Noel Gallagher

Serving the song with V Collection 8

Noel Gallagher
Serving the song with V Collection 8

When it comes to creating a song, Noel Gallagher possesses a golden touch. Considered one of the world’s greatest living songwriters, he’s penned anthems that transcend genre, culture, and era with Oasis, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, and beyond. Sometimes, the creative momentum he needs is one lyric, one chord, or one sound away. It’s this search for the spark that brought V Collection into his process, and he hasn’t looked back since - we caught up with Noel in the studio to talk synths, songwriting, and his stellar career.

Flying high

A seasoned guitarist who can rouse a stadium-sized crowd with a 4-chord sequence. A gifted vocalist who’s been center stage in every corner of the globe. But above all else, Noel Gallagher is a songwriter - and we’re not talking catchy melodies and fun lyrics. We’re talking about the kind of song that can unite young and old in euphoric chorus without so much as the word ‘maybe’.

Everything that I do and everything that I play, these are all tools to benefit the job of songwriting.

From Noel’s perspective, this is his creative purpose. As the sole songwriter behind the vast majority of Oasis’ colossal hits, his credits speak for themselves. Despite this, he’s never been one to showboat, and it took time and perseverance for him to discover his own talent.

I didn’t really begin to write songs with any confidence or purpose until I joined Oasis in 1991. I’d had a guitar since I was a teenager, and I just learned Joy Division basslines on the top string. I liked the feel of it, the fact that I had a guitar - but I was never a show off. I’m still not.

The same can be said for Oasis as a band; formed at a time when cassettes were the dominant format of released music and cell phones were a relative rarity attached to the belts of businessmen and women, the band had to work hard and hone their sound to get the attention they deserved. In today’s world of instant gratification and the virality of media, it might not have happened the same way.

With the advent of the internet, Oasis would’ve been written off. For the first couple of years we were sh*t… People would’ve gone on YouTube, seen a few gigs, and said ‘not interested’. We’d never have got to Live Forever.

With Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, he’s done away with major label support, releasing music on his own Sour Mash Records. But NGHFB isn’t just about embracing the way the business works nowadays; it’s Noel’s way of embracing absolute creative freedom.

Starting the High Flying Birds, the only plan that I had was that I wanted the sound to develop. Oasis was stuck in this ‘stadium rock’ rut for a long time, and only with the benefit of hindsight did I realize how restrictive that was as a songwriter. You could never step outside of those parameters because the band had such a strong identity and the audience knew what they wanted.

Today is gonna be the day

There are no hard and fast rules to songwriting. If I sit down and say ‘today I’m going to write a song’, nothing will happen...

After several decades at the top, and with no signs of slowing down, Noel knows exactly how he likes to do things. Rather than sharpening the songwriting process down to a fine point, he’s surrounded himself with the right people, the right environment, and the right tools. With those in place, the barriers are removed, and the music is sure to follow.

Some people need the struggle - I don’t. I need to be relaxed, I need it to be easy, I need it to just happen like that. If I’m searching or digging away for something, not getting anywhere, I get frustrated. I like things to be easy and at hand - and why not? I’m 54!

This no-nonsense approach to crafting songs, in Noel’s experience, strangely efficient. By striking a balance between keeping an open mind and knowing where to draw the line, he’s got plenty to work with without overthinking things. He’s also honest with himself - it’s not going to magically happen every day. The process requires patience.

I liken to fishing - the guy that sets up his equipment and sits there all day and he might catch nothing. It’s almost like a meditative process of waiting, and waiting, and waiting.

She’s Electric

Once I’d got the first [NGHFB] record out the way - which was pretty much going to be the next Oasis album - I started to use more synthesizers. In a very basic way just to add something different.

For Noel, venturing beyond Britpop has been both a process of both cause and effect. The search for new sounds has driven him to incorporate synth and keyboard sounds in a way that took him by surprise - enter V Collection. Not only did these sounds facilitate the sonic diversity of his latest projects; they’ve become an integral part of the inspiration behind his songwriting process.

