Creatively interweaving complex electronic beats with a traditional soul voice, Tongan New Zealander singer Noah Slee entices us with a new sound fresh from his debut album due to drop later this year. After being based in Berlin for the past year and collaborating with German producer Kitschkrieg, Noah Slee is set to showcase his unique sound on his upcoming Australian tour in intimate venues across the country. Noah has performed at music festivals alongside the greats, including Aloe Blacc, Maxwell and D’Angelo, providing a new twist to soul music through his groundbreaking electronic experimentation.
We chat to Noah about his upcoming Australian tour, the process of putting together his debut album and his experience of settling into the modern contemporary art hub of Berlin. Ayla Dhyani writes.
You’re about to release your debut album. How has the process been for you?
My first single will be released next month, so it will be satisfying to start to share my art again. The album doesn’t have a release date. The process was very fluid. I recorded the majority of it at Flashpoint Studio in Berlin, which was really fun. The writing came naturally and I felt like a kid in a candy store moving my way through some beautiful analog synths and keys in the studio.
What can we expect from your upcoming Australian tour?
I’ll be playing songs from my first mixtape that was released over a year ago and I will also be playing a few new songs from my unreleased album. The shows will be golden and special. I’m stoked to be back in Australia to play a few intimate shows.
Your music has a tendency to blend intricate electronic beats with a traditional soul sound. Who are your main musical influences?
Bob Marley has heavily influenced me musically. His parables have always got me. Marvin Gaye, Billie Holiday and Fela Kuti. The list goes on. My first connection to a less organic sonic sound was Thom Yorke. I heard his song ‘Eraser’ and was blown into pieces. Then I started getting heavily influenced by the whole alternative/electronic world!
Tell us about the move to Berlin.
I was between Brisbane and Berlin all of 2014. I’ll be doing a few shows on the East Coast of Australia and New Zealand in February and March then I head back to Berlin in April. The creative team who I make art with are based in Berlin. I think that if you find this type of connection, go with it because it’s very satisfying when it flows creatively. I’ll be based in Germany but I’ll also be moving around Europe and UK playing shows plus making connections.
How has it been settling into the German culture?
In my opinion Berlin is its own little world in comparison to the rest of Germany - kind of like NYC to USA. The culture is great. I have learnt a lot there. I’ve travelled a bit around Germany where it is quite different to Berlin. I find the music, culture and art from Berlin really intriguing and the creativity is infectious to be around.
What has been a pinnacle moment in your musical career so far?
Last year I played at the same festival as D’Angelo! But truthfully there are many moments where it all feels surreal. When I get to create music and share my stories – that’s dope and grounding.
What stimulates your soul?
My soul is constantly stimulated; full of every bit of goodness the world feeds me. I can tell you what doesn’t stimulate my soul is when I lose perspective of myself, which happens now and then, but we are all on a journey for this to happen less!
N O A H S L E E T O U R D A T E S
February 14 - Secret Location gig / Sunshine Coast
February 21 - Play Bar / Sydney
February 22- Secret Location gig / Brisbane
March 1st - Rooftop party / Up On Constance / Brisbane
March 20 - Leigh Sawmill / North New Zealand
March 21 - Kings Arms / Auckland
March 27 - Great Job / Palmerston North
March 28 - Matterhorn / Wellington