Building Band Chemistry with Esimorp
We sat down with Esimorp, a local band in Hong Kong, to get a deeper understanding of common challenges that underground bands face today. With its four members hailing from different parts of the world, diverse taste in music, different personalities and motivation, conflicts were inevitable. They faced other struggles too, including balancing expectations to juggling day jobs and gigs. However, there’s no challenge too great that a band with strong friendship and chemistry can’t handle.
When Julian offered to play drums for Promise and Ric during their improv jams, the possibility of starting a band arose. What launched and consolidated Esimorp was Paul showing up from Australia with his bass guitar. Although having a diverse taste in music, the band have an accord on creating music with unconventional themes such as truth, hope, and other intangibles through music. The new and familiar music that they created had a blend of indie rock and ambient pop with influences from artists like Coldplay, Kings of Leon, and Mumford and Sons.
Q: What is the big dream?
Promise: I think the big dream is just to be able to keep making music. We are in the process of making an album but even after that we hope to continue to play at a high level.
Ric: We have an album coming up. The dream for that would just be for us to be able to sell well and gain international attention. We’ve always wanted to pursue this as much as possible and we are taking it each step as it comes.
Q: Is music everyone’s full-time career?
Promise: Welcome to the Avengers. I’m kidding. I work at church as a (worship) pastor.
Paul: For me, I’m doing music full-time, either as a music teacher or playing live.
Ric: I’m a teacher. I teach music and English.
Julian: I’ve just been focused on music. I’ve been doing other projects outside Esimorp too.
Q: What is your biggest struggle as a band?
Ric: The biggest challenge I’d say is balancing everyone’s schedule and balancing their drive. I tend to be more ambitious and it almost is the source of our frustration as a band. It can get into clashes with personal life or working life. At the same time, I think we do a pretty good job of talking through those things as a band. We resolve things fairly quickly. The key is to not avoid the tension, talk things through and embrace friendship.
”The biggest challenge I’d say is balancing everyone’s schedule and balancing their drive. The key is to not avoid the tension, and to talk things through and embrace the friendship.”
Q: How much does chemistry play a role of bringing a band together?
Promise: In each of the roles that we have, you might be able to find people who can do it better. But I think just the way that we play together is quite special. As good as another guitarist may be, I wouldn’t want them to write lead licks for our band. As good as other drummers may be, I wouldn’t want them doing that or whatever Paul does, I wouldn’t want others doing that either. I think as we started playing together we realized that there was some chemistry.
And then we have, maybe not, similar taste but enough in common that we could produce something that was cohesive and I thought that was quite rare and special. So I feel like all our songs are somewhat in uniform, it’s not like there are wild ideas that have to get rattled around. I think we all come at it from different angles to throw something pretty unique together.
In each of the roles that we have, you might be able to find people who can do it better. But I think just the way that we play together is quite special.
Ric: The bands that I really enjoyed being in have different backgrounds and different influences and styles. I really enjoy having different styles in a band, but to make that work you really have to have chemistry.
Julian: We are very very different people, so it is quite interesting that we somehow got together and are able to function as a team.
Q: What’s one thing people don’t know about being in a band?
Julian: There’s a lot more short-term frustrating things than the long-term enjoyable things. Organizing schedules, organizing which gigs to accept or talking about what merch to produce – those are the aspects that are not as enjoyable but when you get through those and are able to play great songs that we are happy about, then those moments make it worth it.
Promise: Being passionate is a benefit but also a negative thing as a challenge, which people might not realize. When you’re passionate you get really great performance, but when it comes to the main making of music it can be difficult. You get four different people who are passionate about an element of a song – so frustration comes to dealing with the details. Being in a band is a lot harder than you think.
Being in a band is a lot harder than you think.
Ric: There’s an expectation that band members do things together. Getting away from that expectation has been the biggest benefit for us. When we have rehearsals we try to show up fully prepared.
Q: Do you have any pre or post-performance rituals?
Julian: Uhmm. We drink milk tea.
Band: That (milk tea) is life. It’s like breathing..
Promise: Well in our first year, me and Paul had an unspoken ritual where we show each other all the memes we’ve seen that week before we perform. We end up laughing so much that in the end we perform super well.
Paul: Yeah, we actually organized gigs just so we can share memes together.
Q: What does it feel like to perform on stage?
Promise: The tightness of the band makes us feel a euphoric state. Whether we are playing at the top of IFC (skyscraper in Hong Kong) or we’re sweating because it’s 4pm, we can still properly get into the songs and have our moment as a band rolling on the same melodies and enjoying the moment.
Q: If you could switch one band member to a famous one who would it be?
Promise: and this is how I quit the band.
Ric: Because we are switching you?
Paul: I think Promise would switch himself with Chris Martin
Promise: I would switch myself with Chris Martin from Coldplay or Marcus Mumford from Mumford and Sons
Q: How does a music tool like the Soundbrenner Pulse help underground bands?
Paul: Practicing with a metronome is still an external thing. I’m really still trying to hear that and a lot of my focus is still put into trying to hear that. With a vibrating metronome like the Soundbrenner Pulse, it vibrates on your body which can really help internalize the time a lot more, so you can focus a bit more on feeling more about how you’re playing it rather than being stuck on listening for that click.
Julian: I think it will be helpful for me to play with it on gigs. Practicing a loop pedal without using the click.
“Now there’s a metronome that doesn’t require in-ears and you can sync it up with Ableton; you have all these tools available to musicians where you can have a high production value by comparison and at a low cost, and a much easier set up than what you would’ve needed 10 years ago when it was only reserved for big names.”
Promise: A lot of people hate the sound of the metronome. So this is a great alternative. I know people who would rather just turn it off altogether with their in-ears. So I think having something that is less annoying sounding makes a metronome more of an option for more people.
Ric: I think for the MD music scene (music director), before the idea of performing with click tracks or having a high production type shows was very reserved for arena acts or for musicians playing in massive stages. But now there’s a metronome that doesn’t require in-ears and you can sync it up with Ableton, you have all these tools available to musicians where you can have a high production value by comparison and at a low cost and a much easier set up than what you would’ve needed 10 years ago when it was only reserved for big names.
I think it’s really exciting to see as the production value gets raised with a lot of these underground bands.
How important do you think band chemistry is? Tell us all about it by emailing us at [email protected]. Got a question about the Soundbrenner Pulse? Reach out to us at [email protected], we’re happy to help!