College. A period in one’s life that is sort of like adulthood purgatory. One is old enough to be on their own, but still young enough to not fully understand that partying doesn’t need to occur every night of the week. Current college senior Norel knows that all too well. She admits that late nights were most definitely part of her routine once upon a time, but now the Music Industry major is focusing on finishing up and moving forward with her music career as an artist. Inspired by everything from her days writing poetry to her late father, she pushes herself more than anyone could. We talked about all of that and then some, including her latest single “Contact,” what’s to come and more.
Kendra: Are you going to school for music or educating yourself in another field?
Norel: I’m currently going to school as a Music Industry Major. I decided to study both music and the business of it because in the far future I want to run a label of my own.
Kendra: Like many songwriters, you got your start penning poetry. When did you feel it was right to start utilizing your voice and marrying it with your words?
Norel: I cannot pinpoint a specific moment where I started gravitating to songwriting over poetry. After I taught myself how to play guitar, songwriting came naturally to me. I learned how to formulate melodies over basic 4 chord guitar progressions. The summer before my senior year of high school I had a lot of time on my hands and kept to myself a lot. Whenever something bothered me, my instinct shifted from writing poetry to writing a song about it. I found more fulfillment through expressing myself lyrically in a song than writing about it on a piece of paper.
Kendra: In recent years R&B has gotten a bit of a makeover. As a fan and as an artist who deals in the genre, how do you feel that shift pays homage to what came before it like the Boyz II Mens, Mariahs, Toni Braxtons while remaining fresh for today’s audiences?
Norel: The shift in contemporary R&B pays homage to those who came before because a lot of older sounds are brought up through remixes and samples. Bowlegged Lou and I once spoke about how music is like a revolving door, oftentimes old sounds circle back around but are just slightly shifted to remain current.
Kendra: Speaking of homage, your latest single “Contact” is an homage to your late father. You initially had the Lisa Lisa addition in the chorus, but did you know you’d be working with Full Force on it as well when you were writing it?
Norel: Initially I didn’t know that I was working with Full Force when I was writing the song. It’s interesting because “Contact” was written my sophomore year of college but was released and fully completed my senior year. The song originally had a different chorus, but then after speaking with Full Force, I came up with the idea to move the original chorus to the bridge and then incorporate Lisa Lisa’s song into the hook. Full Force helped me polish the song and transform it from a ballad into an up-tempo song. The shift in tone speaks to the overall message behind the song more than it initially did.
Kendra: “Contact” isn’t just a way to pay respect to your father, but also came about after a night out. Being a college student, nights out can get pretty wild. Are you graduating this year with more epic college stories than most? Like, could you potentially fill an entire album with your years at university?
Norel: I could definitely write an album about my college nights out. At one point I was going out every day of the week except for Sunday and Monday. I’ve since calmed down a bit because four years of doing the same thing can get a bit boring. Going to college matured me and has given me experiences that have molded and influenced who I am as an artist. The number of stories that have come from my nights and out and relationships I’ve built seem endless.
Kendra: Which, when can people expect a record from you?
Norel: I am currently working on music to add to my catalog, but I do not have a specific date for releasing an album. Right now, I am focusing on releasing singles, my next one will be released in March.
Kendra: What are some of your big plans and must-dos this year as we head deeper into 2020?
Norel: I’ve been planning on shooting more content for my music over the course of 2020. Meaning: more performances, more single releases, and more videos. I could only hope to grow within this year both personally and musically. I want my platform to revolve around positive self-image. I don’t want to strive towards perfection but self-acceptance.