We speak to the first lady of Taylor Gang, Courtney Noelle, on her debut effort with the label "Love On The Run" as well as how she meshes with the boys in the TGOD crew. As it were, she's an avid weed smoker like the rest of them.
If you weren't already made aware by our homepage takeover, Courtney Noelle, the only female (singer) signed to Taylor Gang, dropped her first big project on the label today, Love On The Run. We took the opportunity to interview her yesterday, the day before the project's release, to get the low-down on how she initially connected with the Pittsburgh natives (she too hails from Pittsburgh), as well as the new release and more.
We soon discovered Courtney's first connect to the guys of TGOD was none other than Wiz Khalifa, dating back to when he did his Star Power mixtape in September 2008 at the infamous ID Labs. However, it wasn't until awhile later and several collaborations in the bank that she officially signed with the label. During our conversation Courtney declared herself a tomboy and a lover of r'n'b ladies-- Beyonce, Jhene Aiko, K. Michelle and more were cited as influences. Her soft vocals and light, airy, instrumentals prove this.
Without further adieu, read up on who Courtney Noelle is in our interview below. Make sure you grab her new mixtape too, here.
HotNewHipHop: So, how’s it going?
Courtney Noelle: It’s going great, just leaving the gym actually, having a great day!
HNHH: You work out every day?
Courtney: Uh, like 3-4 times a week yeah.
HNHH: Okay, so to kick things off, I wanted to talk about who you are as a person, just tell us a little bit about yourself.
Courtney: Okay, my name is Courtney Noelle, I’m from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I’m a singer,songwriter, recording artist, signed to Taylor Gang. I’ve been writing songs since I was a teenager, I’ve been performing the songs I’ve actually written since I was about 13, 14 years old. And I love to sing!
HNHH: Cool, and is Courtney Noelle your real name?
Courtney: Courtney Noelle is my middle name. My full name is Courtney Noelle Bradley.
HNHH: Nice. And as an artist, how did you get your first starts in Pittsburgh?
Courtney: I was actually signed to a record label entitled Brookland. It was run by the TrackMasters and Eric Knicks, who was a former A&R of Warner Brothers Music, they teamed up to start a label, I wanna say back in 2009. And so that was my first deal, and I wrote a couple of songs and finished a project with them. We couldn’t really work the business stuff out so that kinda fell through. At the same time, Wiz was working at ID Labs in Pittsburgh, and I came back to Pittsburgh to work on some new stuff. We just kinda linked up in the studio and we did “Bankroll” together, which was one of our first collaborations. So when “Star Power” came out, it just kind a took off and my presence got a little more known in Pittsburgh. So it started in ID Labs with Wiz, is where I really started to get some exposure, but I had been recording long before that.
HNHH: So basically you connected with Taylor Gang through Wiz Khalifa first?
Courtney: Yes, absolutely. Before Taylor Gang was actually a label, they were just putting it on clothes and trying to develop what exactly Taylor Gang was. A lot of people in Taylor Gang went to a high school in Pittsburgh called Taylor Allderdice and wore Chuck Taylors. So I really didn’t know how I fit into it, but, you know, it’s more so a sound. We have our own sound, we have our own connection as a group.
HNHH: Yeah, and actually what you just said..You didn’t go to Taylor Allderdice right?
Courtney: No I actually went to school in Maryland, I moved away from Pittsburgh for a long time. So I was like the newcomer, everybody had already been around. But I think once they seen that they were missing a singer, and that me and Wiz made such great music and we were so cool, and I get along with all the guys, they’re like my brothers. A lot of us grew up in the same neighbourhood so it’s just kinda like a no-brainer.
HNHH: Yeah, so that’s what I was gonna ask, you said you weren’t show how you fit it, and you’re the only girl in Taylor Gang right?
HNHH: Yeah, so what is that like? You’re chilling with the guys all the time?
Courtney: All the time, all the time. Which you know is natural for me, ‘cause I grew up with brothers, my older cousins are all guys. I’m really a tomboy, I’m more of a tomboy than a girl’s girl. So I fit right in. I love them all of them, they talk to me about anything like I’m one of the guys, we hang out, we go out, we stay up in the studio all night, we party together. We have SXSW coming up, and last SXSW we went too we had a ball, and I love hanging with them. I love hanging with brothers sometime more than I like hanging with my friends.
HNHH: Yeah, and so I just have to ask, are you a big weed smoker like the rest of the TGOD rappers?
Courtney: Yes, yes I am. I probably can smoke some of them under the table?
HNHH: So who do you think you have the best relationship with in the crew, would it be Wiz cause you met him first?
Courtney: Um, it’s equal. I mean me and Wiz have known each other longer than a lot of people in Taylor Gang, and we’re more like family. His mom and my mom are like best friends, so me and Wiz have known each other longer but I’m close with everyone, I wouldn’t say there’s really one person I’m more close with. Me and Will are also really close, that’s my adopted brother. Everyone, we all kinda started together. I’m close to everyone the same in my opinion.
