By Jocelle Koh
Design by Allison Sun
Forming in 2014, Elephant Gym is one of Taiwan’s only Math-Rock bands. Yet from this place of isolation the trio has grown like a rose amongst the thorns; adapting with grace and fluidity to become one of Taiwan’s most successful musical exports. The band’s musical offerings have been highly acclaimed since the very beginning; from scoring opportunities to work with Yoga Lin to now embarking on an ambitious worldwide tour with their second full album ‘Underwater’, but in fact very little of their trajectory was left to chance.
Instead, the trio seem to have forged a rare balance between logic and creativity, an element which has eluded the best of us. Despite the absolute freeing feeling of whimsy and abandon one receives from their math/post-rock tunes, I found out over afternoon tea that the band is surprisingly grounded. A completely independent team, Tell, KT and Tu are not just the musicians and performers behind Elephant Gym; they are everything from the admins who reply on social media to the accountants who crunch the numbers.
“KT: Our team is just the three of us. We all have two roles, taking on identities as both the admin and the band. Oh and we deal with promotion, and… everything else (laughs). We don’t have an assistant or a management company in Taiwan. So we are always having meetings and have clear roles for each of us. To me I think Tell will put together the big idea, and then Chiachin will execute and contact the relevant parties... So once everyone has secured the deal, then I will start to tell everyone that this thing is happening.”
After a rollercoaster ride of sponsors dropping out last minute, a whirlwind Crowdfunding campaign on FlyingV and the announcement of a star-studded line up, New York's annual Taiwanese Waves showcase is powering through, and slated to have the run of the legendary Summerstage venue on the 7th of July (6PM-10PM). Despite all the obstacles, the Taiwanese Waves team has nevertheless outdone themselves, putting together a truly fantastic tasting platter of Taiwan's best and brightest.
This year, they've invited Math-rock youngsters Elephant Gym大象體操, critically acclaimed music activist legends Sheng Xiang Band 林生祥 and SoftLipa蛋堡, the rapper who revolutionised Taiwan's hip hop scene with his chill raps. The team put together a short Q&A to gather the artists' thoughts on New York, Taiwanese Waves and how they hope to cross cultural barriers. Although all acts received the same questions, comparing the three acts' answers side by side truly show how different yet equally creative and unique their perspectives are.
Q1:What is your impression of New York?
Elephant Gym (EG): We haven’t been to New York before. But recently, Tell and Chia-chin love the TV show “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”, which takes place in New York. Since the show brought many laughs to us, we felt very connected to the scenes in the show that takes place on the street of New York, haha!
Sheng Xiang Band (SXB): It seems that one has to visit New York once in his lifetime.
Soft Lipa (SL): A place for all walks of life and also a place that also makes one feel at ease.