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Nukuluk Are Finding Growth Through The Chaos

South London five-piece Nukuluk talk graveyard meanderings, balancing accessibility with vulnerability and being pretty bad at partying.

Nukuluk are difficult to pin down, but we’re going to try to anyway. The south London collective, who just released their sophomore EP ‘SUPERGLUE, formed during lockdown. Craving the human connection marred by forced social distancing rules, the five-piece began to revel in unconventionality, constructing dark and sprawling soundscapes reflective of the dystopian world we’d become.

Made up of vocalist Monika, vocalist and guitarist Syd, drummer Louis, bassist Mateo and synth player Olivia, Nukuluk’s commitment to a collective vision fosters an ever-evolving sound; no two songs in their discography have ever been the same. ‘SUPERGLUE’ meanders through meditative trip hop (‘I Just Wanna Love U’), glitchy boom bap (‘Covered in Gold’) and Injury Reserve-esque metal rap (‘Kick Snare’), personified by Monika’s unfettered eruptions of anguish and intimacy.

Just last week, the multi-hyphenate collective played a gig at Corsica Studios, promising fans special guests and the riotous energy that earnt them a string of sold-out shows at the Bermondsey Social Club last year. Beforehand, Monika informs me “[the live show] is like a new skin on an old skeleton!”. There’s something distinctly skeletal about Nukuluk. Whether it’s in the scrawniness of the creatures on their EP covers or in the band’s ability to break the bones of existing genres and realign them within their own sound.

Shedding their skin once more, Nukuluk talk graveyard meanderings, finding growth through the chaos and the allure of Yves Tumor. Tap in below.

Hey Nukuluk, how’s it going? To kick off the questions, what’s the weirdest experience you’ve had so far in 2023?

olivia: I was going for a walk and tried my luck entering Highgate cemetery. They let me in and ushered me over to this big group of goths next to a huge bronze soundsystem statue, so I went and stood with them because it seemed like everyone was waiting for something. After a few minutes a woman came over with a clipboard and asked my name and said ‘are you coming to the funeral’. Then the goths morphed into normal people dressed for a funeral and two men escorted me out really fast and locked the gate behind me. I was confused the whole time.

Monika: I was completely sober on a Tuesday and started vividly hallucinating in my bed. Like wood cuttings made out of night, falling onto my bed? Or like a wedding dress!? Very strange, because I was extremely lucid.

Syd: the YouTube nostalgia algorithm started begging me to watch detailed retrospectives of the early noughties popular animé and toy franchise, ‘Beyblade’. Every day a new video recommendation, deep dives and deeper dives into something I didn’t want to analyse whatsoever. I could only resist for so long but let it be said I tried for as long as I could to avoid clicking those links. Sadly, I can now tell you a lot about Beyblade.

What is a Nukuluk? Wrong answers only...

olivia: Plumb socket.

Louis: A small crevice, hole or darkness that small things can get stuck inside. Kind of like golf.

Monika: A retirement home.

Syd: A tiny piece of jewellery invisible to external eyes but felt by its wearer.

Last month you released your sophomore EP 'SUPERGLUE'. Congratulations! What’s something you can tell us about the recording process you haven’t shared already? Did you face any major challenges?

olivia: I really think we’ve said everything. Charles spent a lot of time in people’s wardrobes with a duvet over his head as a vocal booth.

Monika: Honestly when we’re working on music, it’s the easiest thing in the world. Every difficult aspect comes from the outside world and stupid practicalities.

Syd: A major recording challenge would have been access to sick microphones. I'd like to give Frank Byng of Slowfoot Records a big thank you for letting us use the set-up at Snorkel Studios, it would have been a much harder road without that support. Love u frank <3.

A personal favourite is ‘Feel Awful Now’, which at the surface level chronicles a heavy and self-destructive night out in search of a party. Can you tell us how this one came about?

