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Interview with NERiMA

Updated: Dec 29, 2022

NERiMA (pronouned nuh-ree-mah) is an indie pop/punk outfit from the Oshawa area who has been bringing their upbeat and energetic music to listeners and filling their ears with messages of joy, belonging, and hope. Forming as a young band, their music details the perspectives of youth and captures the change and growth of their lives quite literally as they grow together as a band through their music. Alex (she/her), their drummer, holds down a in-the-pocket tempo for the band and supports with backing vocals while AJ (he/him), the stoic lead-guitarist, plays riffs that cut through the dense, foundational bass lines played by bassist, Connor (he/him). The group is led by Alexi (she/her), who plays shimmering rhythm guitar and sings the band’s catchy vocal parts. If there is one thing I can speak to, having explored their vlog tour videos prior to the interview, is that this group embodies fun and explodes with energy everytime they perform. That is why we reached out to NERiMA for an interview, and subsequently booked them to play a show we organized in June of 2022.

Despite being out of COVID lockdown, this interview was held online. The group formed in their jam space and squeezed together to fit on camera for the online meeting, where I met them and asked them to share their experiences as a band thus far.

Note: In the time since this interview took place, NERiMA have propelled themselves exponentially, playing a mini-tour across Ontario, a festival in New York City, and releasing their debut EP, Have More Fun. At the time, their EP was still in the works and you'll notice that our dialogue reflects thats.


Word associations…

Smol: Summer

Alexi: Sun

Smol: School

Alex: Homework

Smol: Poetry

AJ: Words [laughs]

Smol: Dance

Connor: Moving [laughs]. I’m not very imaginative.

If the band was a league of superheroes, what would your powers be?

Alexi: I want to be Daredevil. I don’t even care about the powers, I just want to be Daredevil.

Alex: I would be a shape-shifter.

AJ: Teleportation.

Connor: Yooo, that would be mine, too.

If the band were a dish (food) what would it be?

Connor: Pizza.

Alexi: We’d be pepperoni pizza. [To Connor] You can be the big pepperonis.

What’s the best thing to do in summer?

Alex: Picnic! We want to do a band picnic.

Connor: Biking.

AJ: Swimming.

Alexi: Nice. I thought you were going to say, “Sitting in your room, playing guitar.”

AJ: That too.

What’s your favourite place to hang out in your area?

Alexi: My basement! It’s our jam space and hang out space right now!


What instruments do you play?

Alexi: I do guitar and singing.

Alex: I play drums and do backing vocals.

AJ: I play lead guitar –

Alexi: - And backing vocals!

Connor: I play bass and no backing vocals [laughs].

Alexi: We’re getting there.

How did the band form? Did each of you already play your instrument?

Connor: Ok, so me and AJ were neighbours. Alexi and I were friends in high school, they were like, “Come play guitar!” but I sucked at guitar so I switched to bass because it’s easier. Alex and Alexi are cousins, so they were already a unit! And then one day, I was walking down the street and AJ’s dad calls out to me, “Hey, I heard you’re in a band now! My son plays guitar!” and I was like, “Oh shit, AJ plays guitar!” [They all laugh]

Alexi: It’s cool though because everyone learned their instruments for the band, except for AJ.

Alex: Yeah, I’ve always liked music and I play ukulele, and a bit of keyboards as well, and some singing, but I wanted to be in the band so I learned drums for the band.

Alexi: And now she’s really good at it! I learned to play a bunch of random instruments that I didn’t get super good at: sax, clarinet, bass, drums, I tried violin, but the real reason I liked playing guitar was because I needed an accompaniment for singing, because I was a singer first and that is what really stuck.

Will any sax appear on your upcoming music?

Alexi: [Laughs] No. I kind of have a weird thing against jazz music.

AJ: I really enjoy music. I like to listen to a lot of heavy metal music which got me into guitar because I wanted to learn how to play my favourite songs. I picked up guitar and yeah.

Connor: I learned piano and some songs when I was a kid. Tried to do guitar lessons but I gave up after like two lessons because it was hard. And ya, now I’m in a band and I play bass.

What’s the first song you learned as a band?

Alexi: [To Connor] Do you remember?

Connor: “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World.

Alexi: Yeah! “The Middle” or “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. They are really easy. Love that one; we still play it sometimes.

Alex: When?

