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The New Locals: Noah Slee

The Berlin-based neo-soul artist on his new single and his dream collaborations.

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Berlin-based New Zealand-born artist Noah Slee isn’t one to shy away from his emotions. His music explores the full, sometimes painful, spectrum, and his new single ‘Soulflower’ is a smooth, heartfelt groove that oozes with sincerity. An ode to the one that got away, it’s a lush neo-soul inspired number, accompanied by a stylish music video featuring an array of Noah’s friends.

Noah moved to Berlin back in 2014, and the famously creative city has played a pivotal role in his growth as an artist. A natural collaborator, he’s worked with the likes of Sola Rosa, YesYou, and Sampology, and thrives when creating work with others. His debut album Otherland, released in 2017, showcased his versatility as a musician—he explored R&B, electronic, indie, pop, and soul on the 16-track offering.

In the years since, he’s continued collaborating with other artists, but has also explored other avenues creatively—he recently produced the short film …and so, we move to Otherlands and has an avid interest in visual art and dance. But music’s still his priority, and there’s a new EP on the way. We caught up with Noah via email to chat about his new single, dream collabs, and his favourite places to eat in Berlin.

Hi Noah! The music video for your new single ‘Soulflower’ is so beautiful—it complements the vibe of the song perfectly. What inspired the video? Are the people that star in it friends of yours?
Danke, the concept behind Soulflower is about the Adam and Eve story and how this idea of the perfect couple has shaped what we think a couple should look/be like. For centuries this has been the standard especially in the western world. Valentin (director) and I wanted to show love through different couples and to express that love is love. Also, yes they’re all my homies. Aren’t they beautiful.

You’ve done a lot of collaborative work. What appeals to you about this style of working? Do you have any dream collaborations you’d like to make happen?
Collaborating fuels my original work. I learn a lot from people, and it also helps put things in perspective for me with my own work. Collaboration also comes from conversing with someone, like you’re chatting back and forth and you meet in the middle and agree on something. That’s what music is, that’s what art is.

So many dream collabs, would love to make a film with Childish Gambino, jam with D’angelo, have a chat with Bill Withers, make some beats with Thom Yorke. I can go on forever. Oh and Rihanna never forget Rihanna!! I’d be down to hold her purse and follow her around for a day.

How has living in Berlin impacted you creatively? What are your favourite places in Berlin to see live music? Best places to eat?
Berlin is one of my dearest homes. I’ve learnt to soulflower in Berlin. The city has expanded my mind and soul and I’ve learnt a lot about myself which has a natural impact on my creativity. I’ve recently been going to an open jazz jam at the Filmkunstbar, it really is electric. Capacity is about 50 people so it’s tiggght… [For food] Aroma is good, Bahn Mi, Two Planets is fire but y’all need to peep Barbs Soul Food.

I know you recently helped produce the short-film …and so, we move to Otherlands and have an interest in dance and videography. When you’re creating music, do the visual concepts come to you at the same time as the music or do you figure them out further down the track?
I directed the film with Sam Templeton. The idea for this came to me as I was making the album but it took me a while to finish. I am a very visual person and I love and appreciate dance. But it doesn’t come to me so easily though, visual ideas usually come to me spontaneously. Music is different, I can just sit there and create if I wanted to.

You’ve described ‘Soulflower’ as being about ‘the one that got away’. With that in mind, what’s your go-to music when you’re feeling heartbroken? 
Usually the music I listen to anyways is like heartbreak music. Hahaha, if I am going through boy drama I usually try keep my mind of it and try listen to house, disco, funk. Anything like that.

Lastly, who’s been on high rotation on your Spotify lately?
Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band (so good), Ian Isiah, Rosalia, Tyler Tyler Tyler the CREATOR.

For more on Noah follow him here.

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