Interview by Maliika Walker
Remember the name Noah Landale, a reggae artist on the rise. His current single, “Can’t Let Go”, has not been released to the public, but is getting support from radio stations in the US, UK, and Jamaica. “Can’t Let Go” has a crossover to listener’s outside of the reggae genre.
Noah Landale was born in Jamaica and also spends half of his time in London, England. He got his start in the reggae industry by participating in sound clashes as a teenager. Noah used his prize money from the Tastee Talent competition to purchase an airline ticket to London. He was asked to contribute his vocals to a garage music track. Noah then began touring throughout Europe two weeks after the song’s release on a lineup, that included garage acts Lady Dynamite and Damage. He followed up this experience by working with producer Txpress on songs such as “My Kind of Girl” and “Reggae Inna Jeggae”. Unfortunately, their music relationship ended with Txpress’s untimely death in 2010.
Noah spent a few years away from the music scene but has returned to spread his message of encouragement and positivity through music. His eclectic mix of reggae music on his forthcoming album, The Rising, is sure to please the ear of reggae music listeners everywhere. I recently got a chance to speak with Noah Landale about his forthcoming album and the classification of dancehall music. Here is our conversation.
Maliika: I really enjoyed listening to the singles “Give Thanks For Life” and “Nah Let Go”. The lyrics were filled with positive vibes.
Noah: It’s been a long time coming. It’s good to know that people receive the message in the music when they hear it. It’s taken a while to get to this point. I performed my music at DJ Norie’s Anything Goes event, as well as in Boston, and the music was positively received by the audience. We’re only just getting started.
Maliika: When I listen to your music I think of other Caribbean artists that are based in London like, Bitty McClean and Christopher Ellis. Who influenced your sound?
Noah: When I started off in reggae it was in the dancehall area. I wasn’t really singing. I used to sing in church but then I stopped and became an emcee. I was influenced by Josey Wales and Charlie Chaplin. I wasn’t writing my lyrics at the time so I would sing their lyrics and that’s what got me into dancehall. No one was really selecting like me because I loved lyrically attacking the music. Once I got deeper into dancehall I became a selector. I just loved the vibe of the music. People used to call me during Soundclash time because I used to talk. I eventually moved away from selecting because after a while I wasn’t doing it the way it should’ve been done; you have to live with the record as a selector. I was somebody that just loved to clash. I used to Soundclash with all the top selectors. Others were more financially successful but they didn’t have my sound, my voice. They played some of the bigger songs but I gave you the bigger talk. I decided eventually that I didn’t just want to be a Soundclash selector but an artist, so I began focusing more in developing my career. I then started recording music with Texpress but that didn’t last long due to his death. He was my first producer. I then had to start working and music took a backseat. I had family in Bermuda who invited to me to come there, but a friend of mine asked me to come to London first. I planned to be in London for four weeks but decided to stay there.
Maliika: I love all music out of the Caribbean but I am definitely more of the roots reggae listener. What inspired your current sound? It has a roots vibe to me. I tend to favor some of the rootsy dancehall reggae like Buju Banton for example.
Noah: I don’t like how dancehall is defined. If the music is not boom boom boom then they don’t brand it as dancehall. I think that’s wrong. Josey Wales was dancehall. Brigadier Jerry was dancehall. Gregory Issacs was dancehall. These were the artists people listened to in the dancehall. Yes Gregory Isaacs was dancehall because that is where his music was played. Josey Wales and Brigadier Jerry just made music for the dancehall with a faster in sound. People need to realize how dancehall came about because it was a place, not a type of music. We used to play anything and everything in the dancehall. Soul music was also played in dancehalls. So what are we saying, we can’t play soul music in dancehall because it’s not boom boom boom?
Due to the culture of change things have evolved. The current “dancehall” is just a variation of the original dancehall. It’s just a branch, a variation, of reggae. Dancehall is reggae. When people say dancehall reggae then I am happy but when you take it out of that context and say dancehall vs. reggae it’s not accurate. Parents notice their children going their own direction all the time but they are still their children. Dancehall does have a few branches but all of it is rooted in reggae music.
Maliika: I appreciate everything you just said. I love reggae music. Mainly positive, uplifting reggae, sometimes the music is dancehall reggae.
Noah: I think today’s dancehall is not classified as reggae by some people because of the message in some of today’s dancehall. But isn’t Capleton dancehall. Sizzla Kalonji? If you put Capleton or Sizzla on a boom boom beat they will still have their same message. I find that now they try to classify Capleton and Sizzla as reggae because of the message in their music but they are dancehall. This classification does not take away from the message they are conveying thru music. Everyone has a message to convey. Some of it is positive to some people or negative to others.
Maliika: I’m curious, who is your favorite dancehall artist?
Noah: Bounty Killer, but I don’t speak those lyrics. I enjoy his energy on a track, his realness. I love his approach to music and he stays the same. He is saying, “This is me, take or leave it”.
Maliika: How would you define your music? What branch of dancehall can people expect from you?
Noah: A variation of love, excitement, and positivity. My sound is like a breath of fresh air to the music. I don’t believe there is anyone in the reggae industry that I sound like. I speak the language of what music taught me. Back in the day musicians would be brought together and they would make the beat to follow the artist. Now musicians make the beat then the artist adds his talents to it. So when a musician provides a beat to me, I follow what the music is telling me to do. I flow with the beat. Maybe it’s the drum that’s telling me what to sing and I follow it. I can’t say I’m going to do dancehall music tomorrow because the beat may not lead me in that direction. Not one song on my forthcoming album sounds like another.
Maliika: You’re an artist, so you don’t like to feel limited.
Noah: When a lot of reggae artists are asked what type of artist are you they like to say don’t put me in a box, I’m an entertainer. Yes you are an entertainer but what type of music do you do? I’m a reggae artist so you can put me in that box, but reggae has many branches. For example Bob Marley is a reggae artist but isn’t his music global? I’m a reggae artist that’s versatile. People will hear my voice, they will hear the message in the music. I’m here to give people music and looking forward to music lovers getting to know Noah Landale.
Maliika: Tell us about the title of your forthcoming album. Why The Rising?
Noah: Yes, The Rising. The album title signifies the rising of a new man. I had pain in my heart that I had to heal. I was searching for a name but nothing sat well with me. I was in Portmore, Jamaica and a producer was playing the beat. That beat just inspired me and I said The Rising. That was it. The song The Rising on the album says it all. Prepare for The Rising of a new man. People used to say that I wasn’t going to make it, but I’m on the rise and my music is coming to you, so get ready. I am more enthusiastic about my music today, and I believe The Most High has a plan for everything.