Beacon songwriter, composer goes solo
What do you get when you cross a Polish/Egyptian bassist who plays in Israeli rock bands and a Cuban/Puerto Rican trumpet player who plays in salsa bands?
You get Noga, or formally, Noga Cabo. She’s all of these things, as well as a songwriter, composer and creator of interdisciplinary art. She sings, too, and she’ll be putting all those talents onstage at In The Pines, a music festival in Beacon scheduled for Sept. 9 at University Settlement.
Cabo, 21, grew up in Beacon, and music was always in her home. Her father managed and her mother produced a family group that morphed into the Solar Sound Band, which played around the area and released two EPs but was still “very much a kids’ project,” Cabo says.
She attended the LaGuardia School of the Arts after her family moved to a Bronx apartment for a few years to accommodate this. She had been enrolled at a small, conservative Jewish school in New Jersey, and New York City “felt like a space that made more sense for me to be in,” she says.
Before switching to LaGuardia, she saw a show there by the new music ensemble, performing original music. “It blew my mind,” she recalls. “I was jumping up and down. I thought, ‘I need to go to this school.’ It felt like a huge funnel for me to develop my songwriting and create music for large ensembles.”
While still in high school, Cabo won three national Young Arts awards, as well as the BMI Foundation 2019 Theodora Zavin Scholarship for achievement in composition.
Cabo attended the New England Conservatory and, after six weeks, found her way into the chamber choir. “I’m a huge choir nerd,” she explains. Another group was looking for a female composer to craft a piece for an interdisciplinary event.
She was commissioned “with the only instruction being the prompt, the word mosaic. It was way bigger than anything I’d done before. It incorporated a painter, a spoken-word artist and a dancer. There were three smaller pieces and one larger, all tied to immigration and the artistic process.”
After the pandemic struck 18 months into her college studies, she decided to leave, concluding that study by Zoom didn’t make sense for a hands-on field. She and her family returned to their home in Beacon and Cabo took a “little step back from writing” for the first time.
In 2021, the family — brothers Adam and Zohar Cabo and mom Dassi Rosenkrantz, with dad Richie Cabo producing — released The Cabo Project. According to the liner notes, it’s a “from time-to-time family collaborative collective reflecting their multi-cultural background in a wide range of musical genres.”
Soon after, Cabo took a virtual songwriting class with Jean Rohe. “For the first time I saw songwriting as a craft, rather than just used for a release of emotions,” Cabo says. “This punched me back to writing again, and then playing shows.”
The result is a five-song EP, Lady Sun, with a title track written during Cabo’s final year of high school. (See nogacabo.com.) The songs were recorded at Buffalo Stack Productions in Beacon throughout 2021.
“The EP tracks important relationships, all the stages of that, including the in-betweens,” says Cabo. In her notes in the EP, which debuted July 1, Cabo explains that “releasing this feels like I am releasing a younger Noga to be contained within this music so that I can make room for all of the new ideas and projects I hope to work on next.”
In support of the album, Cabo has been performing solo in Beacon and Brooklyn, which she’s trying out for a while (“I’m seeing if it feels like the right place to be. I’m not superconvinced yet”). She finds being on stage alone “nerve wracking and also more meditative. Let it be what it is. More recently I see my songs’ little quirks, and ‘isms’ on stage. There’s more room to transport to somewhere else. With my family, I have the comfort of being able to look at them, relax with them.
“My brothers and I used to play around town as kids, so people think of us that way,” she adds. “It’s time to reframe my image from ‘Oh, you were in a kids’ band.’ I’m making an effort to make friends with people doing interesting things musically.
“Growing up in Beacon I always wanted to leave, but getting a chance to come back to Beacon and finding my own community — there are a lot of incredible people doing activism work and art. It’s great to be part of those communities.”