Nora Knapp’s Music Looks As Good As It Sounds

Jul 2, 2020

North Carolina-based artist Nora Knapp explores isolation, dreams and hope in her new album Contradox.
Credit Nora Knapp

Nora Knapp turns her dreams into song lyrics. Three-year-old voice memos on her phone become foundations for melodies and song titles. These chance inspirations are the building blocks of Knapp’s new album “Contradox.” 

The album maps the past year of her life — a year of struggling to make friends, working a new job, getting to know a new place and discovering her strongest values after graduating from college. The album proceeds thematically from darkness to light — her lyrics take the listener from “rooms without windows” to feelings of love “even in rain, even in storms.”

Knapp uses a visual puzzle-piecing technique to put together her songs. This is the visual version of her song Temporary.
Credit Nora Knapp

Her quirky sampling and layered self-harmonies make up part of her unique sound, but her process also sets her apart from other artists. Knapp creates a song by recording a few vocal tracks, trimming the clips down and using them to make a visual pattern within her audio-editing software. After she arranges the clips visually, she listens through and adds instrumentals to create a whole and harmonious sound. Host Anita Rao talks with Knapp about the stories behind the songs and the process she uses to create her music.