Up-and-coming post-punk indie band Oh! Nullah is all about self-expression and the Do-it-Yourself aesthetic. This means producing and making their own music, booking their own shows and having the final say in all of their creative decisions. This has proven to be successful: the band played seven shows last year including Clockenflap - one of Hong Kong's largest music festivals - as well as the action-packed House of Vans tour.
"Growing up, we listened to punk rock and hardcore music. Unfortunately, the scene in Hong Kong is not very big, so we decided to create one," says lead singer Ben Tse Jo-tat. "We started a band because we wanted to get together with some like-minded people."
Today, the punk scene still hasn't grown much. "There are a lot of people who enjoy the music but not a lot of people who actively play this kind of music. I know less than 10 active punk bands in Hong Kong," says drummer Lee Yat-ding. "Right now, punk music is all about the crazy hairstyles and tattoos. But that's not what we're about. We do this because of our passion for music."
This passion is reflected in their music-making process, where they insist on playing real instruments instead of using digital samples. "We want our drums to sound like drums and our guitars to sound like [real] guitars," says Ben. "We want none of that autotune nonsense. We don't need it."
Oh! Nullah posts their music for free on bandcamp, a platform that allows their music to be downloaded by anyone online. "In the past, people would have to record on cassettes and people would have to get exposure by sending their music off to radio stations. Now with the introduction of bandcamp, things are a lot easier for new bands," says Ben's brother Nic Tse Jo-yum, who plays guitar.
"There's no point of printing CDs just for the sake of it," says Ben. "The main ethos of the band is to scrounge and do what we can to make music that we love. We take all the fluff - like image-positioning and fame-seeking - out of the music-making process."
Lee agrees, saying that "all of the music is made using the resources that are in front of [them]".
They record in an apartment in Sham Shui Po, but its size limits what the band can do. "My apartment is quite small. Also, I only have one microphone so we have to record one instrument at a time and can't have two people singing at the same time," says Ben. "The other problem we have is with drums. Because we can't fit a drum set in my apartment, we have to use program drums for now."
Still the band seems happy with the results and is planning to release more music by the end of the summer.
Ben's advice to aspiring musicians is that they "should be genuine about the music that they play. Work at it 100 per cent because nothing is going to happen if you do it half-heartedly. Find your own voice instead of going with what's trendy at the time. Music is all about self-expression. Trends come and go but only the truly special and honest sounds can stand the test of time".
You can stream and download their latest album, Jaded Summer, for free here.