An Interview with

Bubble Tea and Cigarettes

Tokyo, Beijing, New York, Los Angeles, cities of millions of people with many expressions, many different views, tastes and life attitudes. Ιt has absolutely no significance. The journey between the places of residence is important, it is what will give our soul what it needs to always stay away from a routine. Bubble Tea and Cigarettes trained themselves on this, in a cathartic and highly creative way. How else could they write this sweet bedroom pop music? Only by keeping this constant refreshing motion of mind and soul.

I've been listening to the first album of the duo of Kat and Andi for a while now, but while I'm writing about them now, I re-discover 'Cigarette Butt' which seems to be the cherry on their cake and perhaps the sweetest of all their tracks. The addition of violin made all the difference to an already flawless song, with obvious 50s New York aesthetics and influences, brought into the present in a gentle electronic way. 'Cigarette Butt', therefore, although it does not mark the end at all, on the contrary. I will surely consider it as the puff leaving a promise for the next cigarette. A chapter that just closed but a new one certainly awaits its own beginning.

We've said it countless times, but it's worth reminding ourselves every time: Simplicity will always hide the authentic, the effortless and the intact over time. The nomads Bubble Tea and Cigarettes, without having realised it, used music as a refuge from the madness of their everyday life and created a pop record that could be an example of chaste true art. Only the word 'sweetness' is not enough to describe the feelings that 'There's Nothing But Pleasure' invokes to the listener. Words outlining a crystalline dream pop record, full of glowing reverb, delays and sensuous vocals, will be needed to do this. Here, bittersweet melancholic shoegaze coexists with innocence and sincerity. Their record could fit a soundtrack of an 80's movie, where a couple of young lovers wander through a chaotic city, eating cotton candy and giving unforgettable innocent kisses.

During its 36 minutes, 'There's Nothing But Pleasure' contains eight songs that briefly got me back to my puberty. These sensitive and almost adolescent tracks on this album, took my breath away. I got back to the golden days when I used to lay in bed with my eyes open, staring at the ceiling and dreaming of a magical world that, although impossible to happen, was so beautiful to believe in, hope for and imagine.

Every song Bubble Tea and Cigarettes made, is a gift, an opportunity for a narcotic journey into the depths of our emotions. Their album manages to immerse us in the preciousness of silence and the magic of slow rhythms. Where Kat and Andi's voices create an otherworldly illusion of fragility.

Below, you can find out what they told the Basement...



The Basement: Hello Kat, Hi Andi! First of all, thank you for coming down to "The Basement". The amazing premier album "There's Nothing But Pleasure". Please, introduce yourselves to us.

Thank you for inviting us to ‘The Basement’! And thank you so much for listening to our first album. This is Kat and Andi from Bubble Tea and Cigarettes.

The Basement: Where and how did you meet? Tell us more about how you first got into music together.

Sure! Andi studied and works full time in a field completely unrelated to music, but he was always doing music on the side. He moved to NYC after college because of the jazz scene there and he loves modern jazz. Kat has been a long time indie music fan, starting from the Japanese indie scene, then the American scene after she moved to NYC for school. The project started when they met in NYC and Kat challenged Andi to make some music that she would like. Before this project, the type of music Andi had been making was really complicated and niche stuff. He thought this was a great opportunity to return back to the root of why he started liking music at all - when he was influenced by a lot of indie acts and found savior through them during his challenging childhood. He thought Kat’s dreamy and angelic voice would really fit the type of songs we were thinking about writing, so we clicked and that’s how the project started.

The Basement: What does Bubble Tea and Cigarettes mean? Do you just love those two habits or is there something else?

Yeah, thanks for asking! Even before the project started, we’ve been joking about what band name we should give if we decide to start a band. “Bubble Tea and Cigarettes” was sort of a joke but we ended up using it. At that time, Kat was under a lot of pressure from school (and growing up in general I guess). She drank more bubble tea than water, and smoked half a pack a day, just as a way to cope with these pressure. We thought this combination is an interesting representation of a lifestyle, where life is hard and confusing, but we try to survive by finding these temporary pleasures. I think the two objects also represent a transitional period of a person’s early twenties, where Bubble Tea represents the more youthful and playful sides, whereas cigarettes are the more mature and bitter counterpart.

