When Thud frontwoman Kim sings from behind her mint green keyboard, her hands float as if guided by an invisible tide. As the local five-piece fills the air with wave after wave of fuzzed-out static, each flopping head of hair and spaced-out smile makes the stage look like the ultimate chillspace. However, Kim admits she still gets butterflies playing live, and doesn’t think she’ll ever get used to it.
Shyness is the default for these self-professed “weirdos”, who bonded over their love of music, but never set out to be a shoegaze band. The genre, which emerged in ’80s Britain with acts like My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive, uses guitar distortion and unintelligible vocals to create huge walls of sound.
“We just wanted to make music that we like. We never thought we’d get labelled as shoegaze, even though we love the genre,” says Kim. She and guitarists Andy and Sky were classmates at HKDI studying digital music and media, and bonded over their shared musical tastes. Andy knew the drummer/bassist brothers Cheuk Wang and Cheuk Wai from school, and they’d been playing Canto-pop together before Thud formed in 2012. It took three years of sculpting their sound before debut EP Floret was ready.
They were given a boost when Max Bloom, of British shoegazers Yuck, took a liking to Thud. He picked their song Lime, and slowed it down for a chillwave remix on the EP. He also invited the band to open for Yuck in Singapore and Hong Kong next month. “I don’t know how it happened but it did,” says Kim. “It was exciting because Andy is a really huge fan of Yuck.”
In the year since the EP, the band has been writing and recording, and a full-length album is expected to follow soon. “We’re getting everything ready,” says Sky. “At the moment, we’re still recording and trying to figure out how the album should sound.” Andy adds, “We need time to find a new sound. I want to make the guitars sound more unique.”
New single Prime of Pride dropped this summer with a trippy, retro, neon-hued video. Thanks to green screen, the members appear over videos of rollercoasters, palm trees, planet Earth, wormholes, and galaxies. It matches perfectly with the song, which is echoey, faintly melancholic, and filled with flittering synths and driving guitar groans. In short: it looks and sounds like it came straight out of 1993.
The lyrics of Prime of Pride – and every other Thud song – are impossible to make out. Instead of writing sing-along choruses, Kim uses her voice as another instrument, and doesn’t tell the others what the lyrics are. “They’re about love,” she says, before quickly adding, “But not the cliché kind. More like, self-love, travelling, and the everyday romance of our lives. Anyone who wants the lyrics can ask us for them. But it means [only] the people who really like us will know them.”
The band hopes the album will take them abroad – to Britain or Canada, perhaps – as they worry about overexposure in Hong Kong due to a lack of venues. Andy dreams of playing Glastonbury, while Kim and Sky want to hear Thud’s sound reverberating around a cathedral.
“I don’t think anyone will come,” mumbles Kim when asked what their expectations are of their gig. “Our slot is too early and it’s going to rain.” When Thud took to the stage, the Kowloon arena filled with bodies swaying to music as thick and heavy as the leaden clouds above. The band scattered new songs among Floret tracks, and finished with the euphoric Prime of Pride to lengthy, rapturous applause. From beneath those floppy, uncool haircuts, five shy faces shone with delight.
Thud will support Yuck at Hang Out on September 14. Find Floret on Bandcamp.