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NOIA, a.k.a. Gisela Fullà-Silvestre, was studying psychology in Barcelona, her hometown, when an opportunity came to study in Boston at Berkeley College of Music. She had been spending her nights at the Conservatory in Barcelona so decided to audition, and got in, to do a degree in composition and production. 

This decision to stop studying psychology wasn’t a difficult one, she says. “I had been working for a couple of years, mostly with people with Dementia and Alzheimer’s. It was interesting, but also hard. When I had the opportunity for this new experience, I thought I needed to take advantage of it and see what I could learn.”

Despite some reservations about moving to the USA, the difference in the musical education there benefitted NOIA, she explains. “Although there’s things I dislike about the US, structurally and everything, the way that Berkeley functioned really suited me. They have a polyhedral approach, with loads of different departments so the focus isn’t just on being a classical or jazz performer. They put a lot of emphasis on developing knowledge and let you focus on whatever you wanted. That helped me grow out of the European way of thinking.”


Beaded Sleeveless Dress: Greta Moschata

After Boston, NOIA moved to New York and started doing internships, mainly in the world of music and sound design for video games, films, and commercials. It was during this period that she started writing her own music and NOIA, which means ‘girl’ in Catalan, was born. “Every day, after work, I would get home and write, using the knowledge I was getting from sound design and manipulation of audio. I always felt like a music artist, I grew up playing in bands and enjoying the communal spirit of making music and creating songs with other people. I actually remember hearing Hyperballad, by Björk, when I was 15 and I being sure that that was something I wanted to do – at that time I just didn’t know how. New York was the first time I explored beat making, with enough knowledge of sequencing and other techniques to actually write and produce my own music.”

New York and the community around her inspired NOIA in her work and propelled her to take this next step. “There was a hunger there, and people were doing things that I thought were cool. I always liked electronic music and was interested in production. But I didn’t have the references in Barcelona, whereas in New York I was meeting people I was really inspired by. There was a shift in me – if they can do it, why can’t I? If my roommate is producing for this hip-hop artist, why can’t I do some of that to? He’s not smarter than me, and I can learn.”

“Because I started late, and I was already so stressed out about other stuff – like how I was going to make a living - I didn’t feel a crazy amount of pressure. I just realised that I finally had a set of skills that I loved, and I wanted to start making beats that sound big and industrial, but using organic sounds from sound design too. Finally, very late in the game, I had the set of skills to start channelling my aesthetic musically.”


In terms of a musical aesthetic, NOIA expresses how she came to understand where she sat. “Once I started making my own beats and singing, I got a good idea of my limitations. My project, NOIA, is basically what happens when I face my own demons and creative experience, and how I make beats. I have so many layers of inspiration,” she says. “I love traditional Iberian music, I’m a sucker for the craft, the singing, the minimalism, and I love researching all of that. I also love electronic music, and more experimental stuff, and this love enters the picture too. Then I’m a sucker for mainstream pop as well. And I studied jazz, so I love paying attention to making harmony progressions that feel a bit more interesting. I think it was Grimes who said that a lot of people would come to her and ask to produce for her, offering better or more expensive sounding beats, but she said no – the whole concept of Grimes is that it’s her making that weird, sometimes unpolished, unrefined sound. It’s her production. For me it was a bit like that. Having said that, I do want to collaborate a bit more, I feel like it’s time.”

NOIA’s risk-taking and experimental approach to creating music has undeniably paid off. Her debut EP, Habits, released in October 2016, includes two songs which have now racked up over well over 1 million listens on Spotify. Her second EP, Crisàlida, was released in 2019 and was noted as one of Stereogum’s favourites of the year. Most recently, her album gisela, released in March 2023, was rated 7.2 on Pitchfork and was celebrated as a “dense but cohesive statement on duality”.


Beaded Sleeveless Dress: Greta Moschata

When talking about the changes that she has experienced and the transition her music has undergone, NOIA explains, “gisela feels like a more cohesive body of work – the old EPs I was putting out, especially the first one, felt more like a little collection of songs that I had been writing late at night after being exhausted from work on film. I love those songs, but the body of work was more random. My first EP was driven by my imagination, it came out of my fantasy world.”

“gisela is darker - I wasn’t trying to be so poetic, I was trying to be honest. It’s the corniest name for a record – it’s like Celine by Celine Dion - it feels very earnest. Some people say that it’s complicated, but to me it feels obvious. I also wanted it to be connected to my sound design world. The arch of the record is like – entering a dream and in this dream, you go through all these soundscapes that feel very natural and from the real world. The Portuguese fado at the end, Estranha Forma De Vida, was an ending to the album where all the reverb and effects start to disappear. The record ends with just my voice, and Spanish guitar. That was a conscious decision, to end the world of electronics and just strip everything back.”

