Nactus Kunan's '25 Films' Interview

Words: Alex Kuster
Tuesday 16 July 2019
reading time: min, words

Alternative Nottingham band, Nactus Kunan have been doing melodic musical bits round the city. The Beeston boys shot their most recent music video ‘25 Films’ in the Victoria Centre market. We sat down with their keyboard player Joe Bone to get the craic...

Tell us a little bit about your new single 25 Films…
We’ve always been interested in making good honest pop music, and I think 25 Films is an extension of that - wistful, melodic, with a bit of a groove to it. We were listening to a lot of classic British pop bands from the 80s when we first wrote it - Prefab Sprout, The Style Council, OMD, New Order, that kind of thing, so it’s a bit of a culmination of all those influences. I love putting strings on tracks, it can add something really timeless and cinematic to a song, so I started with that disco beat and the opening orchestral salvo and we took it from there. It’s had a great response so far, with a play on 6 Music thanks to Dean Jackson and some nice playlist action on Spotify. 

Why did you choose to shoot it in the Vic Centre?
We have a lot of local pride and love anything steeped in classic Nottingham iconography - we shot part of our first video in the Victory Club in Beeston, where I used to work behind the bar. At first we were thinking of trying to film in the foyer of the Savoy Cinema, but it was looking a bit tricky logistically. Then Mark, who directed the vid, was walking through the market and sent us some pictures of these empty stalls, which looked perfect. It’s such a cool spot, full of character, and feels like a total time warp when you enter from the mad crush of mindless Saturday shoppers of the main part of town. 

Who shot the video? Do you normally shoot in this sort of intimate, close-up style? 
The video was shot by our friends Mark Campbell-Garrity and Fatosh Olgacher of Ottovideo, who say: “The look of the video was inspired by films such as Chungking Express (frequently cited in top 25 films to see before you die) to tap into the viewers subconscious feeling of nostalgia. Since the song is so intimate we set out to recreate that in the shooting style, the frequent circling motions indicating the passing of time as the market regulars stop to look in, much like visitors into our lives. The close ups of the band are there to distance them from their observers, creating a 3D effect that brings the market to life.”

Did the general public approach you when filming in the Vic Centre?
We did get a fair amount of attention! The owner of the handbag stall behind where we were filming was loving it, nodding along to the song, which is probably a good thing as he had to listen to it about 20 times in a row! One bloke came up to us at the start and told us he was “no stranger” to the stage, as he often sings in church, before treating us to a baritone rendition of I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables. There was also an old guy in a leather jacket and cowboy hat who watched us for a bit and danced along, you can see him in the background early on. Everyone was really nice to be fair, though one group of young lads did stand behind me at one point, mimicking my playing and calling me “Keyboard Jesus”. But that’s probably fair enough haha.

though one group of young lads did stand behind me at one point, mimicking my playing and calling me 'Keyboard Jesus'. But that’s probably fair enough haha.

What inspires the song lyrics?
Jack says: I always write down everyday expressions that strike an emotional or humorous chord with me, so usually the song lyrics start out from a random phrase that I’ve written in my iPhone notes in the past. With this song I built it around the title line “25 films to see before we die”. I’m kind of poking fun at bucket lists and the notion of “living your best life” with a tongue-in-cheek wistfulness throughout, but this particular line ties in really nicely with the cinematic feel of the song. 

The chorus lyrics are quite simple because I didn’t want to hinder the melody too much. But my grandma passed away just before writing, so I was reflecting quite a bit on her life at the time and how death always seems “close and yet so far” away until it actually happens. So I guess that’s where the sentiment of the song really comes from.

The rhythm of the drum loop and bass synth also reminds me of a camera rolling, so at the end I had this image of the narrator stepping out from in front of a camera and choosing to “replay [their life] from the start”. Kind of like a wanky, Black Mirror form of reincarnation I guess. I’m also trying to influence the listener’s subconscious mind to make them want to replay the song from the start too of course! haha.

What's in the pipeline for the rest of the year?
We’re taking a bit of time off this summer whilst I recover from knee surgery for a silly injury I picked up playing 5 a side. We’ve been writing some new material, so once I can walk again we’ll be heading into the studio to record that. Hopefully we’ll put some stuff out towards the end of the summer and into the autumn. Other than that, more writing, more gigs - we’ve been venturing out of Notts a bit in the last year so hopefully a few more shows in London in the hope that someone will give us a million pound record deal. 

What's the story behind calling yourselves Nactus Kunan? 
The story itself isn’t that interesting, but something cool did happen relating to it. We were struggling to come up with a name for ages, and basically just stumbled across this article about a rare species of gecko called the Nactus kunan being discovered in Papua New Guinea, which we thought sounded pretty cool. It’s striped like a bumblebee and with us being from Beeston that was a tenuous enough link to stick with it. A couple of months after we first started releasing stuff, we noticed this old guy had liked our Facebook page and was interacting with loads of our posts, tagging his mate in stuff. We went on his profile and he saw he was from California, working for the US Geological Society - we messaged him and it turned out he was the scientist who had discovered the Nactus kunan! So shout out to Dr Robert Fisher, our first international fan. 

Find out more about Nactus Kunan on their website here: 

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