BIG KILL Packs a Punch

BIG KILL Packs a Punch

If you could physically beat someone up with sheer power of music, BIG KILL would pack one hell of a punch.

Rising from the ashes of prog rock band We Are The City, Vancouver-based production duo, BIG KILL, is looking to put the "bang" in banger with their debut mixtape, BIG KILL FUTURE. From the clanging industrial beat of the Debby Friday collaboration, "Fat Lip," to the washed out shoegaze of "Rose Coloured Ear Drums," the wavy maximalist future bass of "Crush on UUU" and sparkling glittery hyperpop of "Except for U," BIG KILL presents a high impact, high energy brand of experimental pop.

Filled with plenty of noise and earworm-y hooks, the mixtape sees BIG KILL take a sledgehammer to the glossy trappings of hyperpop. Taking music cues from artists like SOPHIE and A. G. Cook with a little bit of Amnesia Scanner and Sega Bodega mixed, in, the mixtape feels like a bomb going off inside a candy factory with bits of metal shrapnel embedded in globs of bubblegum and shattered lollipops.

"BIG KILL represents a forceful push into a philosophical, online, oppositional, inclusive, empathetic, self-empowered communist utopia driven by the internet,” band member Andrew Huculiak says of the project. “In our present, BIG KILL is the antithesis of toxic masculinity and fear of self expression. We’d like to present a healthy male friendship that's deep and playful and vulnerable as an example for other people like us. And hopefully, those not like us will find amusement and power in the exploration. In a world of identity groupings, it feels good to be frank with where we see ourselves and what our experience is, not telling any story but ours, with as little regard as possible to the social consequence.”

Ahead of the PAPER premiere of BIG KILL FUTURE, we caught up with BIG KILL to chat about the mixtape, living in Downtown Vancouver, collaborating with Debby Friday and what the future holds for the duo.

What was the process of writing BIG KILL FUTURE like?

BIG KILL FUTURE is a mixtape that does a good job of sounding like how we see the world. Everything was stripped away in the early days, halfway through 2020. A band that we were both in for 12 years had broken up, we were both approaching 30 and things around us started entering this massive transition. It almost feels pointless to say, because yeah yeah yeah the world is changing, but we went through our own experience of dismantling a lot of assumptions we had. Which is very BIG KILL.

There are parts of it that are superficial or self-aware like some of the lyrical themes or synths or drums, but they're being put through a blender of noise, being pushed through this old console at really high volumes. Or processed to the point that the voice is like... posthuman or something. Or there's Y2K tendencies and sounds, but they're being digitally destroyed. We're both big fans of noise and distortion, from the emo stuff we grew up with to full on noise sets in a dank DIY venue here in Vancouver. So that mischievousness is always peeking through, too.

In a way, there's this sacred part to it where it feels kind of sacrilegious to put it into words honestly. In the writing sessions, we'd have these really heavy talks about capitalism or gender or religion or anxiety or trauma and then make these wild songs in an alternate universe, maybe an attempt to therapeutically handle the weight of the stuff we talked about. So, on the one hand, there's a lot of intention and, on the other hand, it's really just us having fun and being vulnerable. A lot of revisiting or reshaping the past into a new future. Which is very BIG KILL.

What are some of the musical influences that you draw on for inspiration?

Obviously, the greats like SOPHIE and Arca and A. G. Cook. I like that genres don't really exist anymore, it's more about a feeling that a certain sound or aesthetic can conjure, like how a snare sound can completely change the way a song feels. Aqua was an influence too, hilariously. There was actually a ton of 00's music that we had written off when we were growing up that we returned to and were like, "Oh shit, this is actually the most innovative music ever." Imagining Eiffel 65 making "Blue" or Sonique making "It Feels So Good," those sessions must've felt so cutting edge. Obviously, Britney Spears is one of the greats, but even from a production standpoint the first 10 seconds of "Oops!... I Did It Again" are just jaw dropping.

We're liking a lot of UK producers like Loraine James, Vegyn, Sega Bodega, Mura Masa. There's a healthy dose of shoegaze or noise influence in there, too. I really love Low and their producer BJ Burton. Geeking out over Keith Rankin's project death's dynamic shroud. A lot of African rhythms in Amapiano or Afropop. Just talking about noise before I was reminded of Sote's Hardcore Sounds from Tehran, that's some seriously good shit, side b in particular.

How has living in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside shaped your act?

Being there has absolutely informed a lot of things about BIG KILL. We both grew up in middle-class, white suburbs in a conservative area, so we were told certain things that are so obviously untrue once you remove yourself from that bubble. There's a real contrast between there and here. The decay of capitalism is on full display. The failure of drug policy, boundaries to mental health services, the devastation of colonization and generational trauma that the Indigenous people are living with, the priority of property over people, it's all very clear.

Ultimately, our goal with BIG KILL is to speak from our experience, both explicitly and implicitly, and the dismantling of our programming is a work in progress, but I think something that might be interesting to people who have similar backgrounds to us. BIG KILL is, I suppose, a type of punk group, but also pop. New pop punk.

How did you initially end up collaborating with Debby Friday?

We crossed paths with her just before the pandemic when she played at a pop-up DIY venue our previous band ran. Her set blew me away, it was so personal and intimate but also sprawling and visionary. She approached us later that year saying she wanted to get into a studio, and we pitched Cayne's and she was into it. It was really fun to work with her, we had quite a few sessions together working on her music, co-produced her tracks "Runnin" and "Focus," and in one session we played her the beat for "Fat Lip" and asked if she'd be interested in doing something with it. She took it home and wrote the verse, sent a version that she recorded on her phone and it was like "Wow, this takes it to another level." The next session we did the vocals and the rest is history, immortalized on wav.

What does the future hold for BIG KILL?

BIG KILL can be anything. Currently we're producing a few artists that, honestly, I just go home and listen to on repeat. Couldn't be more excited to release that stuff. More BIG KILL tracks are already finished and will be out soon, and we're constantly making new sketches, new tangents. We're also developing a sci-fi series that'll likely go into production later this year. As distressing as these times are, the bunker we have carved out for ourselves really feels like safety. And it's from that space that we'll continue to explore.

Photography: Mackenzie Walker