Interview with Nooin Zero
Nooin Zero is a vocalist presently living in Japan. A self-described racial mutt, she was born in Lisbon, Portugal and raised in Berlin, Germany from the age of 2.
Zero had a very free and educational upringing by her single mother and left her mothers house at 17 to travel to London alone and start a new life pursuing her artistic dreams. She had wanted to sing for as long as she can remember.
Well, that’s one version of the story. The socially acceptable one. The other version is slightly different.
Pieced together, or rather made. Not by a doll maker, or a mechanic or fairytale monster but still a bit of all.
Which version you chose to believe is entirely up to you.
“Sometimes I’m not exactly sure if I might just be crazy but I have a very vivid imagination and therefore like making up my own realities. In the world we live in today, it makes life a little less stressful.. and more like the fantastic experience it should be. Keep your head in the clouds but feet on the ground. It’s a far and often frowned upon stretch.”
“In London I went through several bands as well as several couches and hostels. The first few years weren’t that good. Was homeless for quite some time. The right connections and a few good friends saved my skin more than once. When things finally stabilized I mentally snapped and had to call it quits because of continuously deteriorating health.
Somewhere during that time I realized I needed to move on again and try to fix the damage. So I moved to Japan to live with family where I am to this day. I fully recovered about 3 years after the initial incident, totally fine now. So at the moment I’m the vocalist in a Noise Unit called Negative Climax based in Saitama, though I am currently looking for members to start a new band. I also model in my spare time whenever the opportunity presents itself. Though it’s more of a hobby and a way to make money on the side.”
Nooin, it is a pleasure to meet you. Although you seem to be doing well now, it sounds as if you had a hard time early on. When you were 17 what made you leave home?
Likewise! I hope you realize, I had to ask someone else to type this for me so I wouldn’t get distracted and randomly start ranting about whales..
Anyway why I left. I was fed up with how quiet things were, had bigger plans and could not wait to get started. School was troublesome and depressing. So you might say it was a combination of wanting to chase my dreams with a fair dose of typical teenage rebellion and angst.
Your time in London was hard on you. Was it the stress of day to day existence? What do you think caused your breakdown then?
I wasn’t prepared at the time. I had all the fire in my head but not enough maturity to carry adult responsibilities. Couch surfing, not having enough money to even eat properly, falling in with the wrong crowd at the beginning etc.. Also try to picture a tiny girl dragging around a 30kg suitcase, a huge camping backpack and a few more bags of possessions through the streets of London at night, looking for an internet cafe to sleep in and you sort of get an idea of why I burned myself out. I can laugh now looking back at it… but it really sucked! Hahaha
Now that you are in Japan do you think you made the right choice in moving there?
Mostly yes. I’m happy here, but living with my family isn’t always easy specially after having spent so many years mostly by myself. The cultural differences are also at times a little difficult to deal with. Not being “normal” or completely “sane” is not a good thing in Japan. Since I grew up in Europe, I’m also used to close interactions and meaningful friendships/relationships which can be a little difficult to come by here. It’s very easy to feel lonely despite the ridiculous amount of people constantly around you. But home is home, and nowhere is perfect. I would make the same choice again.
You mentioned that in London your friends were very important to you in helping you through the hard times. Have you built up a good group of friends in Japan now?
Aah well, I would have to say no. I don’t go out very much so I don’t get to socialize a lot. When I do go out and meet people I feel awkward and it seems I tend to come off as either intimidating or nuts. But even when that isn’t the case, like I mentioned above, things tend to stay on a somewhat shallow level in general. It’s also hard to find time and thought to spare on others, work and projects are demanding for everyone. It’s not something that bothers me too much, in London I also only got along with a very small group. I prefer it that way.
Music is a very important part of your life. Can you tell us about some of the music or bands that you enjoy and why?
I listen mostly to Shoegaze, 80′s/90′s/UK Rock, Post Punk, Avant Garde/Alternative/Prog Rock, occasionally some Electro, EBM, Noise or even Ethnic music.
Mostly I just go for dramatic walls of sound with dirty bass lines and softly forced vocals. If it makes me want to roll around on the floor squirming with a huge grin on my face, it’s perfect. Bands I like.. some examples would be Coaltar of the Deepers, My Bloody Valentine, The Cure, Curve, Plastic Tree, The Beatles, Guniw Tools, Shilfee and Tulipcorobockles, Nookicky, Radiohead, Placebo, The White Stripes, Merzbow, Hanatarashi, Doping Panda, Slowdive, Chapterhouse, Hartfield etc..
Tell us a little about the bands you were in while living in London.
Oh dear… They were mostly VK bands.. It was pretty generic and loud. The fan base wasn’t too bad though, I have to admit.
