N8 NoFace

Synth Up the Punks

Words: Jessica Williams

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.

N8 NoFace singing

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.

N8 signing his autograph N8 preforming on stage

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.

N8 NoFace on stage singing to audience

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.

N8 screaming into a microphone N8 holding his arms out on stage while performing

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.

N8 and a digital stage piano Close up picture of N8s autograph
N8 holding posing on stage with a microphone Blurry black and white photo of N8 singing on stage
N8 singing on stage N8 performing on stage with a blue spotlight
N8 taking a selfie with a fan N8 sitting on the edge of the stage with his head down