Neon colors! Roswell-style aliens in the desert! Space cowboys! Noelle & the Deserters’ brand new video for their single “Born in the Morning” is a joyfully surreal romp filmed in what must be one of the world’s most colorful cantinas. As an eclectic cast of characters sings, swigs, and slaps their cards on the table, the band’s infectious honky tonk sticks in your ears and makes you tap your toes. By the end of the first listen, you’re already singing along as singer-songwriter Noelle Fiore croons, “I was born in the morning but I wasn’t born today.”

We’re stoked to premiere the music video for the Bay Area-and-Sacramento-based band’s upcoming debut record, High Desert Daydream, right here on…along with an insightful interview with Noelle!

What was the first song you wrote for the new record? What was the spark that inspired it?

The first song I wrote for this record was “Some Men.” At the time I was a stepmom to a teenage boy who was struggling with a split home, social pressure, experimenting with drugs, getting into trouble with the law, all that crazy hormone-driven chaos of being a teen. As a step parent, it’s a challenge to know your place. Whether to be a support on the sidelines, to be a disciplinary figure, to be a friend, or to be a shoulder to cry on. This song was my way of telling Gio (my stepson) that I understood, I’d been there, I’m on your side, and I’m here for you. In writing this song, I feel it helped me explore and then understand my role during this challenging time and express to Gio that I had his back.

Can you tell us a little bit about growing up in Taos?

It was wild! Taos is such a special place. It is native land, and The Red Willow People of Taos Pueblo have inhabited the land for over 1,000 years and still do today. There is a strong Latino community there as well. Growing up I heard people speak Tiwa, Spanish, and English. Many people move to Taos because it's a big artist community. People come from all over the world to paint Taos and its famous mountain. The arts bring the weirdos, and I mean that in the best possible way. It’s also a big ski town bringing tourists to explore the world-renowned mountain. Lots of tourists! Taos is a cultural soup, so to say.

We came when I was 11, on a painted up school bus fresh after a Woodstock reunion in Bethel, New York. I think there was a rainbow gathering we were headed to…My mother was a big-time hippie and we moved around a lot until we settled in Taos. For me, growing up there was pure magic. Not always easy but fully special. Very free, always outdoors, I spent so much time hiking and swimming in the Rio Grande.

Why do you think those experiences of growing up there came up for you as a part of this record's songwriting and storytelling?

The landscape is so stunning and evocative that I can almost always close my eyes and get there in my mind. The mountain, the sea of sage, the adobe, the endless sky, the epic crack in the earth that is the Rio Grande gorge…Is it like that for other people with their hometowns, I wonder? It's such a singular experience. I long to be there and have such nostalgia for Taos, so most contemplative moments, like songwriting, take me home.

You've been in some amazing bands with some of our fave Bay Area folks, like Tim Cohen of The Fresh & Onlys and Shannon Shaw of Shannon & the Clams! Did anything about those experiences help encourage or inspire you as you created this record?

Right? How lucky am I to have such talented friends?! Shannon is a big influence for me and one of my favorite friends in the whole wide world. Playing music with Shannon is so fun and truly feels like family (we are sometimes called The Family Band). Her music is incredible, so true blue, heartfelt and brave. Shannon and I have had conversations about songwriting, and I asked her advice when I was stuck or doubting my songwriting. She was very encouraging and basically told me to trust myself and my instincts in the process.

Her band is a collection of the most talented folks I have had the pleasure to know. Just to name a couple: Joel Robinow (Once and Future Band) is really a national treasure. He can play anything and play it well and make you laugh like no other. Anna Hillburg is a HUGE talent and a coach to the stars! She is a music teacher and gives voice warm ups to the band before shows and when we are driving on tour. She and I consider ourselves a packet deal (inside joke) and coined ourselves “The Little Angels” when singing backup vocals in The Shannon Family band and sometimes with Shannon and the Clams. Our dream is to be high-paid backup singers and tour the world together in style, ha!

I grew a lot as a musician playing in Magic Trick [with Tim Cohen]. Tim really pushed me to play guitar in a way I wasn’t used to as a lead guitar player. He was always encouraging me to get weird with my playing and not be afraid of what people thought. I really struggle with stage fright, and back when I started playing with Tim, it was nearly paralyzing. We played a lot of big venues in SF and on tour. Over time my fear of being on stage got ever so slightly better. I’m still a hot mess but I can face an audience now.