The album “feels very narrative,” says NOIA. It is telling her story, touching on her main themes, and recollecting on the last few years. “A lot of dark things happened during this time – my mum got very sick, and then my dad too. He passed away a few months ago. Even though he was still alive while I was writing the record, this environment was affecting me. There was a lot of going back home. A lot of the soundscapes you hear on the record are very Mediterranean, they feel like home. I wanted to narrate my connection to Barcelona on the album. It was for myself, to be able to put all my references in one record. I was honest, honest about my inspirations and if that means having an intro that is an old traditional flamenco song, and then a super poppy song, like reveal yourself – I wanted to allow myself all of that contrast. Sometimes it’s cute, sometimes there’s real sadness.”

NOIA’s thematic landscape and musical sources track her movement around the world, and her resulting lack of clear roots. “Although I have a deep community in Barcelona, from when I was a kid, I live in the States now. The Spanglish is really present in my music, I’m writing songs and half of the chorus is in Spanish, and half is in English. Also, I’m Catalan, so that layer is in there too. You have to get used to the fact that your heart will always be broken – you never belong fully to where you were from, and you will always miss it. You also never feel like you fully belong where you are. Sometimes it’s not a bad way to be. Once you find comfort in that discomfort, it can be so enriching, it gives you new ways of relating to reality. Saying that though I just took my mum north of Barcelona to a small village – we could see landscapes of olive trees and aloe vera, pine trees and then the water beyond  – when I go there I can just breathe. I did think - why am I not here? I want to be more in nature, but I live in New York, which sometimes just feels dystopian.”


Aviator Hat: Saint Francis

Button Down with Hand Crochet: Scyler CALYX

NOIA is working on her new record now, doing song-writing challenges with her friends in New York. “We put aside a day and then we each separately try to write ten songs. It’s to practise not overthinking things and not judging. I’m building on some tracks and demos from this. What I want from my new album is to keep pushing myself, to be even more honest with my lyrics and not overthink them. I want to write more about how I feel in the moment, which makes a nicer bridge to connect to people. I want to connect more with my rage – it’s easy to connect with my sadness, and sometimes to euphoria, but I want this album to be uglier. We’ll see...”

In music, and in life, women do seem to be better at tapping into sadness and struggle to express their anger. Hip-hop or rock, genres historically dominated by men, are where we tend to find this expression. NOIA feels the same way, “it’s hard for me to tap into my anger in a way that doesn’t feel super implosive, or in a way that isn’t already tinted by shame or guilt. Women don’t have a lot of outlets. We take so much responsibility for our anger, censoring ourselves before allowing ourselves to feel it, thinking that maybe we should handle ourselves better. Early PJ Harvey was very raw but even Bjork always gives out so much love, rather than rage. When I need anger, I turn to male-oriented or identifying artists – it sucks. This next record is about ugly feelings.”

With the aim of being more unapologetic, NOIA is trying to be more immediate with her song writing. She explains, “how the lyrics come out is how I’ll try to keep them. I’m allowing for difference, a weird structure or something. More and more in pop, we don’t have to follow the normal structure of a pop song – like trying out a song with only one chorus. I’m learning how to turn off the mirror that we have inside – I want to do something that people connect to, but I don’t want to think too much about whether other people are going to like it. I have found that the more what you’re doing resonates with you, in an honest, authentic way, the more it tends to stick with others. It’s a hard thing to turn off though.”

Algae Latex Top: Layne Barron

Knit Dress: Saint Francis

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EVE Ruched Organza Dress: Karen Mibu

In this way, sound design is very different, and can be easier for NOIA. “Sound design feels like a craft. When I’m writing music for film and commercials, or making use of natural sounds, I become a Swiss army knife, a tool in service of a project. You can’t overthink things as much – there’s a deadline, so I just have to do it.” She smiles, “deadlines are the best things in the world.”

There are other parts that comes with a career in music: interviews, biographies, comparisons to other artists, to name a few. NOIA has mixed feelings about these elements, she says. “Interviews and biographies are stressful. I try to never Google myself. It’s weird because I love music documentaries and reading biographies of artists. But it’s hard to read stuff about yourself or read someone else’s interpretation of what is important to mention about you. I guess people are trying to put you in a context – but still, I find it weird.”

In terms of whether she minds being compared to other artists, NOIA laughs – “It depends on the person! It doesn’t bother me when people make references to Rosalia, or people like her. I’m extremely flattered – although people are just making the connection because of the Spanish link.” There is something similar to FKA Twigs in her sound, which she doesn’t mind as a comparison. “I love that contrast of how delicate Twigs is with her singing, and then how powerful her beats are. Hopefully my next record is even more extreme in that way.”

Dive into the mesmerizing world of NOIA's album 'gisela' by clicking HERE.

Interview edited for length and clarity.




Photographs by Zhengtao Er
Styled By Sarah Galinger
Interview by Inès Lefebvre du Prey
HMUA: Kaitlyn Joy
Shoot Location: New York, USA

A Les Mirabilia Production

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