Alexi: I mean, we do but not seriously, like, someone will start playing it jokingly and then we all join in. We also do “Say It Aint So '' and “When I Come Around” by Green Day.

I confess that I watched their vlog on Youtube and saw the videos documenting their COVID drive-in show and their show at the legendary Horseshoe Tavern. Slightly embarrassed, Alexi reveals that she was fan-girling over playing that venue and that they were all very excited.

How did you get involved with those shows?

Alexi: We’ve been really lucky with all of our shows. At the moment we’ve been really focusing on recording our EP, so we never really planned on playing a bunch of shows. Pretty much every show we’ve played has been other bands reaching out to us, which we’ve been really grateful for. So the drive-in show was a band called New Anthem, and they just invited us and after that show we became buds. Then we played another show with them and, yeah, we got a few more opportunities. The Horseshoe one was a band called 13 Friday’s reaching out to us, they just said, “Hey, do you want to play a show with us?” and we said, “Yeah!” and then after we found out it was at the Horseshoe Tavern. We were really excited. It was such a great opportunity. We get to make so many cool band friends by being in a band. Like, you don’t always think about it, but we really get to meet some cool local bands in our area and become friends with them. It’s awesome!

How long have you been playing together as NERiMA?

Connor: Two years?

Alexi: Yeah, started in 2019, but we were all beginners so we were only show ready in March 2020. So we got one thing in and then it was immediately COVID. We haven’t played that many shows but it has been two years.

Connor: But AJ only joined… when, like September?

Alexi: Oh yeah, new line-up. We’ve had a few line-up changes, like, a couple of lead guitarists that came in and out, but AJ is here to stay! [They cheer with affection]

How did you pick NERiMA? What does it mean to you?

Alexi: This was back when we had our first guitarist, but I was the only one who actually knew all of them, like, they didn’t know each other. And we were thinking that we can’t really be in a band and make music if we’re not really friends yet, so to bond we had a band sleepover! It was mostly just playing around with music stuff and playing Smash Bros. and stuff but the one bonding moment was sitting on the couch and we all watched an anime called Your Lie in April and that was it. I don’t know why but we all felt a lot closer after that. So Nerima is the name of the town that the anime is set in. We’re all weebs [laughs], except AJ, but we’re working on it!

What are some bands that have influenced you?

Alexi: For me it has always been Paramore!

Connor: Yeah, definitely Paramore is a big one. I also listen to a lot of Japanese music like J-pop and J-rock, and I take a lot of my bass inspiration from there because their bass lines are always really cool.

AJ: When I was younger, I listened to a lot of punk rock stuff like Green Day and Weezer and stuff, but more recently I’ve been more into heavy metal so right now it’s mostly Metallica and Megadeth. Stuff like that.

Alexi: I don’t know if you hear that in our music though [they all laugh].

Alex: I would say that my biggest inspiration, music-wise, is from bands like Waterparks. A lot of pop-punk bands, I take a lot of inspiration from that sound.

What are your favourite Canadian bands?

Alexi: Connor and I love PUP! And it’s cool that they’re from here and they’re so good!

Connor: Yeah, PUP!

Alex: I love Mother Mother. Oh my god, they’re so good!

Favourite local bands?

Alexi: There are so many to shout out. Nothing Special, they’re from our home town and they’re great! And their singer Dan Bell produced our upcoming EP! They’re very cool. Also, we’re pretty close with Grimoire and they’re super cool.

Connor: Vacant Space! Love those guys.

Alex: We already mentioned them, but New Anthem! They’ve given us a lot of opportunities.

Alexi: Yeah, they really try to help young bands get shows and opportunities and they’ve been really helpful with that. We didn’t realize how hard it would be to get shows but age has been a bit of a problem. So many people in the scene are teenagers and can’t get into shows that aren’t all-ages, so we really appreciate the help.

Do you have any favourite gear? Anything you couldn’t go without?

Alexi: I’m going to let Connor start. [To Connor] You’re so weird about your gear.

Connor: I’m not that weird about gear.

Alexi: You’re the weirdest.

Connor: I just really like my bass! It’s right here actually. Let me get it.

Alexi: He’s going to pull her out [laughs]. I’m surprised you haven’t named it yet.

Connor: Look at this bad boy! [Proudly holding his bass] It’s a five string Ibanez.

While putting the bass down he accidentally drops it on his foot.