It was just a typical phase many of us went through and I now look back on slightly embarrassed. But all that matters is that we were having fun despite all the mishaps like getting our then guitarist deported back to Japan. I still feel sorry for him!
How did you get started with Negative Climax?
When I moved here Null asked me if I could do vocals for his new project and I agreed. Not much else to it really.
When you form your new band what type of style or music do you want to perform?
Pretty much what I mentioned above, dirty bass, wall of sound etc.. Shoegaze/Noise/UK Rock mixed with whatever else we feel is right.
I’m flexible though, as long as the members feel happy with what we are writing, it could be polka for all I care (slight exaggeration right there!!).
Tell us about your piercings and tattoos. How many and do they hold personal meaning to you?
You’re actually going to make me count… I think I have around 26 piercings at the moment which is a lot less than 3 years ago. There’s no special meaning to them, although I’ve grown so accustomed to them that taking them all off makes me extremely anxious and uncomfortable. All the tattoos obviously do mean something, but the explanations are long and personal, aka dull to other people most likely. Anyway I have about 14 give or take a couple since I’m not sure if I should count a few of them as the same piece or not.
How are your tattoos and piercings generally regarded? Do people accept them? Do they avoid you?
You know, I’m not really 100% sure about that. It’s been so many years that I just don’t notice if people look at me or not unless they go out of their way to let me know how disgusted/fascinated they are, which is extremely rare specially in Japan. People are generally polite here, I don’t give them any reason not to be either. When meeting new people I do get the occasional “You would look so much nicer without them” but that’s about it. Most even find my mods quirky and cute. After all I do frequently get pulled into conversations with random old ladies during bus rides. They rock with their purple hair.
I also know you eat very healthy. Is this a conscious choice and what is your diet like?
Not really a choice, I just really love Vegetables and Fruit. Oily, heavy food doesn’t do it for me. I can eat it but it will just end up giving me a horrible stomach ache and make me feel extremely sick. I did eat junk food etc as a teenager but it seems the older I get the more I enjoy clean, light food. Still a sucker for cake though in really small amounts occasionally. I also try to stay away from rice, pasta and bread but in my house that’s hard. Sometimes it’s like Onigiri rains from the ceiling. Not much meat either. Besides that it’s fish, salad, fruit and yogurt. In any case I forget to eat most of the time since I eat Oatmeal first thing in the morning and then don’t feel hungry for a year.
Tell us a little about your modeling work. What types of modeling do you do?
Whatever comes my way that I feel would be enjoyable. It’s usually random alternative shoots, though recently I’ve tried modeling for an oil painting as well, which is a lot of fun but also much harder. I felt really sorry for people living in the 1800′s…
Do you enjoy it aside from the extra money it brings in?
The main reason I do it is because I enjoy it, of course.
A lot of other things could bring extra money, but if i don’t enjoy what i’m doing I can’t focus on my work, which is why I would be a terrible employee at most conventional jobs. Haha
After speaking to you a little and reading some things you wrote I think you have a very deep understanding of people and a very creative, inquisitive mind. Aside from music what do you enjoy doing? Do you paint, draw, write? What are your creative outlets?
Oh, thank you.
What do I enjoy doing… All of the above actually. As an artist whatever keeps my hands and imagination busy is a good activity. I also enjoy taking pictures a lot though I’m terrible at it, love cooking though mostly for other people, not for myself. Also enjoy studying/reading about the most random things I can possibly find, which comes from a bad habit I have of annoying interesting people with too many questions. Too curious.. I also run a lot. Good for blowing off steam.
Ah, and I have a thing for Hats.. But since it’s rather difficult to find weird Hats in shops and sort of nice to have your own design, I also make weird Hats.
If you were to describe yourself to a total stranger meeting you for the first time what would you say?
I’d probably tell them to go google the definition for “Cloudcuckoolander”. That, just slightly more coherent and lucid.
Aside from your wanting to form a band you also have said you would like to start a Cafe. If, someday, you were able to do it what would you like it to be like?
It would have strong Nature crossed with Nautical Steampunk elements, serving a lot of different Coffee blends, Teas, a Shisha bar and maybe even an Oxygen Bar. Also it would open as a Lounge Bar at night where we could hold some events like live music or poetry reading etc.. And I want a huge mechanical Octopus over the entrance! Basically it would cost more than I’m worth. Hah!
Now that I think of it a Hat shop might be fun too…
Is there anything else you would like people to know about you or that you would like to say?
Aaah… I like the Sky, Nudibranches and Bugs… and I’m a Coffee addict…
No, I think this was enough awkwardness for one day.
Thank you very much, it’s been a pleasure.