Is there a difference?
Noah: I guess, yeah, there is a difference. I don’t know if I had noticed it as much while I was acting. Yeah, I did know there was a difference. I think the main thing in the industry, in the entertainment industry as a whole, that I found that really helps you more than anything, is being a nice guy to everyone and really gaining respect. I know it sounds so cheesy, but it’s true. Be that nice person and always take lessons when they’re given. Respect the people that have been there doing it longer than you have and try to learn from them.
Emily: No ego. Be cool…just being your authentic self while doing great work…
Noah: Yes. You make connections by just being a relaxed, happy person with all these new people. I made tons of connections that I would have never had. Just by hanging out with these people! It doesn’t have to be a big scary intimidating world as musicians and actors make it.
Emily: Awesome! My final question is: where do you see your career going in the next, let’s say, two or five years? Where do you want it to go?
Noah: Honestly, I’m definitely focused more on music again. I mean music is my number one. I’m just now starting to record some new stuff. I really want to get some EP out of some new things. Then I’d love to hit the road with my band and tear up the pavement for a little bit, and see where that goes. I really just want to extend my music. That’s my main goal right now.
Emily: I wish you the best of luck on your tour! What would be some final inspirational advice for the aspiring artist?
Noah: … You just have to keep doing what you’re doing. I mean it’s funny how things happen. Glee fell in my lap. I was very close to not doing it because it was so outside of my comfort zone. But then I just figured I know 100 more people that would kill to have that opportunity. This literally fell on my plate, and I would have been ridiculous not to pursue it. I’m so glad. It opened me up so much, not just career-wise, but it really made me step out of my shell a good bit. I made some really good friends and really cool choices. So, you just keep doing what you’re doing. Someday, it’s going to happen.