“I’m just going to play my mandolin, all right?”: Mumford & Sons fan Noah Kahan says he doesn’t care about being cool and weighs in on the Universal Music vs TikTok debate

Noah Kahan
(Image credit: Getty Images)

He might be sitting at number one in both the UK singles and albums charts, but US singer-songwriter Noah Kahan has revealed that he still suffers from imposter syndrome and is happy to accept the fact that he’s not “cool”.

Speaking to The Guardian, the Stick Season songsmith recalled the recent experience of attending the Grammy Awards. “I was sitting by myself, like: ‘Whoa, I am the least cool guy at the party right now,’” he says. “My mom [who Kahan took to the ceremony as his guest] is killing it, everyone around me is killing it. It played into this idea that I have about myself - which isn’t healthy - that I don’t belong.”

On learning to get better at dealing with success, Kahan adds: “It’s one of those things that I need to work on, finding out how to feel deserving and worthy.”

Elsewhere in the interview, the subject of Mumford & Sons - a band that Kahan loves - is raised, leading to a discussion about whether he’s worried about being perceived as cool.

“No, I don’t think I care that much,” he says. “I think that ship left the dock the first photoshoot I ever did. I was like: oh, OK, that’s what I look like? It’s over. It’s also just exhausting trying to be cool, to feel like I’m doing something brand new or genre-bending. I don’t have the energy for it. I can’t bend the genre right now - I’m exhausted! I’m just going to play my fucking mandolin, all right?”

To be fair, being true to himself has worked pretty well for Kahan so far, and his success on TikTok, where Stick Season first blew up, suggests that a lot of people do see him as pretty cool, whether he likes it or not. However, Universal Music’s current dispute with TikTok means that his music isn’t currently available on the platform, a situation that Kahan says “kind of sucks”. His concern, though, seems to be more for other artists than himself.

“I built a huge following on TikTok, so I have an amazing foundation, which is super-fortunate,” he explains. “But there are some people, especially young, developing artists, or artists that are about to break through, that now don’t have that. I hope people are not being, like: I’m going to quit, because I think that if you’re really talented and you have a story to tell, you’ll find a way for people to hear it.”

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it.