Ahead of their headline slot at the Bido Lito! Sound City Pre-Party at North Shore Troubadour, Matthew Hogarth catches up with PINK KINK, the art-pop collective whose fabled live performances, eclectic sound, and enigmatic online presence have us all waiting excitedly for their debut single and next live appearance.
“We tried and failed and then tried and failed again before going back and mixing our first recordings with new ones. It’s alright now but it was just a fuckin’ ballache.” We’re in the smoking area at the back of Invisible Wind Factory just before Pink Kink are set to hit the stage for their support slot with alt. rock provocateurz The Moonlandingz, and lead singer Bridget is explaining the difficulty of recording their first single. Since emerging in late 2015, the group have become one of the most hyped bands to come out of the North West in recent years, all off the back of their incredible live shows – and without even a single SoundCloud demo.
Of late, they have been in the studio and, well, not had the easiest of times with it, as fellow band mate and keyboardist Inés explains: “It’s difficult because we want to deliver a real good first single, but in all that time we have developed a really strong vision of how we want to sound and how we come across. We realised that not everyone we worked with understood the way we wanted to sound and we just thought it would be easier if we could record ourselves. So, we just went and recorded it over in a warehouse in Birkenhead and mixed it with a friend, and that’s how we are finally here. It was DIY, but not out of aesthetic – more as a necessity.”
Watching the group live, you can see that they have poured their heart and soul into their tracks. Every guitar riff, drum beat and battle cry has been sweated out in their bedrooms, so it’s easy to understand why they were reluctant for a producer to put a mark on their work. “If you don’t fight against that, you’ll just end up sounding like everyone else,” they muse. Taking care of the recording themselves seemed the perfect fit for a band with such vision. As bassist Nina succinctly puts it: “We just know what we want”.
Recording and mixing their music themselves has optimised their creative vision and message. “Since starting out, we’ve got a lot more focus within the band and we have just learned to work better,” explains guitarist Sam, and this shines through in their live show tonight. Invisible Wind Factory is a huge venue for an emerging band to play but they blow the roof off. Their set has evolved into a kicking and screaming, glitter-filled tornado, unafraid to place euphoric soundscapes next to fun pop songs about junk food. The diversity is unprecedented; the group span genres, smacking the lazy attempts of music journalists to compare them to other bands right on the mouth. In part, it comes down to their ethos. As Nina tells us: “We just want to create an environment where we can do something in our own way, away from rules and with complete creative freedom to make something that our friends and fans will like.”
The fact is Pink Kink are more than a band; they’re a mindset that encapsulates everything that they, as a group of people, stand for and love. The fewer constraints on that, the better. The band is a channel for creative expression; you only have to peer around the stage to see their humour and art scattered about. From the flying underwear to the large papier-mâché penis covered in fairy lights – every time we catch them, it keeps growing and growing (the extent of their stage decoration, not the dick) whilst the band fly about, faces bejewelled and glittered. It’s miles away from the droves of bands who tend to just blend together into one large homogeneous blur. “It’s just fun to make things. It’s not a big thought-through thing. It’s just something we like doing,” they shrug.
But behind the music, art and performance, there is a very clear message and goal – one of equality and a fight against misogyny. In an age where a man who talks about ‘grabbing women by the pussy’ can become president of the United States, it feels like society is regressing rather than moving forward. But this isn’t news to Inés: “We’ve had the same thoughts since we were little and have always been asking the same questions. This isn’t a new thing for us, it’s just something that we believe in strongly and feel needs to be spoken about. I don’t think that Trump getting into power changes anything, I think we should fight just the same as before.” Nina agrees: “Yeh, I think we just need to let people know that they are free to do what they want and express themselves in any way they want to.”
In a world that seems to be taking a worrying downward spiral into the even darker parts of the right, Pink Kink offer up a refreshing alternative which promotes both escapism and protest. And, although any hint of a release date is still shrouded in mystery, we can’t wait to hear what the five-piece have to offer – if it’s anything like their live shows, we’re sure to be blown away.
Pink Kink play the Bido Lito! Sound City Pre-Party with AGP, Bill Nickson and LUNGS at North Shore Troubadour on Thursday 18th May, and Sound City on Sunday 28th May. The pre-party is free to Bido Lito! members – find out more here.