Ahead of their biggest hometown headline show to date at Corsica Studios tonight, we caught up with frontman and rapper Syd of South London’s experimental hip-hop and electronica collective Nukuluk – to chat about the band’s new EP SUPERGLUE, their wide-ranging influences and how performing live has influenced their constantly evolving, multi-faceted sound.
Incorporating elements of a huge range of genres, from hip-hop to alt rock, ambient to metal and dance to r’n’b, how did you guys land on your incredibly unique sound?
We all listen to, grew up with and make a massive variety of music. Our tastes overlap a lot, often in unique ways between specific combinations within the collective. Monika listens to loads of old-school and modern French hip-hop, Mateo is an r’n’b authority, Olivia is a witch house genius and Louis owns the intersection between Beach Boys and Slauson Malone – I’m often listening to ambient and experimental stuff. These genres are all microcosms of what we’re into, we all listen to everything and one of the things that we get out of this project is this ability to explore new sonic spaces, which means things are constantly evolving. Things were maybe more singular when we first kicked off with DISASTER POP, then we had a year on the road and were like wow being a live band is as fun as being a producer project, let’s combine it more and more… so basically with more experience I think you can expect new incarnations of the project.
What are the main themes that run through the new EP, SUPERGLUE?
We named the record SUPERGLUE because of this idea of something having exploded and being held together – a lot of the lyrical themes explore yearning for self-acceptance and going on strange fantastical journeys into desire and disdain, riches and lonely club nights. Our music often explodes out of nowhere into a new space – what may be a hard hitting bass heavy rap song can suddenly switch pace to an opposite point of view, seeing a story from a melancholic falsetto’s perspective with cavernous reverbs and longing. Songs address playing characters, false bravado, feeling like a bit of an alien – holding all these different experiences together and remaining a coherent person can be tough. Better buy some superglue!
Impressively there was just over a year between SUPERGLUE and the release of your debut EP DISASTER POP, how would you say the two works compare?
As mentioned above, SUPERGLUE has the benefit of being released by a band that played a lot of shows, whilst we’d played maybe 3 gigs before DISASTER POP came out. We started playing a couple of the songs live before the record was done, which drastically altered the recorded versions of them. There’s not a single song with recorded acoustic drums or guitar on DISASTER POP, and these elements are all over SUPERGLUE. It feels like an evolution, still often starting in that electronic space but being comfortable to leave it, manipulate it, throw a bunch of gritty noise into it.
From the energy of your releases, you get the impression that Nukuluk are a band you just have to see live. Do you find performing live informs your songwriting?
For sure – I think we’ve learnt a lot about ourselves via getting on stage. I don’t think we realised quite how high energy we can get before we got used to playing live a lot, nor how much we enjoy combining live instrumentation with electronic production. We’ve just moved to a new studio that we’re hoping will be able to be a breeding ground for going from the computer and the synths to the live room then back to the computer then back to the live room; honing in on that symbiosis. At the same time I think we enjoy songs having different personalities live to what you hear on the record.
What can fans expect from your show at Corsica Studios tonight?
We’re playing a bunch of songs we haven’t played live before, touching on some genres we’ve not explored before and what’s more this will be our longest set we’ve done in London yet. We haven’t had the luxury of choosing so many songs from our little catalogue before, and there’s also stuff that’s not on either of our EPs that we’ll be playing. We’re so gassed to have Piglet and Feeo on the bill with us, two of the most exciting acts in South London at the moment, and we’ll be leaving everything we have on that stage. If we successfully survive our performance, we’ll also be selling some exclusive merch and vinyl – come and jump around with us!
Tickets to Nukuluk’s show at Corsica Studios tonight are available here.