Abjects formed in London in 2013, and have since gained an international buzz for its combination of scuzzy garage, psychedelic surf rock.
With two EPs and tours across Europe and Japan under their belt, the trio, which is comprised of guitarist Noemi, bassist Yuki, and drummer Alice (who originally hail from Spain, Japan, and Italy, respectively) will finally make their US debut this month on their way to SXSW where they will appear at She Shreds party at Studium on 3/17.
Check out our interview with Noemi to find out more about getting by as a band in London, surf guitars, and turning dissatisfaction with your surroundings into confidence to bring your rock ‘n’ roll dreams to life.
Each member of the Abjects is originally from a different country. How did you all end up in London and come to form a band together?
We all came to London for different reasons and at different times, but I guess the nexus of what attracted us all here is music. London’s music scene can’t really be compared to any other city in Europe. You can go to gigs every night and see really great acts, most of the times for free. That’s why we’re always broke! This shows the sort of love/hate relationships some people (including me) have with this city. The music scene is great, ever changing. You come here to enjoy it, but once you’re part of it you realise that it’s very competitive and no one gets paid much so you have to work to pay crazy-nuts-high rent and therefore you don’t have so much time to make music and are always tired and running to places. Still, you can’t live without it… and where else would I meet a Japanese and an Italian girl to join my band?
Abjects has taken influence from everything from the classic surf era, ‘80s garage and punk through ‘90s grunge and art-rock but the sum of it all is unmistakably modern. What is your advice to musicians who reference previous eras of rock music to ensure they still sound fresh and original?
Do not copy! Let it filter naturally. No one wants to listen to a cover version of your favourite song passing as yours. It’s always going to sound worse than the original ‘cause it’s not you, so trust yourself and let your personality transpire through what you do. Everything comes from something and creating most of the times involves taking things you like and passing them through your own ‘original’ personal view, so keep it personal.
Tell us a little about how you came to play a Vox Phantom guitar. For those who are unfamiliar with surf-style guitars, can you share the unique attributes that make it a great choice of instrument?
At first what really attracted me about this guitar, I gotta be honest, is the look of it. I’m a total sucker for odd guitars and I just love the shape of this one. That said, I really dig the sound and it’s perfect for the style of music I want to make. It’s reminiscent of the garage bands of the sixties and was also used by ‘80s garage revival bands like the Fuzztones. Clean sounds, very thin and wiry, maybe that’s why it distorts so well. I’ve tried to play Abjects songs with other guitars with a warmer tone and they always ended up sounding sort of hard rocky (like AC/DC or something), but with the Phantom I just get the ‘60s tone I was looking for. There’s a real difference between the pickups too, so some songs can sound crazy trebley that nearly make your ears bleed and the rest just dirty as fuck. Love it!
Your first songs with Abjects were the first you’ve ever written. How did you develop your confidence as a songwriter and performer during those early days. What do you know now that you wish you knew then?
I started writing my own songs when I got fed up of playing in shitty bands that I didn’t really believe in. It sure was fun and I don’t regret one second of it, but it gets to a point when you think, “hang on, I can also do that or at least try!” So the short answer is, I did not have any confidence, but neither a choice. It was get on with it or stay stuck doing what I didn’t like, so I pushed myself to write and record straight away. I tried not to overanalyze if what it was coming out was good or not, and as soon as I had a riff or a melody I would record it and build up the other parts and instruments until it was finished. Most of my early songs were written and recorded in a couple of hours, and I’m still working that way. Now I’m more aware of dynamics, harmonies, and even soloing, which seemed so daunting before but for me sentiment is more important than technique, so I usually don’t worry about those kind of details until much later on. In fact, Yuki is the one that takes care about that!
Abjects have toured through Europe and Japan, and 2016 will be your first time playing the US at SXSW. What are you most looking forward to about Texas? As a band with so much love for garage and psychedelic music, do you have any favorite artists from there?
We still can’t believe that we’re doing SXSW. We were at rehearsals one day and I said as a bit of a joke: “Girls, we’ve done Europe and Japan, so next is the US.” We sure worked really hard for it, but I’m still surprised we’ve made it!
I had been in Austin in 2013 for the Austin Psych Fest and I had the best time. I really liked the city and how nice and friendly the people are. The food is amazing and so are the margaritas! Music wise, I think the Black Angels are a great fucking band, so I forgive them making the term “psych” trendy and the bloody psych fests that appear everywhere even though hardly any actual psychedelic bands play at them. It’s really not the Black Angels fault and I’m not surprised they changed the name of the festival to Levitation. It’s getting old now. Anyway, if people copy, it’s because it’s good!
Another band that I love from Austin is, of course, the 13 Floor Elevators. I saw Roky Erickson playing at the Purple Weekend in Spain a few years back and I felt a very lucky person. Absolute legend!
Couldn’t help but notice you posted that you went into the studio in October. Can you give us a hint about what’s next on the horizon for Abjects?
We’re releasing a 7″ single called ‘Double Bind’ on Greenway Records (NYC) on March 11th. This will be our first US release and really can’t wait for it. It was recorded on tape by Jim Riley, long time collaborator of Billy Childish, who I’m a big fan of. We just put out a video for it which we filmed and edited ourselves and was premiered on the SXSW site. Next, we’re doing SXSW and touring the US. We’ve been working real hard to organise this tour so now it’s time to enjoy.