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‘Hong Kong Fuck You’ Is An Aggressive Blend of Industrial, Metal, and Punk Powered By Three Bassists and a Drummer

12:26 PM PDT on March 18, 2022

    Attending a show by the group Hong Kong Fuck You is an attack on the senses, and there’s nothing really to prepare you for what you are about to experience. The brainchild of Christian Hell, lead singer and drummer, backed by three bassists. Making up the rest of the band is a murderer's row of bassists, Jake Issaba, Leo Agria, and Erik Zendejas. Each comes from different cultural background. Asian, Latino, Afghani, and Black punks—united to form and create an auditory soundscape that rattles the brain.  

    HKFY has been highly prolific, with six releases in the past two years. Third World Fighting Music was released in late 2020, serving as the impetus for the group's production. Its fast, noisy, aggressive style forces the listener to challenge any preconceived notions of the idea of the genre and music itself.  

    Drawing inspiration from equal parts early nu-metal sounds and industrial metal from the early 2000s, Hell started writing music, making an early connection to the bass instrument and its multiple uses—sometimes playing like a guitar on top of another bass. He formed the sound around an obsession for creating music with these different instruments and incorporating different vocal melodies.

    Using that as a jumping-off point and later making the connection towards punk via the 1980s hardcore punk sound. Visiting his first DIY venue, that type of music felt “dangerous and emotional,” according to Hell. Those sounds served as musical subgenres, powerviolence, and thrash metal. Hell would find himself in the right place in early 2000 in the San Diego area where record labels Three One G and Gold Standard Laboratories began to take off like a neon rocket. Catching bands like The Locust and Some Girls in his late teens would help infuse his musical language. The distorted noise played upon technically proficient instrumentation that part of that scene would be a stepping stone for Hell moving forward.

    The formation of HKFU started when Hell moved to Tijuana, Mexico, diving headfirst into all the city of border city has to offer. The band took its name in retaliation for the famed strip club, supporting sex workers and taking a stand against human trafficking that plagues Mexico. Inspired by the early powerviolence group Neanderthal, the title for Third World Fighting Music was released in late 2020. The concept of fighting music resonated with Hell best described the type HKFY group made instead of relying on a genre. Undefinable as a category, an excellent fit  for being a band formed in Mexico, where bands mostly play for fun and aren’t concerned about getting a payout or signing. Musicians in Mexico, according to Hell, are there to play music and have fun simply. When asked why the idea of not having to play for money was appealing, Hell when he  says, “at the end of the day; you are playing for yourself.” 

    According to Hell’s experience, being a musician carries more respect in Mexico than in the United States. In the latter, you are often viewed as another broke artist chasing a dream. In Mexico, audiences who go to shows are looking to engage on a much deeper level and are more inclined to dance while watching a band. He wishes he’d see more of that here when playing to American audiences. The fact that HKFY has generated enough attention to earn a steady income is a plus, but for Hell, the idea of carrying out his mission to create heavy music is the whole point. Describing his process, “It's a form of expression for me; it defines me whether I like it or not,” 

    When you come to the HKFY show, there's an evident physicality. Hell mentions how the physical aspect of dance is another strong influence of the group’s performance—the stage ablaze with a cavalcade of movements—Hell’s frenetic drumming at a recent concert takes center stage, with limbs flying between screaming lyrics. Halfway through, removing his shirt, revealing his sizable collection of tattoos on his torso, resembling a sonic mural.   

    The element of human expression weighs heavily on the music and live performances of HKFY, which is a big part of their appeal. As live music moves into another post-pandemic era, their raw expression feels as timely as ever.

    Hong Kong Fucked You is playing tonight at 1st Street Pool & Billiard. 906 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90033. $15. 8 PM. 

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