Connor: Ow. I just dropped it on my toe.

Alexi: He takes really good care of it.

Connor: I really like that bass. I like the tone; it has two soap-bar pickups. Yeah, I could totally pick up another bass and play it but-

Alexi: He’s a bit weird about that. He’s like, “This bass is bad, I’m not playing it. I’m only bad because of this bass.” [They laugh]

Connor: She just has a bass and its action is like ten meters off the fretboard!

AJ: I’m not too specific on gear yet because I haven’t really gotten into picking what gear I want. I have one pedal, so yeah. For my guitars, I have a Jackson Super Strat and I’ve got a Gibson Flying V... Epiphone.

Alexi: People love the Flying V!

Alex: I don’t have any. Listen, being a drummer is great, but having to carry all of the gear all of the time kind of sucks especially because I’m a small person and I can’t carry all of it. So I kind of have a love/hate relationship with my gear [laughs]. We use electric drums in the jam space that we have and I think I do prefer the electric drums. It’s easier, you can change the volume and you can change the sounds of each pad. There are some fun sounds, there’s a marimba sound [laughs]. When we play live I use a regular drum kit, though.

Alexi: I’m not picky on my gear, I’ll play almost anything but I picked out my guitar so I really like it. It’s a Fender Nashville Deluxe Tele. It’s basically a normal Tele but it has locking tuners which are very useful and Strat pickups, so it’s three single coil pickups. Plus I like the way it looks, it’s a light blue colour. It’s awesome!

Tell us about your upcoming EP! Where did you get your inspiration for writing those songs?

Alexi: It’s six songs and two of them are singles that we already had out for a while, and the four other songs – so as a band, since we started, we’ve had a full set of songs all originals that we’ve written. So, in six months we prepared about 10 originals that we use, so the four other songs on the EP are songs we chose because we thought they would be a good introduction, since this is the first EP that we’ve ever released, and they were the strongest songs and fit well together. The sound that we went for is, I don’t know, alt/indie/punk?

Alex: Yeah.

Connor: Yeah, in general it’s punk. I think after the mix it’s more towards the punk side, but yeah, still a very good mix.

Alexi: As for the inspirations, all the songs came from – well I wrote them as a tiny child and I was writing these really terrible songs [laughs] but these songs, all ten songs, turned into originals for the band. I’m really happy with how they’ve turned out, we’ve made them way better and they all have different meanings! They have a lot of history. We don’t really want to write songs that all sound the same, so we just wanted to show off our versatility.

My favourite part of bringing songs to the band, because I’ll bring a few chord progressions and a melody, and before I used to write everything because I was super picky [laughs], but now I’ll just bring an idea and they’ll know what to play and have cool ideas of what to add. I love seeing the song get built up like that.

Is that the typical writing process?

Alexi: Yeah, definitely before it was old ideas and I would show them the best ones, and I did want to write their parts for them more because they were still learning, so I would say, “I think the drums should sound like this,” and then [to Alex] she will come up with a real drum part. But now, I will write new ideas that are specifically for the band and I will only bring my parts. I give them… mostly, fully free reign to write their parts [they all laugh]. I still have visions for songs but who doesn’t? When they come back with their parts they always blow me away!

Connor: I usually just have Alexi play through her ideas for me on guitar, I listen to what she has and I’ll hear a bass line in my head and I just fiddle around with it, build on it, and there it is!

Alexi: Guitar and bass we like to write together. [To Alex] you kind of come up with a beat once you hear that.

Alex: Yeah.

AJ: Yeah, for me it’s the same as Connor. Figure out the chords and then just play around.

What’s your approach for lyrics and song titles? Do they come early in the song or do you match lyrics to chords?

Alexi: I have a really bad habit of thinking of some really cool song titles or themes and then I write them in this note that I have, which is, like, 20 pages long and I never use any of them because I usually start songs with chords. I start songs with the progression. Also, I write lyrics weirdly. I know most people will write lyrics and then put them onto chords, but I don’t like doing that. I feel like, obviously what you’re saying matters but to an extent it is music so I think sonically how it fits into the song, I think that matters most. So I write chords, then I sing a melody, and then I write lyrics. And what that means is sometimes my lyrics are complete gibberish and they don’t mean anything, but sometimes once I hear the rhythm and hear the melody I just know what I want to write about. The words will just flow out of me. I’d rather have a song where the lyrics sound sonically satisfying than have them be super poetic.

