Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Nu Sensae In Discorder
My first full length article for Discorder has recently been published, and since they take forever to post articles on their website, I've taken the liberty to post it here. Anyone who actually read the article has probably noticed an error where it says that Kat Bjelland of Babes In Toyland was also the lead singer of Le Tigre. FYI: This was an error on the part of the Discorder editing team and definitely not my mistake. I guess they figured that Kat Bjelland and Kathleen Hanna are the same person. Anyways, below is my original edit. Many thanks go out to my man Brock Thiessen, who helped me through this one. Above photo by Alex Turgeon. Artwork at the bottom is courtesy of Andrea.
PS. I couldn't figure out how to get those damn umlats into Nu Sensae. Can anyone help me on this?
In many ways, Nu Sensae are a punk band. Sure, newfangled tags like
"noise punk" and "weird punk" are constantly hounding the group and
their cohorts, but c'mon, punk is weird and noisy by definition. No,
for Nu Sensae, punk will do just fine.
Now this isn't to say the Vancouver duo are exactly what you'd call a
classic punk band, but rather a group that take snippets from the many
rungs in the continuously growing punk ladder. Bassist/vocalist Andrea
Lukic's guttural screeches can be traced back to riot grrl
predecessor/punk rock scream queen Kat Bjelland of the underrated
Babes in Toyland. Drummer Daniel Pitout also takes a few cues from one
of his teenage loves, namely, the tribal thump of X's drummer D.J.
Bonebrake. Add in the duo's own twisted brand of theatrics and their myriad of other influences, and they come out making a unique racket in a city full of punk bands bent on rehashing the past.
The pair takes all these elements, wraps them up and hurtle them full
throttle towards unsuspecting audiences — a tactic that sends some
listeners careening for the exits, while holding others captive with
the duo's self-proclaimed "voodoo punk" vibes. "People have said we
have a dysphoric quality. It makes people feel uncomfortable or they
say we have bad vibes, an eerie feel," says Pitout. "Voodoo punk just
sounded funny to us. It fit."
Nu Sensae began like many bands: as a mere thought in the minds of two
high school friends. But upon graduation, Nu Sensae went from daydream
to reality. After their first group Maggie Gutwrath dissolved, Lukic
and Pitout jammed on their own and found they only needed a rhythm
section and Lukic's vocals to pound out the dark punk sound incubating
in their heads.
Soon after—on March 24, 2007, to be exact—Nu Sensae had their first
show, playing with Mutators, Shearing Pinx and Modern Creatures at the
infamous Alf House. The show, in their minds at least, was a disaster.
Though the crowd and other bands didn't see it that way and encouraged
Nu Sensae to keep playing. Determined, the duo practised often and
played any gig they were offered, including an early Emergency
Room show. The band have since become a staple in the ER scene and
went on to record three tracks on the Emergency Room LP compilation.
Their close-knit ties with the already burgeoning underground noise
and punk scene in Vancouver soon helped solidify their DIY leanings
and made the community that much stronger. "There is a really strong
community here. All of us are friends, all of the bands: Shearing
Pinx, Twin Crystals, Mutators, etc., with Fake Jazz playing a major
role," says Pitout. "The scene now has more direction and people find
it easier to get into now."
However, the duo have started expanding beyond Vancouver's borders as
well. They recently completed a West Coast tour in the U.S. that was
booked entirely on their own. Thanks to groups like Mutators, Twin
Crystals and Shearing Pinx, who have all helped carve a path down the
coast, Nu Sensae had no problem setting up shows that draw large
groups of kids out to see the latest Vancouver punk band — no booking
After playing an average of a show a week for most of 2008, taking
part in several underground compilations and split cassettes, and
releasing their debut 12-inch LP, Nu Sensae show little sign of
slowing the pace. The group's first 7-inch is soon to be released by
newly launched Critiscum label, run by local noise mongers Josh Rose Ian Gregory James. The group also have a brief North Western U.S. tour lined up.
For those looking to get a piece of the band right now, you can nab a
copy of their debut full-length LP (errr half-length — the LP is one
sided), which was paid for by saving the money from a year's worth of
shows. Released on the local punk/noise/drone/everything label,
Isolated Now Waves, the album was recorded in a single day by close
associate Nic Hughes of Shearing Pinx, and for art, the band
silkscreened all the covers themselves.
Even if Vancouver hasn't been the most accommodating city for the
noisy underground, Nu Sensae and their brethren refuse to let this
stop them and have created their own opportunities, whether that be
playing and setting up illegal venues or self-releasing their own
albums. And as the crowds expanded with every show, it seems the rest
of the city is finally catching up to what has been bubbling
"Vancouver's music scene is pretty diverse; it's noise, it's punk,
it's everything," Pitout says. "I think this is because it's a small
community of bands who are really into making music and playing with
one another, and I think the crowds respond to that."
"If these [illegal venues] ended tomorrow the bands would still be
playing music and putting out records. Everyone is great about doing
things for themselves and not waiting around for things to open up. I
think this says more about the bands than the venues."