Editorial by Angel Love
On Saturday, August 3, 2019, the Biergarten, Steinberg Family Sculpture Garden at the Brooklyn Museum, illuminated with a colorful array of masks, flags, costumes and neon, in a celebration of Bermuda’s Gombey Masquerade traditions, with Noise Cans. The museum was packed with people dancing and celebrating Carnival from the center of the Garden to the circumference of the parking lot. The massive came out and received a highly energetic and stellar show from Noise Cans, complete with music, choreography, neon lights, masks, Stilt Men, flags waving and flying flamingos. We caught up with Noise Cans to discuss his highly successful Masquerave at the Brooklyn Museum and his artistic vision for the future.
Angel: How did this musical journey begin for you?
Noise Cans: I began mixing Carribbean elements with electronic sounds. I wanted to be more than a deejay and incorporate Carnival aspects true to my culture. I wanted to produce and perform to create an exhilarating experience for audiences, like you would get at a “Cirque du Soleil” or at an actual Caribbean Carnival. I’m from Bermuda and we have Gombey, with masks, drums and costumes. Traditionally, when they walk out and lead, 1-2 participants follow the unique sounds they create and then by the end of the night, it’s an entire troop of people following the rave. I wanted to highlight my individual culture in my art form and form my own troop. I’m not a Gombey, per se, however I pull inspiration from that, with my own interpretation. Art imitates Art. My Art connects with me personally and I in turn hope it would lead to linear connections with others. Then they can really feel and relate to the whole musical and cultural experience.
The Origins of Gombey, date back to slavery and slaves were allowed to perform with the Master’s permission at selected time. The masks were worn as source of protection to hide their identity, so they would not face repercussions at a later time for celebrating.
Now masks are worn in many places to celebrate culture. The Gombey traditionally wear hats and entire costumes, however I wear just the mask, and I don’t wear the hats and full costume, because of the performance aspect. But to this day the Gombey are always mysterious, no one knows who actually plays the Gombey.
Angel: In a way the annimity adds a sense of freedom as you create who you want to be in a given moment.
Noise Cans: Exactly, it’s about freedom of expression.
Angel: I appreciated how the Brooklyn Museum event had an earlier Mask making component for children and their families. That was so educational from an artistic, cultural and historical point of view.
Noise Cans: I actually suggested this during the event planning and coordination. I usually prepare two masks prior to every show and it’s a very meditative experience for me. When I plan a show I want to make sure people feel like part of the show, thus the dancers, flying objects, Stilt Walkers, and I incorporate the two masks into my performance by giving it as a cultural souvenir to two participants who win the dance-off competition. Each mask is sign and dated, adding a personal memory to the individual’s curation of experiences.
Angel: Do you design your own masks?
Noise Cans: No I have with a designer I work with, but I’m heavily involved in the artistic direction and process. I have two masks that I currently use for performances and I am working on engineering a new mask that incorporates electricity into the art of mask making. Eventually, I want to do a future Art Exhibition, showcasing all the performance masks I have worn to various parts of the globe.
Angel: You performed three songs- “Alive” and “Know Bout” from your recent EP, “Dutty Mas” and then your latest Single, “Life.” Talk to us about these three songs in particular
Noise Cans: “Life” –I dedicated to Micro Don. I mean, his passing, it was very shocking, considering I caught up with him the week before. Anytime your peer and someone close to you dies, it causes you to re-evaluate your life and where you are in life. This song was scheduled for release, the same week he passed. I didn’t even want to promote in a way, because now things suddenly changed. But thinking about it more, I felt like I still had to let fly. The older we get, the more we understand death. That’s why I say live life, you don’t know when we may go. This was a huge reminder to live and celebrate life, his life and our lives. He was our peer and brother. His vibe was so full of life, it just matched the song lyrics.
Angel: Thank you for this dedication and honoring Micro Don in this special way. The last time I saw Micro Don at one of his “It’s Just Dancing” events he was just ecstatic to see me and I remember feeling like wow Micro is so happy tonight. I think the song is so befitting because he taught me to live every day with a strong appreciation for yourself and others. I’m learning from him in life and death. I really love the song “Alive,” you shot the video at Trini Carnival?
Noise Cans: Yeah that video builds upon itself and it was like mixed emotions to me in Mask, cause every Caribbean island has unique ways of celebrating Carnival, but there are a lot of similar components between the islands ”some people look like who the f-ck is this ?” Others are wanting to pose for Selfies, kids think I’m a character and want to hug or embrace. At the end of the day, I love what I represent and at Carnival anything goes; you can see anything and that’s how we shot the video for “Alive.” “Know Bout” features Bunji Garlin and brings that real soca, carnival vibe too.
“Life” –I dedicated to Micro Don. I mean, his passing, it was very shocking, considering I caught up with him the week before. Anytime your peer and someone close to you dies, it causes you to re- evaluate your life and where you are in life.
Angel: Tell us about the Performers you collaborated with on Saturday.
Noise Cans: Kim was the first person I collaborated with. I appreciated her authenticity and the way she danced. I kept telling her I was working on something and it finally came to fruition. I then invited Aja Carthon to dance with us. I needed a Hype Man because I don’t talk when I deejay or when I am in Mask. I get into full character, like when Super Man transforms, so then DJ Jam Central joined the Noise Cans.
I get into full character, like when Super Man transforms.
Angel: The massive turned out and turned up for your Masquerave. Why do you think this event was so successful?
Noise Cans: I was speaking to a friend about this after the show. New York has an All–or-None response. They will either love you or call you wack and talk about you when you leave the stage. I love the energy in New York and I am so glad we were so well received by the community here. I think there was the aspect like people did not know what to expect also. There is a lot of planning that goes into the Masquerave, what we end up creating is highly structured and organized noise.
Angel: How do you create music that is especially unique?
Noise Cans:My music is Caribbean at its core. The center of the music has its baseline music beds, and vocals fully fused into Caribbean sounds and then it’s mixed with electronic sounds.
There is a lot of planning that goes into the Masquerave, what we end up creating is highly structured and organized noise.
Angel: You released “Dutty Mas” in March 2019 and your latest single, “Life.” What’s next for Noise Cans?
Noise Cans: “Life,” is Number 5 on Beatport up there with Skrillex and Dillon Francis, big producers so the video will come out soon. We went to Jamaica and shot some vibes at a market in Tivoli Gardens. There was a mixed response to me in Mask but then when people realized I’m true to the vibes, they jammed with us. I want to release some more singles and I am currently working on a new project.
My music is a Carribean at its core. The center of the music has its baseline music beds, and vocals fully fused into Carribean sounds and then it’s mixed with electronic sounds.
Angel: Thank you for sharing with Power of Reggae and we look forward to more of your music and events.
Noise Cans: Thank you so much Angel, thank you for the feature, thank you to Brooklyn Museum and the entire Brooklyn Massive for embracing Noise Cans.
Written by Angel Love