Meet Noah Kahan, the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter behind viral hit ‘Stick Season’

Noah Kahan is performing on Saturday Night Live, 2 December 2023 (Aysia Marotta)
Noah Kahan is performing on Saturday Night Live, 2 December 2023 (Aysia Marotta)
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It’s hard enough to achieve one hit song, but newcomer Noah Kahan seems to be making a habit of it.

Freshly nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy, the 26-year-old is now preparing to make his Saturday Night Live debut, where he will appear alongside Hollywood star Emma Stone.

“It’s all a bit crazy,” he told The Independent from New York, where rehearsals have been underway. “I’m excited, I’m pretty nervous too.”

Kahan is now known to millions of fans thanks to his viral hit, “Stick Season”, the evocative, folk-leaning title track from his third album released earlier this year. Since then, 2023 has been something of a whirlwind, but the success is starting to sink in.

”The Grammy nomination was really the thing that put it all into place,” he said. “It felt like the culmination of a lot of hard work, and it was pretty cool to have that feeling of, this is reality.

“I’ve always wanted a Grammy. It’s weird to admit that because I’m not a super career-driven person or anything, but I used to practise my Grammys speech when I was a little kid, and my mum would tell me if I ever got nominated I had to take her!”

“Stick Season” was recently covered by pop star Olivia Rodrigo (herself a winner of the Grammy Award for Best New Artist) in the BBC Live Lounge, and to date is nudging towards half a billion streams on Spotify. But Kahan had “no idea” the song would blow up, and is just thrilled that it’s resonating with so many people.

“I was just happy to be making music that felt exciting and real to me, and maybe that came across in the song,” he suggested. “But to see it blow up was such a surprise and a vindication of everything I’d been putting my heart and soul into.”

Stick Season was written and produced with the “genius” Gabe Simon, singer and guitarist for the Kopecky Family Band who has also worked with Dua Lipa, Hailee Steinfeld and Anderson .Paak.

Kahan is also heavily inspired by acts such as Counting Crows, Bon Iver and Sufjan Stevens, while authors such as John Steinbeck and Cormac McCarthy influenced the strong sense of place in his songwriting.

And it’s no surprise to hear that Kahan has been taking notes from Scottish singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi, who knows something about hit songs not least thanks to his Grammy-nominated single “Someone You Loved”.

“Lewis and I know each other a bit, we’ve hung out, and he’s just so funny and cool,” Kahan said. “He’s beyond talented, a really lovely guy. I really look up to him for his ability to be self-deprecating but also honest about his mental health – I respect that a lot and I try to do the same with myself and my own audience.”

 (Aysia Marotta)
(Aysia Marotta)

While he’s grateful for the success of “Stick Season”, Kahan said that people tend not to realise just how much time and energy a hit song demands.

“It starts of being something you loved creating, and you’re excited, and then it takes off and it becomes your whole identity, and you’re singing it so much that it no longer feels like English to you,” he said.

“I totally understand the fear of being a one-hit wonder and not wanting to be associated with one song, but also as a lover of music, feeling like your relationship with a song changes is a really scary thing. And I’ve had that with songs in the past but actually not with ‘Stick Season’, which has been really nice, I’m happy just to keep running the songs from that album. It’s a moment where I was truly happy, creatively. Talk to me in three months, though!”

Noah Kahan performs on Saturday Night Live on 2 December.