The Basement: Let's get back to 2020 and your first two singles that came out digitally. What you had in mind back then?

At that time we were working our 9-5 day jobs with a lot of overtime. I guess we are just constantly under a lot of pressure -lol!- I think it was about being an immigrant and it’s really hard to stay in the US as a visa holder if you don’t work hard, plus we had pretty conservative Asian parents and doing art full-time was never a plausible option. We were living quite a monotonous life at the time, but we are pretty emotional people and really needed an outlet, so this music project kinda became a haven where we can still be emotional and free. We were also doing a lot of crazy and stupid stuff after work, so the songs are kinda based on our own experiences (but they are partially fictional too)

The Basement: When did you realise that you were already shaping your first album?  "There's Nothing But Pleasure" consists of 36 minutes of sweet emotional music. Tell us more about the process of production and the central idea.

Yeah! So it was kinda funny because the first two songs we released were both 5 minutes and 41 seconds long. We thought it would be a funny concept if we just make an entire album where the songs are all 5:41 long. That’s when the idea of an album started to come into shape. Unfortunately (and fortunately) we gave up after Santa Monica and found the idea was quite hindering and stupid. But we kept the idea of making an album and having it sounding consistent.


The Basement: How did you come up with Elefant Records?

Elefant reached out after we released ‘Go Downstairs’. We heard that they are a family business located in a beautiful small town in Spain close to Madrid; They live on the first floor of their home and their loft is their record label; They don’t profit much but still did the label for more than twenty years with their love of music; Anyway, after learning these, we just thought ‘is there a cooler and more beautiful way of living life ???’. We just really appreciate their lifestyle. The label owners Luis and Montse are a really cute and respectable couple. They are poets in the modern world. Briefly we had concerns about having a label on a different continent but we were intending our music to be global anyway plus there are lots of European cinema music influences in our songs so we just thought why not. We had the honor to visit the record label when we did a small tour in Spain and everything was beyond expectation actually.

The Basement: Tell us more about your aesthetics. I feel like being in a dark place with only a light on. Who made the covers of your singles and the LP?

Very accurate! It’s like we’re always staring at a computer screen watching music videos on YouTube in a pitch black room at 3am. And we intend to make songs to be listened to in the same way. I think the songs and images are all about the realities and fantasies of young metropolitans who are living dispirited but pleasure-seeking lives. We made all the covers ourselves, sometimes with some help from our artist friends.

The Basement: Did you always live in NY city? How's life there?

We were kinda everywhere - Tokyo, Beijing, NYC, and now we moved to LA. I guess we just get bored quite easily and we don’t have many friends :( Covid and remote work made it easier for us to be a nomad so we want to continue goofing around. As for NYC, it’s an amazing city and we stayed there for like 7 years without getting bored. I guess it’s one of the only places in the US where you can do some 3am explorations around the city, and that definitely shaped our songs a lot.

The Basement: What does the word ‘Art’ mean to you?

It’s a psychiatrist, but at the same time a drug.


The Basement: Give us five of your favourite albums of all time.

Born to Die - Lana Del Rey

Depression Cherry - Beach House

The Book About My Idle Plot On A Vague Anxiety - Toe

Blue Blood - X Japan

Yume - Lamp


The Basement: Any plans for the near future?

We already had our second album finished and written, so we are in the process of finishing the production and shooting music videos, etc. Hopefully they can come out at the beginning of next year. There are also some singles coming out too before that.


The Basement: Thank you so very much Kat and Andi. It was a pleasure having you. Your LP was what we exactly needed for this autumn...

Thank you so much for your wonderful questions! Hope we can visit Greece one day. 


There's Nothing But Pleasure (out 2/9/22 via Elefant Records)




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