No/Hugs // Feature Friday
Written by: Kayla Lee
No/Hugs released a music video for their hard hitting single "Your Satisfaction Is Fake" on July 21, following the 2016 release of their first EP, In Between. This Boston based band consists of two core members, Narcissus A-Ngel on vocals and drummer Kat Dukeshire. Blending classic theater aspects with charismatic, powerhouse vocals and mature pop punk undertones with a dash of melodic riffs, No/Hugs recently performed at the Mansfield, MA Vans Warped tour and are gearing up for shows in September.
"Your Satisfaction Is Fake," while in the same vein as In Between, explores an even fuller vocal range and has a consistently more sleek overall sound. The accompanying music video puts the LGBTQIA+ community in the spotlight to shed light on the story of internal struggle and the pain that comes with hiding your true self from others. The passion in Narcissus' vocal delivery is hard to miss and the overall dark theme of the video adds to the impact.
In Between is five track EP that shows No/Hugs' versatility and creative energy. The opening track "Stigma" will make you want to dance, while "Loneliness," shows a rough and edgy side. There's a consistent feeling of operatic elements throughout the music that No/Hugs creates, and while very clearly an alternative hard-rock band, a bluesy undertone is present that doesn't go unnoticed and is greatly appreciated as it adds another level to their songs.
This bluesy element comes out to play in "On Fire" before building into a pounding hard-rock ballad that flows seamlessly into "Let Me Be." Wrapping up the EP with "Same Mistake" we're hit with classic inspired riffs and twinkly piano. While No/Hugs made a bold entrance with this EP, they've proven that they're up just getting started with "Your Satisfaction Is Fake" going beyond the limits of In Between and laying on a heavier theatrical theme.
Get to know Narcissus and Kat in our interview below where we talk about their new music video, navigating a male dominated industry, and more. You can also check out the video for "Your Satisfaction Is Fake" below!
Photo by: Joon Kim
Q: What sparked the inspiration behind the music video for "Your Satisfaction Is Fake"?
A: Kat: There were two initial wells of inspiration that stem into each other; one for the video clip and one for the song/music.
Lyrically, the song follows the story of a person who has reached the peak of their depression; a person that is in the present, finally coming to the realization that they are currently living the most depressed moment of their life and are even contemplating suicide. The line "And am I speeding to the end?" refers to getting to point where you are speeding in your car and couldn't care less if you happen to crash or don't.
While contemplating on their past, we get to find a lot about this person through the lyrics; that they spend their entire youth hiding/pretending, and that they feel like their life was wasted. All of the memories pile up in the verses to reach their peak of pleading insanity in the pre-choruses where this individual is praying for some serenity of mind before they are pushed to end their life. The title "Your Satisfaction Is Fake," which is repeated throughout the choruses of the song points the finger at everyone responsible for the emotional and physical bullying, harassment and unstable state of being for this individual as well as the finger at themselves.
Narcissus: Then the idea of pointing a finger at yourself, "Your Satisfaction Is Fake created the visual of the surreal and paradox mask that's used in the video clip. When you don't fit into society, and you don't conform, individuals often resort to wear a "mask", commonly known as "put on your happy face," or pretend to be someone that you aren't to avoid being rejected. The lyrics ultimately are about being at whits end with life. In the video, we chose to shine some light on the LGBTQIA community. We feel that the Trans community is very misunderstood, and misrepresented. Portrayed in the intro of the video clip are two individuals, born in the wrong bodies, clearly uncomfortable with their own skin. They are breaking down, but feel that they can't show their true selves to the world. just as they are about to leave the room, and the song is kicking in they are seen putting on the smiling bunny mask - a mask that always smiles but is undoubtedly a fake representation of their selves and inner state of being.
This portrayal of the psychosynthesis of a depressed person who is contemplating suicide hits home on so many levels for No/Hugs and we wanted to bring the conversation a step further, into the realms of the LGBTQIA community and more specifically the under-represented and misrepresented Trans community.
Q: What was it like to see the finished product once the video was completed + what do you want people to take away from it after watching?
