Q&A: Nenci

in Q&As/SF Local Bands by

How did you come up with the name of the band?
It took several iterations and a lot of time sitting with each iteration until I found the right one. A lot of the previous band name ideas were a play on Vietnamese words (because I am Vietnamese) but none of them ended up sticking. In the end, I thought it would be the most genuine representation to keep the integrity of my name by changing the spelling of my name from Nancy to Nenci.

How would you describe your sound?
In the beginning, our sound was very melancholic, slow, and experimental using mostly a falsetto voice over modular synthesis and VSTs for the most part. We wanted to depart from that sound with the most recent music we are putting out to be more reflective and celebratory of our roots here in the Bay Area. The first single that came out and this upcoming release came from wanting to explore more fast tempos with a blend of classical flute, indecisively warpy but optimistic synth chords, a trap style banging beat, and experimental R&B vocals. Sonically this is a celebration of the fluster of emotions both internal and external during this experience we often feel when meeting a potential love.

When did you first become interested in playing music?
I joined my elementary band and played the flute when I was 10 years old and continued on and off throughout High SchooI. At the same time, I really learned to love singing after my parents bought their first karaoke system
(I think it was a laserdisc lol).

What’s the strangest or funniest thing that’s ever happened to you at a show?
My twin Sal couldn’t make it to the last show I had with Smartbomb in Oakland, so they decided to facetime stream the entire show. In the middle of my set, I grabbed the phone and introduced everyone to my twin and the whole crowd waved “Hi.” It was a really sweet and funny memory.

What are you listening to these days?
Sophie, Rosalia, SZA, Nicolas Jaar, Steven Universe, and Pllush.

What are some of your favorite Bay Area music venues?
August Hall (their sound system is sick), The Fillmore, and the Fox Theatre in Oakland.

What are some of your favorites hangs in the Bay Area and why?
Costco in South SF because it’s not as crowded and I love grocery shopping haha Brisbane marina – It’s kind of tucked behind buildings and every time I hang out it’s never crowded. You can bbq, fish, skateboard, walk, or just enjoy the view. Mori Point – It’s a hidden gem and my secret spot away that I feel like not many people know about.

What does music mean to you?
It’s everything. It was something that was really innate that I never had to question. Since I was a child I always expressed myself through singing even when I didn’t know how to articulate why I did that. I would secretly record voice memos through my parent’s landline phone. You know how it would let you record a voicemail greeting? I would quickly press record, sing my favorite line, and play it back. That was the first time I recorded myself and had so much fun doing it over and over again. I learned that singing became therapeutic and grounding for me growing up.

How’d you guys first get together to play music?
Actually, a funny story, my twin (Sal) introduced me to Leviathe and on one of the first times we hung out Sal asked me to sing to Leviathe literally on the spot inside a car just because. After that, we started to talk more because Leviathe was and still is an audio engineer and music producer so we related a lot on the topic of music. We ended up not working on music immediately because we started dating! But a little into the relationship Leviathe was given a set amount of free studio time at her work set aside for her to make an EP with any artist. She ended up asking me and that’s how this project was created.

What inspires you to write?
I’ve struggled in the past to find the right language to help express my journey with my mental health challenges. I’m not the best long-form or essay writer but writing lyrics to express myself came much easier to me. With songwriting, it came much easier to find a balance between using my own experiences and molding them into lyrics and melodies. I feel slightly confident that I can story tell through my music and that it helps me navigate and heal through what I have gone through.

What’s your favorite neighborhood in the city and why?
Chinatown because of the good food, vibrant lights, and unique shops. It feels like you are in a different place. Our favorite go-to spot is My Canh which is this little hole in the wall Viet spot in Chinatown. It is usually open super late so it was always so nice being able to get a really good bowl of Pho in the middle of the night.

What’s one thing that people would be surprised to find out about you?
I’m a twin.

Is there anything you’d like to plug?
12 February 2021: Lydia (single)
March 2021: Lydia Live Performance video release

Having released albums under Digital Nations, a label founded by Steve Vai, music critic Louis Raphael has remained deeply connected to the pulse of the San Francisco music scene. Following his tenure as the San Francisco Music Examiner for Examiner.com and AXS.com, he embarked on creating Music in SF® to authentically highlight the vibrant offerings of the city's music scene.