The three members of NAKED would rather not focus on how they met, where they live, or even their ages. In spite of its name, the experimental rock band is relatively reticent, sparking a strain of “origin myths” to fill the informational void. Agnes Gryczkowska, Alexander Johnston, and Grant Campbell hope that their silence will encourage listeners to prioritize their music over their personal lives.
Touching on subjects actively affecting the millennial generation, NAKED does not cover entirely novel territory. It is the band’s delivery, however, that separates it from the echo chamber of emerging acts. Guided by a wealth of cultural influences and curious sophistication, its approach to issues like social media and its consequences, such as synthetic memories and extreme social anxiety, is both highly relatable and staggeringly beautiful.
NAKED’s debut EP, Youth Mode, was released yesterday and here we are pleased to premiere the video for “Memory Almost Full.” We spoke with the band about post-digital ennui, the narrowing juncture of man and machine, and delivering full-sensory live performances.
NAMES: Agnes Gryzkowska, Alexander Johnston, and Grant Campbell
CURRENTLY BASED IN EDINBURGH BUT… Agnes Gryczkowska: We want to not be linked to one geographical location. It’s something that we of wanted to avoid because we’re not from here. In general, we see the world as almost a combination of authentic and artificial. It’s kind of like a mass simulation and it’s almost like a contemporary myth in itself, especially in the era of the internet. We don’t want to tell you how we got into things or how we met or who we really are.
Grant Campbell: At the start, there were loads of different myths. People thought we were Swedish and we came from this little island, Gotland, and we’re triplets. And we don’t deny it. We just sort of dodge this [topic]. People are like, “You don’t look very Swedish…”
DREAMS OF JAPAN: Gryczkowska: We started by exploring our own vision of Japan, because our sound was inspired by this dream of Japan or nighttime in Japan, which we found quite poetic. It enabled us to have some sort of escapism. Then, after that, we started looking into a few things that had been directly affecting us, such as this post-millennial non-belonging and loneliness and general decline in human emotion and physicality. All of those things obviously come as a result of growing interaction between man and machine. We saw Japan as a perfect example of a place where deeply rooted traditions and family, human-oriented aspects met with quite strongly developed technology.
Campbell: With Japan, it’s kind of the way that some kid from Liverpool in the ’50s would imagine America. It’s an imaginary vision.
OBSCURING THE MEANING: Gryczkowska: The symbols we used for the design on the outer sleeve [of our EP] are called mons [emblems]. They were originally used in Japan to symbolize family and lineage and it was quite fascinating how it changed rapidly, because people began becoming very self-obsessed and self-focused. They were starting to become preoccupied with their careers and their individual achievements. It got to the point where today, most of these symbols are used for logos. For example, the Mitsubishi logo was actually a mon.
MEMORY OR LACK THEREOF: Gryczkowska: I feel like you get this complete information overload that doesn’t even enable you to digest it properly. It’s almost impossible to determine what you should give more time to. I guess this is something that we’re saying in the video for “Memory Almost Full.” It was feeding into this idea, and that’s why visually, musically, and lyrically, the song speaks about these issues of information overload and this impossibility of memory to really give meaning to certain events or certain online information.
Campbell: It’s really about a generational thing, because the generation before us was not with Facebook and social media. Our lives have been recorded to an insane degree. They’ve been photographed and we can look back at every stage in our lives and we’re tagged in photos. It must be a saturation of your memory wherein things begin to lose meaning. You’re not an editor of your own memory. You have no editorial perspective. You can’t escape your past; the chance of reinvention has been taken away from people.
SENOSRY OVERLOAD: Gryczkowska: We started looking into the human senses and how we respond to contemporary visual art and music during this time when we explore everything via screens. It’s fascinating for us to explore that and we try to communicate it with our live show. We’re trying to make it an ephemeral, multi-sensory experience. We use the sense of smell and taste as well as visuals and sonic experiences.
Campbell: It’s kind of like our senses are slowly decaying, like they are being sucked up into a bell jar. Hopefully our live shows forces people to engage with all the senses.
WORKING WITH MYKKI BLANCO: Gryczkowska: I first saw Mykki about a year and a half ago and I was thinking, “Oh my god, this is incredible.” Then literally half an hour later, Mykki puts something on Twitter saying, “Oh, I’m in London. Send me some beats.” So then we just did that; we sent a beat. It was weird seeing him live and being so excited and then half a year later we’re in the studio with him working on a track. [Working with him] gave us an opportunity to work on material that’s a bit different than what we sound like normally. This is an inkling of our new direction, because we have a new album that will be out next year, and we’re really trying to be a little harsher with it. We want to have a much more industrial and distorted sound, and Mykki enabled that.
Campbell: It didn’t feel unnatural for us to work with Mykki, because we both seem to be coming to the same idea but from different directions. It was flawless in the studio, just really easy. It seemed almost too good to be true. And the finished tracks are deadly. Mykki’s the man.
YOUTH MODE IS OUT NOW. FOR MORE ON NAKED, VISIT THEIR FACEBOOK.