Baek Hwong, the artist who performs as NoSo, arrived at NPR’s headquarters on a sunny Friday afternoon that followed a week of relentless rain in Washington, D.C. The change in weather was apt for the Los Angeles-based artist whose music often sheds light on dark times.
I first discovered NoSo when they entered the Tiny Desk Contest back in 2019. Even though they didn’t win, their spectacular guitar playing, memorable hooks and sentimental lyricism left a lasting impression. They bring all those elements to their Tiny Desk set, in which they’re accompanied by musicians Marian Li-Pino on drums and Jayla Tang on violin. NoSo’s soft-spoken nature complements their musical dexterity to create the kind intimate performance that really shines in the close quarters behind the Desk.
Across the three-song set, Hwong sings about the “quiet suburbia” they grew up in and reflects on feelings about their evolving gender identity. The final song of the set, “Everything I’ve Got,” is an aching portrayal of the way confidence and longing can be upended by gender dysphoria; before playing the song, Hwong shares that they’ve “healed a lot” since writing it. “I know if I was born fairly, I’d be it / I’ll love you with everything I’ve got,” they sing quietly over a swelling violin and an audience of sniffling NPR staff.
NoSo reflects on their adolescence — often granting newfound compassion to their younger self — across their debut album, Stay Proud Of Me, which came out earlier this year. They say releasing that record and playing a Tiny Desk three years after submitting to the Contest feels like “a real full-circle moment.” Toward the end of the set, Hwong smiles and admits: “This is a dream come true.”
- “I Feel You”
- “Everything I’ve Got”
- Baek Hwong: guitar, vocals
- Marian Li-Pino: drums
- Jayla Tang: violin
TINY DESK TEAM
- Producer: Bob Boilen
- Director/Editor: Joshua Bryant
- Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin
- Series Producer: Bobby Carter
- Videographers: Joshua Bryant, Maia Stern, Michael Zamora, Sofia Seidel
- Audio Assistant: Alex Drewenskus
- Production Assistant: Jill Britton
- Tiny Desk Team: Suraya Mohamed, Marissa Lorusso, Hazel Cills, Ashley Pointer, Kara Frame
- VP, Visuals and Music: Keith Jenkins
- Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann