The truth of Chochukmo

08 Jul 2014 / 18:28 H.

THE glory days of Hong Kong rock may be behind us, but there are still a few bands keeping that flag flying. One of them is Chochukmo.
It got its start over a decade ago when a group of musicians from different bands formed a side project. Years later, the five-man band is still going strong.
It has produced four studio albums. The latest, A Tragedy Your Majesty, was ­released late last year. The band also travels around Asia to perform its unique brand of indie rock.
Recently, Chochukmo played at the Tiger Translate event in Kuala Lumpur. Lead singer Jan Curious and guitarist Mike Orange talked about their journey as a band and what their music means to them.
What prompted you to start Chochukmo?
Jan: “[Our bands] were all ­playing different genres. We felt it was setting a frame for creating music, and we decided to form Chochukmo and do something without a genre. You could do anything, any kind of music … whatever you want. Then by 2005, all our bands were gone, and the side project became the main project!”
Was it hard making music without a genre?
Jan: “We don’t like critics ­classifying bands in different genres, so we decided to do something without a genre so that critics wouldn’t know what to write about it!”
Mike: “In the beginning, there were some problems. But in time, our lack of genre has become a genre, because it’s fusion. It can be anything.”
How has the reaction from the fans been?
Jan: “I would say it has been more intellectual since you have to experience the cruelty of society to understand why we’re doing this. Because we don’t like to be framed [or] told what to do. I think everyone can understand that idea.”
Mike: “We seldom explain what we’re doing, we have weird song names, and weird songs. But we expect our fans and music lovers to … try to understand what we’re doing instead of us telling them what we’re trying to say.”
How do you cope with being a niche band in a pop-heavy music scene?
Jan: “We’re not trying to get everyone to like us, we just want to approach people who are really into the concept that we have and stick with them.”
Mike: “I don’t think we should consider what is ­happening in the mainstream. Sure, K-pop is everywhere, but it doesn’t mean we have to do K-pop to please people. We just do what we want to do, and connect with people. Whether they like it or not, it’s up to them.
Jan: “We are about truth, and we’re telling the truth. We’re just human beings and we’re doing what everyone wants to do.”
What is the truth?
Jan: “We don’t idolise ourselves.”
Mike: “Yeah … we do everything that you do. You look at those popstars, they are like dolls, it’s all about [having a perfect] image.”
Jan: “We’re ordinary people doing things you might think are impossible or amazing. But if we can do it, why not you? We’re just encouraging creative people to follow their heart and do what they really want to do.”
What do you think of critics who say rock is dead?
Jan: “I always think it’s a cycle, like fashion. Maybe 30 years ago, people like bohemian style, and today they like bohemian style again. In the 80s, people liked electronic music and disco music, and now they are listening to it again. So, nothing ever dies, it’s just waiting for a reincarnation.”
Mike: “In the 90s, rock and grunge groups were everywhere. They said, pop is dead. And now, pop is back. And then pop will die, and then rock will be back!”
Jan: “You know what, we’re not following the trends, so trends don’t really matter to us.”
Mike: “Those music critics, they talk [rubbish]. They make predictions, to make people think they know something, but they don’t know anything because they’re not making music. … as long as you are playing rock and roll, it will never die.”

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