Australia is a big country with a small population and even smaller but integral group of people plugging into the real heartbeat of electronic music. This means that sometimes, to be inspired or just make a red hot go of it, an artist needs to make the leap and head for potentially greener pastures.
While the United States of America is the place for bigger and bolder sounds (think: Alison Wonderland, Anna Lunoe, RUFUS DU SOL) there is a haven for the deeper, more introverted soundscapes and in turn, people and places that can offer up support and engagement and catalyst to keep creating.
Two such artists, Kyson and Noah Slee – who actually hails from New Zealand but spent a bunch of time making music in Australia, have made that leap taking with them their jangly, almost psychedelic, r&b infused electronica overseas setting up in Berlin and Vienna respectfully.
Since they had both done the deed it seemed like they’d be best to pick each others minds and find out just why making the move can unlock creativity and awareness that has helped them grow as artists.
Kyson: Would you say feel more inspired to create now living in Berlin?
Noah Slee: YES, firstly I don’t have to constantly justify my career. In a city full of creatives it’s completely normalized which is also great that you’re just like every other person. Its become a refuge in a way, especially my home and friends. I feel like I gather my thoughts and experiences on my travels and Berlin allows me to explore them OR it is where I find inspiration. It’s a happening place things can be quite extreme at times.
Kyson: Where do you get that funk from? Heavy.
Noah Slee: Funk has always been present in my life I guess. A lot of traditional Tongan music is funky BUT my parents would always play funk records. In high school, I had a teacher who loved funk music that had heavy jazz arrangements and influence. Then moving to Berlin I discovered house and all the funk records that inspired that sound. Honestly, the funk is within haha… It always finds a way back into my music.
Kyson: For me I get a lot of ideas and inspiration from memories of growing up in a place I never really lived after turning 18, is that the same for you?
Noah Slee: Not so much although that is a great place to write from. I write about present feelings or how the past impacts me at that time and place. Generally of course.
Kyson: I really dig “OTHERLAND” Does the album title perhaps have something to do with living between two places or feeling split culturally?
Noah Slee: Thanks:) It has literal meaning for sure. Moving to Berlin taught me a lot about myself. Otherland refers to growth, migrating and following intuition.
Kyson: What specific song comes to mind when you think of the word “Soul”? And how is the Berlin soul scene?
Noah Slee: Billie Holiday ‘You go to my head’ (1956 version/slow version) … her voice is soul. Berlin soul scene is at its beginning stages I’d say. So for me, it’s an exciting stage. Having been in cities with a long history of soul music I know what it should be so its a nice feeling to be involved in building something and trying to build it right.
Kyson: Did moving to Berlin open up a lot of doors in terms of collaboration, do you have a strong community of musicians that your constantly working with?
Noah Slee: It did actually, geographically it’s easier and through community and relationships I’ve been fortunate to bump into some cool people who are great at what they do.
Kyson: How has your Home + Family influenced your musical Journey?
Noah Slee: It’s not until this stage of my life that I really understand the depth and knowledge of my family’s influence in my musical journey. It’s very cool that I know so many songs from such a range of different genres. I was exposed to a lot of jazz, funk, reggae, soul, rock, 80’s I mean you name it. It just adds to my reference points when I’m trying to create something. I have an array of options, like a painter having all the colours available to them and then mixing them to create
Noah Slee: Are you recording in some of the amazing studios in Vienna/Berlin or home studio vibes? Do you have a preference, how do they impact your creative process?
Kyson: Yeah for sure, I have only been here for just under two years but have already had the opportunity to record in some amazing places. I also have a super cosy home studio in which I usually develop my ideas and then see If I need to take it into a larger studio setting, I like the feeling of a small space with limited equipment to get my tracks started, that’s 90% of the time how my songs start off. That being said I also love being in the “bigger” studio situation where I can work with others to create that on the spot magic.
Noah Slee: Have you started exploring other art forms since moving to Vienna? If so do you feel the city played a role in that?
Kyson: Definitely, I got introduced to a lot of fine art and learned more than I ever have about architecture as well : so that is a wonderful development for me. Before coming here I wasn’t aware how important things like the “Vienna Secession Movement” were to the art and design scene we are part of today and I think there is so much history, so much to learn and so much inspiration (musically and just generally) to take from these galleries and buildings around Vienna. Lately for me though I have been really interested in film and cinematography and it’s definitely something I got inspired to do while being here.
Noah Slee: How has it been having to engage in the local scene and build a network of musicians/creatives?
Kyson: To be honest, It hasn’t been as fast as and as direct compared to my time in Berlin. The scene here is definitely very vibrant but not everybody I meet is doing music so in turn the musical network I have here is a small and tight one.
Noah Slee: Has your sound changed since moving to Vienna?
Kyson: I think so yes. I’m not sure if I can tell you exactly what Vienna did to my sound, however I started writing more lyrics and poems and started to approach the way I create music in a different way. I think I began reading a lot more, and generally just started looking at the world in a different way since moving here, it’s been an interesting shift for me. As I have been moving my home around for a while now, I also always love seeing it what way that surrounding changes and moulds us. Let’s see what happens from here.
Noah Slee: Break down your favourite gig in Vienna and your favourite gig in Australia, are the crowds different?
Kyson: My first gig in Vienna was super special. I was actually only the support act but I felt so much love from the crowd and it was a great evening. Definitely felt like I got the local treatment. My favourite gigs I have played in Australia were probably when I was doing a run of shows with my friend Zach (Shigeto), Just because I remember taking so much inspiration away from this tour and learning so much. I’m looking forward to sharing my music in Australia a little more in the near future though, haven’t been back playing shows enough.
Noah Slee: Is Vienna home for you? are there other cities in the EU that might’ve sparked an interest and why?
Kyson: Vienna is my current home for sure, I have been moving around cities since I was around 18 and the idea of home for me is one that is ever changing and a term I’m still not sure If i understand fully. However I just try to focus on being present and enjoying life wherever I am and then I guess it feels like home. Yeah totally, I mean Berlin is an amazing city and I lived there for a long time, Amsterdam is a city that also speaks to me, I would love to spend some more time in the UK as well.
Noah Slee: Would you start a side project? If so what would it sound like?
Kyson: I have a bunch of side projects, and they range from noisy techno to wonky hip-hop stuff. They are out in the internet world somewhere but nobody knows it’s me. I really love just making music which I know doesn’t really have to have any labels or any pressure. It’s a pure joy for me.
Noah Slee: If you had ‘A book of flying’ or one of your recent releases on loop in a public space (eg. library, plane, cafe, gym etc) where would you want it placed? and why?
Kyson: Hmmm….. I always wanted to hack into the loudspeaker on the Berlin U-Bahn and play some weird ass relaxing ambient music and project visuals on those little tv screens… so I think it would be that.
Both Noah Slee and Kyson have new music out now, check them below;