A modern day gentleman, living anchor of hope and someone who is captivated by the storytelling element of country music. That, perhaps, is one way to describe rising country singer and Big Machine recording artist Noah Schnacky.
In 2018, the Florida native self-released his first song “Hello Beautiful” on his 21st birthday. The romantic tune amassed a million streams in just eight days, and has since become his biggest song to date. The follow-up, “Maybe We Will,” achieved similar success and racked up an accumulative whopping total of 65 million streams, solidifying Schnacky’s position in the music world.
Soon after his independent releases, Schnacky signed with Big Machine Records in December 2018 and released his debut country radio single “I’ll Be The One” in 2019. Late last month, the 23-year-old released his highly anticipated debut EP. The self-titled project includes his first single, as well as the anthemic “Comeback,” fan-favorite “Meet The Man,” fresh versions of “Hello Beautiful” and “Maybe We Will,” and more.
Schnacky spoke to Sounds Like Nashville recently to share about his new EP, country music, TikTok, the “Anchor Family,” his one-of-a-kind merchandise sales strategy, and more.
Sounds Like Nashville: How have you been spending the last few months of this quarantine?
Noah Schnacky: The quarantine’s been crazy, but honestly, I can’t complain. There’s been a lot of growth. I’m working harder than I ever have from home. It’s wild that you have to stop travelling the world to start reaching it. I miss being on the road so much. When we were back out on the road before all this craziness happened, we were in London when [President] Trump decided to call off everything and tell everybody that there was a block on Europe and that nobody could come back. So we were nervous out of our minds because we didn’t want to get stuck over there. So, everything over there ended up getting cancelled and we ended up coming back home. Since then, I’ve kinda shifted gears and tried reaching my audience through social media.
Your TikTok following has translated to fans in some capacity too. Do you think it’s attributed to this quarantine season and your brainstorming of ideas?
You have to put energy into things that you’re passionate about. I’m really grateful that I was given an opportunity to breathe and really understand a platform. And now that I’ve understood it, I’m chasing it with everything I can. I definitely don’t think I’d be at nearly the same place that I am right now if it wasn’t for quarantine slowing me down so that I could speed up.
You obviously listen to many genres of music outside of country music, so how did you decide on being a country artist?
Country music chose me! My grandpa sang country music, he passed it on to my Dad, my Dad sang country music. So naturally when I start writing my own music, I want to be a storyteller. And my songs like “Hello Beautiful” naturally came out country. I love other kinds of music, I can really enjoy them. But my heart, my soul, is for connecting with people. It was what I was made to do.
How do YOU define country music?
I mean, you can say it’s the steel guitar, but I’ve heard country music without a steel guitar. You could say it’s the acoustics, but I’ve heard country without the acoustics. You could say it’s the slide, you could say it’s the voice, I’ve heard some of the craziest different voices singing country music. I think to me, it comes down to a core. Maybe there’ll be people who disagree with this, maybe this isn’t the best way to explain it, but this is just where I’m at with it right now. I think country music has always been known to be the genre that paints the story and brings something to life. It takes you somewhere… I freakin’ love all kinds of music, so you’ll catch me after this listening to everything. But, what I love about country is that it has the opportunity to be so unique and so special, to be so storytelling and impactful in a way that no other genre can. It will hit you right in the heart, and I love that. To me, that’s where country music starts. The way you come around that with instrumentation can vary a little bit, but I think the core has to stay, because that’s what I grew up on.
Who are your top three influences in country music?
Thomas Rhett and Keith Urban, just because they’re both my generation of growing up and people I was listening to on the radio, and if I had to pick a third one, I’ll go way back and say Garth Brooks, because what he did and the way he wrote music in such a simple and powerful way is something I’ll take with me forever.
Let’s talk about your new EP that just came out. How did you decide on the project’s tracklist and sequence? Was it all very intentional?
It’s a story if you listen to it from top to bottom. Most people don’t know that, but if you listen to it from top to bottom, it’s the full story. That’s what it’s all about. Because to me, I love the ebb and flow of music, I love hopefulness, but I also love the despair that it can bring. I love just putting words into things that people are going through and maybe voicing the things they don’t even know that they feel. I really put a lot of intentional thought into those songs and their order. And honestly, the reason they were chosen is because they engulf who I am as an artist today. But they won’t be my forever. I mean, I’ve got so much more to experience right? So it’s like this season of my life is identified by the things I’ve been through and I put those into my songs. I really wanted to give a well-rounded product with those songs but also, the other side of it, when we put out the album, it’ll be even more rounded, you know?
The EP’s lead single is “I’ll Be The One.” How did you and your team decide on that song as your debut single on country radio?
Well, we were kinda in a bit of a rush, to be honest with you. We saw so much positive feedback with [“Hello Beautiful” and “Maybe We Will”], we decided to get out there. And so, the third song we had finished and recorded was “I’ll Be The One.” That’s the one we decided of the songs we were chasing. I wanted to come forward and let people know, and this is kind of the meaning behind it, what I wanted to be for the genre as much as it’s what I wanted it to be for a girl. I wanted it to be a statement, and I knew that even if the song didn’t do everything we wanted to at radio, it was telling people exactly who I was and what I wanted to be. I want to be chivalrous, I want to be the guy who treats with respect. And, to me, the branding of that was so important.
