We’ve interviewed David from Junks after a festival before. Rewind to Hangzhou’s Xihu Festival in 2016 and you’ll find the lead singer and songwriter of the band, also known as Ectoplazm in his capacity as an increasingly sought after DJ, was already something of a seasoned pro when it came to the B I G gig circuit. We were keen to assess how much the festival landscape has changed in China, what Junks have been up to and what’s on the horizon for the group…
TSOFDs: You’ve done your fair share of festivals over the years, both in the UK and in China in various different bands. Does any particular festival stand out in terms of being a favorite? How does Strawberry Festival rate – one of the best you’ve played? Are Chinese festivals as fun as UK ones?
DK: Last year Junks played at Yo! Sissy Festival in Berlin, which is an LGBTQ festival and memorable for the amount of crazily dressed people, variety of acts and decidedly not-your-average-festival-vibe. Plus, it was the first time that Junks had played outside of China. Overall, I suppose playing a packed John Peel Tent at Glastonbury Festival (with one of my previous bands, Tiny Dancers) has to rank as a highlight, but I’d definitely say that Strawberry Festival is up there too, as Chinese festivals and the crowds are really fun and responsive to our music.
TSOFDs: If we’re going to do favorite festival we might as well ask you about your worst festival experience – any instances where you’ve been spiked with mescaline and locked inside a portaloo with nothing but wellies on?
DK: At Leeds Festival in 1999 my friends and I (we were punters, not performers) got mugged by a bunch of hammer-wielding scallies who forced us to sing Oasis’ ‘Sunday Morning Call’ before robbing us. So we were humiliated and burgled – which kind of sucks! I would have much preferred to have sung ‘Slide Away’ or ‘Bonehead’s Bank Holiday’ too…
TSOFDs: Nasty! Tell us about which acts you saw at Strawberry which blew your mind. If you’re going to pick a relatively well known Western act it would also be great if you could tell us about a hot new China-based band you saw at the festival we should keep our eyes/ears on.
DK: I watched a slice of Liars’ set at the Beijing location, and they were an awesome live band: full of menace, tight as a pair of Superman’s Y-Fronts and had good tunes too. Unfortunately, as is usually the case when you play a festival, I didn’t get to see as much as I would have liked due to the logistics of playing two festivals in two days, but I did manage to watch parts of both 大波浪’s and 挂在盒子上’s shows. I was really impressed by their sound, songs, image and presentation. There are some great bands in China making cool, interesting and fresh music, no doubts about it!
TSOFDs: Festivals in the West are getting increasingly sophisticated given the range of things on offer from bespoke yurts to craft ales and a mouth watering array of foods, with plenty on offer for the vegans and vegetarians among us. How do Chinese festivals compare in this sense – have you had much of a chance to see what it’s like for the punters?
DK: This year’s Strawberry Festival was pretty sophisticated I’d say, with lots of good food options and at least cold beers (no craft ales, alas) on offer and cocktails, etc. I didn’t see any yurts or glamping options but I’m not sure that the camping thing has really latched on in China yet, has it? There were a smattering of tents but not many. I’m not sure if China will ever fully embrace the trench-like atmosphere of UK festivals in the rain – but why the hell would they want to?
TSOFDs: Haha fair point. We’ve heard rumors there’s an official Junks release in the pipeline? Any news you want to share with us? Readers can find some great Junks tracks and videos out in Internet land already of course (click here for a unique take on a Nirvana classic) – do you even think it’s necessary to release EPs and albums these days what with the average streamer being so fickle and the increasing domination of Spotify playlists?
DK: The rumors are indeed true, and we will – at long last – actually be releasing some music in a more official capacity later this summer, through Modern Sky USA. We’ll start with a single and some remixes, plus an MV, before dropping an EP on vinyl, digital and streaming sites soon after. I still think releasing singles or albums or whatever is absolutely still a good thing, and if anything it forces producers and musicians to put a full stop after certain songs or collections of songs and to move on. Sometimes my problem is that I’m a perfectionist in some ways, so I’m hesitant to release things until everything (the sound, the distribution, the image, the promo, etc) is all exactly how it should be. I’m a bit more relaxed now however and just figure it’s better to get it out there and keep moving forward than waiting around for the stars to align. Plus, if you release something officially (whether that be with a label or by yourself) it can help you in terms of promotion and maybe even live booking as it draws attention to the band from the media and taste-makers who will maybe take you a little more seriously if you have an actual record out. And having your own vinyl is cool AF! But the opposite may just as well be true so really who knows?
TSOFDs: Salient points and well made. Thanks for putting aside the time to give us the skinny on festival life and what the future holds for Junks – hope to see you perform at another festival before too long.