Not Your Average Rapper

DJ Double M interviews and profiles rapper/actor Noah Kin and finds the 22-year old artist is becoming a department store of culture and arts.

DJ Double M interviews and profiles rapper/actor Noah Kin and finds the 22-year old artist is becoming a department store of culture and arts.

Noah Kin

Eino Manner

With three albums and one EP under his belt, live performances around Europe, a DJ residency at internationally well-known club Kaiku, two bi-weekly shows at Bassoradio, a  key acting role in a major distributed movie and no compromises. Still in his early 20’s,  Noah Kin has it all. How is that possible?

Noah Kin’s career as a rapper started with a bang. His debut No Matter The Season got praises from critics and his sophomore album 9fngrs came out just months after the debut. Since the 2014 LP Now You See his pace has slowed down: just one EP and a few guest appearances in the last three years. Writer’s block or shift of interests?

“A bit of both I guess. In 2015 I was going through difficulties in my personal life, which lead me to not being able to focus on writing new music at the time. I was also shifting more towards DJing and producing more experimental soundscapes, with less focus on vocals in general. As we often do, I overcame the challenges in my personal life and am now more inspired than ever before, although, my interests have shifted towards visual art, in addition to producing experimental stuff, so we’ll see what happens next.”

As we often do, I overcame the challenges in my personal life and am now more inspired than ever before, although, my interests have shifted towards visual art, in addition to producing experimental stuff, so we’ll see what happens next.

What happens next for Noah Kin is the release of new single Nostalgia. The song has more in common with James Blake than Talib Kweli or other rap artists – which early Noah Kin material was compared to. It’s a clear pattern: single by single, album by album Kin has stepped away from classic hip-hop towards alternative electronic music, “experimental stuff” in his own words. Noah gets seemingly annoyed when asked about references and influences. Instead of calling out other artists he defines his music with terms like “Club Punk” and “Bangerdrone”.

 

It’s a clear pattern: single by single, album by album Kin has stepped away from classic hip-hop towards alternative electronic music

Even though neither of those definitions says anything, you can read between the lines that his new material is even harder than last year’s The Void EP. Nostalgia flirts with elements of noise music and a still unreleased song called Savage sounds like a brutal beating with a metal tube. The same ominous feeling is present on remixes Noah Kin has made for KASPERG and Kauriinmetsästäjät. Even his DJ-sets are filled with raw-sounding music that makes people rather rage or hold their breaths than dance neatly or sip drinks smoothly.

Noise is my spirit animal, and I didn’t know that until as late as 6 years ago I’d say. And by that point I was already knee-deep doing rap stuff etc. so since then I’ve been trying to steer my rap stuff towards the real me, the noisier, more grotesque, raw me.”

Noise is my spirit animal, and I didn’t know that until as late as 6 years ago

Let’s be honest, the markets for alternative English music are extremely narrow in Finland. Finnish music is alive and well, but everything else suffers. That’s why Noah Kin’s main focus is in Europe. And there is the problem. Community is essential part of hip-hop, so it’s hard task to break through in Germany, for instance, unless you reside there. Why would German rap fans choose a Finnish rapper over their local heroes if they make similar music? Personal sound and unconventional solutions could be a strategic move to stand out from your competitors. It also makes the potential fan base wider.

How? Please let me explain.

Unlike in hip-hop culture, the electronic music scene isn’t about “representing hoods” or locality. The origin of an artist is rarely a limiting factor. Noah Kin admits that he is aware of the difference between being a rapper from a small northern country and being an alternative music artist from a small northern country. The latter can be seen as an opportunity. Still he emphasizes that his choices and decisions have been natural rather than studied:

I’ve never really found traditional hip hop sounds truly intriguing, so it’s only natural I steer away from what we consider canon to a certain genre.

During the interview it becomes crystal clear that Noah Kin is very precise about his brand and how his brand should sound. There seems to be a strategy and a vision how to implement it. That’s why Noah rarely collaborates with other producers and asks other artists to feature on his songs. As a musician he is a dictator that makes no compromises. As an actor the situation is totally different. It demands a different attitude to perform well in an environment where director’s word is  law: “I see myself as a canvas for the director. At the same time my input is very important to bring the character to life.”

Therefore it is interesting that he stepped out of his comfort zone and debuted as an actor in the movie Saattokeikka. “I never really thought I would ever really act”, Noah reassures us,  but continues: “I remember making home movies as a kid though. Replications of real films I loved, but I also wrote a lot of stuff myself, scripts.”

The scripts Noah wrote as a kid were most likely slightly different than the script of the movie Saattokeikka. The film is in the style of a classic Finnish road movie and while it deals with topics like prejudice and racism, it’s far from Noah Kin’s super artistic image or deep lyrics. Is the actor Noah Kin softer and easier to approach than musician Noah Kin?

Well, I had no experience in the field of acting before this, so I was just getting to know the world of film. Now I feel like after I’ve done the “crash course” I can begin to direct my creativity towards projects that fit the Noah Kin canon. But at the same time, I feel like anything I do is part of that canon.”

 

So apparently his acting career wasn’t just a quick summer crush. Even though Noah says that he isn’t actively looking for new movie projects, we shouldn’t be surprised to see him on the big screen in the near future. The 22-year old artist is becoming a department store of culture and arts. “You gotta make a living, and to avoid making compromises in any of your artistic endeavors you try to do a little bit of this and a little bit of that”, Kin tells me. A modern artist must be versatile and interested in different types of art. According to Noah Kin, the art itself is the key. Not the way of performing the art:

“It’s more likely to get phased by what people expect you to do, that you forget why you began making art in the first place. I may have become known as a rapper or producer, but the truth is I’ve always thought of myself as an artist first, no matter the medium. And that’s how I intend to carry myself now.”

Noah Kin on Facebook

Noah Kin on Spotify

The truth is I’ve always thought of myself as an artist first, no matter the medium. And that’s how I intend to carry myself now.

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