Interview with legendary Chinese noise artist Torturing Nurse

Junky from Torturing Nurse; Shanghai, China

For quite some time, Japan has been looked upon as the world capital of noise, with artists like Merzbow reaching legendary status.  However, often overlooked is the noise scene in China, especially in Shanghai where artists like Torturing Nurse perform regularly.

Since 2004 when Torturing Nurse began, they have accumulated a large number of full-length, ep and split releases under their belt.  Their performances are controversial and elicit wonder from the audience.

We had the pleasure of doing a brief email interview with Torturing Nurse leader, Junky.  Enjoy…..

Editor’s note:  Per the request of the artist, I made very small corrections to the English.  However, I only did so if it maintained the integrity of the words.  In a couple noted cases as you will see, I left the words as-is.  I’d rather do so as opposed to mis-representing the message.


I know you have answered this many times, but for new readers and listeners could you please give a meaning behind the name, Torturing Nurse?

The name comes from John Zorn’s album called Torture Garden; used as a band name, it is very suitable.

Your live shows are often more like performance art whereas a lot of noise artists simply stand or sit at a table and do their thing.Was this a conscious effort do go against what mostly everyone seems to be doing or was this more naturally?

I like show with more physical performance; motionless scenes are sometimes very boring. The noise gig is not sound art, for me the movement is very natural.

Also, about the live shows…. there are a number of videos on Youtube.What are some of the more extreme things you’ve done at shows and were the things pre-planned?

The performance is viewer immersive.  I like the dramatic performance.  Some performances are pre-set.  Most of the performances are based on different improvised venue play.  Regarding the most extreme performances, there are a few : The scene cut the pork to throw the meat to the audience; the scene was tied to the table, hanging up.

You’ve also gone out into the public and performed.Was this just in China and what were some of the more extreme reactions by people just walking by?

Once in Osaka, I constantly attacked the audience.  The audience may be a bit annoyed. I fell to the ground and we are wrapped together.  But most of the live shows if I and the audience have physical contact they will smile or dodge.

You made it clear in an interview which appears on Reverse Records’ site that you are very opposed to laptop usage when creating noise.  So can you talk a little bit about a typical Torturing Nurse studio or live show set-up?

Yes, I do not like the use of a laptop in live performances.  I admit that the performance of the laptop can make the sound more versatile and easy to control, but less a lot of simulation equipment show a ritual sense.  Part of the sound of Torturing Nurse’s current live performances comes from more than two groups of different sources: wireless microphone and small analog controller, two sets of audio through a variety of distortion and fuzz block amplification, non-stop switching.  Sometimes the shows will be with some physical behavior.  The recording studio is not limited to the hardware block.  Sometimes we use the turntable or record a variety of metal impact sounds or simply sample some field recordings.

Are there any TN studio recordings that you are particularly pleased with? Any split or collaboration CDs?

Torturing Nurse and some of the artists I liked or admired the noise before the cooperation.  Now we want to cooperate the most with The Gerogerigegege.

I know that some artists have traveled to China and were told they could not perform certain songs.  Has the government ever given performance artists like yourselves a hard time or shut down shows?

For me, I have twice been warned and interviewed by Chinese cultural audits, both because of the organization of the Japanese artist’s performance.  On the phone, they asked the venue and the organizers to stop the performance, sometimes because of the unconventional performance venue disturbing residents alarm performance interrupted.  ED. note;    I’m not sure enough about what he means regarding the last line of that.  I don’t want to correct to misinterpret.

This is one thing that I like to ask all noise artists we interview….. I have argued that many of the reasons that people listen to noise involved dynamics – high frequencies vs. low, abrasive vs. delicate, wall vs. cut-up and so on…  What would you like to those reasons….that is, why people listen to noise?

The most important thing is that in the inside you can be very relaxed and free to do something hard inside the music.  I like all kinds of noise, preferring to the noise scene. The noise is free for me.

So what’s next for Torturing Nurse in 2017/2018?

Perform a regular practice to do a monthly NOIShanghai series in Shanghai, as much as possible take part of the local performance.In October, Torturing Nurse will play LUFF in Lausanne and attend the small-scale music festivals in Barcelona. The Publication: As in the past, recording and publishing.

Many many years from now, a very distant relative discovers a box in an old house.In that box they locate a Torturing Nurse discography and something to play it on.What do you hope that they know about you after simply listening to your work?

I hope they enjoy.

We’d like to thank Junky and Torturing Nurse for their time.

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