The Nocturnes are an indietronica duo from Beijing. Touring Germany, indieBerlin Exclusives has them playing in Barkett on the 21st with Berliners Unicat.
Created in late 2015, the Irish-Chinese duo has released a few EPs. They play indietronica and it’s a pleasure to discover the mix of their two cultures. Their latest release, Any Kind of Mood is represents their sound perfectly. Take a listen and make sure to come down on Tuesday!
indieBerlin had the chance to ask them some questions. We let you discover their universe.
Nocturnes: Hi there! We’re an indie-electronic band from Beijing, China. Leslie is the singer. Dave, who’s originally from Ireland, is the guitarist. We’ve been playing around for about 3 years now, and have released a few EPs and an album. This will be our first tour in Europe!
indieBerlin: Why did you choose the name “Nocturnes曳取” ?
Nocturnes曳取: Dave: For a few reasons. I like Debussy a lot, and his composition Nocturnes is incredibly beautiful. I also really like this idea of a piece of music composed specifically for night-time, as that’s when I do most of my composing. So we’re sort of taking the genesis of that idea but reworking it in a modern way, as most of our songs are best suited for listening to at night.
Leslie: I took the Chinese work for nocturne (夜曲) and changed the characters to 曳取. It’s the same pronunciation but it means to drag or take.
indieBerlin: Where do you both come from ? Could you tell us more about your journey?
Dave: I’m from Cork, Ireland. I wanted to perform music for a living but Ireland is obviously tiny and it’s almost impossible to pursue a career there. I took a chance on coming to China for 6 months back in 2015 and absolutely loved it. Within my first week or two I went to see a gig that had pretty much every famous indie band in China playing at it; Hedgehog, Da Bang, AV Okubo and Carsick Cars. I was hooked! The next morning I decided this was the place for me.
Leslie: I’m from Qinghai, a province in western China bordering Tibet. I came to Beijing around 7 years ago to study and later work. I had always been interested in music but didn’t have much experience. I saw an advert on Douban, the Chinese Myspace, about an Irish guy looking for a singer. I sent him some demoes and we started working on music together! We communicated online at first, and actually had 3 songs finished before we ever even met for the first time. That’s usually how we write actually, Dave will finish a song and email it to me, then I’ll add the lyrics and vocal melodies, which is a little different to how a lot of other bands write.
indieBerlin: You have been touring quite a lot since your first release, is there a funny/strange/surprising anecdote from a concert you would like to share with us?
Dave: Oh, China can be a strange place to play music sometimes! I’ve played in cities I’ve never heard of that have a larger population than all of Ireland. One place made us sign a contract stating we couldn’t drink any alcohol at the event because it was sponsored by the government. That was a really weird one. We also played at a place that have made 3 metre tall cardboard cutouts of us to help advertise the show, which ended up being a free open air concert mostly attended by grandparents and children. Not sure they really got our music!
indieBerlin: Are you inspired by other artists? If yes, who?
Of course! For Chinese bands, we really like Nova Heart, Da Bang, Glow Curve, The Big Wave and Future Orients. They all have an impact on us. The Beijing scene definitely has a specific sound or feeling across genres and we inject some of those bands’ personalities into our music for sure. Outside of China, we like Foals, Bonobo, The XX, Oh Wonder, Talos, etc. I (Dave) take a lot of my guitar style from Coldplay’s earlier sound. I use a lot of delay and other effects, but I really like to serve the song as opposed to just making cool solos or whatever.
indieBerlin: How is Nocturnes曳取’s ordinary day-to-day life organized?
Dave: I’m a music teacher at the moment. But really most of my life involves finding ways to get out of work and go play music!
Leslie: I work in PR, which is a demanding and time-consuming job but it does give me a lot of experience I can use with the band for promotion, etc.
indieBerlin: Apart from music, do you have any other passion/project going on?
Nocturnes曳取: Dave: Kind of cheating, because it’s also music, but I recently started another musical project called Lost Memory Machine. It’s a lofi-pop band with a girl from Wuhan, China. You can hear some of our demos here: demos
indieBerlin: Leslie : we have read that you absolutely love Meerkats. Tell us more, try to convert us into meerkats enthusiasts as well.
Nocturnes曳取: Dave: haha I better answer this actually! Have you ever heard that story about Van Halen and the brown M&Ms? They would put this request on their rider asking for a bowl of M&Ms with all the brown ones taken out. They did this to see if people paid attention to their rider, if that detail was ok, then they knew someone had read all of the requests. I did a similar thing with the about section on our Facebook page, which I know nobody ever reads. So, while I’m sure Leslie doesn’t actively dislike meerkats, she probably doesn’t love them as much as I’ve made out! Congratulations though, you’re the first person to ever mention it to us!
indieBerlin: Right now, if you could perform in any country of your choice, where would you go?
Leslie: It’s been our dream to perform in Europe for a long time, Germany especially! So we’re really excited to be actually doing that in just a week’s time!
Dave: Apart from that, I’d love to be able to go back and play in Ireland someday. I was trying to work it out for this tour but it was just a little too expensive to figure out.
It’s been our dream to perform in Europe for a long time, Germany especially! So we’re really excited to be actually doing that in just a week’s time!
indieBerlin: What’s your ambition concerning the future?
We’ve just finished recording our second EP. We built a studio/practice space to allow us to do this, so we have a little more control than we had in previous releases. We like the idea of constantly changing our sound with each release, so the new EP is quite different in style. We also just released our newest song, 城市景观. We’ll be playing this and some of the EP songs on our Europe tour, so come along and let us know what you think!
indieBerlin Events / Exclusvies present Nocturnes live in Barkett this coming Tuesday 21st May with Unicat. Come down!
We’ve got two pairs of tickets going – write at win (at) indieberlin.de!
Nocturnes & Unicat | Barkett (Schöneberg) | 8pm | Entry 6€.