One of the standouts on your EP is “Meet The Man.” It has such a heartwarming lyrical twist in the bridge. Can you talk about the genesis of writing that song?
That song is so important to me too. I love that song, and the message is so right for who I am. I just identify with it so much. Honestly, what makes me so passionate about that song is I don’t think anyone out there is really talking about how a son should approach a family like that. Being in the position that I am with three little sisters and a Dad who loves them and stuff, I’ve had a first-hand experience as to the value the relationship can have. And so, looking at it from that perspective and seeing how I hope a guy enters their life and also how I want to enter a girl’s, that’s how I wanted to see it. I just think there’s so much power in that.
You also chose to re-record your hits “Hello Beautiful” and “Maybe We Will.” What was it like to re-imagine the production of those two songs?
When I started chasing it myself as an independent artist, we just sat down in a room I was inspired by the people I looked up to the most—Keith Urban, Thomas Rhett, and a couple others. And I was really excited to get to try to be like the producers I looked up to so much, and Dann Huff wrote like the vast majority of the production for most of the songs I was inspired by. When we looked at sounds, we wanted the guitar solo to sound effortless but yet so put together and so energetic and could fall apart any second. Nobody does that like Dann Huff! So when I was given the opportunity to re-record them, I could not imagine it with anybody else but the man who truly inspired my version of those songs. I got to do the songs in the way that I wish I could have done them in the very beginning, which is with the person that inspired me in country music maybe the most when it comes to production. [Dann] is definitely the most inspiring producer I have worked with. He has the ability to make a track that sounds so full and so thick and at the same time, feel like it could fall apart at any second, but it doesn’t.
Which song of yours that you’ve written, released or unreleased, best describes you in a nutshell?
If it wasn’t for every single song on the EP, you wouldn’t understand every facet of me. If you took “Maybe We Will,” I’ll just look like a guy who was trying to pick up a girl. If you took “Hello Beautiful” alone, I look like a sappy sucker who’s so in on a girl. If you took “I’ll Be The One,” I’ll look like a simp! And if you took “Comeback,” I’ll look like I’m just lonesome. But it’s when you put [them] together and see the different aspects and different angles of it, it starts to come together in a way where it’s like, you really get a full picture of everything you’ve been through, and everything I’ve experienced from top to bottom. I mean, even [with] “Meet The Man,” you experience the song by itself but don’t put it in context with “I’ll Be The One,” “Maybe We Will,” or “Feel Like Love,” then this guy sounds kinda boring. He’s got great morals and stands for something, but I want to be the kinda person that can stand for something and have a good time.
We’ve got to talk about your merch. You typically put out a post about them almost randomly a few days before, and it always sells out instantly. What’s the idea behind these limited edition, one-time runs? It’s like an unconventional way compared to most artists’ stores.
I’m a huge fan of design and fashion. I’ve always been into it but really, over quarantine, I’ve had the opportunity to sit down and partner with really good manufacturers all over the world, work with great designers and stuff like that that I’ve been reaching out to. We came together with some seriously epic designs because, to me, it’s all about broadening the story and bringing the story to life. It’s like, “Meet The Man” has a totally different facet when you start recognizing the value of what I put in the hoodie. It just brings the music to life in a deeper way, almost unlocks a piece of the song you didn’t see before. So that’s what I want to do with my merchandise. And we’re doing it with a song specifically, so it’s a celebration on top of that. And for the people who are streaming my music and becoming a part of my story, it’s cool to be able to bless them with it too. Sometimes I’ll just slide into their DMs and ask for their address and hook ‘em up. It’s just fun, you know? I’m having a good time with it!
The anchor symbol is almost synonymous with the Noah Schnacky name. Would you explain what it means to you?
I’ll tell you this. There’s only been three things in my life that have really kept me grounded and anchored, if you will: my family, my faith and my fans, more now than ever. Because although my world changed, my fans only grew. It’s pretty cool man. And so, I started identifying with that anchor because it’s something that me and my fans can identify with together. If you look up what an anchor means, the symbolism behind it is synonymous with hope and I love that because that’s what I want to be for this generation—I want to be a voice that can put words to a generation that has a hard time in some periods of their life. Whether it’s like a breakup or it’s standing for something, I hope I can be a part of that, and I hope I can identify with people.
Since this is an introductory piece, what do you want new fans and readers to know about you both as a person and artist?
I hope when they see me, they know that it’s genuine. I hope that I would come off truly compassionate and truly honest, with my emotions wearing on my sleeves, showing vulnerability as a strength and not a weakness. Honestly, I hope they find my music and find themselves in my music, because there’s no greater joy to me than when somebody is singing the words to one of my songs at a concert or in their car, and I see it and they’re identifying with the lyrics as much as I ever did.