I’ve adapted it into my songwriting. Once I’ve got the bones of a song, I'll happily get on a synthesizer for hours and that’ll be the first thing that goes on. It might just be a rudimentary, atmospheric thing, but it’ll suggest a mood and we’ll take it from there.

In the studio, we move onto the topic of playing keyboards. Noel is upfront in saying that he isn’t a keyboardist - but also that that doesn’t prevent him from enjoying the experience, the process, and above all, the sounds. Better still, he feels that the fact that he isn’t a player means he approaches it from a different angle, often yielding more interesting results.

Since doing Who Built The Moon? with David Holmes - it was David who threw it all out the window on that album… He’d get there and he’d say ‘can you play the keyboards?’ I’d say I can’t play, and he’d say ‘Good, then we’ll get something interesting out of it’.

Exploring the sounds of V Collection, both during songwriting and with other musicians, offers more than just a fresh set of sounds. As Noel notes, he’s been in the business for a little while, and it isn’t easy to find that new lease of creative life at the best of times. But V Collection’s ability to bring new atmospheres outside of his sonic comfort zone is uniquely energizing.

It adds an atmosphere and takes it away from rock music. When I do get a keyboard player in, they’ll embellish it and play it better - I love it, because it’s like a rebirth as an artist. To get a rebirth as an artist in your ‘50s is a f*cking privilege.

On V Collection

We spoke to Noel about what V Collection means to him; how and why he uses it, his favorite features, and how it benefits his music.

On quality

As an artist who’s lived and worked through the transitional period of music production becoming more and more software-orientated, bringing software instruments into the fold was a leap of faith. Luckily, as Noel notes, V Collection’s sound speaks for itself.

When I first starting using this stuff, I was expecting for it to be, like most things that are digital versions of the real deal, good but a little bit sh*t. I was blown away by it, it was incredible. I couldn’t believe it. They just behave themselves.

On presets

Part of the beauty of hardware synthesizers is the experimentation and exploratory nature of finding your own sound. By extension, you could say the same about V Collection’s instruments, designed to be just as intuitive and flexible - often more so - than their hardware counterparts. Some music makers, like Noel, instead prefer to be presented with some options. V Collection’s presets equip any artist with an all-you-can-eat selection of sounds and timbres to suit any style.

I love presets on synthesizers. Keyboard players hate presets, I love it. I cannot sit there for hours, looking at a keyboard, and none of the language makes any sense to me - far less the keys… So I’m a big believer in presets.


While discussing presets with his studio engineer Callum, Noel briefly becomes immersed in a subtle vibrato organ-style patch on Jup-8 V, soft and pad-like in its sustain.

HIGHLIGHT: Mellotron V

You’ve got 12 of them now in a thing with loads of presets. The Mellotron from Arturia, all the presets are done for you. You don’t have to do anything, and there's these enormous stereo strings coming out of your computer screen. It really is mind-blowing.

HIGHLIGHT: Synclavier V

There’s this thing that sounds like the tube - when you press a key, it’s like there’s a mellow tube train passing through. That’s all over the new stuff I’m writing, it just adds a bit of atmosphere.

Songwriting revolution

For Noel, V Collection amounts to more than a library of sounds, and more than a selection of classic instruments reimagined. These have become essential tools in his songwriting journey, both embellishing his existing ideas and inspiring brand new ones. And, whether it’s spending hours cycling through presets, or simply trying out new ideas with a different instrument, if it’s in service of the song, he’s all for it.

It aids the creative process, and you can’t say anything more than that - that’s it. If they’re aiding the creative process or the genesis of creating a song that some people are going to love and get married to and get buried to, cannot say anything more than that. The greatest thing ever.

To get these plugins and have them all at your fingertips - you can conjure up any idea that you have... It’s revolutionized my songwriting, it’s become more inspiring to me - it’s kept me going in a way.