Words & Interview by Shabazz.
Imagine what Hello Kitty would look like as an acid-tripping rockstar complete with Katy Perry fashion sense. That is the real-time experience of feisty five-piece punk-rock band, Nylon Pink. Hailing from Hollywood, CA, this all Asian-American band led by singer Kaila Yu (who has a killer set of pipes) take no prisoners when it comes to their glam rock approach to pop or anything else for that matter.
And they’re totally not rookies in the musical game. They’ve released lots of original material prior to their electrifying flipped covers of hand-picked K-Pop tunes that we just can’t seem to get enough of. Curated to perfection, the ladies of Nylon Pink say move over K-pop idols, you’ve got some American competition.
You guys are making quite a stir on the net with your K-Pop covers. How did you guys come together and get your start?
Kaila: Me and [Kitt.E.] Katt founded the band originally. We originally met when we were dating the same guy and hated each other for the longest time, until we woke up and realized that our hatred was totally misdirected. I was starting a jewelry line at the time and a mutual friend turned me onto the fact that Katt was an amazing designer. We had instant chemistry and synergy working together. [Ironically] I was [also] still pursuing my solo music career at the time and discovered that Katt was a bass player.
Since I grew up listening to rock, the formation of the band was the natural progression. Kiki Wongo was discovered when we first hired her as a model for Hello Drama jewelry. It turned out that she was a serious guitar player with real chops! Kiki Wongo then discovered Jamie Scoles at a solo performance and stalked her to invite her to join the band. Yuki Ito was a fan and waitress at a club that Nylon Pink had a residency at.
How has being from the States impacted your careers as opposed to launching in Korea?
Yuki: When we first listened to K-pop, we instantly fell in love with it, not to mention the stunning fashion. There’s quite a difference between K-pop and American pop and we took great interest in it. Nylon Pink is more like pop-rock, so we thought it would be a fun challenge to combine the styles.
Kaila: I think the big difference here is that when success– if achieved, it’s monumental. You are making history. I didn’t grow up thinking that Asians could make it in mainstream music in the United States. Because of the success of the Far East Movement, Asians males now know that it is possible. And we want to bring it now for the girls!
Would you have cool dance steps if you were strictly pop artists? [Laughs]
Yuki: Haha, probably not since I’m a horrible dancer.
Kaila: We are so rock-n-roll, I can’t imagine us dancing! We took a hip-hop class together as a band, and we were by far the worst in the class.
Kiki: You would probably have to pay me to see me dance…and honestly, I don’t know if you would get your money’s worth! [Laughs]
Jamie: Oh yeah! I try and hint at the band by joking around saying we should get off our instruments and break out in dance, but they just laugh at me. I’m secretly serious….
If you guys danced that would be so clutch! Plus how interesting is it to be the only all Asian-American female pop-glam band in America? Must be nice….
Kaila: There is definitely a novelty factor attached to it. What takes people back is when we play live and all the girls are real musicians who take their craft seriously.
Kiki: I have to agree with Kaila. Most people’s first impression of our image and band is that we are very cutesy, but as soon as we get up on the stage, our whole persona morphs into a true pop-rock sensation since we all are seasoned musicians.
How likely do you see the ’90s era of pop returning? Can you imagine five or more Nicki Minajs in a band? [Laughs]
Kaila: Nineties’ pop means boy bands and Britney Spears, right? I was a huge Britney Spears and N’SYNC fan, so I would love to see that back again. I would really like the Mötley Crüe and Guns N’ Roses era to come back, when the Sunset Strip was a scene and music was a way of life.
Katt: Five Nicki Minajs in a band would be fabulous only because I am her biggest fan [Laughs]! I definitely agree with Kaila. I would love to see the rock’n’roll scene make its way back to the mainstream. I miss watching people get on stage and rock out with their guitars.
Jamie: Boy bands are already coming back! I can totally see it. I don’t know about Kaila, but I still jam out to N’SYNC and the Spice Girls! I can also definitely imagine five Nicki Minajs… I don’t think I’d be surprised by anything the industry puts out in this day and age!
In a way, you guys kind of get the best of both worlds because you touch so many genres from pop, rock and electro.
Katt: I think appealing to both audiences has benefited us in many ways. K-Pop fans get exposed to rock music and rock fans get exposed to K-pop, which normally would not happen. It’s always nice to have different types of people listen to your music.
What’s the protocol for the songs you guys choose to cover? So far you guys chose Big Bang Blue and Girls’ Generation (SNSD). Any reason why?
Yuki: We chose Big Bang and Girls’ Generation because we think they’re very talented artists and simply because we’re fans of them.
Kaila: Musically Girls’ Generation has some of the most melodic catchy songs, with numerous hooks per song, a lot of musical changes and transitions that are just so well done. I personally am the biggest fan of their music.
I can only imagine the beauty in translation is as good a reason too, right?
Kiki: Not only do we love K-pop music, but we also love adding our own creative flair to some of the songs in our covers. Most K-pop fans expect our covers to be very similar to the original songs. However, we love to add twists in the music, like making the songs heavier, adding breakdowns and making our own English interpretations of the lyrics. It’s really a lot of fun!
One thing is for sure, you guys actually play live instruments, which most pop bands including K-pop artists don’t do. So are there any pre-practice or studio rituals you guys have before a session?
Yuki: Relax and have fun!
Kaila: We are literally a little family, like sisters and sometimes we’ll accidentally kill a bunch of time talking and catching up about things before we even start rehearsing!
Kiki: Some of us require a little liquid courage to get the party started.
Jamie: I run in circles and do chants with marshmallows on my head until Kaila tells me to play the drums. It works out for me.
Kaila: Jamie is obsessed with marshmallows, and her and Katt super love circles!! An inside joke.
Greatness! You know, when I see your name, it totally screams glam, which doesn’t surprise me given your jewelry and clothing lines. And Nicki Minaj and Kat Von D are already clients too…
Katt: Our jewelry line is a direct reflection of our music. We got the name Hello Drama jewelry from our first Nylon Pink single, “Hello Drama.” Like our image, our designs are definitely cute, but also have an edge to them. We are inspired by so many things such as Japanese street culture, K-pop, glam, rock’n’ roll, electro, club kids, anime, and of course, all of our talented friends!
What’s next on the music tip?
Kaila: We are currently prepping for our Midwest tour and getting ready to release some original material in July; it’s fire!
Get to know more about Nylon Pink by vising their site here.