Can you take us through why you call yourself Noh Vae? I’ve tried Googling it but got mixed and interesting results! Noh – a type of Japanese dance. Vae – a North American railroad manufacturer. Haha.
Haha it’s just a nickname that I was given when I was young. The original name was “Nove”. It’s the same name I used when I was DJ’ing when I was living in Italy and the pronunciation is in Italian. When I got to the UK it was pronounced differently, changing the letters I managed to get the same pronunciation. In any case shout out to all the railroad manufactures in North America alongside the noh Japanese dancers!
How was the transition from moving from Italy to London? Do you enjoy living in the UK? Must be good for musical inspiration I suppose!
I do like the UK and London; it’s a unique place, especially for the quality of artists and music that comes with it. There have been times where just going clubbing and listening to unknown music has been inspiring for the music I have made.
In your music there’s a range of influences of all sorts of electronic music that comes through. Can we assume that you listen to a range of music outside of 160/170 bpm?
Yes, definitely. I predominantly listen to genres outside of the 160/170 bpm spectrum but I have more fun producing and playing at those bpm. I generally listen to electronic music and lately I have been listening to a lot of lo-fi house, gqom, grime, trap and the blend between techno and bass music. Sometimes I might go for old-school ‘90s rap and house/garage.
Can you give us some idea of the artists and labels from this mix of genres you are feeling?
Sure! For the gqom type of vibes I love DJ Lag’s productions as well as DJ Lycox and his crew and label Principe. Definitely DJ Boring, DJ Seinfield, DJ Different and Ross From Friends for the lo-fi house vibes. Also more old-school house music such as the legend Mr.G or more modern house music from Jacques Greene. I like the trappy vibes from Pa Salieu and other MC’s like Magugu. At the moment I am also enjoying CERVS, a Brazilian footwork producer that also produces rap/grime and collaborates with MC’s and his productions are always on point. For the golden age of hip-hop I am a big fan of KRSONE, Mobb Deep, ATCQ, D.I.T.C., too many to mention 🙂
Following on from that, do you make any other music at different tempos?
I did produce some different stuff, kind of “bass-house” but I never actually released it. Maybe I should go and revisit the projects I left behind. I have always been a big fan of d’n’b and jungle and when I discovered juke and footwork it reminded me of the futuristic feels that those genres were transmitting. I have always been fascinated by that and that’s probably another reason why I often find myself producing at higher tempos.
It’s good you mentioned the futuristic feels of footwork as that’s always been something that’s drawn me in as a listener. When exactly did you first discover the juke and footwork movement?
I think it was around 2014 listening to DJ Rashad on Hyperdub. It sounded different and refreshing and I was hooked straight away. I remember at that time I was a bit tired of d’n’b and dubstep and I was listening to and playing a lot of UK funk, but I was also missing faster tempo vibes. I found some mixes that had a lot of slow-fast beats and some times were mixed with footwork and juke and that opened another world.
How about equipment, can you talk us through your studio set up?
I have very minimal equipment. For the production I rely mainly on Maschine. I discovered it a couple of years ago and since I’ve had it I love it. It’s so versatile and I use it to quickly draft ideas which I then refine in Logic Pro X. It’s a MIDI controller so it allows you to actually use your hands rather than clicking with the mouse and it makes everything more fun. I mix everything in Logic Pro, which I have used for many years. It’s my DAW of choice as I feel very comfortable with it. I wish I could add some hardware, mainly for mixing, dynamics control, and to add some colouration. But it is way too affordable to go with plug-ins and nowadays they work fine.
How do you go about making time for studio sessions? Do you have set allocated times or just do it when you can?
I have to do it in my spare time as I have a job so I have to find a balance. I used to rush to finish projects but then I took a different approach. I might make music for a couple of hours rather than fatiguing myself ending up with something that I don’t like. Then I take a break from it for a couple of days and come back at it with a clear mind and fresh ears. It can happen that I completely change the song or I try to improve what I have.
You’ve had numerous releases across different labels. How did you go about approaching labels or connecting with them?
I contacted them directly. I usually send a few songs that I believe represent the sound and vision of the label. Alternatively, I contact a DJ and label owner who has played one of my tunes and I send some unreleased stuff. It is a good indicator and it feels good to show some gratitude when someone is playing your music.
Haha, it’s funny you say that because I was watching a few mates play a set in Bristol and they dropped a tune, I asked for an ID and it was you! They said it was a dub you had sent them. Gratitude is always a good thing to project man! Do you find that technique works best for connecting with other like-minded people?
That’s wicked, I am glad to hear that! Yes, it definitely does work and it’s also a good way to get feedback and rework something to make it sound better. Sharing music is good and connects people. I kind of miss the time when I was buying vinyl – by just going to the shop you could hang out and meet others that shared the same interests. I guess that sharing dubs with a few people keeps that kind of vibe going.
This is probably a question that will become regular in my interviews now but it’s definitely relevant: how’s the COVID-19 situation effected you personally, and have you found it a good time for creativity or difficult?
When the lockdown started I suddenly found myself with a lot of time and I pushed myself to finish some projects which I then released myself. It gave me the time to think and do the mixing, mastering, graphic design and distribution. It was a great way to experiment and it kept me busy. Afterwards I felt like switching off a bit from music whilst trying to keep myself a bit more active physically and mentally. It’s a weird sensation to release music in a period when the music industry is more or less paused. I think my mood just shifts with highs and lows depending on the news I read.
Unfortunately the music industry has been very affected by the pandemic. In a way the issue highlighted the fact that the industry was not sustainable the way it is. Not me in particular, but plenty of artists have lost revenue because the only income was related with live gigs or merchandise. Since it’s harder to sell music in physical formats they should rethink the way artists get paid. The streaming services out there are lacking proper regulations. My hope is that blockchain technology could turn things in favour of artists. There are already less known streaming services that use blockchain technology and that are trying to create a more sustainable industry. Go and check them out peeps!
COVID-19 is undeniably gonna change the landscape of the music industry. How do you personally see things progressing for the industry from here on out?
Unfortunately it’s having a devastating effect on clubs, artists, booking agencies and all the staff who work in the live industry. Recording studios might also be affected as releases are put on hold because lives are on hold too. However, I believe that the mainstream won’t be affected as much as the underground scene.
The help should come from the government and the Tories have completely undervalued the arts. Music is not just entertainment, for people with disadvantaged backgrounds it can be life changing. This can be done through education and by creating new opportunities. This approach of austerity will have negative consequences on society if nothing is done.
Can you talk us through the music showcase that you have done for us, giving us insight into why you picked the tunes and what equipment you used to record it?
I recorded it with a Pioneer XDJ-RX and I picked the releases I have done in the past years. It has my most recent releases and the very first tunes I released. This is the first time that I am doing a mix of all my music. When you asked me to do a mix I wasn’t too sure how it would sound. It was nice to see how the sound changed over the years and It was good fun to put them together. I hope you like it!
What can we expect from you for the rest of 2020?
I have some unreleased tunes that I still want to finish. Let’s see if I’ll manage to release them before this very weird 2020!!