HNHH: And you said you had moved away for a bit, but you’re currently back in Pittsburgh right now?
Courtney: Yes, I moved to Baltimore for high school and I came back after I graduated from high school, and I’ve been here ever since.
HNHH: And what was that like in Baltimore? Were you pursuing music in high school or was it on a hiatus?
Courtney: Yeah it was kinda hiatus. I was really shy, I was like, “do you really wanna do this, do you want people to hear your music, or you just wanna write poems, do you just wanna write or do you actually wanna put yourself out there and sing?” So when I got out, I gave college a try for about year, and I knew that was absolutely what I didn’t wanna do. So, I said, you know, I gotta give this a fair shot. As I started too, doors just started open and things started to happen naturally, and it kinda just showed me that this what I’m supposed to do.
HNHH: Cool, so we’re dropping your mixtape tomorrow, it’s obviously entirely finished at this point. What do you hope to do with Love On The Run…It’s your debut effort right?
Courtney: It’s my first big project. I had a mixtape out a couple years ago entitled Wishing On A Star, that I put out just ‘cause so many people were asking for my music after “Bankroll” and you know we had a lot of songs together so when people were hearing those songs, they wanted to hear my individual work. So I put together a mixtape, Wishing On A Star, and I released it on my own, and that’s actually what led to me singing to Taylor Gang. But this is my first big project where all the production is original, there’s no samples, I didn’t have any help writing it, I did everything on my own. Me, Wiz and Will kinda sat down and were really hands on with it. So it’s definitely the first big project on Taylor Gang.
HNHH: And what’s the vibe of the mixtape? I was listening to it this morning so I kind a got a feeling, but how would you describe it?
Courtney: It’s kinda one of those tapes that you just ride around, smoke, listen to it. You can listen to it all the way through to the end.
HNHH: Have you ever been compared to Jhene Aiko? With that kind of laid-back sound, very soft vocals?
Courtney: Yeah, all the time. Everybody compares me and her. I think our content is different, and our personalities and our image just in general is very different, but our voice, just ‘cause were both Sopranos and we use a lot of air, I get that comparison all the time.
HNHH: So do you mind it or are you a little bit…
Courtney: No, I don’t mind it all. She’s amazing, I’ve been a fan of her since her first mixtape so nothing but good things for me if I’m compared to her. And I love her, and she’s doing an amazing job right now so that’s just a compliment for me.
HNHH: And what other artists have inspired your music over the years?
Courtney: Hmmm. I’m a huge Beyonce fan, anybody who knows me or follows me on Twitter or Instagram knows I’m a fan of Beyonce. I’m a fan of Shaday, Mary J. Blige, umm, if you’re talking about newer people, Tamar I love her album she released, K. Michelle’s album, I love that. So I’m really an r’n’b girl.
HNHH: Yeah, I can tell. And how did you pick the producers for the tape? Was that Will, and Taylor Gang’s decision or was it people you already knew?
Courtney: Yes, I have a team of producers that I specifically work with. One here in Pittsburgh, his name is Ricky P. And then my friends from Baltimore, their names are the Misfitz, oh and my friend Anthony Jones, his name is Tone, he’s from Pittsburgh. So we got about six songs done with them, and then we just started adding things. So Sledgren of course was a no brainer, so I had a Sledgren folder and an E Dan folder, and I just picked through them and recorded to all of them and picked the best ones.
HNHH: Cool. So you mentioned earlier you’ll be at SXSW this year. What’s the plan when you’re there, what showcases will you be at or where can people find you?
Courtney: We have a bunch of different showcases, and I’m receiving flyers every day of new showcases were doing. So I know we’re doing a Fader showcase, one with Bootleg Kev, and there’s one more I can’t think of what the showcase is, but we’re doing three. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I believe.
HNHH: Cool and you’ve been at SXSW previous years?
Courtney: Yes, I went not last year, just the boys went last year, but I went the year before and had a blast. Probably like all the tours I’ve been on and the festivals, SXSW is definitely the best and the most fun.
HNHH: Cool, and just one last question, after you launch Love On The Run, what will you be doing next, will you be pushing a certain single or going on to the next thing?
Courtney: Oh well right now the single is “Fold” which is available on iTunes and then after “Fold”, you know, you guys just leaked the song with me and Ty, “Just Fuckin”, and then we have a single with Wiz called “You Got Me” and a single with Chevy called “Libra” so right now we’re trying to decide which one to put out after. And then we’ll just be lining up shows to promote the mixtape and then we have a tour, so I plan on just promoting, touring, and I have a couple press days set up in New York and LA. So it’ll just be everything to promote the mixtape and then performing the songs and going on tour so it’s a lot.
HNHH: Yeah for sure. It sounds like you have an exciting year ahead of you and we’ll be watching. Is there anything you wanna let the fans know before we sign out?
Courtney: Just that the single is available on iTunes and the mixtape Love On The Run will be out tomorrow.
HNHH: Cool, well it’s been nice talking to you and we’ll be in touch.
Courtney: Likewise, thank you guys.