An Interview with Noah Slee

Words by Tyrell Willock
Photography by Karan Teli

The art of music is just one of the ways to portray a specific message, especially worldwide. Doing this in remarkable style is Berlin based soul singer, Noah Slee, who has released his new single, Do That (feat. PHAT). We got an insight into Noah’s experience of travelling and conversed around the news of a new project dropping this year. 

Noah was born in Auckland, New Zealand but made a move to Berlin some years down the line. He states that he was a very spontaneous person when it came to travelling and exploring, using his road trips with friends in high school as an example. “I think I’ve always been a bit of a wanderer”. Taking his adventures out of New Zealand, he made his first visit to Germany. It was on this trip where Noah would take the next step in his musical career. “The city somehow connected itself to me. The vibe, the energy and people’s philosophies in life”. And he wasn’t wrong at all! In fact, he bonded with the city so well that he formed a creative family. “I made a real solid crew who I create music with, my artwork and my visuals”.

Although travelling comes as a positive factor, he explained to me that it can be a difficult period when mixing travel with creation. In 2018, Noah journeyed on the road for almost 8 months, reaching beautiful destinations in America, India and Europe for his official ‘Otherland’ tour. But during this time, he realised that the balance has to be significantly levelled. “It can be tricky to travel and create as I feel it requires discipline. I thought, I’ll be able to create! But there’s other factors to be aware of”. In that duration, Noah expressed his level of knowledge once his journey around the world was complete.

“It’s still relatively new as a genre” were the words used when asked about the R&B/Soul scene in Berlin. You’re almost likely to know and name 5 R&B artists from the US or the UK, but in Berlin, you may not thoroughly know the ‘OG’s or understand the evolution of the genre. “The scene is growing though! There are a lot of talented singers coming up”. Noah happily names a few artists who are now based in Berlin doing a terrific job. “Ace-T and K.Zia are really dope”. Birthing a movement that may be needed for the exposure of the genre in Berlin, Noah informs us that he has set up an event called ‘Higher Ground’, which focuses on local artists, getting them bookings and paid gigs to showcase their words and sounds.

Showcasing his work to the world, Noah dives into meanings and intentions behind his two singles ‘Soulflower’ and ‘Still’. “My intention was never to write songs about heartbreak but we experience these particular emotions in life. I guess the easiest way of getting over something is to write about it”. For the single ‘Soulflower’, Noah admits that he likes the contrast given by the song. “I love how you can release a song with your own meaning and everybody else interprets what angle you are coming from”. He explains metaphorically that he sings about two different flowers on different parts of a cliff and ultimately questions whether the flower at the top of the cliff will flourish more than the flower at the bottom. “Everyone thinks I’m singing about someone but actually, I’m reflecting on the things that happened”. 

For the other single ‘Still’, Noah touches base on the visual side of music. As another special art, dance and music combined can formulate a beautifully portrayed message. He explains that he wanted the visual to represent a time of reminiscence. “Still is a story-telling song. There’s a moment in the video where all the dancers in frame, lean their heads on my shoulder to show their support and comfort me”. Noah proudly explains that he has an input with every visual attached to his music. But he also likes his creative family to get involved and almost ‘run wild’ with the ideas and concepts. “I work with people that will take it to the next level. When your budget isn’t massive, you have to think on your feet on how you could flourish your concept”. For Noah, what makes his visuals extra special is the little embellishments, the rawness captured and the little mistakes. It just goes to show that keeping your work original can have a positive impact on appreciating the final piece.

“One of my favourite songs is by Little Dragon, called Twice. I would see this song pop up in playlists repeatedly”. We ask Noah about the themes and messages that his music may touch upon. “Going through the track list, I reflect a lot in my songs. The idea of gaining a second chance and a fresh perspective is where the content is coming from”. He states that his songs act as a conversation with himself and that themes such as discovery and self-affirmation are recurring in his six-song project. Noah’s known past for providing happiness through his sounds will flow straight into his new EP, but we must not forget the substance of his touching lyrics, that will have us evaluating ourselves. He will drop his anticipated EP ‘Twice’ on the 22nd November.

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