The soundscape of Thud encapsulates a sense of helplessness and hopelessness, but that’s why they hit the sweet spot when it comes to emotional catharsis
There are a great number of Hong Kong bands that have absolutely nailed the alternative genre such as Life Was All Silence, My Little Airport and Thud. My first encounter with shoegaze darling Thud happened in 2015 when the five-piece band was opening for English indie rock band YUCK. With keyboardist Kim’s voice gliding over the whirling guitar riffs and drumming – a beautiful tapestry of sound – I lost myself in a reverie of synth-glossed reverbs. Thud is that rarity of rarities, a bona fide indie gem in Hong Kong.
Thud and Songs for Children
Managed by Jane Blondel from Songs for Children, Thud released their well-received debut EP Floret in 2015. Their dream pop tones soon blossomed into a heavier mix of synths and distortion, showing maturation in songcraft and a continuous ascent to pure shoegaze perfection. I recently chatted with the band, including Kim (vocals and synths), Andy (guitar), Sky (guitar), Wang (bass) and Wai (drums), ahead of the release of their 7-inch single.
It has been two years since your debut EP Floret. Tell us about the new 7-inch single?
Andy: To answer that as the guitarist, the A-side track Ado is more catchy and youthful. There’s a subtle shoegaze-ness in it. If you’re not a dedicated shoegaze fan, you probably will think that’s not hitting the bar; but if you’re a hardcore shoegaze fan, you CAN tell it.
Kim: Hardcore like Kevin Shields? (laughs)
Sky: I think it’s more mature compared to our older works, and less intense than our last single Prime of Pride. There’s a speediness to it. And we’re also trying to imitate and reinvent the best of reverse reverb.
Wai: Prime of Pride is like the finale for our first EP Floret. It feels like we’ve unleashed every part of ourselves. And now with these two new singles that are going to be included in the 7-inch, there’s a different speed and velocity. Such pacing denotes a new beginning for our music. It’s like we’ve hit the reset button.
What’s the sentiment behind the last two singles that you guys released – Prime of Pride and You Want Me to Die?
K: Prime of Pride is about being young and doing things that you’re proud of despite people’s judgment, as if you’re at the top of your game. I just want to say to the naysayers – I don’t care what you might think of me.
With You Want Me to Die, it’s the feeling of not being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you’re in a slump and you’re descending into hopelessness. It’s suffocating, like you’re at a crossroad and the situation won’t be resolved no matter what decisions you end up making.
Was writing new songs a difficult process for you guys?
A: Not at all. From zero to something, that’s a process that I enjoy. When you try to make something from scratch, there is an ideal and standard prototype you’ve created in your mind – but it usually ends up being a completely different thing. Sometimes, one of us brings a rough demo, and then we start throwing in ideas to work on the sound and emotions; or we start jamming, it’s spontaneous and things can divert in any direction, which always leads to a good surprise.
Wang: The greatest feeling is when everyone is at their best, and the music just makes its way through effortlessly.
A: Say you start writing something at 3pm and you finish it at 6pm, but sometimes it could take months to get it done after that strike of inspiration hits.
K: Like when god pisses on your head and you’re enlightened, but just for ten seconds… (laughs) The lowest is probably when all five of us are uninspired, but the longer that state persists, the better it feels when we make it through the gutter.
When people comment that the sound of music should be subservient to vocals, how would you guys react to that?
K: Vocals are just one of the many instruments, and sometimes they might be overrated. For Thud, everyone’s input is equally important.
A: Obviously she said that because she wasn’t born a superstar… (laughs) No, but seriously, imagine if guitar was the next vocals, and the entire song will just be dominated by guitar riffs. Wouldn’t that be great too? What I meant was, there shouldn’t be a preconceived notion that vocals (or any other instrument) should or should not be the highlight of one’s music.
Thud’s songs are very much about an internal struggle, how we perceive ourselves and interact with the world. How would you put that into words?
K: The upcoming singles all evolve around the theme of struggling on the inside. They’re about how things are only momentary and the constant hollowness it comes with; or when you’re stuck in a gutter and not being able to move forward or even backwards.
A: Even though our songs have very dreamy melodies, Kim’s pessimistic presence is always very apparent in our music.
K: As a band in Hong Kong, you aren’t given as many opportunities to do tours like many up-and-coming indie musicians do in the States. And I’ve also just gotten back to school, so subconsciously I feel like I’m just buying more time to figure things out. That uncertainty makes me feel very uneasy.
Kim and I have previously talked about being a romanticist in the modern age. Do you think you have prescribed that attitude to your listeners?
S: It’d be easier to convey a message or an attitude via other mediums like movies or animations, but for music, it’s still quite intangible. So even if we do possess such quality, as in romanticism, it really depends on the listeners to really get it I guess.
Wai: We won’t try to achieve that or impose that on our listeners, but if they’re cut out of the same cloth, I think they’ll see what we see.
A: When a song is still in the making, I wouldn’t have recognised that I was being a romanticist. But I can feel such sentiment when the end product is done. I feel like romanticism is something deeply rooted in one’s genes, and it just kinda shows through your work. But it had never been our intention to deliberately deliver a certain “vibe”.
How about being a romantic then?
K: We’re definitely not romantics…
A: Romantics remind me of people holding a red rose in their mouths with teeth…
There’s a very obvious contrast among all your personalities. How would you guys describe each other?
Wai: Andy is the kind of the person that keeps bugging you. He’s the optimist in the group, so he wants to cheer everyone up. But sometimes he gets carried away and becomes a bit annoying.
A: Sky is a very reserved person. He talks and does things rather slowly, but on the inside he has got everything planned out. He plays a big part in shaping the ambience of Thud’s music, so his thoughtfulness pays off.
Wai: So slow that I’ve never seen him running… (laughs)
S: Kim lacks confidence and worries a lot, but she does pay good attention to details.
K: Wang is the brother that looks after us, he is the decision maker and sometimes helps us financially.
Wang: Wai has got temper, but he brings something dynamic to Thud. His creativity sort of determines the direction that a song should be heading.
Is there anything that’s influenced your music other than bands?
Wai: Air conditioning… It’s a weird thing that we keep bringing up. Our music is not for when you’re sweaty and have gotten back from an adrenaline rush.
A: And speediness! It makes an impact on me when I’m being exposed to something visually impressive. So I want people to associate a kind of momentum with our music, like I want to recreate motions and movements in our listeners’ minds like what visuals can do.
What’s music making to Thud?
A: We want to create something that all five of us – not three, not four – are proud of and pleased by, instead of producing something for the sake of being “productive” in the music industry.
Keep up-to-date with Thud‘s music.