This month our Featured Performer is the amazing Noma Falta. When we started TFM all that time ago I remember a good friend telling me "Noma Falta is the #1 performer in SL right now - you HAVE to write about her! Sadly, timezones being what they are, I rarely got the privilege of seeing Noma, let alone writing about her!
Imagine then my surprise one night, as my insomnia took me to some sleazy juke joint and there was Noma - dancing and chilling after one of her trademark high octane sets across the grid. After a few minutesI managed to summon up enough courage to ask her to interview for TFM and amazingly she agreed - suggesting we get together after her forthcoming show at Toby's Juke Joint. True to her word, she sought me out after her set and we hopped over to some old place she used to play and I finally got to interview the legend that is Noma Falta.....
Michael Hi Noma - thank you soo much for taking time out to do this interview with Toggle For Music - its a privilege and a pleasure for us to have you involved in our project First up - Could you tell our readers something about your background - at what age did you become involved in music ?
Noma: I was three and played a ukelele and "rode" my parents nightly with a performance of "I'm a little teapot"
Michael OMG too funny - I can imagine that ! Are you from a musical family ?
Noma: I would say yes alhtough there are many serious mathemeticians in my family. They all had a talent in singing piano or accordion but they only played at family functions and church.
Michael So when did bass guitar become your instrument of choice - how did that happen ?
Noma: Bass became my instrument of choice shortly before starting in SL by about three years..it was actually out of necessity when we had to let a bass player go in my three piece blues band in Key west Florida. Unfortunately his drinking was taking precedence over the music and so I was thrown to the wolves singing and playing nightly for two weeks straight. Talk about Scared! But I found i loved it. I will say I used to play rhythm guitar and sing lead in a few bands before that so I had experience playing while singing.
Michael Do you perform regularly in RL - what kind of venues do you like the best?
Noma: I played many years in RL in bars and bigger arenas. I like small smokey biker dives and Big arenas most. I'm not a wedding performer its uncomfortable Brightly lit and just no fun.
Michael Tell me about your favorite axe pls
Noma: Defintely Telecaster after playing a Jazzmaster. The Tele seems to have so much . it just has that rock , country , jazz thing it has a coat of many colours. plus it looks smart on! Hah
Michael Do you remember who were your early influences - and who are they now?
Noma: Paul McCartney and Joni Mitchell. Many, many soul artists like Aretha and old blues like Leadbelly. I suppose they change as I tend to listen to different artists intently for a long time taking them in.
Michael So - moving on to Second Life - how on earth did you get involved in this crazy world? And how did you choose your name ?
Noma: I got involved with a student of Creative Circus who had my RL photography in here selling it. She bugged me to get in here and so I did and said NAH - then came back a month later to explore and heard Dexter Moore perform..and I said OH MY I can DO this in HERE? IM on it!
My name? At the time you had to choose a last name from a list and i wanted something easy to say and remember for MYSELF..so i did a little play on words ;) NOMA FALTA--(not my fault) However i found out it has other meaning in spanish .. a friend told me it means ..that is all there is ....
Michael Could you describe your setup when you sing? Do you have a designated room in your home?
Noma: I have a music/art studio and one portion of it is dedicated to music, a wall to hold my guitars and basses and shelves to hold my board and preamps and the other doodads i have. It isn't a fancy built studio and it is a constant mess - i need a professional decorator to fix me....;) I run my tracks into two channels in my board my bass in one and my vocals in one then i place my vocals through a tube preamp.
I listen to the board mix in a separate headphone amp....all the stuff goes into a mac computer which i stream from and i use a PC for being on sl. I run my tracks Mono into two tracks on my board..it isn't complicated as it possibly can get.
I am not a techy gal but it works for me for now..I am sure there are better ways
Michael Was there anyone here who helped you, or inspired you, during those early days?
Noma: I had to learn on my own No one was willing to help and I asked alot of people! One guy Sid Sidran helped me understand i need a stream ( I did not know what that was) I also didn't understand how to set it up - for me that was a nightmare to learn.
Michael Do you remember your first Second Life gig - the venue and how it went ?
Noma: I had my own wonky swamp land club and I streamed from there. It was weird and I learned about being live...I thought people just played their tracks NONO -not the case I did this the very time I streamed to about three people . I was told how i had to do it in SL by a kind soul...
I was already in a RL duo - playing bass and singing with my guitar player LIve- with drum and rhythm tracks we painstakingly made in the studio. so i had stuff ready and was used to playing along that way just not streaming. After that I played my club a few times I was hired to play after Nance Brody at an art community and i stayed busy ever since.
Now the days of playing three to 4 gigs a day are over for me - it's a strain and Frankly TOO much - the communiity has grown to include many styles of singers and players.
Michael Following on from that is there a gig you remember above all ?
Noma: I have fond memories of My SL Friday night gigs at Dr. John's Music Park. One thing that was exciting about the gig was making friends of course but also the revolving noobs that came through there discovering there was live music.as well as the venue owners who are engaged give and extra feel that the audience picks up on FAST and that is what is Best to me Everyone involved and happy and enjoying what Secondlife has to offer.
