Interview: Khunathi

As the leaves turn to saffron, crimson, and russet and fall to the ground, eventually fading away back into the soil, Live China Music burrows into the underbelly of Shanghai’s music scene with a bountiful offering of bold new sounds that’ll ignite your senses and lead you into happily into the abyss. Psychedelic, experimental, improvisational, kinetic and sprawling soundscapes that will faze you and leave you in a daze – enter Autumn Faze this Thursday, Octobe 14th. . Leading the way are one of Khunathi – a full-blooded psychedelic rock band that throws a bit of everything into the blender – fake Buddhist scriptures, masquerade masks, and some truly audacious grooves – whilst injecting a lean, crisp psych blues sound into their music, captured with meticulous yet riotous glee by the quartet.

QIntroduce yourself? How did you all end up together? Are all its members based in Shanghai?

A: We all met when we were in college, and we used to play a band in school. After graduating, we separated for a few years and reunited again. We are currently in Shanghai.Image

Q: What kind of musical backgrounds do each of you come from? Did you all know what you wanted to accomplish musically?

A: All guitar and bass players started out as wild punk musicians. Later, they made up came from jazz foundations. YeRen learned the shakuhachi (traditional Japanese bamboo flute) and gagaku (ancient court music of Japan) in Japan. Have a preference for various national musical instruments. The drummer used to be into funk. We didn’t have clear expectations when we formed it, and wanted to try different things. 

Q: Speaking of which – what does a typical rehearsal look like? Is there a lot of adjusting done in the rehearsal room – going back and finding what works in a song and what doesn’t. Or is it imore mportant to keep the process as pure as possible? 

A: All the songs come from improvisations in the rehearsal room. Sometimes a story or atmosphere is determined first. ‘Great Tang Records on the Western Regions’ was a great source for foreign stories. Many song titles also come from this. Sometimes we don’t discuss the jam directly. The whole process of improvisation will be recorded. We see ourselves as an automatic music generator for sampling, a neural network algorithm in training to discover a specific sound combination. When listening back, it is like mining, intercepting some fragments for processing and combining. In fact, this process often fails, because some subtle things are difficult to reproduce. So we simply started a podcast (Khunathi 生鲜计划 which can be found on NetEase Cloud and Cosmos) to release these one-shot recordings.ImageImage

Q: While there are elements of improvisation in your music, I’ve noticed more and more structure and a clear through-line within your music – is your set constantly evolving or do you look to the theme of the show or what bands you’re performing with to guide you?

A: Each song has its own life cycle. We have plenty of motivations for development. We tried some new semi-finished products on stage every time we performed last year. Some motives can survive the chaos and continue to evolve. Some songs may perish early on because of insufficient potential or too many conflicts. Every song is evoling. Recently we recorded a batch of songs. A lot of changes have been made to the arrangement, and some ambiguities have also been settled. It will be more refined and structured than before. But at the same time it also lost some risky incentives. Recently, we are obsessed with modular synthesizers and max8. In the next stage, we may try another kind of music production thought.

Q: You bring a lot into your live sets – Buddhist scriptures, masquerade masks – what’s the overarching philosophy to the band — either to the way you approach music or what you hope to convey with your music?

A: I hope our music is a trip, taking you away from here and going elsewhere. There is another reality that is slightly different from the space we are in. Music is used as a kind of evidence of relics.

Q: Psychedelic music has seen a bit of a resurgence in China over the past couple of years – what is it about the genre that’s so alluring? 

A: Psychedelic music offers another possibility of reality.Image

当树叶开始变红,落在地上,最终消逝在土壤中时,Live China Music 深入上海独立音乐腹地,带来大量的大胆新声,点燃你的感官,引领你愉快地进入深渊。那些迷幻的、实验的、即兴的、动感的和蔓延的声音景观,将会让你困惑,让你陷入迷茫。打头的是 Khunathi —— 一支血气方刚的迷幻摇滚乐队,他们把所有的材料扔进搅拌机中:伪造的佛经、化装面具和那真正大胆的节奏。同时在他们的音乐中注入了清脆的迷幻布鲁斯之声,由四人组成的乐队将会带来严谨细致,纵情宣泄的欢乐。


A: 我们都是在大学期间认识的,以前在学校里也玩过乐队。本科毕业后我们分隔了几年又重聚在一起。目前我们都在上海。

Q: 每个成员的音乐背景是什么样的?你们都知道自己想在音乐上所达到的目标吗?

A: 吉他贝斯都是野路子朋克乐手出身。后来各自补了一些爵士基础。野人在日本学过尺八和雅乐。对各种民族乐器有所偏爱。鼓手以前是搞放克的。我们在组建的时候没有明确的期待,想尝试一些不同的可能。


A: 所有的歌都是来自于排练房中即兴。有时会先确定一个故事或者氛围。大唐西域记曾是一个异域故事发动机。很多歌名也来源于此。有时也不商量直接jam。即兴过程会全程录音。我们把自己看作一个可供采样的自动音乐生成器,一个训练中的神经网络算法,用来发掘一种特定的声音组合。回听的时候像采矿,截取一些片段进行加工和组合。其实这个过程经常失败,因为有一些微妙的东西很难复现。所以我们索性开了一个播客(丘瑙底河生鲜计划,在网易云和小宇宙可以找到),专门发布这些一次成型的录音。

Q: 虽然你们音乐中有即兴的成分,但我注意到其中能找到有越来越多的结构和清晰的脉络,你们的曲子是不断发展的,还是根据演出的主题或与你一起演出的乐队有一个方向?

A: 每首歌自己的生命周期。我们有大量动机可供开发。去年我们每次演出都会在台上尝试一些新的半成品。有的动机能够从混沌中活下来并不断演进。有的歌可能因为潜力不足或者包含了太多冲突而早夭。每首歌都在途中。最近我们录音了一批歌。编曲上做了大量改动,一些模糊的地方也沉淀了下来。会比以前更加精致、更加结构化。不过同时也失去了一些风险的刺激。最近我们迷上模块合成器和max8,下一阶段可能会尝试另外一种音乐制作逻辑。

Q: 你们在现场带来了很多东西:佛经、化妆舞会的面具….乐队的总体理念是什么?你们对待音乐的方式也好,你们希望用音乐传达的东西也好?

A: 希望我们的音乐是一次旅行,把你带离此地去往别处。一个于我们所处空间略有不同的另一种现实是存在的。音乐作为一种遗存的证据。

Q: 在过去的几年里,迷幻音乐在中国有了一定的回潮,这类音乐有什么独特的魅力呢?

A:  迷幻音乐提供了另一种现实的可能性。Click below to buy tickets!Image

Translation: Xiao Liu/Fanmu

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