Can you tell us a backstory to one of your songs?

Alexi: Yeah, so the songs that are released right now, their titles are just things I say in the song [laughs]. So that’s pretty straight forward. One of the songs on the EP, “Through the Window”, is pretty interesting. The backstory for that one is that it was the first song we ever wrote as a band. We showed up for practice and I showed them a song idea but it was too depressing, so I showed them a second thing but it was pretty blank and I only had a few lyrics. In it I say, “Fool me once, fool me twice” so our placeholder name for it was “Fool”. I didn’t want to release a song called “Fool” so “Through the Window” is actually from the first song that never saw the light of day. So yeah, it’s relevant to its backstory!

Are you recording on your own or are you in a studio?

Alexi: Yeah, we actually had our first big experience with a studio for our EP! Nothing Special from Oshawa, their singer Dan Bell is also a producer, sound engineer, and mixer. We are buds with them, and because it is our first EP and we don’t really know what we’re doing so we just wanted somebody chill. It’s his basement studio and it’s really nice and relaxing. We do have a label and they offered to let us work in their professional Toronto studio but I think just for this EP we didn’t want that kind of vibe. So yeah, we were in there for five days, recorded the songs, there was a lot of pre-production and songwriting, so that was really fun.

Connor: Yeah, it was a lot of fun! We had never done pre-production stuff before, so that was really interesting to go through and pick apart the songs and figure out how we can make them better and add to them. It was interesting.

Did you learn anything during that time in the studio?

AJ: I don’t really know. I just had a lot of fun playing!

Connor: For me, it was learning to play with a pick. I usually play bass with my fingers and whenever I would try to play with a pick it would sound awful. But, I saw videos of people playing with picks and wondered what I was doing wrong. I realized I needed to adjust my bass tone to get a better picking sound so now I think I will play with a pick sometimes and use my fingers sometimes.

Alexi: One thing we’re still learning is don’t be afraid of change. The pre-production part involved us sending our songs and getting feedback on things that could be improved and I think we were scared about changing things. Like, if things sound better then they should change.

Connor: I think we weren’t sure what the band wanted, like what direction we wanted to go in with our music and we wanted to make sure it was still going to be us.

Alexi: Almost every suggestion Dan Bell made for changes was a good idea and we went with a lot of those ideas. Like, when it came down to a yes or a no, it was almost always a yes. You’re scared because these songs are your babies but we love everything he added to them.

If you could give advice to a band about to record for the first time, what would it be?

Alexi: Don’t be afraid of change! [They all laugh]

Connor: Don’t get attached to certain ideas. And like anything involving teamwork, always get everyone’s opinions and input on what’s happening. Dan would look around and ask each of us, “Good? Good? Ok.”

Alexi: Yeah, it’s good to speak up, too. Be brave, it takes a lot of confidence! You’re very vulnerable in there.

What do you hope to achieve with your music? What’s your mission?

Alex: Our main thing is about encouraging people to have fun with what they’re doing. A saying that we have is that we’re making music for all your moods. Whatever you’re feeling, we want to help you through it and accompany you with something that you can dance to and sing along to during any point in life, so you don’t feel alone with those feelings. We like to write about our feelings .

Alexi: You shouldn’t run away from the things you’re feeling, it’s better to face them head-on and have fun with it. That’s why we named our EP Have More Fun! And when you hear it maybe it sounds like a fun, meaningless pop-punk album but it’s a reminder to us. Not that we weren't having fun, but things were getting emotional, sometimes like a business, and the moment we stepped back and said, “Ok, we need to just play our music and have fun,” it really helped us and now we put that in everything. We write emotional songs but the point isn’t to make you feel bad, but maybe more to acknowledge them and have fun with them. We used to have terrible stage fright-

Alex: What do you mean, “Used to”? [laughs]

Alexi: We felt pressure, like, we’re in a band and we have to play shows, but it’s supposed to be fun! We’re here because we want to do this, not because we have to! You learn that if you mess up on stage nobody is mad, and realizing that made it a lot more fun.

Tell us about being an emerging band from the Oshawa area.

