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Derksen explores eternal question of ‘what’s next?’

By Joe Leary

Noah Derksen has a new album called In Search of the Way. 

Noah Derksen has a new album called In Search of the Way. SUBMITTED

Performing in the self-described genre of “contemplative folk,” Noah Derksen utilizes the acoustic guitar to express his thoughts, experiences and emotions. Joe Leary spent 24 Seconds with the local artist discussing his inspirations, his musical direction and his latest album, In Search of the Way.

24: At what point did music enter your life and what were your early inspirations?

ND: Similar to many unsuspecting children, my musical experience began with a strong resentment towards many hours of piano lessons. At some point along the way I made a deal with my parents that I could drop piano lessons if I picked up the guitar, which I got into fairly quickly. Fast forward ten years into my third year of university, and I decided that it was time to take the next step. This involved beginning to write my own material, and perform it at local open mic nights. Inspired musically be the likes of Ben Howard, John Mayer, and lyrically by Leonard Cohen and Ray Lamontagne, my navigation through the world of music has revolved around constantly trying to challenge myself, and take every opportunity that presents itself.

24: Your bio refers to a longing for direction and purpose. What led to the album’s focus?

ND: ‘In Search of the Way’ depicts a snapshot of my current position in life. Having spent the last 18 years within the education system, culminating with a bachelor’s degree, I am now free to approach the world however I may choose to do. This is arguably the first time in my life that I have had this level of freedom and independence, which is both remarkably frightening and liberating. The songs comprising ‘In Search of the Way’ were all written during a time of searching, of trying to figure out “what’s next?”

24: Where generally does a song come from; a personal experience, a lyric, an idea?

ND: I describe my music as “contemplative folk”. Being a fairly analytical and contemplative mind, my songwriting process includes me being in extensive thought and contemplation, often stemming from real life experiences — things that have captured my attention. However, there tends to be a component of imagination with each song; an embellishment, if you will. Thus, each song may begin with a concrete thought or experience, which will connect to one that is abstract or theoretical and by the end of the process I can’t quite remember which part was real and which wasn’t, and how it all even started.

 24: How important a role does music currently play in your life?

ND: Music is currently the most prominent driving force in my life. I am presently on a 2+ month cross-country tour in support of my forthcoming album (‘In Search of the Way’), and thus music tends to be all-encompassing, with little opportunity for “escape”. Music, to me, is an opportunity to explore and to connect, both within myself and places currently unknown to me. I intend to be touring for much of the next two years, continuing to improve my live performance and overall musicality.

24: You completed your bachelor’s degree at UBC. Will you continue your education and if so, what is the eventual goal?

ND: My plan has always been to remove myself from the academic world following my bachelor’s degree, at least for a few years. I’ve had thoughts of seeking out some sort of professional / graduate program at some point in the future, but for the time being I have much to learn about the world outside of the education system.

24: What’s been the response to your musical output?

ND: The answer to this question would change day to day, but ultimately I have received an enormously positive response. Though I am consciously biased, I am continuously overwhelmed by the people that come out to hear me perform in these obscure towns across the countryside, to which I have no personal connections. More importantly, I choose to fixate on these positive experiences to maintain motivation while being on the road.