The Brooklyn-based West African art-folk band The Narcotix was formed by longtime friends Esther Quansah (guitars, vocals) and Becky Foinchas (keys, vocals), both daughters of African immigrants. Adding in members on guitar, bass, keys, and drums, the five-piece band creates “a compelling musical statement whose relationship to identity is as fraught, complex, and ever-changing as anything else in this time.”
The Narcotix, who draw influences from many different genres including African music, progressive math rock, and choral symphonies is releasing an EP Mommy Issues on June 11. The EP was recorded during quarantine GB’s Juke Joint in Long Island City following COVID guidelines. They tell us, the result is “a collection of spectral elegies for the living, a macabre homage to Brothers Grimm folklore through an Afromasochistic lens.”
The single “Lilith” from the upcoming EP was released in May.
You’re releasing a new EP, Mommy Issues, on June 11. Share with us a little about the album—inspiration and songwriting process, and what fans can expect?
We’ve been working with these songs for so long that it’s hard to say what fans can expect. I don’t know what they can expect because when I listen to the EP, I hear white noise at this point. So I guess they can expect organized white noise.
In terms of process, we are bush meat, so naturally, the EP birthed itself… in the forest, in the mountains, over the sea, under the moon… we basically didn’t follow any finite process. We tend to just allow the inspiration for each tune to come, then we just dive in headfirst and see what happens, and by the end of it, there are somewhere between 40 and 80 Logic tracks, and nobody’s blinking. That’s how all our ‘songs’ come to be. And it’s why nobody knows what genre we are.
Is there a particular single that speaks to you?
Esther: “Esther” is a wild one. We’re not releasing it as a single for general public safety reasons, but it’s definitely one of the hardest hitters of all the pieces we’ve ever created. And I’m not just saying that because it’s my namesake.
I’m particularly sentimental about this track because, sonically and dynamically, it reflects the proverbial emotional rollercoaster. It touches softness, derailment, fragility, vulnerability, and bliss, before gradually descending into complete and unapologetic mania.
Becky: Clearly narcissists, I, for one, particularly enjoy “Rebecca” because you now don’t have to die to know what that sounds like. I imagine this song playing in the Ether the very moment you take your last dying breath. That moment when all your DMT and the DMT from all of the surrounding organisms course through your entire body in a spree of cascading sentiments. Blissful, worriless, and at ever-ascending peace, the concepts that we’re inculcated into our beings by society break apart like they’d been held together with silly string. “Rebecca” emulates that moment when Time becomes trifling, and Space becomes Time’s intern. I feel it encapsulates that moment when your spirit replaces your ego with light and star gas. “Rebecca” is the sound of the bliss of dying.
A lucky series of happy accidents . . .
The recording process was luxurious. We all got aggressively COVID tested, pulled the (British accent) ‘bahhnd’ together again after not having touched for months, ran through a series of rehearsals, and then spent three days at the wonderland that is GB’s Juke Joint in Long Island City where we proceeded to explode our guts, sweat, and tears all over the place while feverishly flopping on the floor and rocking back and forth simultaneously. Hi, Colin!
Tell us more about The Narcotix—how the band was formed and a little about each member.
Esther: Well…we were born together, which sucks for Becky because she had to watch me grow taller than her. We must’ve been the same height at one point, I would presume.
Becky: We were never actually the same height. She came out of her mother (me), longer than I came out of my mother (her) (Yes, we are one another’s mothers). Biologically speaking, it was an unfair race from the start, and I want my money back. The rest of the band are savants. I think the best way to describe everyone is by listening to their namesake songs on the EP. We sought to emulate each member’s personality through each song. The song “John/Joseph” is dedicated to the drummer, JonJo; the song “Adam” for the guitarist Adam; “Esther” for Esther, “Rebecca” for Becky; and so on and so forth.
What message do you want to convey to listeners through your music?
Unapologetic vulnerability. I think unconditional vulnerability is one of the most savage human traits under the sun. It’s savage because you’re unequivocally exposed, skinned, and in the nude, so in theory, it’s not a fair fight. Bringing your feeble truth to the gunfight that is our world today is a super courageous move. But for those truly savage Truth seekers, it’s so worth it if only to taste the truest pleasures of love. We think the payout is totally worth the exposure. So even if this EP sucks, it felt so good to be in the sun. Not a shadow in sight. It’s a brave route to recognize that at the core, we are all the same, that is when you strip back fear of judgment, fear of failure, fear of fear. I spat all this hocus pocus to simply encourage our future listeners to go “out of your way to grow into your way.”
With Esther and Becky meeting in elementary school, how did each of you get involved with playing an instrument?
We both come from very musical families, so independently, the music was already running deep from the moment we were mere zygotes. Essie took up piano at age seven, and Becky joined the wrestling team in high school. So by the time we formed The Narcotix (2012ish), we had everything we needed.
Also, we’ve been in every chorus class together since the sixth grade—which is soooo weird. It’s like looking at old photographs and realizing the same creepy dude was in the background in all your childhood photos.
Who were your early musical influences?
Esther: Paramore, Kofi Olomide, Meiway, Circa Survive, Andre Marie Tala, This Town Needs Guns, Tim and Foty.
Becky: No Doubt, Nirvana, The Smiths, The entire Coupé Decalé movement, the village music my parents wouldn’t stop playing any time we entered any car, Warpaint.
With the reopening of venues, do you have plans to perform live?
We’re already picking out wigs!
Mommy Issues Track List