Magic Trick was where I met Alicia Vanden Heuvel, who is the label owner of Speakeasy Studios SF who is releasing our record. She also played bass on and produced this record! She is a fierce talent, and I’m most grateful to Magic Trick for bringing her into my life. She is such a gift to me.

Noelle & the Deserters photographed by Bethany Johanna Weiss

Those aforementioned projects definitely have some folk and country influences embedded in them, but Noelle & The Deserters is like pretty COUNTRY-country, honky tonk style! What inspired you to make country music, and how long have you been at it?

The short answer is my obsession with Emmylou Harris.

The longer answer is a slow development from being a fan of cosmic country such as The Byrds, Gene Clark, The Band, and Gram Parsons to deep-diving into their influences. My husband Jerry, the drummer in our band, is big into country and has turned me onto a lot of great outlaw country, although we are quite split on David Allan Coe :) We listened to a lot of country records together when falling in love, and we would send each other YouTube videos of Old Grey Whistle Test when we were apart doing the long distance thing.

Country music is so rooted in storytelling, and that’s what I love so much about it. There’s a journey in a good country song, such as “Pancho and Lefty,” “Me and Willie,” “Big Iron," “I’ve Been a Long Time Leaving,” “Summer’s End.” There’s a start, a middle and an end, and a great song can give you enough to understand and wrap it all up. I also love how country music can be so relatable. It can be just vague enough for you to put yourself into the story and feel understood.

I’ve been writing country songs since about 2017. Before then, I never really wrote songs. I always played in other people’s bands and didn’t feel like I had what it took to be a songwriter. The simple structure of country and the way I could really push my voice–I found it sits so cozily in a country song–that gave me confidence.

It kind of feels like country is having a moment and, especially in the wake of the Beyonce Cowboy Carter announcement, there’s a lot of conversations happening about reclaiming country music history, creating more inclusivity in country music, recontextualizing it, etc. What does it feel like to be making country music in this cultural moment?

Great question! It feels super amazing! I’m grateful to be in the genre in such a pivotal and positive moment. Let’s face it, country music has been predominantly white and male for so long. Thank goodness for the fierce women of country’s past for pushing to be heard and carving out a path for generations of women to come (can you hear me, Loretta?). I’m elated to be creating music alongside queer country artists like Roselit Bone, BIPOC writers like Andrés Miguel Cervantes, and supported by labels like Speakeasy Studios SF, Gar Hole Records, and Long Road Society that are pushing the boundaries of folk and country music and the stories to be told.

It’s so incredible to see Sierra Ferrell sell out The Warfield, to watch rising stars Two Runner grow exponentially and play their beautiful tunes all over the country, to see Kassi Valazza tour all over the US and Europe and stop numerous new fans in their tracks with her stunning voice and brilliant songwriting…I can go on and on. Not only are women ruling this genre (in my opinion) at the moment, but the quality is so much better. I have to say, when I used to hear the term “modern country” it left a bad taste in my mouth. It, for me, meant pop stars cosplaying country. It meant songs about rusty pickup trucks and beer bottles. The cheese factor was high. What’s happening now, thanks to independent record labels and outlets like Western As Fuck and GemsOnVHS, is artists are getting exposure who would otherwise be unrecognized. There is so much talent and many truly incredible songwriters that are being recognized and sharing their gifts. THIS is now what modern country means to me. It’s inclusive, it’s queer, it’s nonbinary, it’s BIPOC, it’s women front and center, it’s multicultural, it’s activism, it’s brave. There’s still a long way to go as far as equality in the music industry, but the tides are definitely changing.

For me in my personal songwriting, I feel like what’s happening now has given me a place as a woman in country music. Where my voice is relevant, where I can be taken seriously as a writer, where I can write songs that don’t have a “hit factor” yet can still mean something to someone. I’m grateful to be here.

Noelle & the Deserters photographed by Bethany Johanna Weiss

Is there anything you’d like to add?

I’ve had the opportunity to gush about my previous musical collaborators, but I would not be releasing this record without my incredible band. Have I mentioned that I love Emmylou Harris? Well, I also love her “Hot Band” and I have found mine. They truly elevate my writing and ideas, treat my songs with respect and ALWAYS make it about the song. They are a real class act. Shout out to Jerry Fiore on drums, Graham Norwood on guitar and harmonies, Alicia Vanden Heuvel on bass and harmonies, and David Cuetter on pedal steel.

High Desert Daydream drops May 31 on Speakeasy Studios SF.