Us Kids don’t Know PRby Nathan Zeno / 05.12.2009
To hear anyone tell it, our music industry is riddled with incompetent boobs and greedy hucksters and musicians are constantly being fucked over on every level. One of the levels that Us Kids Know have recently been fucked over on is their latest press release. It is a giant squandering of any of the hype built up for them by the music press. Luckily for them the general public will never get to see some of the bullshit their publicist came up with.
Kak like: “von Berg and Polley formed the band in late 2006 after many experiments with other musicians around Joburg. After a few practices together they realised the potential in continuing the project; which, to them, is more a feeling than it is a band per se.” I suppose what that means is that Us Kids Know don’t make songs per se, either? More like tone poems, perhaps or maybe just musings?
To keep you in the loop the press release has this bit of hyperbole, “The band’s sound has been described as indie, post-rock, shoegaze or twee; meshing floaty top-note guitar riffs with brute, often grungy, drumming.” Which like totes clears that up right?
But there is more to Us Kids Know, they’ve now got a “conceptual advisor and a hunger to break away from sloppiness to offer South Africa and the world something different.” What pray tell, is that “something different”? I hear you ask. Well, it’s an EP, not just any EP but one with a music video, “which consists of 100-plus intricately designed, handcrafted foam cutouts that were used to dress the set to create an otherworldly kiddies playroom. The cutout concept was then carried over to the EP artwork, all tour flyers, posters and merchandise. The only way to get your hands on these impressive, yet playful objets d’art is by attending one of the launch shows.” Oh my! “objets d’art”! That’s worth the price of a conceptual advisor alone.
“The EP, titled Friendship Test, was recorded live over two days at the old Gem Bioscope in Troyeville, Johannesburg, an unprecedented move in terms of breaking away from the traditional studio recording method as well as putting one of Johannesburg’s erstwhile cultural hubs back on the map.” continues the ravings of the PR agency, let us know that this band hardly anyone has ever heard of have the magical ability to put something, “back on the map”, how benevolent of them, how utterly charmed the Gem must be that these paradigm shifting wizards have plucked them from being, “off the map” to be part of this high cultural moment.
Witness this statement from von Berg, “an absolute perfectionist when it comes to music”, “We wanted to distance ourselves from the conventional way of recording and try something new. Often recordings are over-produced and lose the raw quality they need to really have an impact on the listener.” While one can sympathise with the reticence to over produce, it does make one wonder what unconventional way they must have used to record this EP. The other guy in the band, Polley, offers this, “I don’t think I have ever worked as hard as I did on this EP.” That’s right, Us Kids Know, use the unconventional recording method of “hard work”. They sat in an old cinema, far off the map for two whole days. TWO! To record five tracks, shame diddums, did the bad man make you get a callused finger?
People make music in different ways and I would never question how, “an absolute perfectionist” could spend so little time working hard on five tracks, because clearly he has unconventional methods and a conceptual advisor, plus y’know the boys have an “inclination to everything lo-fi and edgy.” So “perfectionist” could just mean that they want that perfect unworked on sound,” and “hard work” probably means that the only way to get that lo-fi edginess is to not work hard at all. Because as their cultural advisor must have told them, its hard work being edgy, you literally have to force yourself to do as little as possible, because you know, minimalism, is all horrible jerseys and stuff.
Trouble is Us Kids Know, based on their live performances, have got great press so far. Musical luminary Ben Rausch rates them alongside seasoned culture hacks like Therese Owen and Lloyd Gedye. But this kind of over-arching, cliche-riddled, bottom-barrel-scraping, nonsensical PR kaka does nothing to further their budding careers. It just clouds the discourse with over-hype and adjectives.