Noah Cyrus has arrived. After four years of experimenting with a myriad of genres, she’s struck gold with a raw, country-tinged brand of music. Her vision comes together on her second EP The End Of Everything that leaves no stone unturned when it comes to mental health and musings on the universe.
Including singles July and I Got So High I Saw Jesus, the project is an ambitious offering, stripped bare. You won’t find radio-ready pop songs here. Instead, Cyrus sings mostly over solitary piano or guitar, showing off a newfound vocal power. She’s also achieved another impressive feat on this EP by clearing a Beatles sample. The melody of With A Little Help From My Friends appears on the most experimental cut of the set Wonder Years.
We spoke to Cyrus, who is isolating in LA, just ahead of the EP release. She opened up about struggling with online backlash, releasing The End Of Everything in the midst of a pandemic and nabbing the approval of Sir Paul McCartney.
How has it been for your creativity?
It has stunted a little bit of my writing because I feel like I’m limited to what I can but I have been having a lot of ideas and planning things for the future. Planning things that go along with it not just the music.
It’s an interesting time for an EP called ‘The End Of Everything’ to come out. Was it always the plan to come out now?
It’s always been the plan to come out now. The End Of Everything was the title I’d chosen before the pandemic. Just right before actually. But it takes on something else right now. That’s my favourite song on the EP right now for sure.
The title track to me feels both sad and potentially optimistic. You end on the line, “there ain’t no sadder thing, there ain’t no sweeter thing.” Do you feel the EP is both sad and optimistic?
I mean, it can definitely be optimistic if you’re an optimistic person. I’m really bad at being glass half full. There is a side of hope to the EP. There is no sweeter thing. Right now, I’m sitting staring at the mountains. I can see my mother’s neighbourhood. I love her so much and there is no sweeter thing about the time we have and how we spend.
This EP marks a creative shift for you. You’re stepping into a sound that’s uniquely yours. Was there a particular song that changed your direction?
After I wrote July and I Got So High I Saw Jesus I saw where I wanted to go with the EP. But even Ghost I wrote back in 2018 and that song still holds as much meaning to me as the day I wrote.
You’ve tried so many styles but it was July that took off for you. Did it surprise you it did as well as it did? It’s not your typical radio track.
Definitely. Yeah. I love seeing that people are open to listening to raw music and just an acoustic song. The song is so important to me. When I’m at my meet at greats people come up to me and say, “July really helped me realise I needed to get out of this relationship.”
A big side of your artistry is being raw and honest about your mental health. How have you found opening up through your writing? It’s cathartic but then you also open yourself up to speaking with your fans and hearing heavy stuff.
Yeah, I’m very open with my music but whenever I get in front of my fans it makes them more comfortable to talk to me. I have a lot of fans asking me things that they’re too scared to talk to friends and family about. I’m so happy I can be that helping hand. I’m not a perfect person though either. My manager reminded me the other day when I was like, “Everyone is always calling me out.” He said, “Noah, you’re not perfect. Just because you yell about mental health it doesn’t mean you’re a perfect princess. You’re still going to make mistakes and it’s okay.”
It’s not a natural thing to start talking about your mental health. Is it nice to know you’re opening up this conversation for your fans that perhaps you didn’t have when you were younger?
I was embarrassed to talk about it because I didn’t want people to see the things people were saying online about me. I want to inspire people to be open about the conversation. I was able to talk to my Mum and my family so I want people to know that it’s okay to start the conversation and ask their friends if they’re okay. Check on your friends. Sometimes it goes beyond what’s on the surface.
There are some bold moments on this EP. Did you have to step out of your comfort zone to write like this or did it come naturally?
It came so naturally to me. Every song wrote itself.
Vocally too, you’re in a new realm. Do you feel like you’ve really improved?
Definitely. I think a lot of it comes with maturity too. I started really young at 16. I’m now only 20 and that’s still young.
There’s one song I want to talk about in particular – Wonder Years. You got a Beatles clearance. How shocked were you?
Honestly, I have to thank Paul McCartney himself. I wouldn’t have gotten that without a lot of help from him. That honestly meant so much to me. To know that he heard the song and likes the song and approved it. To get a Beatles clearance is so fucking unheard of.
When Ant and I wrote it we were so excited. We didn’t care if we were going to have to put it on Soundcloud, we just wanted the world to hear it. To know that Sir Paul McCartney himself approved it, it blew my mind and it brought me to tears.
I love that you pay homage to the original in the chorus but then the verses and production are wild. How did that session develop between you two?
Honestly, we were just going through voice memos and Ant started playing this voice memo. It was like, “What would you do if I asked you to choose?” I was like, “Holy shit, that is so fucking sick.” We got into the booth and we started going back and forth with melodies and shit like that. It was such a group creative process. It’s so non-traditional and the producers [Triangle Park] were like, “You’re a madwoman.”
When you’re in the middle of writing an EP, it’s hard to gain perspective. Now, it’s done is there one song you can’t believe you were able to release?
Ghost. I’ve been excited for that one to come out since 2018.
Everything you’ve done so far has been so diverse. Are you already looking ahead to the next project?
I’m the type of person that just makes a shit load of songs. I have some of the songs done for the album and I’m still making some songs. I’m not really a person who writes for a particular project. I write and then I see what goes together.