Mysterious Bermudian producer Noise Cans is as well known for his fusion of Caribbean and electronic sounds as he is for his Gombey masks, contemporary versions of the folkloric costumes worn by traditional masqueraders from his home island.
This past March, Noise Cans took his mask to a different island — Trinidad — to participate in, and absorb the vibes at, the mecca of masquerade culture, Trinidad Carnival. The result is the video for his latest single “Alive.” The soca-house anthem, which features vocals from Trinidadian soca star Preedy, appeared on Noise Cans’ latest EP, Dutty Mas, which dropped in March via Yellow Claw’s Barong Family label. We spoke to Noise Cans as he got set to hop a plane from New York City to Bermuda for this weekend’s Bermuda Carnival festivities.
Watch “Alive” here and read on…
LargeUp: What were the origins of this song and shooting a video in Trinidad?
Noise Cans: I was looking to play around with some soca vocals, to create an electronic-style soca song. The Preedy vocal stood out to me because of the lyrics. What he was talking about in relation to Carnival in Trinidad is the same that I feel is Noise Cans’ message: Being free and letting go. When I look at everything I symbolize, those vocals lent themselves to that. I sent it to Preedy, we hadn’t even met, and he kind of vibed with it.
And the video?
For the video, I wanted to re-enact the lyrics, as if I was there. So I went to Trinidad and shot it, guerilla style. I wanted to show the essence of what he’s saying, which is, to me, the ultimate place of freedom. We started at Pandemonium, a really dope morning fete. In the lyrics, it says “Partying to the break of dawn,” so the video shows the progression of me starting off clean in this white suit, and getting a drink, to where you start to see paint on it and the crowds moving, and then it’s more paint and the jacket comes off and I’m in just a tank top. You see the escalation, the vibe of everybody. I also showed a piece of Carnival Tuesday as well. I almost don’t remember some of it because the vibe and the energy was so on a level. I hope people feel the energy and can tell it was fun, and see how the visual marries the lyrics and the vibe of the record.
You mentioned that you try to work with local talent when you travel within the Caribbean. Was that the case with this video?
Part of what Noise Cans is, is wanting to embrace the various creatives in different islands that might not have had the opportunity to have their work seen on a greater scale. Id I can help provide that, why not. I think there’s talent everywhere, especially in the Caribbean. Coming from an island too, I want to be part of that. I linked up with this kid Jameel, he goes by “Jay Revolution,” and a friend from Bermuda who was at [Trinidad] Carnival with me, Korie Minors. We just shot this thing really gorilla style. Some of the footage is me with a GoPro strapped to me. Capturing the raw essence of being free within this moment and there not being any worries and you’re not really thinking about anything but the energy of that time.
What were people’s responses to the Gombey mask in Trinidad? Masquerade is the essence of carnival, and the mask is similar to certain styles of costume in Trinidad. But you’re bringing a different aesthetic that probably hasn’t been there before.
I always wonder what the response is going to be to the mask anywhere I wear it. It’s not every day that you just see this man in a mask walking in the streets. But in the Caribbean I guess it’s so similar. Culturally, we are all connected, even if we have our own little things. [At Trinidad Carnival] it actually fit in with everything else that was going on but it was my own version of that. For me, it was extra special being able to represent my culture within another culture and still be accepted because of the similarities of it.
I actually went to Canboulay one night in the mask. And it was around a lot of the other Trinidadian traditional carnival characters. I wasn’t a part of it but I had a presence there. I felt I had to pay homage and take in and experience that. I think a huge part of what Noise Cans is stems from all of these characters. A little piece of me and how I carry move things forward has to do with what these characters are. Overall, it was received exceptionally well. It’s definitely something that I will do again. Carnival symbolizes the ultimate or the truest form of freedom, and being free. That’s everything that Noise Cans stands for.
Video Director: Jameel “Jay Revolution” Bellerand & Korie Minors
Video Editor: Jameel “Jay Revolution” Bellerand
Video Producers: Jesse Sosa
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