A: K: When we heard and saw the final product, we felt a sense of completion and also we understood that there is a long path ahead of us in terms of what we want to show and what we want people to see. It's a song that very boldly pushes acceptance in your face- which is something that a lot of people in this world are not ready for. We wanted to shine some truth on what a depressive state of mind can do to you and how it all escalates to anger, pain and the need to end your life because you feel like you can't take it.
N: It's very important to us, that we show a realistic side of the LGBTQIA+ Community. People are hurting every single day and are covering it up with these surreal and ugly permanent happy faces that are just not convincing anyone. Instead of passing people by, it's very important for us to communicate our feelings and talk them out instead of letting them pile up and completely ignore them. Watching the video beginning to end is very heartwarming for me, because it's based on a real story by someone who means a lot to me and I feel like I did their story proud.
Q: Prior to forming No/Hugs, what experience did you have in the music world, and how did that transition to this project?
A: K: We both came from such dramatically different concepts of music backgrounds. I'm from Lowell/Dracut, MA. I was brought up on classic rock and "Warped Tour" bands. I was into all of the alternative, post-harcore, pop/punk underground scene. I never missed a single Warped Tour and my bedroom walls are still covered by My Chemical Romance and Green Day posters. My music background has always been band after band and I have really soaked up the emo - post punk - hardcore influences from what my teenage years used to be like. I got the opportunity to opened for Lita Ford a couple of years back, which was really a wonderful experience. I also played with a lot of different sounding bands from orchestral metal to we-don't-know what we are poser rock. So it's really refreshing to be working with No/Hugs, a band with a very clear music and such a healthy environment for growth for everyone in it.
N: See, I hear that and I'm intimidated to answer this question. I come from an Opera and Classical singing background. I grew up in Greece where rock is not really a popular genre whatsoever and my main influences as a teenager were Visual Kei and Japanese Rock. Go figure. No/Hugs is my first band, I was never in a band before this and I am not planning on being in another one any time soon. I have invested myself wholly in what this band stands for and in its music, there really is no going back at this point. My first professional gig was at 6 years old and at 10 I was opening for big Greek rockstars and pop stars such as Christos Dantis, Kostas Martakis etc. So it has been an odd journey for me and I'm really happy to have finally found my voice as a singer and an artist. I definitely did not see myself being in a pop/punk, progressive blues, alternative rock band for what it's worth, nor did I ever think I would be a song writer or the face of it all. Also the fact that I'm doing all this in the U.S.A completely baffles me, but that's what you get for letting life throw you around it's crazy paths I guess.
Q: It's so important to have powerful non-male artists + LGBTQIA+ individuals having representation in the music world. What advice do you have for artists who are trying to break into the scene who feel the pressure from a male dominated industry?
A: N: Work Hard. No one owes anyone anything in this industry, and your music can take you a long way. Be respectful and mindful of your peers and colleagues and do your best to focus on your goals and aspirations as much as you can. This industry can be cut-throat if you let it, and a lot of people immerse themselves into competing with their "imaginary enemies" instead of spending time into evolving and growing their music. Find your voice, find what you want to stand for and be as loud as you can, sooner or later that right someone will hear you.
Q: What has been the most rewarding aspect of your music career so far, and are there any plans that you're looking forward to within the next few months that you can share with us?
A: K: We are sincerely humbled by the amount of people that support No/Hugs both from within the industry and out. We can't be more grateful for all the opportunities coming our way and for the people that are sharing our songs and our message every single day.
Most rewarding, so far would have to be our new single "Your Satisfaction Is Fake." The views on Youtube have skyrocketed to 22K views in just 3 weeks. In addition, we have had many individuals, especially from the LGBTQIA community who have come forward with their stories to share, and an overall sense of being understood/accepted. We are very proud of the new single, its genre, its backstory and the direction that it is leading the band in. We have some very exciting shows coming up this fall-spring 2019, some of which we cannot yet announce. However, in September we will be playing the Jamaica Plain Festival on the 8th, and an unplugged set sponsored by the Boston Music Awards on September 14.
You can stay up to date with No/Hugs on Facebook.