Right before the pandemic tipped the global scales out of balance, local band NOON came out of one of their biggest shows to date. The band opened for one of their musical heroes at the New York University in Abu Dhabi for the annual Barzakh Festival held at the NYUAD Arts Center. The experimental Jazz fusion band did a tribute set to Um Kalthoum while opening up for an incredible World fusion band called Bokanté, which included members from one of their favorite bands, Snarky Puppy.
So who started the idea of a unique polyrhythmic conceptual music? The idea had been sitting in the subconscious mind of the band's drummer Ratish for quite some time. Living in New Orleans exposed him to several music genres. He always wanted to bring the Western and Eastern world closer together through music. However, after five years of witnessing bands in the US, he has not seen too many with oud players in the mix. So he decided to move back to Dubai and try to do just that.
Here's our interview on what the band has to say about their journey so far
Tell us more about the history of the band.
Where do we even begin? I guess the drummer's birthday 3 years ago would be a good start. The idea manifested into reality when a bunch of musicians got together for an unforgettable night of live music that would, later on, mark the birth of NOON. After noticing how reactive and in awe everybody at the party was when witnessing the combination of blues, rock, jazz with nuances of oriental music, the drummer knew that this was something he must pursue and turn into a project.
We are always conscious of what works
We hear the influence of jazz and a little bit of rock. What are the influences of each of the band members? How did you make it work in terms of song composition?
The band's influences widely range from Jazz-fusion virtuosos like Snarky Puppy to traditional Egyptian music like Um Kalthoum to UK live Electronica acts like Mala. When composing we bring elements from all those 3 worlds into one, we always try and adapt the concept of "less is more", which usually helps. All 3 members being from 3 different parts of the world help us mold the sound into one collective voice. It wasn't easy at first but with time, it's naturally becoming easier. We are always conscious of what works and what doesn't, when to push and when to not. The focal idea is to keep our minds and ears open to any possibility that may come our way, musically speaking or otherwise.
Tell us about your latest performance at Breakout DXB after the lockdown.
One of the main organizers is a long-time friend of the drummer so it felt like more of a family affair than anything. It was a breath of fresh air - an event executed entirely in the 'new norm' fashion and done in a way that could serve as a blueprint for many more events to come. It felt good, it felt right.
What's the biggest dream?
To bring people together through our music. To break down barriers/stigmas that people may have about the Middle East through our music. To represent the UAE as one of the most diverse places in the region, through our music.
Support your local scene y'all
What's next for NOON? Any album in the works?
The only saving grace throughout this incredibly tough period is that we were able to take our time, put our heads and resources together, and record our debut album during the lockdown. Just when UAE had finally lifted the restrictions and allowed for us to move around a bit more (during the 11 pm lockdown) we were able to dedicate 3-4 days to recording our album at our friend's studio, Bull Funk Studios. So, yes, we have an incredibly unique album in the works that we absolutely cannot wait to share with the world.
Their call for people to rally behind artists is as dynamic as their rhythmic sound. "Support your local scene, y'all! Now is the time to appreciate your local music/art scene more than ever. Remember what got you through these times, even if it was just movies/TV shows, it was still the arts - keep that in mind and make sure to play some of our music today," they concluded.Follow NOON: