West coast beatmaker ONHELL is, well, one helluvah talented artist. He started out by making a name for himself in the Northern California party community as a musician of no particular breed. In fact, he relinquishes labels and defies all boxes he’s placed in. His music, instead, can be identified by deep percussion, harmony where you’d think there shouldn’t be any, and an optimistic attitude toward the evolution of the classic trap sound.
His latest is a five-track EP with Terrorhythm called Noself. ONHELL offered some insight on the album and why he chose the name “Noself” for it.
Noself or non-self describes the absence of a soul or ego. In Buddhism, there is no self. I like to interpret this concept as the belief that there is no “I” and no permanent soul to identify as one’s self. This belief implies that because we are individually a part of nothing, we are at the same time paradoxically a part of everything. Our outer shell is an illusion, and on the inside there is a void. I find these ideas about existence refreshing and these songs both represent these beliefs and convey my state of mind as i was composing them.
When artists give introspective backgrounds to their music, it adds an element to an otherwise surface level set of tunes. It makes you think much more deeply about the work than what meets the ear. Listening through all five tracks of Noself, you get a sense that ONHELL is more than just a beat maker or heavy-percussion enthusiast. In fact, from start to finish Noself, listeners are met with not only a barrage of dance-worthy beats, but a story that transforms from a solitary soul standing in the corner of a dimly lit alleyway club to a lone animal exploring the tar pits of a petrified forest engulfed in darkness and back again. Our favorite track, closer “Tatamae” has a particularly special meaning to the symbolism of the record:
‘Tatamae’ is a Japanese word which describes the facade or public persona people create for their outer self. In contrast, honne characterizes the “true sound” of an individual’s genuine feelings and desires. Tatemae is the inauthentic shell better stripped away in favor of truth. This song, “Tatamae” depicts the balance and battle of honne and tatemae.
Noself and its contents have enjoyed heavy rotation on Platician’s Rinse FM shows in recent weeks. With this EP done and ready for release on March 20th, the rest of 2017 is looking up for ONHELL.