The anonymous frontman of the electronic dance act NOISE CANS talks his Bermudan origins, his new EP Bucka (which makes its Africa premiere right here) and that mask.

For Collas, the mask is not a symbol of anonymity: it’s a declaration of self. Growing up in Bermuda, he and neighbours everywhere celebrated with the Gombeys, extravagantly adorned dance troupes known for their colourful masks. An inheritance of enslaved Africans that merged with indigenous traditions, the Gombeys are a cultural practice similar to Caribbean and Latin American carnival parades.

Once outlawed for being subversive and mysterious (the Gombeys sometimes reenacted the atrocities of slave masters, but could not be persecuted because the mask protected their identities) their fetes, and mask itself, have become a long-standing Bermudian tradition.

So, when Collas greets me in a Gombey mask, becoming TRUE Africa’s first veiled interviewee, I understand. For when it comes to his press, music, fashion, and concerts, which feel like a rave in the tropics, Collas’s purpose is the same: ‘I do this for my culture.’

Collas performs in Gombey masks when DJing sets of his awe-inspiring blend of EDM, trap, reggae and carnival rhythms across Europe, the Caribbean and the United States. Released on Dim Mak, Steve Aoki’s label, the new single Bucka with Lady Bee and Mr Vegas, achieves what Collas says he wants for all his creative collaborations: to take artists out of their comfort zones and into his world where dancehall stars wine with house heads and trap addicts.

Since an earlier collaboration with Kat deLuna and Trey Songz for Bum Bum, as well as several hypnotic mixes on Sound Cloud, Noise Cans has earned a growing fan base, now eagerly anticipating the release date for his forthcoming EP.

Meeting for Collas’s most revealing interview yet, it doesn’t seem strange that I’m speaking with someone who can see me while I can’t see him. In fact, I feel like I’m witnessing a more real side of Collas. We discuss his decision to ‘remain left of orthodox’ in life and music; why Noise Cans’ real aim is to make people feel alive and free; and, how far he would push the live show that he describes as ‘carnival meets EDM meets Cirque du Soleil meets The Blue Man Group’ (hint: expect concerts with more than elephants on stage).

How do you like to party when you’re in Bermuda?

I’d have to say I’ll party with a bunch of ladies. I’d have one or two of my immediate guy crew, but you know, we have to include the ladies on a Saturday night. Open a bottle of Goslings and see where the night takes us…

What would you be drinking?

Drink of choice is a dark and stormy. That normally gets the vibes right. We usually do that with Goslings too.

Where would you go for the best meal?

My favorite place is Art Mels. There was a big contest in Bermuda recently for who has the best fish sandwiches. I would have to say Art Mels has the best fish sandwich on the island. A fish sandwich, on raisin bread, with tartar sauce…that’s the combo.

The songs you have out, and on your upcoming EP feature some incredible collaborations. On your records, you’ve had Kat deLuna, Trey Songz, Jesse Royal, I-Octane and, of course, Lady Bee and Mr Vegas for the new single, Bucka.

The whole thing for me with this project was I wanted to create a way that the Caribbean and the culture I love could be experienced through different sounds. I think a lot of people try to categorise and put you in a box because of where you are.

What a lot of people don’t realise is, no matter where you come from, you listen to different things, you have different vibes. There are a lot of people on the islands that are heavy into country music or gospel.

I figured, let me take different artists that I like and that I admire, from old school to new school, and then pair the sounds that are in my head, with their vocals. I’m kinda giving them another platform to express themselves because I feel that sometimes as an artist, you get stuck in a box because that is what is working for you. I feel that artists can get a bit afraid to step outside of a box because they don’t know how their fans will respond.

For my collaborations, I want to provide a platform for any of these artists that I feel has not gone too far from where they originally were, but far enough to where a different audience can experience them in a different way. To me, I see it as helping push the culture of the music. So, it’s not like, oh, this is just reggae or, oh, this is just soca.

I-Octane is one of the hottest artists coming out of Jamaica now. We really got to vibe on our record for the EP and he really dug it. And, to be honest, his record is probably one of my favorite records on the upcoming project. He’s basically saying: ‘We taking over.’ And, I was like yeah, that’s the energy that I wanted.

How did Bucka come about?

Lady Bee has been working on that badman rave sound and I’m friends with Mr Vegas’s manager. I thought of Mr Vegas because he’s a veteran in the business but still understands mainstream. I felt he would be the best to come on board with a record. I kind of left it to him because I don’t like to trample on people’s creativity and be like: ‘Here’s the song!’ I just knew what the record was and I was like, let’s just think of something that gets people moving. When he sent it back to me, I was like, ‘Oh wow, OK. Cool.’

I wanted it to be grimy but dope.

At first, I was like, for that one line, I wish he would’ve said, ‘Bermuda,’ instead of ‘Jamaica.’ But, he didn’t and that’s cool. That was his vibe on the record and it came out good.

It’s pretty awesome. Bucka was released on Steve Aoki’s label. It’s funny when you’re creating something you’re in your bubble; you don’t know if people will feel it the way you do.

When one of the top 10 DJs in the world is checking for your music, it’s like, OK, well, I guess I’m not that crazy.

