In the Beijing music scene, especially the expat side of the Beijing music scene, it's not uncommon for musicians to switch between bands and projects. It's a scene that allows for self expression, musical freedom, and ultimately some real tongue in cheek fun. With this in mind, it's not surprising that the premise of a man and his wife dressing up in all sorts of dark-and-demonic-related costumes, screaming through all sorts of modulation effects and playing the skateboard is... not surprising. What does however come as a surprise, is that it's also not tongue in cheek.
When you take this, and combine it with the technical precision and general awesomeness of what used to be Nakoma (R.I.P.) something magical happens. Into the cauldron goes over one hundred combined years of musical experience, wisdom and woe to create the spectacle that is Nekroma.
Taking influence from pretty much everywhere, and creating something that's quite difficult to pinpoint on the ever changing genre spectrum, Nekroma have recorded a debut EP that in my entirely biased opinion is genuinely brilliant.
In the lead up to their EP release show (DDC, June 9th, 2017), I swore an oath to protect their identities in return for a chunk of their time.
The band have requested anonymity for this interview, as they are only rarely given permission by the lords of the underworld to surface and walk amongst us mere mortals.
Further interviews to follow, pending underworld approval.
Posted June 8th, 2017
KING NECRO: Diddly Board, Vocals, Synth
PUMPKIN QUEEN: Vocals
KN: It started out as a collaboration between two bands – GuiGuiSuiSui and Nakoma. Originally it was actually Tim, the guitarist from Nakoma's idea to have this collaboration, and then I think we had about two practices with Tim before he decided that he had to quit because he was opening his own bar. So then it kind of just morphed a little bit into becoming more of it's own thing rather than just being GuiGuiSuiSui plus Nakoma.
For me it was a thing where I wanted to set myself a challenge only using the skateboard-guitar, which i'd never tried to do like a whole EP just that and gameboys, so, I made these really weird demos, passed them off to Nakoma, and somehow they were able to make music from it and we've been working on it ever since.
N: Basically, KN bought the basic sketch for the songs, and then we had a general idea from beginning to end with the main parts, and after from that one he sent the recordings over and we started, we booked a practice and we tried to play over the songs, so the songs started to become their own... in that we did some changes to the structure to fit everything, and it was just: Practice, record, listen at home, “Maybe we can change this, maybe we can change that...”, During playing the songs, we just went around so there are some parts we'd just unexpectedly... “The Tower” for example, if you would hear the original demo compared to what came now; the ambient part was not there to begin with, and I was following her singing so the theme came out, so it didn't go through a straight line in terms of writing. We write, we see what works, listen at home and say either “This works!” or “This doesn’t.”
PQ: I had a band before, when I was at College, we played Death Metal, but now after I met Dan, we have GuiGuiSuiSui. The difference is that before, GuiGuiSuiSui didn't have a drummer, and also we just used electronic drum machines. After we met Nakoma, we just thought “Oh, we can play with a drummer, and also bass!”
A real drum sounds way more different, and has much more emotion than a machine. Also I was very happy to collaborate with a very good drummer like K, and a bass player N too. Okay, whatever.
K: Originally I was excited to join the band because of the challenge of it not being something that i've done before, but I realized there's a lot of things that, like rhythms and patterns that I've previously played that I applied to this band so it works out really well.
PQ: From the beginning, KN, N and L would write down the song, and they would work together, and I didn't join, because I just wanted to listen to the melody, and also what's going on, like the background music, but then I realized “Maybe this part I can sing like this, or maybe that part I can sing like that.” So me and KN would just sit down, and try to work out how the melody should be, or how the vocal melody should be sung. For me it's a little bit of a challenge too, because i'm using lots of different sounds in the whole set. Some sounds like JingJu which is very traditional Chinese vocal, and sounds like opera, and some's very rock style? I don't know, like, metal? Which is like a little bit challenging, but I'm happy about that.
K: I added some funky style drumming in the mix, and it turned out pretty cool man. It was cool, I was kind of like trying to not push it, because I always tend to go to funk... I like it... but they were like “Yeah yeah, you can try!” and it came out good, so I was happy that worked out. There's a couple of songs that sound slightly funky, but like, funk rock, I dunno if that's a thing but yeah that's what happened.
KN: When I wrote the songs originally, I think I really wanted it to sound like SunnO))), or Electric Wizard or something like that, Witch Finder General? But then the demos I created sounded nothing like that. It just sounded like this really weird 8-bit, weird garage rock, and then when we finished the recordings and were listening back we were like “What does this really sound like?” and the only thing we could find that really to us sounded similar was the band Phantomas, who i'd never heard of but Linda and Nico introduced me to, so I guess Phantomas? It's like The Melvins, Mr Bungle and Slayer combined, so I dunno.
K: There's one song we do that has some Latin influence, and that's in my blood, I was kinda born with it, so I just kind of added it on and tagged on that flavour. You know.
N: The latin song is actually a good point, because it is one more song we don't play in the album, it's only going to be live, and this song was with K writing the drum parts. That's where you can actually hear his part of the collaboration because, that song, you can hear his idea, there is one part... this is another direction to go.
[Incoherent murmurs of plans for the EP release show]
N: There is definitely a visual aspect that is more intense than all of my previous projects, so this is definitely an interesting aspect.
KN: And i'd say also let's not forget the other bands we have playing. It's a very interesting pairing we have 4 Channels Club, that's an artist very close to my heart because he still has the Gameboys, and he's way way better than me with Gameboys, does some amazing stuff, and December 3am, which I think that's one of the most amazing bands that i've heard in the past couple of years coming out. Really happy that we got both of those acts on the bill. It should be really fun.