Syd: Yeah, well, I’m often pretty bad at partying and prone to apathy, dread, mania and stuff like this. I know lots of people who are really talented at partying, stay up for days and seem carefree. I started writing the song after a night where I’d tried staying up as late as everybody else and ended up putting on all kinds of different characters and personalities, trying to stay energised and intense and not admitting the extent of the feeling awful that was going on. This song explores those caricatures, and how big loud social spaces are often performances when maybe you’d rather be a bit honest with where you are emotionally.

Quite appropriately, Mateo wrote the bassline for this one after arriving at my old flat. Having only slept a couple of hours, he plugged his bass in, wrote an iconic line, threw up, wrote an alternate line and then ate a huge goat curry.

Monika: Yeah, it’s like, the feeling of being kind of a big deal and not a big deal all at the same time?! That happens a lot if you’re the front person in a project our size, especially if you’re rapping. Like, who are you? 'Feel Awful Now', is that guy trying different outfits on.

What would you like for listeners to take away from the project?

olivia: Anything! The songs are all so different so it’s hard to find words that suit everything.

Louis: Good or bad, generally to feel something from the music.

Monika: Oh wow, I didn’t know you could make songs like that.

Syd: Excited pissed off and a bit hungry.

If you could have anyone producing a Nukuluk debut album, who would it be and what would it sound like?

Louis: Us and it would sound like us.

olivia: yeah, I agree with Louis - it’s nice working with other producers but we have enough producers in the band to satisfy idea-sharing for the moment.

Monika: Yeah the debut has to be your own or someone who really gets you. We haven’t met them yet.

Syd: If it wasn’t us, some kind of fucked up combination of Steve Albini, JPEGMAFIA, Dangermouse and SOPHIE (rip). But probably us.

As well as yourselves, plenty of artists in England are making amazing experimental music. From WU-LU to Black Country, New Road and everything in between. What’s fuelling this appetite for experimentation, do you think?

olivia: I feel like people have always liked experimenting and seeing/hearing/experiencing more things.

Louis: I’ve always been inspired by artists who balance an accessible poppy sound with an incredibly personal creative vulnerability to their music. When artists put themselves on the line, that’s what makes fresh music. Artists like Billie Ellish, Doja Cat, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, the artists you’ve mentioned are all really inspiring and are simultaneously accessible and experimental. But maybe experimental music is just a product of the most genuine art being made. Ultimately, people are experimenting to find something new and that's really exciting.

Monika: Everyone has been listening to everything for a while, so it’s really coming across in their self-expression. Audiences and artists are more alike than we think, so if artists want to experiment, audiences probably want to listen!

Syd: Simon Reynolds wrote this book Retromania which describes addictions to the past in pop music; it definitely feels like that’s been a bit of an epidemic, but over the last few years there are so many artists emerging that are pushing the boat out and making the NEW. If you’re making music today you probably like a lot of different styles: hip-hop, rock, dance music and electronica, these are all massive cultural phenomena and if you’re making records why not dip your toe into all of them?

We’ve been informed that you’re big fans of JPEGMAFIA, Yves Tumor and Damon Albarn. What would be on the menu if Nukuluk were cooking for these guests at a dinner party?

olivia: I’ve made lasagna before...

Louis: Fuck it, I’d bake a pie.

Monika: Too much pressure to cook for Yves. A really involved goat meat curry for Damon and JPEG.

Syd: There’s this insanely clever Greek dish where you just put a big ol' square of feta cheese in a puff pastry and slather it with olive oil, honey and some herbs, and then bake it for a while... it has a place on any dinner table I will sit at.

To wrap up, what’s next for Nukuluk beyond the EP? Do you individually have any hidden talents you’re looking to explore in 2023?

Olivia: we’ve been working on a collaboration with a friend, which might be our next release. Other than that, I’m trying to make friends with a crow and Louis said he wanted to teach me how to drop in on a skateboard this year.

Monika: Yeah the next thing has been brewing for some time and we can’t hold it in much longer. Personally, I want to sing more, I'm thinking about how that can come about.

Syd: I’ve written an ambient folk album, whilst trying to get faster on my feet and finding the love of my life.


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