Many musicians have combined Eastern influences with British sensibilities to great effect.
One of the great record labels of the last decade for instance, Appleblim and Shackleton’s Skull Disco, was so appealing because of the way it incorporated a distinctly British sense of humour (titles included Soundboy’s Bones Get Chopped Up and Snorted, and the label’s name was a play on School Disco) with a droning, Eastern-influenced dubstep sound.
Dokkebi Q do something similar. Comprising producer Goh ‘Gorgonn’ Nakada and singer Kiki Hitomi, the pair make music influenced by dancehall, breakcore and noise, but filled with idiosyncrasies that Dokkebi picked up living and recording in East London: lyrics about kebabs, Dalston market, and plenty of references to the weather. As FACT writer Laurent Fintoni observed in his review of their debut album, Hardcore Cherry Bon Bon, their approach is “at once typical of Japanese electronic music experimentation, often fascinating because Japanese artists tend to incubate influences and sounds from outside of their geographical and linguistic isolation before regurgitating them in unique ways, and also different because Dokkebi made their music while living in London, itself a melting pot of cultures and sounds that has led to countless mutations of rave sounds and genres.”
Dokkebi Q have been supported by various touchstones of extreme music: they’ve worked with Goth Trad, and Gorgonn is currently recording with Japanese 8-bit God DJ Scotch Egg under the name Devilman. Most notably though, Hitomi was recruited by Kevin ‘The Bug’ Martin as the third member of his group King Midas Sound, and the pair have also began recording as Black Chow, teaming up for releases on Hyperdub and Swamp81.
According to the press release for Hardcore Cherry Bon Bon, you’re named after a mythical Korean beast. Could you tell me more? I’m a sucker for stuff like that.
Gorgonn: “When we were coming up with a name for our band, Kiki picked up a leaflet for an exhibition in Korea about Dokkebi. Dokkebi is a friendly demon from Korean folklore, we somehow liked the sound. Kiki is also into mythology, spiritualism; monsters and stuff we are both influenced by.
“There’s a famous Japanese ghost cartoon, Ge Ge Ge No Kitaro, if you watch it, you will get an idea where we are coming from:
“Anyway we thought it would be nice to choose a name relating to myths and spookiness. Also Kiki is half Korean, so she wanted to have a name relating to her roots, therefore it seemed appropriate.”
How, when and where did the two of you meet, and how did Dokkebi Q form?
Gorgonn: “At first, our relationship wasn’t for music. Kiki put the advert to look for a new flatmate and on the advert [it said] “we are musicans and artists, looking for a flatmate”, blah blah, blah. I thought it sounds pretty good, but I was a dirty looking dread at that time, so Kiki thought I wouldn’t pay rent regularly, and rejected me unfortunately.
“But she was looking for a producer to work with and I was looking for a collaborator. When I listened to her demos for the first time, I was bewitched straight away. Her voice has got lots of soulful energy and it was very powerful and melancholic somehow. She is really into Reggae and I wanted to make more dub-oriented music so I gave her the track I was working on. She just put a fresh vocal down, and we really loved it, it sounded like we had pushed forward the whole track to another level…then we naturally started working as a duo.”
What sort of music were you making at that early stage, and how does it compare to Hardcore Cherry Bon Bon?
Gorgonn: “We were already making dub-oriented music but it might have been a bit more grimy reggae. We were both trying to find out the best way to collaborate by using our respective backgrounds for maximum impact.
“Kiki introduced me more to reggae and ’80s dancehall stuff, while I gave her more industrial and experimental influences. So I reckon the whole sound of the album is something in between. When we were making the track ‘Cuckoo Clock’, we recorded a guitar that our friend played in Texas. The laid-back atmosphere in Texas and people there had really affected us and shaped how the track developed.
“The music in the album had changed a lot through our shared experiences, as we obviously had to learn about each other and each of our tastes…”