Kamikaze Nurse

Kamikaze Nurse: KC, Ethan, Sonya, John

Artist / Band

Kamikaze Nurse is a rock band formed in Vancouver, BC, Canada in 2018 with KC Wei, Ethan Reyes, Sonya Eui, and John Brennan. Named after activist-philosopher Simone Weil’s unfulfilled humanitarian death wish, the band released their debut LP, Bucky Fleur, on Agony Klub in June 2019. Their music has been described as “ethereal skronk,” “Deleuzian rock,” and “best of the ‘90s” by people on the internet and IRL. Their sophomore album, Stimuloso, was released by Mint Records in June 2022.

Digging into the creative process, Byta speaks with artists, musicians, producers, DJs and anyone involved with music creation. A conversation about how they create, collaborate and share music. From studio setups to routines, and the first person to hear about the next 'big' work.

Where are you based?

Vancouver, on unceded Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Watuth territories.

How, when and where did you start making music? Are you primarily a musician or a producer, or do something else?

John and KC started jamming in the Spring of 2018, and we hooked up with Ethan. We had artist/musician Marisa Kriangwiwat Holmes and then Nikolai from KC’s former band Late Spring on interim bass for a while, but eventually, we found the right fit with Sonya in late 2018.

Who would you consider some of your biggest influences when it comes to your “sound”?

KC – When I was first learning guitar, I bought my strat because it came with a whammy bar and I wanted to sound like Kevin Shields.

Ethan – I bought my telecaster because of the guitar player in Codeine. One of my biggest influences.

John – I’ve always been excited by bands that experiment with different drum sounds over an entire album such as The Beatles, Deerhoof, Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead,  where the drums don’t always sound the same on every track or even every part of a song but offer tonal and timbre differences depending on the musical situation of the moment.

Explain your creative process. Do you have a routine?

KC – it’s pretty collaborative. I usually come to the group with a guitar riff or a skeleton of a song, and we jam it out and build upon it as a group. The lyrics mostly come out of the vibe of the music; the tonal qualities translate into words over time, like certain sounds from the mouth just sound good over the music, mixed with whatever’s happening or stuff we’re thinking about at the time.

What is your “studio” setup?

KC – We have a jam space, we’ve made it pretty good for the small box of a room it is. John built some shelving for our amps, etc., and equipped the room with a good PA and microphones. We padded it up with some carpet to dampen the sound.  

John – I decided since we were going to record the album ourselves in the jam space and I have other projects I play in that I wanted to record in higher fidelity, it would be worth investing money in some good studio preamps, DA converters, drum mics, DI Boxes, reference monitors etc. This includes UAD Apollo X8, Audient 880, Earthworks Drum Mics, and Genelec 8030d Monitors.  All of this gear allows for very transparent recordings which makes it easier when treating and mixing the audio.  

Kamikaze Nurse

What is your process when working with other people? How is collaboration different in the studio vs working remotely? 

KC – We’ve figured out an organic way of bringing ideas together over the last 2 albums. It’s best to let things happen organically, and give everyone the space to bring in their own musical styles/influences. What I love about K Nurse is that we each have a pretty distinct palette from each other, but it comes together through jamming. See our Spotify playlist, for example.

At what point(s) are you comfortable letting other people hear what you are working on?

KC – When we have the masters haha… Sometimes I like to make stories on social media as a record of our process though, it’s fun.

Do you share your work in progress (streams or downloads)? Any technical frustrations?

KC – I personally don’t, I don’t like sharing when the ideas haven’t formed yet, find it disruptive for me, but I don’t mind if others do.

John – To the label and some friends.

I had a bit of a technical frustration during the demo stage of our recording. I still hadn’t decided on which DAW I was going to use to record us and I would get frustrated with all of them for different reasons. Pro-tools, Logic Pro and Luna (UAD).  I ended up choosing Logic Pro which I had the most experience on.

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How do you know when a track/album is finished?

KC – For a song, it’s just a feeling, like you know when you’ve worked something to its fullest potential without overworking it. It’s best to trust your instinct. Like for “Stimuloso”, the verse lyrics are so base and simple — “I hate you, I love you” etc., that came up right away, but I just figured they were placeholder until I came up with something better. But after months of trying and not figuring it out, I realized the song is strong and powerful enough to carry that very direct, very primal sentiment. Similarly for Stimuloso the album, it was a convergence of Mint’s deadline, our own busy lives, and just the feeling of when something is done.

How do you listen to the final mixes/mastered work?

KC – For mixing, we try to be in there with the engineer (Jordan Koop for Bucky Fleur, and Greg Saunier for Stimuloso to tweak the minutiae). For the masters, they get sent to us and we give notes.

How important is pre-release security when sharing new work?

Ethan – We actively encourage leaks and horror stories.

Who on your team gets to hear the final versions first and why, what formats do they each need?

KC – Our label, and basically everyone in our thank yous, including our cats.

The WAV files in a car, or on the stereos, and then like the cheapest earbuds. I think it’s most important how they sound to us (the band), some of the stuff we’re finicking over is so minor, that no one else would catch that Sonya wants the bass to be 5% higher in a certain part, or I want the reverb to ring out for another 3 seconds at the end of the track.

Outside of your inner circle who are the people that will need to hear the new tracks next?

KC – idk, everyone~

Ethan – Anyone

John – everyone

Sonya – the one

Anything you are working on, anyone you are working with and want to share?

KC – I will be doing a drone/noise music project via Mountain Standard Time Performative Art Festival at Bell Studios in Calgary this Fall, very excited about that. 

Ethan – Working on some guitar songs to record an EP later this year.

John – Greg Saunier and I just finished a new 6 song EP together which will be out later this year, and some of my other improvised projects will be releasing new albums this year too.

Kamikaze Nurse KC Wei John Brennan Greg Saunier