Leslie Liu and Dave Carey of indietronica band Nocturnes made waves on the Beijing scene last year with their EP Dust into Glory, which they followed shortly with their debut studio album, Lines Written in Code.
Carey’s previous stint as guitarist in the short-lived Irish band The Empire Lights has given him industry insight, while Liu brings PR knowledge and business acumen from her full-time job in Ruder Finn. Nocturnes will embark on their first major tour of China this month with 11 dates up and down the country, beginning with their vinyl release show in Beijing this Saturday. We spoke with the duo before they set off.
How long did it take you guys to make your debut album, Lines Written in Code?
DC: We released our previous EP, Dust Into Glory, in March 2017, and we had already sketched out a few songs at that point. We finished recording by September and then it was a case of finding a designer and making some videos.
Already you have a nice niche on the indie scene; you guys don’t really sound like any other Chinese band out there.
LL: Thanks! I think so too, haha. For now, we really want to play bigger festivals across China, and play in more Asian countries, and then maybe eventually outside of Asia. On a business level, we’d like to collaborate with publishing companies for our music to appear on television shows or movies, because I think our music really suits TV.
DC: We love how in China the concept of selling out doesn’t exist. We’ve played quite a few corporate events so far and people are happy to hear that we’ve made money with our music. Back home, it’s like this big shameful secret.
Before Nocturnes, what kind of music were you guys making?
DC: I was in some bands before in Ireland, but only one was ever serious – The Empire Lights. It was really good for me in that it taught me exactly how NOT to run a band. The drummer in the band was also the manager and boyfriend of the lead singer, which was just a disastrous recipe, really.
LL: I joined a cover band in college. The guy who took the lead in the band decided what we covered: mostly Gun and Roses, which I really hated… I can never hit those pitches.
How long have you guys been playing together?
DC: We’ve been working together for about two-and-a-half years, but it took at least the first year before we were any good!
LL: At the time I met Dave, I really liked the music he came up with, and I had the courage to be a singer, so I decided to give it a try.
DC: I posted an ad on Douban looking for a singer to help out with my new project. A lot of people got in touch, but Leslie’s voice stood out straight away. It was completely different to everyone else’s.
What is the plan for the rest of 2018?
LL: We want to focus on promoting this album, finding important people online and contacting local colleges in different cities. Also, we want to collaborate with some remix producers in China, since young people are really into EDM right now. If possible, we want to have more business and branding opportunities, to take us to a new level.
Beijing: Mar 31, 8pm, RMB60 presale (RMB100 with album), RMB80 door. Yue Space, see event listing.
Shanghai: Apr 14, 8pm, RMB60 presale (RMB100 with album), RMB80 door. Yuyintang, see event listing.
Guangzhou: Apr 20, 8pm, RMB60 presale (RMB100 with album), RMB80 door. T:union, see event listing.
Shenzhen: Apr 21, 8pm, RMB60 presale (RMB100 with album), RMB80 door. Brown Sugar Jar Public House, see event listing.