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INTERVIEW: Corn Puffians Bassist Noa Bonen Goes Solo By Harry Myles

For those of you who have been following the Corn Puffians story, you’ll know that Noa Bonen was once a pivotal member in the post-cover trio. For those that haven’t been keeping track of the twists and turns of this endless saga, here’s a quick recap. Consisting of guitarist Joey Litvak, Bonen on the bass, and Maia Harris on percussion, Corn Puffians was a Born Ruffians post-cover band. What is a post-cover? Well, according to Litvak, the self-proclaimed "frontman" of the group and creator of the concept, a post-cover is a reinterpretation of a pre-existing work of art in new and original ways. On February 10, Corn Puffians released their first post-cover of the Ruffians track “This Sentence Will Ruin/Save Your Life”.

They were then signed to new avant-garde Toronto label Corn Puff Records and eventually released a remix of their cover on April 3 and hosted the Corn Puff Records Livestream Festival for Charity on April 18. The festival ended with an explosive argument between Litvak and Bonen and the removal of Bonen from the band. Litvak proceeded to release a video attacking Bonen and his other critics, notably myself, claiming we mischaracterized him in regards to the band break up.

And that’s what you missed.

Now, Bonen has decided to go solo following the tumultuous past few months. We sat down to talk about her life post-Corn Puffians, her take on the dramatic breakup, and her new single.

Bonen has lived a slightly nomadic 19 years so far. After being born in Israel, her family moved to California and lived there for eight years. Next, they ventured to New Jersey where Bonen stayed until she began school at the University of Toronto in 2018 to study Geography and English. Her mother is a Toronto-born Canadian, her father is Israeli, while she herself has lived in the United States for most of her life. As a result, Bonen has always felt somewhat like an outsider. In Canada, she feels like an American. In the United States, she feels like a Canadian, and in Israel, the place of her birth, she’s “just some foreigner.” This feeling has influenced her thinking in a lot of ways, and in turn, her art.

Musically, Bonen first learned guitar when she was 12 and she has written songs over the past several years. Bonen explained that moving from place to place affected the way she learned how to write music. She has not remained rooted in one location her entire life and as a result, has just tried to make the most of her current situation. Similarly, she’s not interested in learning all of the music theory and the minute details of musicianship. Rather, she just learns “as much as [she] can so that [she] can seem like [she] knows what [she’s] doing.” As long as it sounds good and makes her happy, “then it’s a whole song” in her head regardless of whether it’s completely polished.

Eventually, Bonen became friends with Litvak and Harris at Centauri Summer Arts Camp.

Their friendship evolved into the Corn Puffians project, but things went sour as Litvak became more and more controlling. Bonen explained that “Corn Puffians was always Joey’s project and I don’t think he ever wanted to share it as much as he thought he did.” In Corn Puffians, “Joey had this vision for what it was going to be and [he] didn’t really let anyone into that.” The creative tensions bled into the friendship between Bonen and Litvak and culminated in the end-of-festival blow up. The decision to break-up was apparently all Litvak’s.

As Bonen told it, she went for a walk after the festival and when she returned Joey had made the post on Facebook removing her from the band and announcing the indefinite hiatus of the project. Harris was not consulted whatsoever. In hindsight, however, Noa thinks that the end of Corn Puffians has actually “been really good” for her by providing time to work on her solo material.

While she doesn’t think she could work on a project like Corn Puffians with Joey again, she still wants to remain friends. Bonen is even willing to revisit the band she started with Harris and Litvak pre-Corn Puffians, The Camp Counsellors, once they’ve all had some time to heal.

Bonen has moved on from the Puffians debacle and is looking towards the future with the release of her first solo single, "Intentional," produced by Pyari. As mentioned, Bonen has been working on solo material for several years, but this is the first time she’s had the chance to release her work.

Listening to the track, entitled “Intentional”, you can’t help but hear the prominent influence of indie artists like Snail Mail and Soccer Mommy. This is no coincidence; Bonen said that about a year and a half ago, she first listened to Snail Mail and was struck by the artist’s work. Here was a musician “making exactly the kind of music” Bonen wanted to produce. At first, Bonen had no idea what Snail Mail was singing but she could still feel the emotion. This idea of generating a feeling rather than focusing on the actual content is something Bonen hopes to emulate. Other influences included “female singer on piano” which happens to be her father’s favourite ‘genre’, featuring such artists as Fiona Apple and Regina Spektor.

Besides this first single, Bonen does not have concrete plans for the future. An EP is “definitely in the works” and she has “a fair amount that [she] wants to record”, but “it’s just a matter of getting it to sound the way it sounds in” her head. However, the current quarantine has not helped the writing process. Bonen explained that in order to write, she needs to feel comfortable in her environment and right now that’s a little difficult given the fact that she’s stuck in Canada while her family is back in New Jersey. Combined with the general anxiety of the global pandemic, it’s no wonder that Bonen feels some stress.

Bonen & Harris Pre-Corn Puffians
Bonen & Harris Pre-Corn Puffians.

Her solo work will not be associated with Corn Puff Records, the label behind Corn Puffians. Bonen is still a graphic designer for the label but her new material will be strictly “Copyright Noa Bonen”. For the foreseeable future, Bonen is simply concentrating on herself and her work, something she has not been able to do for a while.

Even though Corn Puffians is no more, Bonen is not going anywhere. If “Intentional” is any indication of her talent, I, for one, can’t wait to see where her solo career takes her.

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