- Sun Clips
Synth Up the Punks
Words: Mark Gainor
One man wrecking crew N8 Noface is a self-described “synth punk.” His music sits in the lineage of Seminal LA synth punks The Screamers and New York’s Suicide.
But N8’s street poetry and cautionary narco tales are very clearly of this exact moment in time; he speaks on these topics with passion and authority. You can hear that these stories and topics are firsthand accounts. N8 is open about the demons he has encountered growing up in Arizona and the world he sees now from Long Beach where he has resided for the past eight years.
Sonically, he uses his keyboard to create short impactful riff-like melodies, sounding more like a tight three piece punk band than some of his more noise-focused contemporaries like Death Grips or collaborators Ho99o9. N8 keeps it tight and to the point with most songs coming in under 90 seconds.
There is power in the efficiency of being a one man show: his ability to process experiences and then get it out into the world with just his keyboard and an upload button is unique to this moment. The notion of the solitary artist is often a romantic idea but rarely a reality, yet N8 seems to have found a way to go directly from the street to your ears in the straightest line.
I remember hearing NWA for the first time in 1989 — it sounded like it had come directly from Compton. Like it had been spit that morning and laid over a rough drum beat and then sent to my Sony walkman that night. It had an immediacy that was so powerful. I still feel the same way hearing Bad Brains “Big Take Over.” It’s over 40 years old but I get goosebumps every time I hear it because it sounds like H.R. is screaming a warning to you — MOVE RIGHT NOW. YOU ARE IN IMMINENT DANGER.
This is the beauty of punk music and hip hop — it can be the true sound of right now. Yes, it can lack musical sophistication and production values, but it has power. N8 as a one man team has found the most direct way to get his message out to the world and his music has that innate sense of power and urgency. These are the stories of the streets and the youth of today, police brutality, opiates, alienation, a broken system. Listen now or disregard at your own peril.