Great music seems to come in twos: McCartney/Lennon, Williams/ Hugo, Simon/Garfunkel and now Noble. Joining the list of all-good-things-come-in-twos is the songwriting/ production duo comprising a pair of dapper South-African young men that share a similar innocence with their boyish smiles and devotion to finding the best milkshakes. But don’t let their innocence fool you – Bubele Booi and David Balshaw are paving the way one cutting-edge pop tune at a time to building a creative empire.
Central to their rising success is a commitment to collaboration rooted in an unshakeable friendship. “But is friendship an asset or a hindrance to your business partnership?” we ask, because your Tonemamas love to give some opportunity to dish out some spice. But Noble doesn’t have time for spice.
“It’s definitely the biggest asset, it’s been my biggest priority since day one. The friendship comes first,” Balshaw settles firmly.
“I can’t imagine doing this thing alone,” Booi adds.
“Creation is such a collaborative process,” Balshaw continues, “I don’t see magic happening by yourself. If you only have one piece of rock how are you going to create fire? You need the two rocks.”
The mutual respect between the two creators is evident, and it clearly extends beyond their friendship into a genuine admiration for what each brings to the musical table.
“David picks up on the details,” Booi explains speaking of his production partner. “The way he produces is like realism, every single brushstroke is in the right place whereas for me, I’m more of an impressionist where it’s like vibe – I throw things on the page and hope that it starts to look like something eventually.”
But Balshaw is quick to not let his friend be underestimated.
“His ability to get a vibe in a room and to carry a session is super good and to create ideas on the spot in sessions is crazy…his overall creativity is insane.”
In one hand an attention to meticulous detail and in another hand a deep-seated understanding of creating a vibe – if great music could be simplified to a formula, we’re pretty sure Noble has found it.
We turn the conversation to the topic of the day – the process of finding or creating an artist’s voice.
“We try not to produce genres but artists,” Booi tells us. “If we can represent something authentically, we’ll go in on that.”
So how does one produce an artist in terms of finding their specific voice?
This two-man team focuses less on boxing in experiences through genres but instead on the fluidity of sounds.
“We try and develop a sound palette for the artist, putting a playlist together of things they like,” Balshaw explains.
But it’s not simply about purely musical elements. And here Balshaw’s acknowledgment of his partner’s extra-musical talents comes into play.
“The first thing is you want them to have fun in that first session…We’d rather have a great day and an average song than a banger and a hard day,” Booi reveals.
Here your Tonemamas roll their eyes at each other. We both know Noble isn’t producing any average songs. You’ve got the detail+vibe magical formula after all!
“What are two non-negotiable things you look for when considering working with a new artist?” we ask at the end of our discussion.
Booi doesn’t miss a beat.
“Have a sick voice and something to say,” he announces.
So, coming with a unique artistic sound isn’t a prerequisite?
“To have a sound is something that puts too much pressure on the artist,” Balshaw clarifies. “To have a unique voice and lean into that is more important, you can create different sounds around that voice.”
There you have it Tonemillers. Focus on developing a sound versus a genre. Focus on a perspective that’s different to your musical neighbor’s. But also focus on something that they don’t teach you in music school – invest in your creative friends, build visions together, support each other, weave together the unique strengths and weaknesses of one another to create magic within community. We’re aaalllll about that community.
And check out Manana, one of Noble’s collaborators who is releasing music shortly!