Revert to Hype: Words with Pink Kink
Liverpool band Pink Kink explain the importance of fantastical, glittery stage personas and tease details of their mysterious debut
“It's just cool to play around and add a bit of fantasy. To be a bit different on stage, like a character.” There's a moment during our interview with two fifths of Liverpool-based band Pink Kink where keyboard player Inés is describing how the band like to have fun with their on-stage aesthetic. “Using glitter and face paint – it makes us feel like we're in a different skin. Like artist superheroines!”
Her laugh is big and bold at this statement, although she quickly rethinks it and self-deprecatingly shrugs off the idea with a mumbled “I don’t know…” Actually, the superhero comparisons are quite fitting for this high energy, sonically luminous band. Pink Kink have built up a palpable hype for themselves based solely on the merits of their powerful live show – seriously, their musical style is so tenacious that it could probably lift a car if it really wanted to.
Skipping seamlessly between electro, post-punk, jazz, rock and pop-infused noise, the Pink Kink live experience is nothing short of stunning. Just when you think you have a handle on what their sound is, it diverts and mutates, as though bitten by a radioactive bug and granted the transformative fluidity of supersonic abilities. What could descend into a melange of ill-fitting chaos instead holds firm as an elegant force. It sweeps you off your feet, it shakes your very bones. It can compel you to dance whether you count yourself as much of a dancer or not. And that’s a superpower that few musicians possess.
"We listen to absolutely everything"
Their sound is very much their own. It's not surprising when you consider that it’s made up of the diverse musical tastes of five members, who all hail from different countries across Europe. “I think it just comes naturally when you have five people who come from completely different backgrounds,” bassist Nina explains. “But I also think that is a very big influence, that five people in a band all listen to different stuff. There isn’t one band in particular, we’re listening to different stuff all the time and it’s all inspiring.”
“We keep our minds really open all the time, so we never close our ears to any style,” Inés elaborates. “We all listen to absolutely everything – from, like, classical and jazz music and all that to new, electronic queer noise and absolutely everything. And then our process is pretty collaborative, so there’s always someone with a completely different idea to what we’re doing that somehow fits.”
Having only performed their debut show in October 2015 (impressively, a sold-out performance at the much-missed Kazimier), Pink Kink have built up an unprecedented amount of hype in their adopted hometown – and all despite a total absence of recorded output. Mysterious as ever, Inés confirms that fans won’t have to wait too long before they have something tangible to hear from them, though as you might expect, details are shrouded in secrecy. “We’re working right now on our first release,” she says. “We’re really looking forward to getting to the studio and we’re really happy to be working with who we’re working with, but that’s all that we can say right now.”
The supreme lack of information regarding the band online is deeply refreshing at a time when most other musicians seem eager to share demos, live sets or DIY EPs across the internet. But it’s also something which has appeared to confound those who've built them up thus far, with the band often placed within tiresome, lazy labels which offer a distinct lack of insight to their actual sound.
With four women among their five-person line-up (they're completed by drummer Amanda and guitarists Sam and Bridget, with the latter doubling up on lead vocals – the lack of disclosed surnames only adds to the mystery), Pink Kink have been inelegantly dumped into the riot grrrl category across the internet, which feels like the sort of lazy music critique which many female musicians have regularly, and unfairly, faced in the music press. Inés rolls her eyes when I bring it up.
“I feel like if you’re a woman in music and you shout twice and you also have a bit of a political thinking,” she says, “then you’re straight tagged as a riot grrrl rather than as a musician. We’re feminists because that’s the we way we are, not because it’s a trend that we’re following or trying to be cool or anything like that. It’s just the way it goes. If a music critic just tags us as that, and then it distracts people from our music, then someone is doing their job pretty badly.”
Pink Kink vs 'the LIPA band'
But it isn’t the only label which seems to be unfairly categorising the band as something that they’re clearly not. With all five band members currently studying at the Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts, Pink Kink have also been mercilessly pinned into the groan-worthy music box of the 'LIPA band'. It’s a tag which continues to be used in the city as a term of denigration, almost suggested with a sneer of disapproval; a shrug of contempt which implies that the band hasn’t worked as hard for their success as any other. It’s something which they’re openly tired of hearing, and it’s easy to understand why.
“LIPA is amazing,” says Nina. “We all met there because we all come from different countries – that’s the greatest thing about it. And we can rehearse there which is really nice. For me personally, it’s like making the university into this stamp. Like, it’s not LIPA who have made us be a band.”
Inés continues: “It’s unfair. It’s like we're doing whatever thanks to [LIPA], and that’s not at all what it is. I mean, it’s just the place where we met. I’ve spoken to people in Liverpool about it, I can get what they say about it, but that’s why we don’t like to have to talk about it. It’s just a university. We don’t like its 'elitism' or anything like that – if you work hard and if you have something about you then you can do it from any place.”
It’s hard to argue with this sentiment, particularly when you only need to witness Pink Kink’s live show in order to experience first-hand the results of their hard work and talents. A university can’t create what Pink Kink’s music or live show offers, it can only give them a ground from which to grow. And they’ve clearly grown bigger than the lazy labels which they've so far been offered.
When they finally unleash their super-secretive release on the world, don’t be surprised if it demonstrates that they also have the power to redefine the current music scene. As their neon, glittering stage presence and audacious fusion of sound jointly prove, there’s no tidily-labelled, restrictive boxes that can contain them. They’re about to break out, and they’re going to cause a scene.