Alexi: Yeah, we started by just telling everyone we are from Toronto because we didn’t really know there was a scene, so we just said we were from Toronto. We went to school there and played shows there, but only recently did we start saying we’re from Oshawa and Whitby and the GTA! At first it was an accessibility thing, but we’re proud to be from here. In school, there weren’t really any other bands in our school and we didn’t know what to do so we just started saying we’re from Toronto.

Connor: We had a show recently at the Robert McLaughlin center which was really exciting because it’s local! We used to go there as kids and now we got to play there!

Alexi: They’re very proud of artists from Oshawa so it’s very nice to be a part of that! In general, I was always scared to tell people that I played in a band because I thought they would think it was lame, but now I’m proud and very out there and more open about our music. I think it’s cool.

AJ: I tell people I play in a band and everyone thinks it’s cool.

What are the disadvantages of being an emerging band right now?

Alexi: That is a very easy question for us because it’s something that we have faced a lot. Honestly, the biggest disadvantage is being under aged. We can’t get shows, we can’t go to shows, we can’t make those connections. Sometimes we won’t tell venues we’re 18 just so we can play.

Alexi: It has been a big obstacle. Especially because a lot of our friends are under aged as well so it’s hard to get that draw when your friends can’t even come. We’ve played all-ages shows and there's a big opportunity there. Everyone has lots of fun and there’s no alcohol involved. Definitely the advantage is that we don’t have the responsibilities and stuff but yeah.

Alex: We wanted to show off what we had been working on to our friends and it’s hard to find all-ages shows so it’s been hard.

Alexi: We’ve been so lucky with the people that we’ve met. I don’t know if that’s a Canadian thing, but the bands, the people at the shows, everyone has been so nice. Even when people are drunk off their butts they’re super nice.

Connor: Everyone has been super nice and supportive.

Alex: There has been a lot of positivity in the Canadian music scene, like on the bigger scale with Drake and Shawn Mendes, and I feel like the government should be helping smaller artists instead of bigger artists. But I don’t know, there’s still a good vibe about Canadian artists these days, but then it’s scary because now we have to live up to that!

Alexi: Yeah, like we want to be as good as the OBGMs and bands like that, which is kind of scary! It’s a lot to live up to!

What does Canadian music need more of?

Alex: Young people!

Alexi: Young people! It’s hard to find other bands that are our age. Like, I love bands who are older and can support a family while being in a band, but there aren’t many young bands out there. We need way more all-ages shows and more venues that want to organize shows for teens!

Tell us about your upcoming shows in New York!

Alex: This charity organization called Kids Rock For Kids reached out to us about being featured on a compilation to raise money for their charity, which I think was to help with supplying COVID vaccines. And so we made that connection with them and then more recently they asked if we wanted to come to New York to play a music festival for teens and younger people that would feature international bands, and I think it’s the coolest thing! It’s awesome that they’re focusing on younger artists and artists from other countries and bringing them all out to New York to play!

Alexi: We’re so excited and can’t wait to meet the other artists who are our age. We get to hang out with them and hear about their countries, it’s going to be awesome!

Any rituals you do before a show?

Alexi: Yeah! Before, when we had very bad stage fright, we were preparing for a show and it was like 10 minutes before we went on and we were very nervous because it was online and it’s hard to bring the energy when it’s all online. So, we have this speaker, and we put on Grimes and had what we now call a Grimes Dance Party! So that kind of became our ritual. And then once we started playing shows in person again we kept doing it, but it was harder because we would be backstage blasting Grimes! We’ve even done it in a parking lot and in a washroom once because we didn’t have a backstage area!

What’s next for the band?

Alexi: We’ve got one more show for the summer, August 27th at the Biltmore Theatre in Oshawa with BUSM, The Boneheads, and Capsized which we’re super excited for! After that we’ve got a few shows here and there for the rest of the year, but not much planned since we’ll be in school.

Alex: Yeah, we’ll be taking it a bit slower than this past summer, which is sad to think about but at the same time it may be nice to have a break.

How can fans support you?

Alex: The best thing to do would be to follow us on all of our platforms: Instagram, Twitter, TikTok! And also listen to our music on Spotify and our new releases on all platforms!

Alexi: I would really like people to come out to our shows and see us live, that’s really important to us right now. Also, listen to our EP and let us know if you like it!


Youtube: NERiMA (

Instagram: @nerimaofficial (

Twitter: @NERiMAofficial (

Spotify: NERiMA (

Apple Music: NERiMA (


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