Artist Spotlight: Necking

The four-piece stumbled into Vancouver’s limelight

From top left to bottom right: Melissa Kuipers, Hannah Karren, Nada Hayek, and Sonya Rez of Necking in their Vancouver jam space. (Alyssa Laube)

From top left to bottom right: Melissa Kuipers, Hannah Karren, Nada Hayek, and Sonya Rez of Necking in their Vancouver jam space. (Alyssa Laube)

A band that started as a joke between friends has blossomed into a festival-playing local favourite by the name of Necking.

One thing that’s absolutely essential to know about them: the band is witty. And while each of the individual members are funny—and use the word freely to describe one another—the material covered in their music keeps them closer to the realm of off-the-cuff satire than pure comedy. Far from a joke band, which points and laughs at itself, Necking instead turns its gaze to the audience and the society that it’s a part of.

Before the group came together in earnest, its four members simply enjoyed each other’s company. Singer Hannah Karren, bassist Sonya Rez, guitarist Nada Hayek, and drummer Melissa Kuipers were pals back in high school, and while they each tinkered with music on their own time, they had never played music professionally together until they started Necking.

That didn’t stop them from saying that they had, though.

“We went to a lot of parties and told people that we were a band and they were like, ‘That’s really cool!’ and we were like, ‘Yeah, we play a lot of shows,’” laughs Kuipers.

Still, some took them and their not-yet-existent band seriously, and before long the group had cranked out a set of demos, wrote enough songs for a 20 minute setlist, and were accepted into the beloved Music Waste festival.

This mad dash to become part of the music scene was “quite a hustle” according to the band, but it’s their instant chemistry that kept them moving forward.

“Honestly, I feel like we’re just four people who are into the same thing and wanted to do this and just thought it was fun. We had no expectations. We didn’t know if we would play shows,” says Rez. “And then people ended up sort of liking it.”

Each member’s distinct personality shines through in their sound and stage presence, with Hayek writing guitar and Kuipers and Karren writing vocals. Hayek is described by her bandmates as a gentle but driven artist, Rez as empathetic and political, Kuipers as rambunctious and strong, and Karren as colourful and charismatic.

Appreciating a good sense of humor is one of the common threads between them.

“I think people also recognize that, in certain songs, the topics that we bring up are super serious—but all of our individual personalities are to take a more satirical approach because it’s better received that way,” says Hayek. “We talk about pretty heavy things, like sexual assault. We talk about consumerism, consumer culture. We also talk about things that are really relatable, like shitty relationship situations that we might be in, or what’s in our song ‘Stop Singing’.”

In “Stop Singing”, Karren calls out, “Stop singing about your ex / Stop singing about the ocean.”  It’s an eye roll at the stereotypical, woe-is-me indie song and a testament to making something outside of the box, which Necking certainly does well in Vancouver. They’re a high-energy dance-punk band that makes you want to have a laugh and jump around at the same time, and as far as the city’s scene goes, this style is a refreshing pick-me-up.

“To me, Necking is a really funny band because, if I was making music by myself right now, it wouldn’t sound anything like this, but I think that this music also feels so much like myself,” says Karren. “For some reason, I don’t think any of us relate to this music on an individual personal level, so it’s funny that, if you mix us all together, this is the result.”

Necking seems to do so effortlessly. Their onstage presence is high-energy but warm and playful, and their demos are nothing short of a blast to listen to for anyone who’s a fan of more feel-good punk.

They will be playing at Alley Fest on May 25 and Sled Island from June 20-24 in Calgary. They will also be releasing their song “Rover” with Kingfisher Bluez on a seven-inch in June.

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