Michael Is there a performer(s) in Second Life you particularly admire ?
Noma: Jon Larson (Muldaur watts) is an excellent musician and human being - In RL ? I have quite a few I admire but I do admire Chrissie Hynde for unabashed candor and honest mouth ;) and of course her songwriting skills
Michael Do you ever get nervous before a show?
Noma: I sometimes get a little nervous before a show and its often worse before dual streaming ...but for the most part I get excited to play as the adrenalin kicks in.
Michael When you're up there on stage do you notice much of what goes on in local chat ? Can that throw you off your stride?
Noma: I notice a bit the way I set my self up to read charts I can glance at chat. Sometimes it does throw me off especially if i catch a line where I missed the context. That makes for some interesting fun!
Michael What would you say pleases you the most about performing in SL - and conversely what would you say irks you the most ? (aside from annoying interviewers)
Noma: i love most is there is a communal feeling among the live music community and the ONE thing I can say that very different and unique that can't be done in RL is the immediate chatter in local (or im) between performer and audience. In the real world you don't get a chance to talk to everyone in the room between sets and sometimes hardly anyone and sometimes No one (in the bigger arenas).
I love the instant feedback and the social engagement for the hour. It is a beautiful thing.
What irks me? Any miscommunications but that is expected at times. However, in Real world gigs I do eye contact and connect in between sets and I leave the tomato throwing for SL.
Michael I'm well informed that music isn't your only forte, but you are also a hugely talented visual artist. Could you tell us a little about that and how you discovered you had this wonderful gift?
Noma: I never actually discovered I could make art.
When I was in jr. high school I had a HUGE crush on a boy who was very talented. He was in the art classes after school and it was open to ALL-even beginners.so of course I joined...I was very shy. Well the teacher set out this beautiful faceted Crystal Ornate perfume bottle and had us draw it..no instruction -NOTHING.. I failed miserably. she took me in te hall and told me I had no talent for art. That crushed me and ruined my crush on that boy as well. I have a choice word for people like that but I relazie some dont know how to talk to children.
During this time though I became involved in a marionette puppeteering troupe. It was an awesome experience. and I gained much experience in singing behind a backdrop, painting set scenery, and making puppets as well. WE collaborated as kids for elaborate plays under the
guidance and instruction of a couple in their 80's. Just the sweetest people. I tear up a bit thinking of them. So important in my life and so loved. We did travel to cities all over Alabama and some in Georgia.
I was involved in the orchestra at the time which went on the road some too. When puppeteering was over i joined a small band of thespians and did a few plays , we did our own music and acting and dancing and I am pretty sure it wasn't that good but it was fun and creative and kept me out of trouble most of the time!
During all this I discovered art because we painted scenery and backdrops and made costumes.
I do not make art on demand.I don't have it in me . I make some art in some forms of 3D such as wire wrapped gems and clay figures and books. I mainly concentrate on music these days.
My art in the past ten years involves bookbinding artist books, watercolors, and mixed media(including adding digital to my pieces).
This still keeps me out of trouble (most of the time ;) ).
Michael Is this something you may bring to Second Life?
Noma: This is actually how I originally came to Secondlife. A friend was in SL with a graphics school and she had my photography in SL and was selling it. She said,"I have Lindens for you , come in SL". I came in was totally confused -but made it through eventually.
I've had a few gallery showings in the past in SL. I may want to do that again with SL art sometime in the future. Who knows! SL is a playground!
Michael It can be hard trying to find your place in the SL music scene with so many performers on the grid - something you have clearly done. Do you have any advice to new performers on how to break through and stand out?.
Noma: BE YOURSELF ! There is the usual be yourself and dont try to please everyone or you end up pleasing noone but above all just KNOW your Worth.
Michael If you could tell your noob Noma anything, what would it be?
Noma: It is ok to be naked with a torch! ;P
Michael Almost done now - Quickfire choices:
Mexican or Italian?
Nawlins or Vegas?
Mustang or Ferrari?
Gibson or Fender?
Spotify or Vinyl?
Noma: Let's say I am driving to Nawlins in my Mustang with the top down, my fender and vinyl in the back seat, eating a tamalo and listening to spotify ;)
Michael Haha cool! Finally, in closing, is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Noma: Keep doing what you are doing in SL and Explore what SL can offer YOU.
Michael: Thanks again for this Noma - working on this with you has been a real pleasure!
On Reflection ...
From "I'm a little teapot" to SL stardom, Noma's journey has been truly remarkable yet she somehow remains so grounded and approchable.
Her close relationship with her huge fanbase comes shining through at every appearance she makes as her naturally inclusive style reaches out and touches all around her.
Off the record Noma told me about health issues which would have certainly made it Game Over for many of us yet here she is - still smashing out her amazing sound and filling every venue she plays.
Working with Noma on this interview has been a wonderfully enlightening and uplifting experience which will stay in my mind for a long time, and I now consider her a friend.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this as much as I have done writing it !