Chochukmo, one of Hong Kong’s most enduring indie bands doesn’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk. With names like Jan Curious (vocals), Mike Orange (guitar/keyboard), Les Hunter (guitar), Tom Cheeky (bass) and Kitty Trouble (drums), you expect a band of quirky free thinkers — and that is exactly what you get.
Before making it big, they were regular people with day jobs. Jan recalled the last time the band spoke with Young Post, way back in 2008. “You were a marketing executive” he says, pointing at Mike with a smile. “You would come to the studio in a suit!”
“We quit our jobs sometime in 2010 for our first China tour.” explains Jan. “We couldn’t get enough time off work to do a two week tour. They were tough times. I had to borrow money so that there would be enough in my bank account to make an ATM withdrawal.”
Mike decided to risk everything to give Chochukmo a chance.
“I told my family I was going to try this for three years,” he says. “If it didn’t work out, i would go back to working a regular job, but I put everything I had into music.”
“The pressure to succeed for your family is strong motivation” Kitty adds. “Failure wasn’t an option.”
On paper, the chances of becoming a truly “successful” indie rock band seemed slim at best. However, Jan was never discouraged.
“Everyone defines success differently, but I feel successful if I am my own master,” he says. “I control what I do, and how I do it.”
The truth is, very few bands and musicians are able to survive being indie, which means not signing to a record label. It made getting paid gigs initially very difficult.
“Realistically, you don’t get to decide if you can survive on music.” Mike says. “If you don’t get jobs, you can’t survive. The market is harsh, and is driven by supply and demand.”
It takes a certain mindset to be able to move against mainstream society.
“You can’t be afraid to be in the minority,” explains Jan. “We grew up during the indie era and were inspired by the attitude of not being affected by the world around us.”
While some indie artists obsess about their music’s message, Chochukmo believe their fans can find their own meaning in their songs.
“Our latest song, 8, is more of a question than a message.” says Jan. “Sometimes it’s more about a moment, mood or feeling, sort of like a gust of wind.” adds Mike.
Despite some incredible accomplishments, such as becoming ambassadors for Youth Square to inspire young musicians, Chochukmo remain humble and believe they still have much to learn. “Our story is just a story, not a road to success,” concludes Jan “I don’t believe in giving advice on how to succeed. You have the most fun when you don’t follow role models.”
Mike agrees with the lead singer. “We don’t consider ourselves inspirations, and inspiration shouldn’t be about age anyway,” he says. “We get inspired by people younger than us.”
Chochukmo’s next performance will be during Wow and Flutter Weekend this Sunday at 7:45pm on the Hong Kong Stage. “We will collaborate with different musicians and rearrange some of our songs. We hope to bring everyone a special set and a unique show,” Jan says.
Edited by Ben Young