SXSW is finally upon us, and the digital experience is absolutely wild. Montreal-based 7-piece rock collective TEKE::TEKE is set to perform at the M for Montreal/Brooklyn Vegan showcase on Thursday, March 18th between 7 and 8 pm CST. We got a quick chat in with guitarist Serge Nakauchi Pelletier ahead of their SXSW Digital performance, which curiously involved talking about hygiene standards around aliens.

What was the first song or album that you remember hearing, and does that work of art have any influence on how you approach your music today?

The first music I remember hearing was the first album by The Kinks, Ennio Morricone’s ‘The Good, the bad and the ugly’, and Nakajima Miyuki’s ‘Aishite Iru To Ittekure’ from my parents collection. That right there has everything to do with what I’m doing today with TEKE::TEKE and how I do it. It didn’t occur to me until just recently, but it makes a whole lot of sense. I owe everything that I’m doing now to my parents and the early moments of music we’ve had together.

What was the first thing you did this morning?
Woke up to the sound of Ryuichi Sakamoto’s theme for the film ‘The Revenant.’

What is your morning ritual like?
Some stretching, green tea, and some reading in the bathroom.

If you could perform three of your songs live for our audience right now, what would they be?
They would be the exact three songs we performed for the SXSW event we took part in : those are ‘Kala Kala’, ‘Barbara’ and ‘Meikyu’. I feel they really capture the essence and energy of the band.

Clearly nothing compares to a live, in-person show, but these livestreams have fed the energy a lot of audiophiles and fans throughout the pandemic. What have you loved about performing digitally?
Three things come to mind :
1- Playing with the band
2- Seeing other people (technicians, camera crew, etc.)
3- The thought of making a difference in the lives of people watching.

Any thoughts on the digital SXSW experience this year?
I can only speak for myself and the experience of the event TEKE::TEKE took part in, which was extremely well-organized and fun. The whole set-up and visuals were cool and should look good online!

What is your routine like on performance days?
Just making sure that my mind isn’t too clogged with stuff, that I’m hydrated enough, I’ll do some stretching, some exercises, focus on my breathing, maybe a little warm-up on the guitar, and with the band we always do a little rallying cry that goes ‘TEKE TEKE YEAH!!!’.

What is one thing that you think is underrated? Rant about it.
Non-automatic stuff, haha… or things that demand manual work. For example, I just recently bought a coffee grinder (for my occasional cup of decaf coffee). I could’ve gotten one of those electric/plastic grinders but I chose to go for an all-metal and manual grinder, the one with a handle that you need to turn over and over. I figured: when in my life do I get to do something like this?… this kind of motion, as the fresh smell of coffee grain being crushed to powder rises to my nose. Just because the technology’s there doesn’t mean you have to do it that way. Give me handles, buttons, things to pull, to push! Haha… manual work, please!

If you could order carryout from any place within 10 minutes of your home right now, where would you go tonight? What would you have there?
Within 10 minutes, I would order and pick up from that Indian restaurant right on the corner of the street and have their delicious vegetarian thali. If I dared walk 20 minutes more though, I’d definitely go to this place called ‘Fleurs et Cadeaux’ here in Montreal’s Chinatown, my new favorite Japanese joint.

Aliens. The government admitted their existence and alluded to involvement, but we kind of skated past it during the pandemic. Do you think they’re enemies, or would you gladly accept an abduction to hang out with them?
I know this is actually true and I’m waiting to sit with them and chat. As long as they have their masks on.

There are so many amazing places to go when you want to get inspired. Where are you headed to next?
Can’t really go anywhere right now can we?… However, I’ll say this: personally my ‘place’ for inspiration has more to do with where I am in my mind than where I am physically. That has been a blessing during this pandemic as the inspiration juices just kept flowing.

What has been your favorite way to stay grounded during the pandemic?
I consider myself among the very lucky ones whose lives have not been affected by the pandemic in a major way. Yes, shows were canceled, some contracts were postponed, but all in all, I’ve been able to keep the same lifestyle as before, if not even a little better so, with more time on my hands and less stress. To stay grounded (whether during a pandemic or not), I need to stay creative and keep a certain diversity in what I do. Exercise is a must, for both mind and body as they are indubitably linked. Feed my curiosity, stay aware and open, learn things, get good sleep and think of others.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Check out our music videos for the songs ‘Meikyu’ and ‘Yoru Ni’ on YouTube and watch for our upcoming album ‘Shirushi’ out on May 7th with Kill Rock Stars.

Hang in there, we’ll see you live somewhere real soon! Peace!

Meredith Schneider