What do you think sets your EP apart?

I approached it as, I’m an artist, and I want to make an album. I didn’t want to just make one or two records.

Beyond that, it’s more just like it’s my vibes and I’m different from everybody else. I think me being an individual and me giving what is true to me is what makes it different. There will be similarities to other people, there will always be other similarities to different things.

This is what I hear in my head. This is what I want to create based on the vibe and energy that I want to give to the world.

I wanted it to be grimy but dope.

You said that you want to bring Cirque du Soleil to the DJ world. You got a lot of us excited when you said you would even have elephants on stage. How far would you push your live performances?

Elephants are pushing it…but, it’s not that far off to be honest.

I look at what I do as performance art because the Gombeys are performance art.

The mask allows me to be free, to kind of let loose because I probably wouldn’t do this if I didn’t have the mask on.

Imagine carnival meets EDM meets Cirque du Soleil meets The Blue Man Group. It’s like you don’t know who’s behind it, but then you’re giving the element of freedom.

I want people to feel free when they walk into these parties and see me DJ. I want to give free masks as you walk in so when you’re putting on this mask you’re feeling like, you’re like me, the DJ, or you’re somebody else to where you kinda can lose yourself in this moment or within this time. That way, there’s no hangups like, ‘This person’s looking at me or that person’s looking at me.’

I want you to feel that freedom in whatever you want to do. If you want to sit on the floor and look at the sky or if you want to jump or do whatever it is, I want you to feel that. So, for me, as much as I can, I push the envelope. I want to do things where you’re dancing and the next thing you know, there’s a Gombey troupe next to you on the dancefloor. And, you’re like, what the fuck? But, then they’re gone.

People call you ‘the identity-hiding DJ.’ Do you feel like you’re hiding? Is that mask really meant to conceal?

I don’t look at it as if I’m hiding. The mask allows me to be free, to kind of let loose because I probably wouldn’t do this if I didn’t have the mask on. We get hung up or stuck on whatever, not free to be ourselves. We all have those insecurities. It allows me to relate to the crowd and people that want to be a part of my experience.

If more people were like this, we’d have a better world. People are a little too uptight nowadays.

So, the mask is part of the larger artistic production?

This project is music, but there’s a strong art component to it. You know, definitely a fashion element to it, as well. I want to raise the bar so that people can be like, yes, he has a mask on, but he’s not just wearing a t-shirt and jeans.

I want to make who I am into a character so, you kinda have to pay attention to who it’s coming from. Some people have a mask, but it’s just like, they have a mask on and they DJ. For my shows, I want the dancers to be a certain way, I want to incorporate the Gombeys in a certain way, but it’s all a part of an experience and not just like, there’s a guy with a mask on DJing.

People want to be entertained. So, as long as the creative fits with the vibe and energy that I want, the sky is the limit.

And, actually, I first had the idea when I saw Daft Punk win all of these awards at the Grammys. People were like, ‘Was that even them in those suits? Were they really wearing plain clothes in the audience the whole time?’ I liked their approach, but I needed something that allowed me to be true to me. And, that’s where the Gombey mask came in: it’s culturally relevant to me, my island, my country and to what I want and who I am. It makes total sense for me to be that…and, then I kinda ran with it. And, I feel like I’m constantly creating that.

People want to be entertained. So, as long as the creative fits with the vibe and energy that I want, the sky is the limit.

I’ve heard musicians say that the entertainment industry feels stale right now. I think audiences are ready for something new as well. What you want to bring sounds refreshing.

I feel like people have lost the art of entertainment. I’m not knocking anybody for what they do, but the people who have been great have always pushed the envelope in some way for you to want to aspire to get to another level of fun or excitement instead of you being like, ‘Ok, I know what records they’re gonna play. Yeah, I’m having a good time, but, they’ve kind of left me like everyone else.’

If I’m gonna do this, I at least want to make my mark and you know, love it or hate it, who loves it is gonna stay. But, who doesn’t want to party and be free?

What do you want people to take away from your music?

I didn’t want to be too political. You know, I didn’t want to be ‘that guy’.

But, there is war all around us. And, because you see it and it does effect you because that’s the world that we live in, I felt like I should touch on it, just because I could. I feel like everyone has their own reasoning for what they do, but I feel like maybe more artists should touch on it.

Yeah, let’s party, and let’s forget things, but let’s also be aware of what’s going on because it’s really happening and we can’t hide from it.

No War, featuring Jesse Royal, is another one of my favourite songs on the upcoming EP. Jesse Royal is a part of the Reggae Revival crew. I thought of him because, again, it’s a little left of what he would normally do, but it still fits within the realm. It’s speaking on what’s constantly happening now.

If I’m given a platform to do this, then why not infuse some positive messages or some awareness into the things I want people to take away. Yeah, let’s party, and let’s forget things, but let’s also be aware of what’s going on because it’s really happening and we can’t hide from it.

What do you know to be undoubtedly true?

No matter what or how you want to dwell within your pity or whatever it is, the world keeps moving and we have to as well. We have to adjust our situations to move accordingly.

Life keeps moving.

Photography by Pascal Bernier

Styling by Liana Alexandra Vasserot

Find out more about Noise Cans at