Noise Cans plans to unmask EDM in dancehall
In the middle of a street dance, under flashing lights, a man stands wearing a multicoloured, almost scary mask. Well, the first thing a Jamaican may ask is, who is this poppy show, and what is his purpose in the dancehall space? Known for his masked appearance, producer/DJ Noise Cans is prepared to answer that question.
"Not everyone is going to love it, not everybody is going to hate it. All I can do is create and allow whatever it is to attract and move things within that space," Noise Cans told The Gleaner in a recent interview.
The Bermuda native joins many electronic dance music (EDM) players, such as the US-based trio Major Lazer, taking on the challenge of crossing the waters to take on dancehall music and inject the fast-tempo sounds of the EDM genre.
According to Noise Cans, the main similarity and difference can be found in the movement. While it will require some amount of sound manipulation to anatomise the instruments and vocals and find lyrics that resonate on a dancehall track, there's no doubt that an electronic tempo will add an even greater effect.
"The dances may be different, but in its entirety, EDM and dancehall are about living in the moment and fun movements, [it's] just that EDM has a greater number of beats per minute (BPMs)," said Noise Cans.
Over the years, Noise Cans has either worked with or submitted EDM rhythms to many local artistes, including Popcaan and Mr Vegas, for tracks to be recorded, but he said it is time to become immersed in the culture as he creates a new EP.
"Although I have visited the island in previous years [as myself, unmasked], I think this is the beginning as it is a chance to create in the Mecca of reggae and dancehall," he said. "I wanted to be at the source as it opens me up to a lot more creatively."
EDM makes up a small circle in the local music space, but at the same time, Noise Cans said, "The idea of making an EP that puts the genre with dancehall is not necessarily a crossover, it is a blend". He and his team (which includes DJ Apster from the Netherlands and Canadian producer/DJ, Ariyan) made it clear that the plan is not to create a new genre, but to put together a project that encapsulates all the cultures.
"Soaking up the culture, from the music to the party lifestyle, is what adds purpose to life, and then your image or identity," said DJ Ariyan.
Noise Cans added, "Basically, like the mask that I wear, which represents a significant part of Bermuda's culture, EDM and dancehall together present a space to do something authentic, real, and give it that shock value while still representing where we are from. It will hold a piece of all of us in that."
As various artistes are developing their own images and are exploring music in unconventional ways, expanding into new genres like 'trap-dancehall' and 'neo-soul reggae', Noise Cans has done the same with anonymity. Coming out of a sound system where each individual is finding their niche, he said collaborating with the local market opens up the gateway to a new audience.
"A lot of people in the Caribbean don't know who I am. Similarly, there are many who cannot name a reggae-dancehall artiste, and one of the reasons for collaborating is to kind of expose the genres while more embracing the islands' cultures before even EDM."